What is spiritual intuition?

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Let’s say you have been praying about an important decision in your life and an answer comes that you feel certain is the right one. Or perhaps you are going about your daily business and an urgent thought tells you, “Move away from that spot right now!” Or you have a feeling that the person you are talking with may not be telling you the truth, even though he or she has a reputation for integrity. How do you know—in these instances, or in any circumstance—if the thoughts that are coming to you are spiritual intuitions from God, or maybe just human will, anxiety, or emotion?

The answers may not be as black and white as we would like them to be. But our ability to know whether our intuitions are truly spiritual—that is, coming from God—grows as we grow in our understanding of the true nature of God, and in our willingness to let God mold our thoughts and actions anew in accord with His will.

I find myself thinking about the biblical account of Abraham’s struggle to understand and obey God (see Genesis 22:1–13). In Abraham’s time people worshiped many gods, and “the sacrifice of the firstborn was a common practice … and was regarded as the most pleasing service which men could offer to their deities” (The One Volume Bible Commentary, edited by J.R. Dummelow, p. 29). Abraham, however, had begun to understand that there is actually only one God, and that this God alone requires our faith and obedience. But would this one almighty God require Abraham to do something so hideous as to sacrifice his firstborn son, Isaac?

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The divine details
October 22, 2012

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