Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:1
I have been bothered by the abundance of false teachings and so-called revelation given by those who speak with tongues. I have observed this over a long period of time.
I have finally reached a place of wanting to address it. As one who has spoken much in tongues at certain times in my life, I am disturbed that so much error has entered the church through those who speak with tongues.
Being gifted to speak with tongues does not mean you are spiritual person. The Corinthians spoke much in tongues, but according to Paul they were carnal believers.
And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. ~ 1 Corinthians 3:1
When the gift of tongues is properly understood, and kept within its biblical boundries, it is a great blessing. When tongues becomes a badge of spiritually, revelation, and walking in the supernatural – abuses, error, and false teachings follow. Rather than following Jesus, those who misappropriate tongues often fall into a false sense of spirituality.
Recently, I came across something someone had written titled, 100 BENEFITS OF SPEAKING IN TONGUES. While a hand full of the mentioned benefits had scriptural support, the vast majority of them did not.
Allow me to share a few of them and the reason why they are wrong.
Benefit #4 claims, Tongues is the believer’s direct access to the throne room.
This is false, tongues is not the believer’s direct access to God’s throne, the person of Jesus Christ is. The scriptures tell us that there is only one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ. Jesus instructed his disciples to come to the Father in his name, and in the book of Hebrews we are told to come boldly into the Holiest by the blood of Jesus.
Jesus is our direct access to God, speaking in tongues is not.
By claiming that tongues is the believer’s direct access to the throne room, the writer has elevated tongues to the status that only Jesus has in scripture, and by default he is closing out those who don’t speak with tongues.
Therefore this view of tongues should be rejected, for such statements elevate tongues beyond its biblical boundaries and opens the mind of carnal believers to a false sense of spirituality.
According to the Bible, the fruit of the Spirit is revealed as love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self control ~ Galatians 5:22-23. These are the characteristics found in the lives of those who are spiritual, and according to Paul, you can speak with tongues and still be lacking in the fruit of the Spirit.
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity (LOVE), I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:1
Also on the list of 100 benefits of speaking in tongues was an unbiblical spin on speaking mysteries. Point #5 says, Tongues is speaking divine mysteries – divine coded secrets.
Obviously this statement is predicated on Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 14:2, which says, For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.
The emphasis of this text as the context reveals is that tongues is spoken in a language not understood by the hearer, and that is the reason for the use of the word mysteries. Speaking mysteries doesn’t mean “divine hidden codes” which is another way of saying “hidden revelation.”
It simple means you do not understand with your mind the meaning of your tongues, no more than you would understand what a Korean, or Russian were saying if you didn’t know their language. Paul explains this when he says, Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me. ~ v.11.
Soon thereafter Paul says the following:
For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. ~1 Corinthians 14:14-15
The New Testament does not teach that we are praying divine coded secrets when we pray in tongues, and such ideas are the breeding ground for false revelation not consistent with the sound doctrine given to us in the scriptures. When we go beyond the teachings of scripture thinking we have spiritual revelation because of tongues, this can open our minds to unscriptural doctrines.
It is almost certain that this is the reason why so many who elevate tongues beyond the scriptural boundaries very seldom obey the Bible’s instructions regarding the proper use of tongues publicly. Rather than remaining silent in obedience to God’s Word, many elect to “display their spiritually” by speaking in tongues publicly when there is no one present to interpret. Yet the scriptures teach us to be silent in public if there is no interpreter.
The 6th benefit mentioned on the list of the 100 Benefits says, Tongues is drawing secrets to life’s complicated issues.
There is not a single text anywhere in the New Testament that even hints to this. In every place that tongues is referenced in the New Testament, where we are told what was said in other tongues, the emphasis is always that of magnifying God.
Notice Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 14:
What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest? For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified. ~ v. 15-17
Notice that Paul’s description of what is being said in tongues is that of blessing God and giving thanks. This is consistent with Acts 2. When the multitude heard the 120 disciples speaking in tongues they heard them speaking of “the wonderful works of God” ~ v.11.
It is also consistent with Acts 10 where we find Cornelius and his house, “speaking with tongues, and magnifying God”. ~ Acts 10:46
In Acts 11, Peter described what happened at Cornelius’s house as being similar to the experience of the 120 disciples on the Day of Pentecost.
And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God? ~ Acts 11:15-17
The gift of th Holy Spirit is given to us to exalt Jesus, and the gift of tongues (scriptually) is given to help us bless and thank God, and glorify him.
Speaking in other tongues is not going to straighten out your theology. It didn’t do that for the Corinthians and it won’t for you either. It is not going to make you spiritual. it didn’t do that for the Corinthians, and it won’t for you either.
This is where I think people mistake the purpose for the gift of other tongues. The primary purpose for tongues is for exalting God (praising and glorifying him) in your personal devotion.
If you pray in other tongues, your spirit is edified, but others around you are not, and that is why the gift of the interpretation of tongues is needed in public. Praying and singing in other tongues in your personal devotion will spiritually enrich you in your praying and singing in your understanding.
I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue. ~ 1 Corinthians 14:18-19
Paul makes a contrast between his much speaking in tongues privately, and speaking in the church. While speaking in tongues in private edifies the individual who speaks in tongues, speaking in tongues publicly does not edify those who do not know what you are saying.
This is why Paul says he’d rather speak five understandable words in the church than 10 thousand which can’t be understood by others. Displaying tongues publicly with no interpertation is not an act of being spiritual, but carnal and selfish because it is not motivated by love towards others in the room. Such displays of tongues causes a person to be spiritually unpleasant as a sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal, rather than a sweet fragrance of God’s love in Christ.
When we are in fellowship with others we should be concerned with the edification of others, and not ourselves. Paul tells the Corinthians to keep silent (from speaking in tongues) in the church if there is no interpreter present.
If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God. ~ 1 Corinthians 14:27-28
The sad truth is that many Christians are robbed of the blessing of speaking in other tongues because of the abuse of carnal Christians who think speaking in tongues publicly is a sign of spirituality. It is not!
Speaking in tongues publicly with no interpretation is a sign of carnality. Being able to control yourself and keep silent is a sign of spirituality. In his instruction concerning the use of tongues and when to keep silence, Paul says, Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature. ~ 1 Corinthians 14:20.
Spiritually mature people do not display their tongues publicly!
Spiritual people do not need to draw attention to themselves. Spiritual people are more concerned with using their gifting with discretion and wisdom so that the name of Christ is glorified and others edified.