Secret of Spiritual Power: 21: Spiritual Discrimination
By G.D. Watson
It is a fundamental law in the constitution of the soul, that spiritual understanding and discrimination is directly connected with the condition of the heart. Corruption in the heart inevitably produces disorder and darkness in the mind; and purity of heart clarifies the intellect and imparts to it strong and acute perceptions. This truth is abundantly referred to in the Scriptures. “To the upright there ariseth light in the darkness.” The pure in heart see God. “I will cure them, and will reveal the abundance of peace and truth.” There are scores of similar statements in which knowledge, revelation, vision, follow as a consequence upon the purification of the heart. So many attempt to reverse this order and have the understanding first and the experience afterwards, but God’s unchangeable rule is a work of grace in the heart first, and the understanding of it afterwards. It is always growth in grace first, and then knowledge. One of the marvelous effects of full sanctification is the clearness and acuteness it imparts to the five senses of the inner man. To instance a few samples of discrimination under the full baptism of the Spirit:
1. The difference between things and beings. To such a soul the persons of the trinity, good angels, and evil spirits, are not merged in a tangled maze of indefinite things but they are perceived by the understanding with the same clearness they are spoken of in the Scriptures; and, on the other hand, the inanimate forces of nature are not idolized and enthroned as beings. It is a notorious fact that half illuminated Christians, and unregenerate church members, have a tendency to reduce spiritual personalities to the order of mere things, and have, on the other hand, a tendency to exalt a mere law of nature, into doing the work of the Saviour. This is done when growth, which is a law of nature, is supposed to cleanse the heart, which is the exclusive work of a personal Saviour. The fully purified soul, though he be unlearned, will never make such a blunder in his moral perceptions. To such an one how real is the promise, “Thine eye shall see the King in His beauty, they shall behold the land that is very far,” which promise has direct, reference to the spiritual perceptions in this life, for the preceding verses describe conditions and experiences which can only be in this world.
2. It discriminates between temptation and sin. Such a soul may not always be able to define accurately the difference between the two, it may not have the gift of putting into language the clear-cut verities of the inner mail, but there is an inward sense of feeling by which it finds out the difference between a suggestion to commit sin and the consent of the heart to do it. It finds out by a silent, inward teacher the difference between evil thoughts and thoughts of evil; that evil thoughts are such as originate in the heart or are willingly entertained there, but that a thought of evil is a suggestion to the mind which can be repelled. The one is of the nature of a burglar, while the other is an admitted lodger in the tenement.
3. The purified spiritual senses discriminate between things learned and things revealed. We learn things gradually, but the Holy Spirit reveals truth to our hearts instantaneously. The consciousness of adoption is revealed, not learned, and so the certainty of heart purity is revealed and not learned. We learn through our outer senses, and in connection with these the use of our mental faculties; thus we learn distance, magnitude, form, color, number, how to trace cause and effect, and the relation of things. But when spiritual things are revealed to us, the Holy Ghost works upon our intuition, and knowledge so received is instantaneous. There are three kinds of knowledge, — instinctive, rational, and intuitive. Instinctive predominates mostly among the lower animals; rational, mostly among men, and intuitive, mostly among spiritual and heavenly beings, but man has all three of these forms of knowledge in himself. The intuitive form of spiritual knowledge is not contrary to reason, but is just as far above reason as reason is above the instincts of the lower animals. To find a list of items showing the difference between what we gradually learn and what is instantaneously revealed to us, we can look at a concordance under the words “learn” and “now?”
4. It is the office of the spiritual senses to discern quickly the soul’s enemies. God has endowed all creatures with the mechanism of instinct, by which they can each readily detect their peculiar foes. A hen with a brood of chickens will detect the flight of a hawk in the sky quicker than any hunter. A divine detective gift, similar to this, is imparted to the purified soul by the Holy Spirit. There was some difference between the foes which the Jews had in the wilderness and in the land of promise. Their enemies in the wilderness were their kindred according to the flesh, descendants of Esau and Ishmael, but their enemies in Canaan were of a foreign race. In like manner when believers are in their wilderness experience, their spiritual conflict has to do mainly with the carnal elements still remaining in them, but on entering the higher Canaan life, their welfare is more immediately with evil spirits, and the direct assaults of the personal Satan.
This is the teaching of St. Paul where he says: “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against wicked spirits in heavenly places.” (Margin.)
It is of immense advantage to the soul to recognize its foes, and to discriminate between them and the innocent frailties and infirmities, which are inseparable from our earthly stage of existence. This is what Paul means by saying those who are perfect have their senses exercised to discern good and evil. The activity and vigor of our spiritual senses depend on our union with Jesus through the Holy Spirit.
What would the eye be worth unless it were united with the light? What would the ear be worth unless it could act in union with sound? In like manner what are all the marvelous senses of the soul worth until brought under the operation of the Holy Ghost, who alone can purify them, bring them into full normal action, and cause them to recognize and enjoy a whole world of divine and heavenly things?