Are Your Senses Sharp?
We thank God for the five senses of the human body which He gave us in part for protection. These include smell, hearing, taste, sight, and touch. You have probably experienced a time when one of your senses was temporarily disabled, and the risk that presented. Perhaps your feet have gone numb from sitting in one position for too long, or you lost the ability to taste when you were sick. When something like that happens to us, we must take extra precautions to avoid an accident. If we cannot smell, then before eating we may inspect our food visually with more care or find some other way to make sure it is not spoiled. The world we live in is full of hazards, so it is to our advantage to have all of our senses be sharp, to help us perceive and then avoid potential harm.
Our physical senses have a spiritual parallel. We live in a state of spiritual warfare with danger all around us—dangers of falsehoods, hypocrisy, and temptations, to name a few. These are the cunning devices of Satan, and he would like to destroy us. To help us avoid his traps, God has given us spiritual senses, and He wants them to be sharp at all times. Let us consider the different aspects of spiritual senses and what it means to keep them sharp.
Hebrews 5:14 says, “But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” From this we understand that the key purpose of our spiritual senses is to discern good and evil. Evil is what will harm us, and we must use discernment because it is not always clearly labeled for what it is. The devil is a liar, and he is an expert at wrapping up evil with a thin layer of something that appears good. Only God can help us recognize the truth, and He has given us spiritual senses for that purpose.
My wife has an excellent sense of smell. One day, we returned home from church and she started running around the house saying, “I can smell gas.” I did not smell anything. We checked the places that could have been leaking gas and all seemed to be fine, but she insisted that she smelled something unusual. We decided to call a professional to check the house, and eventually we found out that the flue of our boiler had unintentionally been covered during a construction project. My wife was smelling carbon monoxide, which I was told is called a “silent killer” because it usually goes unnoticed and is deadly. If my wife had not been persistent that day, we might have gone to sleep and never woken up.
Sin could also be described as a “silent killer.” I am reminded of the account in Genesis 4 when Cain was angry that his offering to God was rejected and Abel’s was accepted. God told him, “Why art thou wroth? And why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.” Sin was nearby, yet Cain seemed unaware. God was warning him that he was on a path toward something dangerous. Sadly, Cain did not heed the warning. He failed to discern the danger he was in, and before long, he became the first murderer.
Sin does not have a physical smell, but we might think of it as a “spiritual smell” when we discern in our spirits that something is just not right. We talk to many people during the course of a day, and even if everything we hear has been factually true, we may feel that something is amiss. We recognize the “smell” of gossip, backbiting, and complaints. Or perhaps we have found a new personal interest, and while it is not blatantly sinful, somehow it troubles our spirit. We should not ignore the nudges in our hearts that something is wrong—those are times to pray and find out what the problem is. God wants us to be sensitive to the presence of evil. My wife and I had to call a professional to find the source of the unusual odor, and we can call on God to show us the source of a potential spiritual problem. By His grace, we can perceive when sin is “at the door,” and we can remedy the situation.
Imagine the challenge of being a pedestrian and not hearing. This is especially frightening for me to think of as a traveler in a country that drives on the opposite side of the road than what I am used to. When crossing the road, I instinctively look to the right for traffic, but in the United States and other European countries, that is precisely the opposite of what one should do! When I travel abroad, I must be extra cautious, and if I could not hear the traffic approaching, the risk would be even greater.
Spiritually speaking, if we do not hear well, we can be in terrible danger. Consider, for example, how we use our spiritual sense of hearing to detect false doctrine. An account from 1 Kings 13 illustrates this point well. There we read of a young prophet who had been given instructions by God, which he decided to obey. That was a wonderful start; however, an older prophet came and told him not to obey the instructions from God. That man was persuasive, saying, “I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the word of the Lord.” The younger prophet believed him and obeyed the older prophet’s guidance rather than what God had instructed. As a result, the young man lost his life. Even the older prophet felt remorse when he realized that the first instructions truly had come from God.
We still have people like that old prophet in the world today. Many of them are convincing because they do not think they are false prophets, but believe what they teach is true. They will quote the Bible, preach, teach, and talk as if they were sent from God. The Bible tells us, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” If Satan himself can appear as an angel of light, how can we survive unless we have the discerning Spirit of God? We must listen carefully for the Spirit of truth, diligently heeding what He speaks to our hearts and disregarding everything else.
We recall that Florence Crawford, the founder of our church, was dancing in a ballroom when she heard a Voice say to her, “Daughter, give Me thine heart.” In the midst of the upbeat music and the festive atmosphere of that ballroom, suddenly God spoke to her. She said that when she heard it the first time, she continued dancing, but after the second time the atmosphere changed, and after the third time she left. How thankful we are that the Lord spoke to her! She heard God, she obeyed what she heard, and more than one hundred years later, we are still beneficiaries of her service to God. That is an example we want to follow.
God still speaks today. Whether audibly or inaudibly, God communicates in a way that we can understand. The way He speaks to me may be different than the way He speaks to you, but He will speak. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). He wants us to hear, and when we do, He wants us to take action.
Perhaps many of us have had the experience of accidentally taking a drink of milk that has gone sour, with the instinctive response of spitting it right back out. That instinct is good because drinking spoiled milk could make a person sick.
A greater challenge is to recognize food that is bad for the body but does not taste bad. There are certain foods that are almost universally liked—chocolates, vanilla ice cream, and frosted cakes might be at the top of that list. Most of us would agree that these all taste wonderful, but what tastes nice is not always good for the body. People who have food allergies understand this very well, since they can become severely ill by eating foods that taste great. Each of us has to learn to recognize the taste of foods that will be helpful and harmful to our bodies, even though it may not be obvious.
The Bible indicates that the soul can taste as well. Psalm 34:8 tells us, “O taste and see that the Lord is good.” When our souls get a taste of God, we want more! One who has experienced the joy of salvation will instinctively desire more from God, and in seeking Him, we find that the Gospel not only tastes good, but it is the best nourishment for our souls.
Jesus said, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (John 6:51). Like the manna that was given to the Children of Israel, Jesus, who is the Word made flesh, is our Daily Bread. God’s Word is meant to be our spiritual sustenance. It tastes good to the hungering soul, and it also satisfies the deepest longings. There are some other things in this world that can also “taste” good—popular music, movies, and other such attractions may seem enjoyable. However, anything that is not from God is ultimately bad for our souls. When our spiritual sense of taste is able to recognize what is from God for our nourishment, we will be able to feast upon what God has given, and it tastes good.
In 2 Kings 6 we read the account of Elisha and his servant being surrounded by the armies of an angry king. The servant panicked, but Elisha responded, “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” Then Elisha prayed, “Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.”
In this instance, Elisha’s servant could only see physically, but Elisha could see more. Perhaps some of us look at our current circumstances and only see trouble, problems, needs, and challenges. If that is the case, we can pray, “Lord, open my eyes.” Through the eyes of faith, we can look past our trials and see Jesus on the other side.
We need to have the sense of sight that Moses had. Hebrews 11:27 says, “By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.” We need to see as Joshua and Caleb did—they saw the giants and the walled cities with their physical eyes, but they also saw the fulfillment of the promise of God with their spiritual eyes. We need sight like David’s; he saw Goliath just like his brothers did, but David saw him in comparison to the Lord and asked, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26). When we have that kind of spiritual sight, we will not be afraid when we face trials and tests in this life, but by faith we will see the victory!
Each of the senses has a unique set of functions, and touch brings a personal element that the others do not have because touch relies on physical contact. A warm embrace can convey more comfort than spoken words or a written message ever could.
In the spiritual sense, I immediately think of the importance of the touch of Jesus. One example is the woman with an issue of blood, who only touched the hem of Jesus’ garment and was healed! Being able to make contact with Jesus and experience His touch made all the difference.
Once, I received an invitation from the British Prime Minister to attend a meeting at Number 10, Downing Street. I felt it was a special opportunity and wanted to make it a historical occasion. I took a Gospel tract with me and purposed in my heart to shake the hand of Prime Minister Tony Blair, give him the tract, and let him know that our church was praying for him. However, upon arrival, I found out that many other faith leaders had been invited as well. There were over a hundred people in a big drawing room, and my chances of making contact with the Premier seemed small. I knew he would enter the room at some point, but I didn’t know where or when, so I prayed and asked Jesus to help me. Most of the guests were visiting and helping themselves to the snacks and drinks, but my mind was on one thing: I wanted to meet the Premier. And the Lord answered my prayer! The Premier came close by me, so I extended my arm to him, shook his hand, and told him, “I am Isaac Adigun, from the Apostolic Faith Church, and we are praying for you.”
Spiritually speaking, each of us has the opportunity to touch One who is higher than any prime minister. But have we exercised that sense of touch? It is sad when someone gives a good, warm embrace and it is not appreciated, and some may be like that with Jesus. He wants to embrace us and bless us. He wants us to experience His cleansing touch, His healing touch, His quieting touch, His illuminating touch, His reassuring touch—His touch can meet any need! Yet some are not interested. They may come to a church service feeling unsatisfied and miserable, and leave the same way, even though Jesus is there to give the touch they need.
Jesus wants to touch us even today, if we will only reach to Him through prayer.
SHARPENING OUR SENSES
How sharp are your spiritual senses? If you have struggled to discern good from evil in the past, you can ask God to sharpen the senses He gave you. Hebrews 5:14 says that they must be “exercised,” and God can teach us how to do that. He will make us sensitive to the presence of the enemy so that we will take precautions when we recognize that he is at work. Likewise, we can be sensitive to the leading of God’s Spirit, quick to understand and obey what God would have us to do. In a world that is filled with sin and deception, God has given us spiritual senses to discern what is right and true, and He will help us do that as we look to Him.