Let’s consider the valuable role of our senses as we process the world around us through discernment. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil (Hebrews 5:14). Some believe that our five senses are merely a gate of information to the natural world.
I have found that senses in the natural man tend toward sensuality, but senses in the new man can be trained in sensitivity to discern spiritual information. The contrast between sensuality and sensitivity is highlighted in Ephesians.
Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more (4:19). Scripture gives us examples of the use of the five senses in the formulation of prophetic words: seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, and touching.
We’ve already studied in previous articles, how God used both external and internal sight to train Old Testament prophets. Sight, or vision, is the ability of the brain and eye to detect electromagnetic waves within the visible range of light. We know it is valid for information discerned through the natural sense of sight to be used in delivering prophetic information because of how God sent Jeremiah to the potter’s house to receive a word from the Lord.
This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message” (Jeremiah 18:1). Physical hearing, or audition, is the sound perception sense. God trained the prophet Samuel through hearing the audible voice of the Lord. We have the account in 1 Samuel chapter three. Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD: The word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.
The LORD called Samuel a third time, and Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place (vs.7-9). We know that God gives prophetic voice through both the physical and internal hearing. The spiritual internal hearing is the main message to the seven churches in the book of Revelation.19 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches…(2:7).
While seeing and hearing are considered mechanical senses, taste or gustation is one of the two main chemical senses. The prophet Ezekiel was told to eat a scroll to receive the word of the Lord. Then he said to me, “Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.” So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth. He then said to me: “Son of man, go now to the house of Israel and speak my word to them” (Ezekiel 3:3-4).
Simon Peter may have been perceiving through the sense of taste when he discerned the heart of Simon the Sorcerer. For I see [the Greek language would suggest the word “perceive”] that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity (Acts 8:23 NASB). Smell, or olfaction, is the other of the two chemical senses. Fragrance is one of the ways that Jesus was described in Old Testament prophecies. His shoots will sprout, and his beauty will be like the olive tree, and his fragrance like the cedars of Lebanon (Hosea 14:6, NASB). I am the Rose of Sharon, the lily of the valleys (Song of Songs. 2:1, NASB).
Several Old Testament prophets also encountered the Lord through the mechanical sense of touch or tactician. Daniel received several touches from the Lord that resulted in prophetic information.20 Jeremiah was not only trained by visual senses but also through a touch of the Lord. “Then the LORD stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me, “Behold I have put My words in your mouth” (Jeremiah 1:9, NASB).
All of what we call the “natural five senses” was originally designed by God to perceive Him and His Kingdom. As a new creation, we can retrain our senses from mere sensuality to sensitivity to what the Lord is saying.
How to Prophesy Using Your Senses
Once we determine that our senses are not just a part of the fallen man or evil sinful nature, we can offer the members of our body to Christ for the purposes of righteousness. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness (Romans 6:13). Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness (6:19). Let’s take a moment to put these Scriptures into practice. Take a little time right now to offer your five senses to the Lord.
I know that you have already surrendered yourself wholly to Him through salvation, but now consciously give your senses to God as instruments of righteous perception.
Lord, I offer you my eyes that I might see things that trigger prophetic information. I give you my ears to hear what the Spirit of the Lord is saying. I give you my nose and tongue to perceive the flavors and fragrances that you want to communicate to me.
Lord, touch me and make me fully sensitive to spiritual information through my senses. Train me to use these in righteousness. In Jesus’ name, amen. Now that you have offered the members of your body, expect God to communicate to you through each of your five senses.
Just like any other spiritual information we receive for prophecy, we should judge the impression before delivering it. We ask the same questions:
1. Is it consistent with Scripture?
2. Is it encouraging?
3. Does it convey wisdom and from God?
Remember that Hebrews 5:14 talks of training your senses through exercise. The word used here for “training” is the Greek word gymnazo, which is like our word “gymnasium.” Take your senses “to the gym” and work them out to receive and perceive spiritual information. How do you do that? Simply consider that a taste, smell, sound, sight, or feeling could be spiritual information. Have you ever been in worship or prayer and smelled a sweet fragrance like a perfume? That is often a spiritual perception of the Lord’s presence with your natural senses. In the same way, a person might give off a spiritual smell or flavor that can be detected by the natural senses but is unexplainable by external causes
Prophetic encouragement could be triggered by something you see in the natural, in your imagination, or in your spirit. You might actually hear an audible sound or suddenly think of a song or a line from a movie that is so strong it is as if you were hearing it with your ears. A flavor or fragrance can also trigger a word of prophecy. You might literally smell and taste or you may have only the perception.
Touch, or tactician, is also one of our five senses. When ministering to someone you may feel a heaviness—or a lightness—on your body. An area of your body may start to burn, tingle, or even experience a form of pain. Prophetic information can also feel like a hand on your shoulder or a kiss on the cheek. Any of these types of sensations are a unique form of sensitivity to spiritual communication.