Caution About The Blessing Of Tongues

November 24, 2013

Someone asked me yesterday, via email, about my view on tongues, so this was my response:

About tongues: We know that the apostle Paul taught its authenticity and told us not to forbid speaking in tongues (1 Cor. 14:39), though everything is to be done in a fitting and orderly way. (v. 40) (Aside from that which was obviously cultural, I believe all doctrine taught in God’s Word is for today.) Tongues is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit (12:10), but everyone does not have all the same gifts. (v. 4-11,27-31) We can ask for the gift of tongues since it is definitely beneficial to pray entirely by the Spirit, especially when we do not know how or what to pray for. (Rom. 8:26,27 // 1 Cor. 14:4,14) If we do not receive tongues right away, we will still likely receive it if we truly desire it and thus keep asking. Of course this goes only for those who are walking in obedience to the Word of God, for the Lord does not answer the prayers of those who willfully disobey Him (Ps. 50:16,17 & 66:18), nor does He give them His Spirit. (Acts 5:32)

The problem about tongues, and the danger of it, is that because we are not usually given the interpretation by the Spirit (though we should pray for this enablement –1 Cor. 14:13), we simply do not know what we are saying. Therefore, if someone is not in full obedience to God / “walking in the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16), then evil spirits (who certainly try to influence the disobedient to commit more sin), could possibly speak through that person’s “prayer language”. Shamans often speak in another language when in a trance, so surely caution is wise.

Can demons speak through Christ-followers? Yes, if a person turns away from the Truth. Peter followed Jesus, professed Him to be “the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Mt. 16:16), was commended by Jesus as having learned this from the Father (v. 17), was validated by Jesus as one having the keys of the Kingdom (v. 19), and yet was called “Satan” by Jesus when He rebuked him for another statement he made. (v. 23)

There is a third possibility when people are “speaking in tongues”. They may be doing so not by the Spirit of God, nor by a demon, but by their own semi-hypnotic state –which can be brought on by the power of suggestion or by emotions of excitement or intense need.

If we do find ourselves having been granted the gift of tongues, it would be wise to frequently pray that we will always be praying only by the Holy Spirit. In other words, when we are led to pray in tongues, we should first submit our own spirit and our every word to the complete control of the Holy Spirit. If we do this, and if we are walking clean and close to the Lord, then we should certainly “pray in the Holy Spirit” (Eph. 6:18 // Jude 1:20) with confidence in whatever language He chooses to pray through us with –whether it is a language we understand or not.

Though tongues is appropriate for praying while alone with God, is it appropriate in a church setting? Yes. The commands in 1 Cor. 14:39,40 reveal this, particularly being these two verses conclude instructions about using our gifts in a church setting. Can participating in simultaneous prayer at a tongues-speaking church be risky? I believe so. For how do we know the hearts of all those there? How do we know that they are truly praying in the Holy Spirit? And if they are not, what ridiculous or evil words might be coming from their mouths? We can rely on the Spirit in us to bear witness and give us discernment, but certainly evil can be in action under the guise of “speaking in tongues”.

Caution, then, concerning the blessing of the gift of tongues, is advisable.

with love,

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