Developing Your Powers of Perception

Developing Your Powers Of Perception

By Rodney W. Francis

Perception is something we all have, yet it is one of those things we tend not to be too public about. Having something 'and knowing what to do with it 'can be two different matters! Perception is a very important part of life and we should use it in all kinds of situations.
But if someone was to seriously ask us:

  • What is perception?

  • What do we do with it?

  • Do we know when we’re operating in it?

  • How does it work for you?

  • How do you know it is right?

we then would have to stop and think it through. For most of us we’ve quite possibly never been challenged on this area of our lives.

Perception was (and is) a major part of Christian guidance throughout the Scriptures.There are approximately seven different Hebrew words and eleven Greek words that it is translated from. The main meanings are:

Old Testament (Hebrew) From Young's Concordance


to understand


to taste, perceive


to know, be acquainted with


to discern


to see


to behold (look, listen)


to hear, hearken

New Testament (Greek) From Young's Concordance


to perceive


to see, perceive, understand


to begin to know


to see, know, be acquainted with


to know about, fully


to find, discover


to see, perceive


to take thoroughly, apprehend


to observe thoroughly with the mind


to observe with the mind


to see 

Collins Dictionary gives us the following

  1. to become aware of (something) through the senses, especially the sight; recognize or observe.

  2. to come to comprehend; grasp."

It is closely linked to "discernment" or the ability to discern: 

  1. to recognize or perceive clearly.   

  2. to recognize or perceive (differences) . . . to divide or separate."

There is a natural perception and there is a spiritual perception. Perception is all about seeing beyond the outward exterior. It is seeing beyond what one is presented with. The challenge is to recognize when it is happening, the reasons why it is happening and what should we do about it?         

If it is a major part of our lives, and it should be, why are we not more open about it? Is it because we don't want it to be questioned or challenged as to its accuracy? The more we can prove the accuracy of our perception and discernment, the more we can exercise it with confidence (Hebrews 5:14).


The Bible shows us that Jesus functioned through perception.

  • He perceived (epiginosk) the thoughts in the hearts of people (Luke 5:22)
  • Luke 9:47 uses the word oida.
  • Mark 2:8 tells us Jesus perceived (epiginosko) in His spirit.
  • He perceived (katanoeo) the craftiness of the Scribes and Priests (Luke 20:23) Matthew 22:18 uses ginosko in perceiving their wickedness.
  • In Matthew 16:5-12 (ginosko) Jesus perceived the discussions of HIs disciples were heading down a wrong track and addressed them accordingly.


The Early Church functioned very powerfully and effectively through the exercising of their discernment. Even the people perceived (katalambano) Peter and John were not trained, but knew they had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13)

  • In the Samaritan revival (Acts 8) Peter and John had dealings with one Simon the sorcerer. He was obviously attracted to and stirred by the Holy Spirit ministry. However, Peterperceived (horao) the unrepentant condition of his heart and rebuked him accordingly (v.23)

  • At Cornelius' house Peter perceived ("katalambano") that God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). That perception changed the Early Church permanently!

  • Paul relied on his perceptive ("oida") ability when he healed the cripple in Acts 14:7-10. He was able to see the faith level of the man’s heart and knew that he could be healed!

  • At Athens Paul perceived (theoreo) the men there were far too superstitious in everything!  (Acts 17:22)

  • He likewise perceived (theoreo) that the ship he was travelling on was going to end up in big trouble (Acts 27:10) (Imagine how you would feel being on board a ship you knew was going to sink!)


  • Through Jesus giving a Samaritan woman a word of knowledge at Jacob's well, sheperceived (theoreo) He was a Prophet! (John 4:19)

  • In John 6:15 Jesus perceived (ginosko) the people would try and force Him to become their king!

  • When Zacharias was struck dumb in the temple, the people rightly perceived (epiginosko) he had seen a vision (Luke 1:11-12, 21-22)

Perception was also active in the lives of people in the Old Testament:

  • The Shunammite woman, who extended hospitality to Elisha, perceived (yada) he was a man of God (2 Kings 4:9) That perception caused her and her husband to build a comfortable resting place for Elisha to use every time he passed by that way.

  • Israel was spared in the days of Esther because her Uncle Mordecai had first perceived (yada) the evil plottings of Haman (Esther 4:1). His perception caused him to know something was going very wrong for him and his people. It prompted him to action: action that saw a great turn-around of events. Israel lived instead of being obliterated.

  • Eli the priest eventually perceived (bin) that God was calling young Samuel (after Samuel had woken him up three times!) (1 Samuel 3:8)

  • Gideon got a real "wake-up" call when he perceived (raah) his visitor was an angel of God! (Judges 6:22)

  • Nehemiah perceived (nakar) that the prophecy given to him by Shemaiah was false; that it was a subtle plan to take him out of the will of God through fear, sin and an evil report. He also recognized that other false prophets and a prophetess (called Noadiah) were behind the plot (Nehemiah 6:10-14)


From the afore-mentioned examples we see that perception functioned in the following ways:

  1. Perceiving the thoughts and hearts of people (Luke 5:22).

  2. Perceiving the reasonings within the hearts of religious people (Mark 2:6-8)

  3. Perceiving the reasonings amongst the disciples (Matthew 16:5-12)

  4. Recognizing people had something more than education (Acts 4:13)

  5. Perceiving a heart that was in desperate need of repentance (Acts 8:23)

  6. Understanding God's heart toward all men (Acts 10:34)

  7. Perceiving when someone had faith to be healed (Acts 14:7-10)

  8. Perceiving hearts that were too superstitious (Acts 17:22)

  9. Perceiving coming danger in travels (Acts 27:10)

  10. Discovering the ministry gift of another (John 4:19; Galatians 2:9)

  11. Perceiving plans and actions that others would take (John 6:15)

  12. Perceiving when someone else had seen a vision (Luke 1:21-22)

  13. Perceiving a physical need to help the man of God (2 Kings 4:9)

  14. Perceiving evil plans against the people of God (Esther 4:1)

  15. Perceiving the call of God on someone else's life (1 Samuel 3:8)

  16. Perceiving an angel of God (Judges 6:22)

  17. Perceiving false prophecy (Nehemiah 6:10-14)

Perception and discernment are very important functions for us. We have seen how they have operated in various Bible illustrations. Yet, strangely, there are two areas where we seem to be somewhat weak in perception:

"When He passes me, I cannot see Him; when He goes by, I cannot perceive (bin) Him"(Job 9:11, NIV)

"For God speaks once, yes twice, yet man perceives 
(shur) it not" (Job 33:14)  
The NIV states: "For God does speak, now one way, now another – though man may not perceive it."

Job was going through a major trial in his life and it seems that his circumstances were "blinding" him from comprehending God and His voice? How we must guard against our circumstances getting in the way of perceiving when God is near.

"For who among them has stood in the council of the Lord, that he should perceive("raah") and hear His Word? Who has marked His Word, noticing and observing and giving attention to it, and has actually heard it?" (Jeremiah 23:18, AMP.)

  • Are we looking?

  • Are we listening to God and His Word?


"And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive (katanoeo) the plank that is in your own eye?"  (Luke 6:41,NKJV)

Perception works best for us when it comes to other people, circumstances and situations! But not so good for our own personal lives.

The two main areas we need to be more perceptive in, we are actually weak!

With regards to our perception of God's voice and presence, we have need of presenting ourselves to Him, to bring ourselves to the place of sitting at His feet. We have need to allow Him to reveal to us what is in our own heart. We need those times of "being still and knowing that I am God" (Psalm 46:10). Then we need to carry that through to pulling the log out of our own eye! All of us have experienced others who know the will of God and life's answers for everyone else. Yet their own life often carries no corresponding actions. We've all (personally) struggled with perceiving the will of God for ourselves.
Why is this?
Is it because God wants us to be more open to other members of His Body helping us to make some major decisions?
Jean and I have recently been through some major decision-making processes. We came to realize about three-quarters way through that guidance wasn't working out like we'd anticipated. Then a dear Presbyterian elder had an unexpected word for me that broke through a mind-set that was looking for an answer along a "church-acceptable" mentality. Suddenly I was able to think and perceive "outside of the box" and things fell into place for us very quickly. God had called us to walk a different path for this next season of our lives. We're so very glad we’ve made the decisions we have. But not every one understands the way we’re going. Yet (we can honestly say) God has vindicated the direction in a number of ways.

  • Perception

  • Discernment

The ability to make a spiritual distinction; the ability "to see" behind the outward show. It is there to lead us, guide us, help us, forewarn us, protect us. We have it so we can more specifically help, understand and minister to others in the name of Jesus through the love of God within us.

In Conclusion:

Be encouraged to have a discussion among your Christian friends about how perception works for you. You will be surprised at how helpful it will be to talk about how this important area of your life works.
Be challenged to improve your perceiving and discerning skills. They can be sharpened, improved and matured! They could save yours and others' lives!

 "The Gospel Faith Messenger" Ministry.  New Zealand.  Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


"The Gospel Faith Messenger" Ministry.  New Zealand.  Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Powered by Warp Theme Framework