Experiencing the Spiritual
In the Midst of the Physical
There are two sides to the spiritual world: God's side; Satan's side. It is important to be able to recognize both whenever they are manifest in physical world events - meaning in our own trials. A significant piece of our part in a relationship with God is being able to become more aware and skilled at recognizing which side is doing what within ourselves during our trials. If we ever struggle with this in a given trial, then we can recognize that our ability to skillfully apply God's Truth to the trial will be muddled or unclear. As a result, we will feel some degree of uncertainty about something in the trial, but we will always lack a strong sense of inner peace.
It is extremely tough to fight a spiritual battle within while struggling with transforming heart disturbances to peace in Christ during the trial. Transforming our hearts becomes nearly impossible if we ever begin assuming that certain kinds of discomforts, stresses, concerns, upsets, etc. are "normal" in the sense that they aren't really indicating we are in a spiritual battle!* We can't fight spiritual battles very well if we don't recognize that the key measurement for identifying that we've been victorious in a trial is a strong sense of the peace of Christ in our heart (Colossians 3:15-17). The same is true if our best skill only involves seeing spiritual battles which others must fight!
Our physical eyes look out and away from us; spiritual eyes look in and toward us, and toward who we are or can be in Christ. This means that seeing the spiritual in the midst of the physical involves responding to the Holy Spirit, Who works to improve our own personal spiritual vision and spiritual hearing. That interaction, learning and "spiritual education" is also what we call, "Discipleship beyond the elementary teachings of Christ," or "Discipleship beyond the basics." Discipleship beyond the elementary teachings is about learning how to see and hear the spiritual goings on of one's own life, while at the same time living and participating in the physical world.
*Read about spiritual blindness; see the Spiritual Warfare Combat Tips featured article in the March 2010 edition of "Hearts Up" - "Satan's Tactic: Cultivate Spiritual Blindness by Causing Us to Overlook 'Lesser Trials'" (page opens in a separate window for your convenience)
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Discerning the Spiritual in Midst of the Physical
Requires Connecting Certain Biblical Concepts to Real-Life
Jesus Himself is represented by one of God's Keys to understanding life. Jesus' message, and the Bible as a whole, often describe or demonstrate how important it is to be able to interact with the invisible, but quite real, spiritual world internally. Jesus' message and the Bible also speak to how important it is to be able to recognize spiritual dynamics that affect us as they unfold and occur in the midst of real world situations and circumstances externally. The Bible's concepts, like "ask and it will be given to you (Matthew 7:7)," "he who has ears let him hear (Matthew 13:9)," "I will write my laws upon their hearts (Hebrews 10:15-16)," "the first will be last and the last will be first (Matthew 20:16)," and believing without seeing (John 20:29), are concepts that describe aspects of being able to live in the physical world and, at the same time, being able to interact skillfully in the spiritual world.
"Knock and the door will be opened" is another example (Matthew 7:7). Many believers assume this Bible verse (and others like it) refers strictly to a salvation experience. As such, the concept of "knocking" is often described as the process by which a person enters into a personal relationship with God. When we "believe in Jesus," the "door" would then represent the concept of eternal salvation.
While salvation is an aspect of Matthew 7:7 (and others like it), the verse also extends to the concept of being able to see and participate skillfully in the spiritual world that exists behind our own trials. When we approach our walk with Christ in terms of knowing it is possible to change how we experience trials, several reasonable questions may come to mind. How do we knock on "the door" such that it might open? What is the door? How do we know when "the door" is open or closed? How does the Lord knock on the door of our hearts as believers (Revelation 3:20)? How do we "open" the door? How do we hear His voice?
When we are not consistent at interacting with the Spirit within, we often knock on certain kinds of "doors" in order to try to feel better, to deal with stress, or even to forget our problems (trials). While some stress and tension relievers aren't necessarily bad, it is possible to get to a place where we rely on "good" distractions because we do not know how to transform inner disturbances we feel in the trials during which they arise. The issue is about the spiritual heart. We usually do not intentionally try to avoid transforming our hearts. Sometimes it is flat difficult. Sometimes it is simply challenging, at best, to apply the more "abstract" Bible teachings that relate to spiritual transformation during trials. Keys spiritual warfare and discipleship training, resources and tools focus on helping you put into practice many of the spiritual concepts in your life trials.
Keys spiritual warfare training is designed to awaken you to seeing the spiritual in the midst of the physical in your real-life decision-making processes. When we have "concerns" about some issue, we always have our reasons why we do what we end up doing or not doing. Our actions will nearly always be justified in our minds. This is another reason why Your Mind is represented by one of the "Keys" to understanding life. So, how can we know what God's best course of action is for us if our thinking isn't always trustworthy? Recognizing what parts of your rationale and decision-making processes may need changing hinges on how you use Your Heart "Key." This is because God designed our hearts to help us discover what actually needs changing in the old self's mind!
There are other issues that involve seeing the spiritual in the midst of the physical. When things don't turn out the way we want or believe they should, many times we are not at peace. This indicates we are still facing a spiritual trial, even though the outcome of some physical world situation may already have been decided. When we lack the peace of Christ during situations involving others, we often assume God is happy with us and not the other guy. In other words, we believe we found "the door" or direction God is opening, but the other guy hasn't found "the door." Often when two believers disagree, each thinks the other person should change his ways. Both might walk away angry believing they are right with God, and that the other believer isn't. Someone, though, is suffering from old-self deception, probably both - if anger is in the heart. So, how can we interact in the world of the Spirit, in order to discover if it is "I who am being deceived?" How do we knock and know whether the Lord is telling us that we truly have found the door He wants us to walk through? These are answers that Keys tools, resources and materials help you discover by applying Biblical principles to your particular life trials.
Our inconsistencies in interacting with God skillfully can prevent us from being able to see the relationships between "normal" frustrations, anxieties and annoyances, and the actual spiritual condition of our hearts, in a given trial. Our inconsistencies in responding well to God's instruction in trials hinders our ability to accurately discern the full extent of the spiritual battle we face. We usually believe that we can accurately determine the spiritual dynamics of a spiritual battle by figuring out what is bothering us about the external situation. Focusing on the external situation when our hearts are disturbed leads us to try to change the external situation in order to create inner peace - that is the way the world functions. As believers, we must go beyond the physical to discern the spiritual.
Associating inner disturbances to external situations is not always what spiritual battles are about. Doing so causes our inner sense of peace to appear to be related to what goes on outside us. This is not how we go about seeing the spiritual world in the midst of the physical world. Fighting the spiritual war within us involves being aware of how our inner disturbances are associated to our own internal, spiritual situations. Whether we are focusing on the physical external situation, or the spiritual one, our ability to feel peace and connection to God inside is affected. In short, where our focus goes when our hearts are disturbed determines which "spiritual doors" we can identify, and on which "doors we knock." This is another way of saying that the focus of our hearts determines which courses of action we see are possible, and exactly which one is the one God wants us to take.
As disciples of Christ, we expect to become skilled in the practice of embracing and applying Biblical concepts to our trial. To that end, it helps if we have practical, real-world, spiritual warfare training in the Biblical concepts, which deal with our old and new selves (Ephesians 4:20-27).
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Discerning the Spiritual in Midst of the Physical Involves
Discerning Between Our Old and New Selves in Trials
Holy Spirit The Bible
Spiritual seeing and hearing involves seeing our old and new selves by hearing the Holy Spirit. While as a believer you are an individual person, there two selves inside you: the old self and the new self. But if someone calls out to you from another room in your house saying, "Where are you?" you say, "Here I am." You don't say, "Here we are!" That would be crazy. Someone might think you have a split personality. But in a spiritual sense, each of us does ... kind of. The point is that it is important, at any given moment of discomfort, uneasiness, or strong desire, for you to have the skill to be able to clearly and accurately discern exactly what each of your two selves is up to! This is because the feelings of the heart often shift in us. This indicates a spiritual battle is at hand. Discerning the two selves consistently in trials is not a task you can achieve with Biblical knowledge alone. Hearing the Spirit's counsel is required - He is the Author of the Bible. Both the Bible and the Holy Spirit, Who authored God's written Word, are "Keys" to understanding life. This means that if you hear the Holy Spirit's counsel from time to time without knowing the internal heart dynamics at work in you, then you will find that there are some trials during which you have difficulty understanding what God is saying to you. You may even assume, in not hearing Him clearly, that He is saying, "No," or "Wait," when those assumptions are based on the failure to accurately discern, or "hear," His voice in your heart.
Which "you" answers in various real-life trials is a spiritual dynamic that has many variables. Those variables change frequently based on Satan's specific attacks, his tactics and strategies against Christ in you. Recognizing when those variables are changing, or are about to change, takes skill that can be intentionally cultivated. Doing so is also what we call, "Discipleship beyond the basics," i.e. beyond the "elementary teachings of Christ" (Hebrews 5:11-6:3).
What do you want to do next? You can look at some Keys training resources and tools we recommend...
Tell me about "Hearts Up" (there are several articles on seeing spiritual in midst of physical - look up "Trials" in the index)...
Tell me about Feelings 101: Pain to Peace (looks not only at spiritual behind the physical, but provides exercises that help you to discern the spiritual goings-on in your trials)...
Tell me about Feelings 102: Bible Studies for LIVING God's Written Word (These Bible Studies will help you put yourself in a Biblical character's shoes and identify the spiritual challenges you'd face in the trial - this helps you to see spiritual dynamics behind your own trials)
Or you can...
...continue to read more about Discipleship Beyond The Basics ...
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This page was developed by referencing, with permission,
A Disciple's Heart (See Copyright Info)