Senses trained to discern good and evil

gavelHebrews 5:14: But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

The focus verse describes the matured that have their senses trained to distinguished between good and devil (Hebrews 5:11-14). That means that good and evil are not easily differentiated. The devil can masquerade as agent of light (2Corinthians 11:14).

Note the plural word in the verse- senses. If that is the case, it means there are different instruments of perception that are useful in differentiating between good and evil; taking a cue from the senses of the human body – the sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell. Therefore we can have the different areas of training that we need to have to be matured in.


When God was appointing Jeremiah as a prophet, he asked him, “What do you see (Jeremiah 1:11-12)?” That in a way was God checking the seeing ability he had installed in him. Seeing can be with the eyes of our heart (Ephesians 1:15-18), and that is what needs to be trained in all believers. It is activated by prayer. Paul prayed that the eyes of the understanding of the Ephesians will be enlightened. That is not physical, that is spiritual and it has to do with the spiritual sensitivity, that sense of judgment to discern between good and evil.


Jesus said that we should be careful how we hear (Mark 4:24). Job said that the ear tries words as the mouth taste meat (Job 12:11). We are not supposed to be gullible.  We should be able to examine the word that we hear concerning their truthfulness or otherwise. That was what earned the Berean Jews the description of being noble (Acts 17:10-12). After hearing the words of Paul, they go back to examine them, checking the scriptures to see the validity of the word.

We need to have “critical” people in the pew, who know their left from their right in judging what is true. You don’t just come and shove stuffs down people’s throat. We need to be engaged in critical listening, in discernment listening. And not just to detect falsehood (evil) but to connect with the words coming from God (good).

We should be able to hear the motive of people in their words (Peter heard the lies in the words of Ananias and Sapphira [Acts 5:1-14]). The bible says that when prophets prophecy, other prophets are supposed to judge (1Corinthians 14:29).


The bible says that taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8). Taste is about experience. We need to be watchful of our experience. We should be selective in the kind of things that we allow ourselves to experience. We are not to experience malice. Paul said that in malice we should be children but in understanding we should be matured (1Corinthians 14:20).

You are not meant to go everywhere; you are supposed to be selective in the kind of people that you relate with. It takes being able to discern good and evil to realise that as a Christian you should never sign up for a lifetime of marriage experience with an unbeliever (2Corinthians 6:14).

When it comes to taste, to experience, discernment helps us to make the right choices so as to have the desired result.


We have the sense of touch so that we can sense pressure to be able to respond to it. The pressure may be from weather. You respond differently to cold weather than you do to a warm weather, it dictates your attire.

Touch helps us to judge our environment appropriately. The sons of Issachar were said to be those who have understanding of the times (1Chronicles 12:32), knowing what Israel should do. The spiritual sense of touch helps us to discern the times. It also helps us to discern how to respond to word being spoken to us. We are also matured enough to know how our words will affect others, so we choose positive words (Proverbs 12:18).


We “smell” things we can’t see, we don’t only “smell” the operations of the devil, but also “smell” the operations of the Holy Spirit too.

Jesus describes some demonic spirits as foul/unclean spirits. That definitely is the result of the operation of the gift of discernment of spirit. Paul when he was in a place ministering, had a young girl with the spirit of divination following him about, he cast out the spirit in her (Acts 16:6-19). We should be able to smell the operation of the devil.


In a general sense, the matured is known by their sense of judgment, which is linked to the operation of wisdom in them. James said that if any lack wisdom, he should ask God who gives to us without reprimand, Paul’s said that the spiritual have the mind of Christ, Christ’s own sense of judgment. He said that he speaks wisdom among the matured (1Corinthians 2:6-9).

What the writer of the book of Hebrews was directly referring to in the focused verse, is the immaturity of his audience when it comes to spiritual truth. He wanted to lead the people into more depths of truth, but he considered that they were babes and not ready for bigger truths.

Spiritual babes are fed on the milk and cannot yet handle the meat of the word. Everyone starts with the milk, but going from the milk is determined by how effectively you have used the milk. Peter wrote that we should desire the pure spiritual milk of the word that we may grow thereby (1Peter 2:1-4). The pure milk of the word is the one which focuses on pure spiritual devotion to Christ.

It is the intensity of devotion to Christ that the newly born again should be fed on, and not chasing shadows, that is the sincere milk of the word.

Paul told the church in Corinth that he cannot talk to them as matured but as babes, because there are still divisions among them, because they still judge according to the flesh (1Corinthians 1:10-17, 3:1-8). This shows that the meat of the word, which is for the mature, is about our sense of judgment. Jesus said that we need not judge according to appearance but judge righteous judgment (John 7:23-24). Paul faulted the Corinthians that some say that they are of Apollo, of Paul, of Cephas or of Jesus. Paul wanted them to be weaned from devotion to any single human entity, but to hold on to Christ.

Meat truths are stabilizing; they ensure that we are no longer children tossed to and from by every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:11-16). Meat truth is about our spiritual identity and destiny, and the pursuit of it, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation (Philippians 2:12-16); standing firm in truth, even if it is only you.

The difference between Moses and the children of Israel is the difference between the babe and the matured. The bible says that the children of Israel know the acts of God, but Moses knows the ways God (Psalm 103:7); the acts of God the tangibles, while the ways of God are the principles.


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