“But solid food is for fullgrown men, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern good and evil” (Heb. 5:14). “All chastening seemeth for the present to be not joyous but grievous: yet afterward it yieldeth peaceable fruit unto them that have been exercised thereby, even the fruit of righteousness” (Heb. 12:11).
If you look to see the object of this exercise, you will discover that it has to do with just one thing – but a very great thing. It is not just development, getting big; it is what we call capacity, that is, ability, or being able for things. That is the Divine object in this exercise, quite clearly set forth in this letter. And capacity, as I am sure you will agree, is a very vital matter. Whether it is in the natural realm or in the spiritual, it does amount to something to have capacity – to have ability. It is a very distressing thing to find how few, even of the Lord’s people, have real spiritual capacity. You will see what that means as we go on. But let us get the object of this exercise in view, that we may make no mistake. It is not just to be something, but to be able for something – that is capacity. In gymnastics you can do it for its own sake, just to develop yourself, just to be something, but the real object is to be able to do things, to be capable of much more.
What is the realm of this exercise? Here it speaks of having the senses exercised. Well, of course, that is very simple and easily understood. In our natural, physical man we have five senses. We have our sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. Those are the five senses of our physical natural life. But there is also an inner man called the “hidden man of the heart”, and that inward man has what corresponds to the outer man’s five senses. There is a faculty of spiritual sight, of spiritual hearing, of spiritual smelling or sensing, of spiritual taste and spiritual touch, and these senses are very important to the life of the inward man – yes, more important even than the senses of the physical man. We know how we feel the tragedy of people who have lost any of those outward senses. It is a great loss; it is an imperfect life, a life of limitation. But it is equally true of the inward man. To be without spiritual sight is a tragic loss and a terrible limitation; or without spiritual hearing, that capacity for answering to the Spirit “he that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith”: if there is no capacity for hearing, that is a desperate situation.
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