Someone says, “The Spirit just told me.” How do you sense, “Is this the Spirit?”

I knew nothing of art until I married my wife. Then I learned primary colors, perspective, and the rule of thirds.

I learned that Picasso was a genius and that the crayon drawings of my children were not, even though they both looked the same to me. Through years of marriage, we have visited many museums to view Van Gogh, Renoir, and Matisse.

I learned that Monet and Manet were not brothers or the split personalities of the same painter!

All of this by living with an artist.

You can develop the five senses of the physical body (touch, sight, hearing, smell, and taste) to high sophistication. Have you ever listened to a master sommelier say, “This wine is from France, the region of Bordeaux, Medoc appellation of Margaux, first growth, fifth row, third vine, second cluster, and the top five grapes?”

Then the sommelier asserts with a smug sniff, “I’m sure of it!”

MMMMHHHMMH! I can’t even pronounce “sommelier.”

Have you heard someone say, “The Spirit just told me?” I know a bit more about this field of expertise. Sometimes I agree that the Spirit spoke and often I disagree.

I follow a simple plan. The Bible teaches that there “three senses of the Spirit” like the five senses of the physical, but three instead of five and spiritual rather than physical:

Revelation – Knowledge from outside yourself. A voice, a thought, a vision, or a dream. It can be a sermon or a book, or in one case, I know of a person who got a word from God by reading a billboard alongside the road. Ephesians 1:17 reads, “May God give you a Spirit of wisdom and revelation.” 

I test the Spirit when someone says that they have a word by asking, “It might be weird, but is there a sense of presence/power and wisdom in this word?”

Presence – Have you ever felt the presence of God? Have you felt the presence of evil? Those who develop this sense of the Spirit can walk into a room and sense peace, confusion, pain, anger, deceit, and many other spirits. God is not the author of confusion, and He gives the gifts of peace and joy. Jesus says that He will knock, and if you open the door, He will come in and eat with you (Revelation 3:20).

As a pastor, I learned to sense the presence of a room before my sermon and preach accordingly.

Conscience – Paul writes, “My conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 9:1). In the moment of decision, do you sense a right or wrong? Disobeying blurs the lines of good and evil while dulling your conscience.

Listening and quick obedience hones conscience in both wisdom and knowledge. Asking forgiveness re-sharpens the cutting edge of truth.

Revelation, presence, conscience!

The first rule of sensing the Spirit is recognizing the three senses. Many followers of Jesus don’t recognize the senses. The second rule is asking the Spirit to teach you how to listen or feel each sense. The third rule is allowing all three to develop a cumulative peace that can be disturbed by evil – and you sense it instantly.

Ultimately, walking in God’s Spirit brings joy. Joy is supernatural and comes from keeping in step with the Spirit of the Lord.

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  2 Corinthians 3:17