Most people don’t think of the imagination as something that has any spiritual value. The western mentality is that what happens in our physical world is real and what happens in our imagination belongs to a realm we label as “fantasy” - meaning it’s not real.
I believe this way of thinking, to a big extent, has robbed us of the ability to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit. Even though we may not say it, we have the idea that if God was to speak to someone, it would be more real if He spoke with an audible voice. If God was to give someone a vision, it would not be a real vision unless the person falls into some kind of trance and saw it as real as he sees the physical world.
Because here in the western world we have become very materialistic, we tend to think that the only thing that is real is what we can see and touch. Of course we would not say it like this, because we believe in a God we can’t see. But still there is an underlaying mentality, saying that what God shows us is more real if we receive it in such a way that we can hear it with our physical ears, see it with our physical eyes or touch it with our hands.
The Holy Spirit is not always like that, however, and I believe that this kind of mentality has hindered many people from hearing the voice of God and operating in the supernatural. Why? Because it has limited the way the Holy Spirit can speak. Even though He can, and sometimes does, speak with an audible voice, God does not always speak like this. Even though God can show people a vision, bringing them into a mental trance, like Peter in Acts, chapter 10, He does not always do it like this.
Often God wants to speak to us using our inner voice, which the skeptics will say is just our imagination. But why should it be so negative if it was our imagination? Why can’t God speak to us using our imagination? I believe He does, and I believe we often miss the voice of the Holy Spirit because we have been trained to not take heed to our imagination.
When it comes to the negative side of our imagination, we have no problem understanding that sinful fantasies can have a real influence on our spiritual life. The first thing many would think of when they hear the word fantasy, is sexually-related thoughts and desires.
We don’t have any problems believing that the devil can speak to us, placing thoughts and fantasies in our minds, and we count it as an obvious fact that these fantasies, placed in our minds, become sinful thoughts that will quench our spiritual life.
If we believe that sinful fantasies have a real effect on our spiritual life, why don't we believe that positive fantasies can have just as great impact, only in a positive way? Why is it we believe that the devil can speak to us through our fantasies, but refuse to believe that the Holy Spirit can communicate with us using our imagination?
Because we don’t see any positive spiritual value in using our imagination, and to a big extent don’t believe that the Holy Spirit can speak to us through our fantasies, many people have a fantasy highly trained when it comes to sinful thoughts, but totally blank when it comes to the positive.
Painting on the
canvas of our minds
A good painter is able to hold an image/fantasy in his mind and use his hands to make the fantasy become alive on a canvas. All good paintings have once only been an image in the artist’s mind, transferred to the canvas so others can enjoy the beauty. But a person who has never tried to paint would have a hard time transferring the image in his head to the canvas, because he has not developed the skill of painting.
I believe that when it comes to understanding how God communicates with us, many Christians are like unskilled painters. When they try to transfer the image they have in their spirit, to the canvas of their mind, using their ability to fantasize, it’s like a two-year-old child scribbling with colored pencils on a piece of paper. They have real spiritual truths hidden inside, but they can’t communicate it to the rest of the world because every time they pick up their colored pencils, the picture they draw on the canvas of their mind looks like scribbling.
I believe that it’s time Christians started to learn to let the Holy Spirit use their imagination. The word “prophecy” comes from the greek word “prophetia" and means inspired utterance. In the Bible we can read about people speaking prophetically, or in other words speaking inspired by God. We also see people doing prophetic acts, or in other words doing certain acts inspired by the Holy Spirit. In the same way I believe that our fantasies can be prophetic and have a real spiritual effect both in the spiritual world and in our physical reality.
Because of sin our imagination has been corrupted, even though our spirit has been born again. This is why Paul is urging us to renew our minds. The fact that Paul urges us to do that proves that our minds can be renewed and cleansed. When our mind is renewed, Paul says that we will be able to test and approve of what the will of God is.
Paul’s solution for our whole being is that our spirit must be born again, our mind renewed, and our flesh crucified. God’s solution for our imagination is not the same as for our flesh, because God want us to renew our imagination, so that it can be a clean canvas where He clearly communicates His will to us.
Our fantasy and imagination are not a bad thing; they only become bad when sin corrupts them. When we allow the Holy Spirit to saturate our soul and cleanse our imagination He can use even our fantasy to convey spiritual truth to us that will have a real spiritual effect.