How are Your Senses?

Our five senses are given to us by God for perceiving the material world around us, but these senses also have a role in our perception of spiritual things. Granted, we cannot perceive God Himself directly by our physical senses, for He is spirit (John 4:24).  However, the evidence and messages of the spiritual things of God are imparted to us through the senses.  Therefore, let us consider the Scriptures' literal and figurative uses of the five senses -- seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting, and smelling -- concerning the spiritual truths of the gospel of Christ.

In Isaiah 6:9-10, the Scripture addresses three of these senses and how they fail for those who do not believe in the word of God.  God indicated to Isaiah that those who heard his message would not feel with their hearts, hear with their ears, or see with their eyes, and thus they would not believe. Jesus said that this passage was fulfilled in the Jews of the first century.  Notice Matthew 13:14-15:

14"In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says, 'You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive; 15for the heart of this people has become dull, with their ears they scarcely hear, and they have closed their eyes, otherwise they would see with their eyes, hear with their ears, and understand with their heart and return, and I would heal them.'"

Paul quoted this same passage from Isaiah in Acts 28:25-27 regarding those Jews in Rome who did not believe the preaching of the gospel.

Concerning the senses of hearing and seeing, they are the means by which we receive the gospel.  At least sixteen times in the New Testament, the Scripture says, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear" (Matt. 11:15, for example).  This is an open invitation to all people to receive God's word. Furthermore, Romans 10:17 says, "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ."  As for the sense of seeing, we cannot now see Jesus as His witnesses saw Him, but Paul wrote that "when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ" (Eph. 3:4).  In a figurative sense, he referenced sight when he prayed "that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints" (Eph. 1:18).

Concerning the sense of feeling, we are warned about the hardness of heart that makes us insensitive to the gospel.  Paul wrote of the unbelieving Gentiles in Ephesians 4:17-19:

17So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; 19and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.

A calloused heart may be so hard that the word of God will not pierce it (Acts 2:37). Such a heart is spiritually insensitive so that the message of the Savior's death on the cross for their sins does not provoke them to believe and repent.

As for the sense of taste, we "have tasted the kindness of the Lord" (1Pet. 2:3) figuratively when we have received the pure milk of God's word.  However, for those who have tasted of God's word and then have sought to please their palettes by some other means, Hebrews 6:4-6 has this message:

4For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.

How foolish it is to exchange the sweet taste of salvation for the bitterness of sin!

Finally, our sense of smell is aroused in a figurative, spiritual way by the preaching of God's word.  Consider 2Corinthians 2:14-16:

14But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.  15For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; 16to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life.  And who is adequate for these things?

There are at least two messages we should take from this passage.  One is that we who are Christians should be a fragrance of Christ in this world by teaching and exemplifying the knowledge of Christ to others.  The other is that we must receive the knowledge of Christ in such a way that it may be "an aroma from life to life" for us.

Thus, let us consider our senses and how we perceive and receive the gospel of Christ. Are we blessed because our eyes see and our ears hear (Matt. 13:16)?  Are our hearts sensitive to the word of God?  Have we tasted of the kindness of the Lord?  Are we filled with the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Christ? Think about these things for yourself. How are your senses?

Stacey E. Durham


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