Spiritual Senses Part 2 – Taste
As a child, whenever an exam or test approached for creative writing, my mother would remind me to write about what I know. As I prayed about what to write last month and the Lord directed me to the theme of Spiritual Senses, I protested saying that I didn’t know much about it. I could hear His smile as He replied, “Yes, that is why you are going to do it, so that I can teach you.” It is a good reminder to me that I am not the source of anything I write that has eternal value, just as Derek Prince wasn’t the source of what He spoke and wrote. Now, let’s begin our journey of discovery…
Internal or External?
Of all the five natural senses: sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell, the first 3 may seem to be external. I say seem, because in truth, what you see may be external, but it is only as the light passes through the eye, gets captured on the retina and passed through the optic nerve to the brain that the image is seen. Likewise, sound goes into the ear, vibrates on the ear drum, is picked up by the various apparatus and passed down the auditory nerve to the brain and we “hear”. As you think about it in this way, it is clear that touch may also seem to be external, but only as the touch is processed by the brain that we “feel”.
Taste, though, is different. In order to be able to taste something, we intentionally receive something into our mouths where we use this form of discernment to see whether it is good or bad. So, ahead of tasting, there comes a decision whether to take something in or not.
I think that this is why Job says, “I have made a covenant with my eyes not to look at a young girl lustfully.” The covenant was the decision and the eyes are the gate. In a sense, if he had said, “I have made a covenant with my heart…”, then the images could have been received with the wrong motive, stored in the brain and then begun the fight – the heart wants to resist them, but the brain now has them stored. I think every man has known this war at some time.
It is a good reminder to keep the gates closed by decision and this is no less true in the area of taste.
Taste and Trust
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him.Psalm 34:8
This verse is a wonderful beginning to our discussion on taste. It brings out the important relationship between taste and trust. Taking an apple from the fruit bowl, you use your other senses to help you decide whether it is good to eat. You look at it to check for bruising, rot and mould. You may smell it and touch it to see whether it is ripe enough, or too soft and over-ripe. Before you take your first bite, your other senses have helped you assess whether it is good to eat.
When you have made the choice to eat it, you have formed a trust that when you take a bite, the taste isn’t going to be bad. It may still be disappointing if the apple is floury, but at least it isn’t bad.
David is reminding us that to taste the Lord, we need to trust Him. The more we trust Him, the more we can taste and see that He is good. At first we may be uncertain about aspects of the Lord, but as we grow in our love and knowledge of Him, we trust Him, even if He tells us to bite into a lemon! It may be sour, but what we may not yet understand is that He is protecting us from spiritual scurvy.
Taste as Discernment
As I’ve alluded to before, taste is a form of discernment. Even if our other senses told us that an apple was good to eat, if we bite into it and it has rotted from the core, we can spit it out.
I once attended a homegroup meeting for the first time. The church it was attached to was well known, so I had an element of trust – it looked good. As the evening started, there was some teaching about Miriam and Moses and prophetic song. Some of it wasn’t smelling too good at this point, but it was when we were told to hold hands and effectively conjure up prophetic song that I had to speak out. I had taken a bite, but didn’t like it. The response to my protest was, “I don’t see the problem, it’s not like we’re lifting tables…” There was no doubt – I had to spit it out.
Three times in the book of Job, the tongue or the palate is described as a discerner:
Is there injustice on my tongue? Cannot my tongue discern the unsavoury? Job 6:30
Does not the ear test words and the mouth taste it’s food? Job 12:11
For the ear tests words as the palate tastes food. Job 34:3
Our tongues have a very important task, both physically and spiritually to keep out what is bad. Something Derek Prince used to say about Bible teaching in general, is that you eat the fish and you spit out the bones. If something doesn’t taste right, you need to spit it out.
The wonderful thing about the Lord, is that He is always good for us. When we taste Him, there will be times that we are uncertain about the flavour or the texture – it’s not what we’re used to – but we know that He is always good. We can trust Him completely.
Tasting the Word
Different places in the Bible reveal God’s Word as being like milk, bread or solid food (1 Peter 2:3; John 1:1 & John 6:33, 35, 48; Hebrews 5:12-14). Psalms, Proverbs and Ezekiel tell us that it is sweet like honey (Psalm 119:103; Proverbs 24:13-14; Ezekiel 3:1-3).
Those all sound like good things, but how do we practically taste God’s Word? As we’ve already learned from the Psalmist, David, we need to trust it. If we don’t trust it, we won’t have the confidence to taste it.
Then, we need to receive it. That means that we not only accept it, but we make it part of who we are. Psalm 119:11 encourages us: “Your Word I have hidden in my heart that I might not sin against You.” When we receive God’s Word and meditate on it, it becomes part of us and part of our defence systems against sin and evil.
Commenting on the Parable of the Sower where Jesus talks about receiving the Word, Derek Prince says the following:
In each case, the seed was the same. In other words, there was no difference in the seed. The only difference was in the kind of soil into which the seed fell. And there were actually four kinds of soil: by the pathway, the rocky soil, and the soil with thorns and, finally, fourth, the good soil. Now, we are focusing on the good soil. But I pointed out that even in the good soil there were three levels of productivity: one hundred times, sixty times and thirty times. And, in commenting on His own parable in Luke 8:15, Jesus indicated the threefold response which is needed to be totally productive: first of all, to hear the Word; second, to retain it; and third, to persevere in what you’re given to do.
The apostle John tells us right in the beginning of his gospel, in the first chapter and first verse, that Jesus is the Word of God. Now it follows that one of the clear ways of Tasting the Word would be to taste Jesus. You might ask, “How that is possible?”
Feeding on Jesus
In general, we don’t eat unless we are hungry and we don’t drink unless we are thirsty. So tasting usually comes as a result of hunger or thirst.
In the gospels, we read the story of the Last Supper where “Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to His disciples and said, ‘Take and eat. This is My body’ Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.’” Matthew 26:26-28
Communion is one key way of feeding on Jesus – through it we eat His body and we drink His blood. If we look at it from a purely physical perspective, a human begins its existence as the fusion of two “half” cells – one from each of the parents. From there on, it grows from what the mother eats and drinks. After it is born, it feeds and grows from the mother’s milk which is made from what she eats and drinks. After the child is weaned, it continues to grow from what he/she eats. This continues all through life.
It has been said that, “we are what we eat.” There is certainly some truth in this. If we eat a healthy, balanced diet, we will hopefully have healthy bodies. Too little and we get undernourished and thin. Too much and we get fat. What about feeding on Jesus? Could it be that as we feed on Him, it brings us health and nourishment? At a molecular level, the minerals that we consume as food and drink become what our bodies are made up of. What about at a spiritual level? Could it be that the more we feed on Jesus the more we become like Him?
Speaking on this in his book Bought with Blood, Derek Prince says the following:
In John 6:54–56 Jesus said:
“Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.”
This concept offended some of Jesus’ disciples to the point that they did not follow Him any longer. It still antagonizes people today. After all, there is something rather offensive about blood. Whenever I think of blood, my stomach begins to turn over. When I was a small boy I could not look at blood without actually vomiting. It took me years to get over that revulsion. Something in every one of us does not like the thought or spectacle of blood.
Some things that are offensive, however, are necessary. The cross is an offense, but without it there is no redemption, no hope. Our hope depends entirely on the merits of the blood of Jesus.
Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.” John 6:53
Why? Because the life is in the blood.
For us to have life, we must feed on Jesus. We must appropriate what is in His blood.
To Taste Death or Not to Taste Death
Some wonderful news is that if we taste what is good – Jesus and His Word – we don’t need to taste what is abhorrent – Death. We know that people still “die” and will continue to do so till Jesus returns, but as Christians, our “death” is only a passing out parade. Jesus has made a way that we may be with Him in paradise.
John 8:52 says, “If anyone keeps My Word he shall never taste death.” That sounds to me like a promise too good to be passed up! Thankfully, we are not left wondering how or why this is possible.
This is the heart of the gospel of peace – Jesus has paid for our sins through His death on the cross. This is how the writer to the Hebrews explains it:
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honour, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. Hebrews 2:9
We don’t have to taste death because Jesus has done so on our behalf.
This is how Paul expresses it:
Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Romans 6:3
Our baptism in water identifies us with Jesus’ death, burial and most wonderfully, His resurrection.
Gracious Father, my only appropriate response is to give deep, heartfelt thanks. Thank you that I can trust you completely to be good, thus I can taste more of You continually.
Make me hungry and thirsty for You. Help me to use my spiritual taste buds to discern what comes into my mouth, to feed on Jesus and on Your Word. As I do so, please make me more like Jesus.
Thank you that when I was baptized, I identified myself with Jesus’ death so that I do not have to taste death because He has done it for me.
In His precious name I pray. Amen
By Peter Lindop