God created us with five physical senses: sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch. He intricately designed each sense organ to transmit information to our brain. Our five natural senses help us understand and notice what is happening in our world. He also designed our spiritual being with abilities to use our 5 spiritual senses.
Our 5 Senses
We see our five senses used in the Bible in both literal and spiritual ways. The Bible tells us there is more than just our physical world; there is also an invisible spiritual realm.
They are distinctly different but both very real. God gave us 5 senses to receive important information about what is happening in our everyday physical world and in our spiritual life.
Let’s look at each one-
Physical Sense of Sight
I love this word picture in the creation story: “And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasing to the eye.” Genesis 2:9. God loves beautiful plants, flowers, and trees and knew our natural eyes would like to see them too.
Do I praise Him for the gifts of beauty he placed in creation? Do I give thanks for the gift of sight that makes it easy to read this page?
Spiritual Sense of Sight
We are also told that “the eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light.” Matthew 6:22. That’s a reference to our spiritual sight.
The apostle Paul prays “may the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you.” Ephesians 1:18.
Our spiritual eyes are opened when we understand the hope and promise of salvation and eternal life through Christ Jesus. We can “see” truth.
The Psalmist also speaks of our spiritual sight: “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.” Psalm 119:18.
Do I see the world through the perfect vision of God? Are there any “blind spots” in my spiritual vision I need to remove?
Physical Sense of Hearing
The Old Testament gives us many examples of people who heard the audible voice of God. He called out to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden: “Where are you?” Genesis 3:9-13. God spoke to Abraham, Moses and others directly.
Jesus spoke throughout the New Testament to teach, encourage, and comfort.
God’s Spirit came through the audible sound of a strong wind. Can you imagine being present at Pentecost when “suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven”? Acts 2:2.
The people gathered there could not miss the sound that accompanied this initial indwelling of the Holy Spirit!
Spiritual Sense of Hearing
“Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live.” Isaiah 55:3
Our physical bodies need food to live, but God offers nourishment that feeds our soul. We consume spiritual food by listening to God’s Word. Without it, we would spiritually starve.
We don’t hear God’s voice anymore, but once the Bible was in written form, it became God’s way of communicating His spiritual truths with us.
We listen to an inner voice– that of the Holy Spirit, that convicts, guides, and gives wisdom.
Paul tells us in the famous “love” chapter (1 Corinthian 13:1) that “if I could speak all languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong.” Without love, our words are just meaningless noise to those who hear them.
Peter tells us “if anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God.” (1 Peter 4:11) Umm, I definitely fall short on that one…..
Did my words sound pleasing today? Are my spiritual ears listening for His voice?
Sense of Touch
Jesus invited Thomas to touch the wounds on His resurrected physical body in order that he would believe. That is a tangible use of touch.
Jesus used physical touch to heal many people. He didn’t need to touch them to heal them. He didn’t even need to use words.
A man with leprosy came to Jesus for healing. “Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man” and he was healed. Matthew 8:3.
But he chose to touch them, and I wonder if he did it to show his compassion and love for them.
The human touch is powerful. We can use touch as a hug, a handshake, or a simple hand on someone’s arm to display great compassion and care.
The spiritual use of touch involves affecting someone that moves them emotionally. Jesus was “touched”, or felt compassion, for many of the people he met.
He fed the 4000 because he had “compassion for these people”. When Jesus saw a widow who had just lost her only son, “his heart went out to her”.
We can develop this sense by reflecting on God’s compassion throughout the ages, being attentive to the needs of those around us, and sharing the love of Jesus.
Am I touched by the needs of others? What actions do I take because of it?
Physical Sense of Smell
We use our sense of smell constantly. It alerts us to pleasing aromas and also to hazardous, foul-smelling dangers.
It’s hard to imagine God taking a deep sniff of something and saying “ahhhh” in a deeply satisfying way, but in Genesis 8:21, we read just that:
“The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma” of the burnt offering that Noah sacrificed, and it moved him to promise to never curse the ground again.
Mary of Bethany poured expensive pure nard on Jesus’ feet, and “the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” John 12:3.
Spiritual Sense of Smell
Paul tells the Corinthians they are the fragrance- the aroma, the sweet scent- of Jesus Christ. Their actions and deeds leave the sweet scent of Jesus’ love wherever they go.
“For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” 2 Corinthians 2:15.
He also tells the church in Philippi their sacrificial gifts to his ministry are “a fragrant offering…pleasing to God.” Philippians 4:18b.
Even our prayers are described in Revelation as a sweet aroma to God; resting in golden bowls of incense. Revelation 5:8.
Am I so extravagant in my love and care for others it leaves a lingering sweet aroma? Are my sacrifices, worship, and prayers pleasing to God?
Sense of Taste
Do you remember the story of Jesus appearing after his resurrection to grill fish on the beach for the disciples? After fishing all night and catching absolutely nothing, Jesus appears and feeds them breakfast!
Jesus was fully human and not only enjoyed food himself but fed others too.
How do I show this same kind of hospitality and care?
Spiritual Sense of Taste
Jesus tells his disciples (and us) that we are to be “the salt of the earth.” Matthew 5:13. One thing Jesus is referring to is salt as a flavor enhancer.
Our lives should spice up the quality of life of those we meet. We should make living for Jesus a desirable flavor that all want to taste.
“O, taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8) ESV. He asks us to examine the goodness of God for ourselves.
We’ve all had food cravings- that specific thing we want to eat; different from plain hunger. They sometimes are a signal that we are lacking nutrients our bodies need.
Do I crave experiencing God in the same way? The power of the Holy Spirit calls us to come to Him; to taste the goodness of God.
How can I be salt in someone’s life today? Where am I getting my nourishment from today? What am I craving?
Losing Sense of Taste
Sometimes we take for granted the enjoyment, satisfaction, and joy that our senses bring.
Some time ago, my sister suddenly and completely lost her sense of taste. It was so profound she can remember the exact food she was eating, and the time and place it happened.
A specialist diagnosed her with nerve damage to her sense of smell that resulted from infection. He also warned her it may never return.
Eating became almost impossible. She could feel the texture of the food, but without taste or smell, everything was just a chewy, nauseating glob. She tried shakes, but with no flavor, she only felt the coldness.
Her loss of taste was a profound life changer.
Try to imagine interacting in your world without your senses. There are many people who do just that.
What if you couldn’t talk or sing? Hear or touch? Your world would be vastly different.
Joyfully and gratefully use what you are given!
Developing Your 5 Spiritual Senses
The author of Hebrews speaks of our ability to feast on the deeper knowledge of God- “solid food.”
“Solid food is for the mature, who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Hebrews 5:14
Using our spiritual senses wisely also helps us recognize what is going on in the spirit realm and is dependent on our spiritual growth.
We sharpen our senses by using them. When we know the Word of God we can discern right from wrong; we mature in our faith.
Developing your five spiritual senses helps you carry out the works God has planned for you. We are Christ’s ambassadors- His representatives here on earth.(2 Corinthians 5:20)
If we touch others in kindness but our words sound only like abrasive noise, what does that say about how Jesus is working in our lives?
I can bring the fragrance of the love of Jesus, but will it be canceled out by a bitter flavor I leave in someone’s mouth?
Knowing God and witnessing for him involves using all our senses. He created them and intends for us to use them in his service.
Don’t take them for granted! Our five senses can be a valuable tool in our praise, worship, and in our witness to others!
All Scripture is from the NIV unless specified otherwise.
Photo Credit: Pixabay Canva