Updated: Sep 30
The last seven years have been some intense training for me in my God-given gift of Spiritual Discernment (1 Corinthians 12:10). This is what some also call the ability to discern or test the spirits, as John mentions in his first letter (1 John 4:1).
What I've come to understand is that behind everything there is a spiritual force. Behind every thought, action, impulse, and desire, there are forces aligned on either side, pushing and prodding us toward the negative or the positive. While we often view ourselves with this air gap between us and others, we all have a spirit, and through that we can sense what's in the spiritual atmosphere around us. That atmosphere is made up of three parts; God and His angels, Satan and his demons, and human spirits. Each of these is constantly pouring spiritual data into that space. We are able to register that data in our mind, heart, and body.
Our thoughts are not our thoughts alone. Our feelings are not our feelings alone. Our physical sensations don't only come from us. There is much outside us that comes into us. That may seem like a scary reality to accept and begin to walk in. But we have the Holy Spirit to guide us on our journey into greater spiritual sensitivity. This is the primary role of the Holy Spirit, to help us be more attuned to spiritual things.
Contemplation is a tradition within Christianity that focuses on this aspect of God and spiritual sensitivity. Contemplation encourages us to develop habits and practices that help us start to pay attention to what's going on inside us; in our heart, mind, body, soul, and spirit. The three questions I have developed in this process are,
Where is it coming from?
What does it mean?
What should I do about it?
When I feel or experience anything in my mind, heart, or body, I ask those questions of the Holy Spirit, knowing that the Spirit can instruct me like a voice behind me, giving constant guidance and strength (Isaiah 30:21).
In the first question, I don't automatically assume what I'm feeling or experiencing is from me, or meant for me. Being spiritual means that we are connected to every living thing, through our spirit. The Holy Spirit helps us in that connection, so that we only experience what the Spirit desires from the spiritual atmosphere around us. As scripture says, God will never give us more than we can handle (1 Corinthians 10:13). Everything we experience is Father-filtered. We are now hidden in Christ, and everything that comes to us comes through Him (Colossians 3:3). We can trust that God is holding us in every circumstance, even when some of our circumstances don't seem good. In assuming everything we experience is from us, we often mistakenly take everything in, and adopt it as if it were ours. We don't have to do that, nor should we. There are many times that God allows me to partake of someone else's experiences in order to intercede and lift them up in prayer. Don't assume every thought, emotion, and bodily sensation you experience is from you or for you. More of it isn't than you realize. There's a lot of peace in knowing that you're not as weighed down as all the things that come to you try to make you feel.
The second question invites the Holy Spirit to come in and give clarity to what you're experiencing. So often, many of our sense experiences aren't clear. We may feel confused, depressed, angry, disoriented, and physically off, and yet not understand why, or what's causing it. The Spirit can give clarity to what we're feeling and why. Often, as soon as we have a name or description of the thing itself, we have the power to dispel it in the name of Jesus. It can be that simple. I've experienced some powerful oppression in my heart, mind, and body, but through the Spirit's help, I was able to recognize that oppression and experience the Spirit's countermeasure of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). God never leaves us without the power to overcome any obstacle we may face in the world around us, spiritual or physical.
The third question invites us to partner with God in doing some amazing things in the spiritual realm, which can have eternal effects for God's Kingdom. We are called to be advancing God's Kingdom alongside God. We do that most effectively by being more engaged in our spiritual sensitivity.
We all have a part to play in the world around us. We can all become more attuned to what's going on around us spiritually. And we can begin to let God open our eyes, ears, heart, mind, and body in order to be empowered spiritually to help God bring about His Kingdom and will on the earth, as it is in heaven.