Taste & Hear to Discern Good & Evil

Our five senses should inspire us to be thankful
to our glorious Creator for their amazing design and function.

“Awakening of the senses is important
to appreciation of life itself”—French Culture Minister Jack Lang.
With their input, our Spirit in Man better
“knows the things of a man” (1 Cor. 2:11).

More important, the Holy Spirit unites with our Spirit in Man
so we can know “the things of God.”
God wants “those who by reason of use
have their senses exercised
to discern both good and evil” (Heb. 5:14).


has been downplayed as “the poor cousin of the five senses.”  Taste buds look like microscopic rosebuds and function as a chemical process.  They are scattered throughout the oral cavity rather than being just on the tongue.

Haagen-DazsThose of you who love ice cream might be surprised to hear that, as food must be liquefied before real taste occurs, so the creamy treat is pretty tasteless until it melts in the mouth.  Then a sweet-taste receptor transmits a minute electrochemical current via cranial nerves to the gustatory terminals in the brain.  The brain’s analysis:  YUM!

Interestingly, the Hebrew word da’at meaning “knowledge,” used 90 times in the Old Testament, serves up a double entendre:  “taste.”

Adam & Eve 2So in Gen. 2:9 about “the tree of knowledge of good and evil,” Adam and Eve disobeyed and tasted its fruit!  Comments Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words:  “In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat of the tree whose fruit if eaten would give them the experience of evil and, therefore, the knowledge of good and evil.”  Maybe the place should have been called the Garden of Eatin’!

Heb. 6:4-5 cooks up a spiritual warning:  “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away.”

Hopefully we have had our fill of the false chef’s world (2 Cor. 4:4) and can’t stomach it any more! (Rev. 18:4).


Recently I couldn’t wait to watch highlights from Rafael Nadal’s 11th French Open tennis victory.  But though other videos had proper sound, nothing on his!  He’d reach for a corner shot and no sound of rubber squeaking on the clay court.  A full stadium but no crowd noise.  Nadal would bounce the ball about 20 times before serving and no sound of impact.   True, there were no annoying grunts like even some pros do on every hit, but as much as I wanted to watch the great action sequences, I couldn’t stand hearing nothing!  I quicky turned it off.

For the first time in my 67 years, I felt some insight into how a deaf person might experience life we take for granted.   Only they can’t afford to turn it off or ignore it.

If we stop listening to God, it leads to withdrawal from His way of life.  Woe if we become “dull of hearing”! (Heb. 5:11).  It’s not talking about decibels.

“I Am Joe’s Body,” by J.D. Radcliff, the most successful series ever printed in the history of Reader’s Digest, called “the flap of tissue on the side of the head … a triumph of miniaturization.  Nowhere in his body is so much crammed into so small a space.”  The outer ear is “nothing but a sound gathering trumpet.”  Maybe you feel like yours is a tuba!

The ear canal has “a profusion of hairs and 4,000 wax glands act[ing] as a flypaper trap for insects, dust and other potential irritants” and guarding against infection.  We must listen for spiritual pollutants in music, movies, YouTube and social media.

To give a flavor of how intricately designed an ear is, in the middle ear, three tiny bones called the anvil, hammer and stirrup amplify sound-bearing waves from the eardrum 22 times.  The auditory nerve contains more than 30,000 circuits.  The ear hears, but the brain unscrambles the data into meaningful sound.

Few realize that our sense of hearing is on automatic pilot to keep us balanced, lest we get dizzy or topple over.  To my wife Mary’s delight, her new hearing aids not only restored her hearing but stopped her getting dizzy going around corners in the car, which she has suffered all her life.  Now I can drive as fast as I want!

Merritt B. Jones in is book Speak, Listen, Communicate:  “Listening is sometimes confused with hearing.  They are not synonymous.  Hearing is the perception of sound … listening implies conscious attention to sounds for the purpose of identification or understanding.  Listening is active.

The average student is engaged in some form of communication 70% of his conscious ours, broken down:  45% listening, 30% talking, 18% reading, 9% writing.  Of 20 skills needed for management, listening is ranked #1.

So “be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19).

Jesus said “My sheep hear my voice … and they follow Me” (John 10:27).

Because Job responded to God’s correction in Chapters 38-39, God was able to continue on in Job 40 which meant more growth for Job.  As the Matthew Henry Commentary put it so well:  “Those who daily receive what they have heard from God, and profit by it, shall hear more from Him ‘not to catch at comfort too soon!'”  God comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable!

James 1:22, 25 sums up what our hearing means spiritually:  “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves…. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.”

Exercise taste and hearing to discern good and evil

Temptation AdYes, we must want God’s way so bad we can taste it.   David and Daniel prayed three square meals a day (Psa. 55:17, Dan. 6:10).  “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4).  Reject spiritual junk food and harmful empty calories.

Yes, we must schma—hear, O Israel to the extent of listening, heeding and obeying.  We must prioritize God’s instructions over all the distorting noise.   Spiritual balance is a must.

Let’s come to our senses!

Next and last post in this three-part series,
we’ll take a look at seeing, touching and smelling.

Part 3:  Now See Here, Touch & Smell to Discern Good & Evil
Part 1:  What’s It Mean:  Exercise Our Senses to Discern Good & Evil

world map 64 countries final

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