If you are now practicing switching your mind's focus from the natural senses to the spirit man on a regular basis, you've come to know that Presence down inside your spirit. It is the presence of the Lord - warm, peaceful, gentle, humble, comforting, and always there.
They didn't have 'the Word'
Consider that the first century believers lived before the letters that comprise the New Testament had been assembled into our New Testament in print. Up to that point a believer HAD to know the Holy Spirit's presence inside to guide them and keep them in truth and balance. We so confidently recite verses in the gospels, Acts, Romans or Ephesians, but back then - those documents had not yet been, or were in the process of being written! They HAD to know the Holy Spirit within them. He was the voice of Truth in the midst of pagan cultures and questionable teachings about God the Father and our Lord.
They had to know the fellowship of the Holy Spirit so that when someone taught something that wasn't correct, they recognized the grievance of the Holy Spirit within when their ears heard that wrong message. There was no chapter and verse to turn to or even to settle arguments - each believer had to know the Spirit of Truth within.
To this Paul admitted his concerns to the Corinthians in his second letter: "I fear...that your minds would be corrupted from the simplicity that is faith in Christ...that you might accept people who preach another Jesus whom we've not preached, or another spirit, which you have not received, or another gospel which you have not accepted..."
For those who know the Spirit of Truth, the subtle means of the enemy to draw them away is to complicate their faith: Another Jesus, another spirit, another gospel.
And that exact thing is why we have Christians who will argue the doctrine they believe the Word says, which you know is way off balance, but they haven't a clue - because they don't listen to or have ignored, or don't even know the Spirit of truth.
For if they knew Him and His presence inside, they would have submitted their thoughts to Him before they went off on a wild tangent about some 'pet' doctrine. But leaving the simplicity of Christ they chose a mental gospel, which means a path of ever increasing complication to their faith. And they will argue with you trying to evangelize you to their point of view - which argument is all mental, without consideration, no asking: "Does this resonate in your spirit? Does it feel right in your spirit?."
Past feeling, and re-sensitizing yourself
In Ephesians 4: 18-19 Paul speaks of sinners who are 'past feeling' and have given themselves over to (sexual) sin. The phrase 'past feeling' means one who 'ceases to feel pain'. This pain is a pain in the spirit man, they are no longer able to feel dirty in their sexual sin, they no longer feel the conviction of God in their spirit.
Christians can also 'sear their conscience.' In I Timothy 4: 1-2 Paul uses that phrase to describe believers who 'depart from the faith, giving heed (listening to and then following) seducing spirits and teachings from demons...' A seduction is a long process, luring someone to a place they would not normally go, to do things they would not normally do. That's how demons work to complicate one's faith. A seduction is tempting, it draws one in, it causes excitement. That's how demons work to seduce believers into believing their (demonically sourced) doctrines (teachings).
How does a Christian recover the sensitivity they once had? By repentance, and then concentrating their efforts to feel, to sense His presence inside, and to submit decision making to that Presence inside. That is faith. When you feel a peace about going in x direction, but no other leading, stepping out to do x direction...repeat that over and over and that sensitivity will start to return.
When an angel speaks it is from the outside, for angels are individuals.
Their presence feels like a person in the room who is a believer. If you focus on instructions from an angel you'll be able to tell it was from outside you, and from what direction it came. But the Holy Spirit is within your spirit. Not your mind, and the difference in discerning what is you and what is Him, is where does that voice, that leading, that peace originate?
Does that voice, that leading, that peace originate from outside you - then it is an angel. If from within your spirit down deep inside and floating up to your mind - then it is the Holy Spirit. If from within yourself in the space between your ears - usually yourself, your own heart, yourself.
Hebrews 5: 14
"Strong meat is for those who by reason of use have trained their senses to discern between good and evil." There is not a way to just hear a teaching and then you 'get it'. The only way is by being a doer of the Word. It is a lifestyle. It is discipline. It is focused effort. There is no easy way. There is only shifting your attention back and forth between natural senses and your spirit man, discerning the point of origination, and then stepping out in faith 'by reason of use'. Trial and error.
A person must have confidence in the fact that as a born again believer, Christ is in them, and THERE is the focus of their fellowship with Him. Not by going to church, not by having some authority figure lay hands on you. But Christ in you, the hope of glory. The Word and Spirit agree, so anything you think the Word says - or anything someone claims the Word says - will bear witness, resonate, feel right in your spirit. Any teaching or experience one has or practice someone says is the Holy Spirit; if not in the Word and if it doesn't feel right in your spirit, isn't the Holy Spirit.
Faith does not say 'let me go to heaven', that is to bring Christ down again (so He can talk to you). Romans 10: 5-11. Have you thought 'If only Jesus would appear to me', 'If only I could go to heaven', or 'If only I could see an angel' - that isn't faith. Faith is in your heart, where He is. Not in a building, but in you, a temple of God. Know the Spirit within your spirit.
Remove from the pedestal of your heart the 'church' building, the pastor, your favorite teacher - remove all those from the pedestal of exaltation in your heart and put Christ in you as the Source of fellowship and revelation. Respect the pastor, respect the gathering of the saints no matter how they celebrate the gathering of the church - but know in yourself the Spirit of Truth has the final word. Set yourself to esteem His opinion first and foremost - even if someone shows you chapter and verse but inside the Spirit is grieved or doesn't feel right about that teaching - then go with your spirit. Go with the Holy Spirit.
I'm not talking about your mind being confused - that is not the same - I'm talking about your mind noticing a grievance when a teacher says something wrong. Trust the Spirit of God within you. You may not be able to figure it out right then, but seek out someone who is balanced, or dig through the Word and other teachings yourself until the Holy Spirit resonates with your spirit 'aha, that sets right with me, that is the truth...'
Hope this series has been a blessing - new subject next week, until then, blessings!
www.cwowi.org and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org