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TEACHING MATERIAL

Tongues Should Be Tested

By GERALD E. McGRAW

MAN'S initial contact with Satan was disastrous. No wonder Satan is called the father of lies (John 8:44), for he told Eve, "Ye shall not surely die" (Genesis 3:4). Yet sin did produce death. This original encounter warns us that deception is one of the devil's prime weapons.

Satan's duplicity is directed at contemporary Christians no less than at our first parents. Paul expressed his concern to the Corinthian believers: "I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ (2 Corinthians 11:3).

Some people see the present charismatic movement as the fulfillment of prophecies that a "latter rain" will invigorate Christianity before the rapture of the church. Opponents relegate the phenomenon to spiritual delusion and psychological imbalance. But Scripture does not anticipate a total cessation of spiritual gifts within the present age. There is New Testament evidence that the gifts are divinely intended for the entire church age.

But is it safe to conclude that all contemporary tongues-speaking results from the Holy Spirit's gift? Does Satan duplicate spiritual gifts?

In testing numerous tongues gifts by scriptural criteria my associates and I have found many originating from a satanic source. This article will examine the necessity, methodology and results of such testing.

Scripture contains a number of examples of people who sought confirmation of the divine origin of supernatural communications. For instance, God did not expect the Israelites to accept Moses' mission without substantiation (Exodus 4:1-9).

As the angel of the Lord informed Gideon of his assigned triumph over the Midianites, Gideon requested, "Shew me a sign that thou talkest with me" (Judges 6: 17). The angel of the Lord obliged by bringing fire out of a rock (verse 21). God did not berate him for asking confirmation.

The principle of verification is not limited to the Old Testament. At the birth of Jesus dazzling angels offered the shepherds proof of their remarkable statement of the Saviour's birth: "Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger" (Luke 2:12). John's Gospel is filled with signs intended to lead the reader to personal faith (John 20:30-31 ).

The Jews were noted for demanding verification (I Corinthians 1:22). It is true that Jesus condemned such Jewish sign-seeking as arose from deliberate unbelief. After attributing His exorcism to satanic power (Matthew 12:22-40), for example, the Pharisees were condemned for seeking an additional sign. Jesus also denounced the demand for a further sign after miraculously feeding four thousand (Matthew 15:30-16:4; cp. John 6:30). Yet in both cases Jesus did give the true sign of Jonah. Note also His healing of the nobleman's son (John 4).

It is evident from the Scriptures, then, that supernatural claims can be tested. Job's earlier words on the need for discrimination (Job 12:11) are echoed by Elihu (34:3-4): "The ear trieth words, as the mouth tasteth meat. Let us choose to us judgment: let us know among ourselves what is good."

Several gifts of the Spirit involve speech, and Scripture directly asserts the need for caution (see James 3:2-10 and Jeremiah 9:3-8). Paul claims to have demonstrated "the signs of an apostle" (2 Corinthians 12: 12). His ministry was substantiated "through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God" (Romans 15: 16-19). Christ commended the Ephesian church because they "tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars" (Revelation 2:2).

Similarly the gift of prophecy must be tried. Prophecy is essentially speaking for a deity-whether or not the message includes predictions. God's people must reject the prophet who speaks in the name of false gods even if his predictions are fulfilled (Deuteronomy 13:1-5). He must reject both the prophet who professes to speak in Jehovah's name but who speaks unbidden and the prophet who professes to speak in Jehovah's name but whose predictions fail to come to pass (18:20-22; See 2 Peter 1:21-2:1; I Kings 22: 19-23).

Christ warned to "beware of false prophets," discoverable by their fruits (Matthew 7: 15-16). Through Paul the Lord commands (I Corinthians 14:37) listeners to pass judgment when prophets speak in the church (verse 29). Prophecy can originate from satanic delusion, as illustrated at the outset of the Pauline missions by Bar-jesus, whom the apostle addressed as a child of the devil (Acts 13:6-12), and at the end of the age in the False Prophet, who despite miraculous works will be Antichrist's accomplice (Revelation 13; 19:20).

Many charismatics insist that everyone filled with the Holy Spirit will speak in tongues. If this is the only way to know certainly one has been filled, no wonder people become desperate for this "evidence." One young man lay on the ground for hours earnestly pleading for tongues. In another instance the subject had been urged by charismatic tutors to keep repeating the word "Hallelujah" until he could break out in tongues. In both cases the subjects did acquire the coveted ability. Later testing, however, revealed that in each case a demon had entered the victim and had imparted the glossolalia. In the latter case the tongues demon was named Hallelujah.

If a tongue is supernatural, it must issue either from God's Spirit or from one of Satan's spirits. Since it is an anti-Biblical and satanic delusion to assert that everyone filled with God's Spirit must speak in tongues (I Corinthians 12:30; also see previous article), the reader can see how seeking for tongues perilously opens the human personality to demonic influences.

If God wills to give a person a tongue, this is His prerogative, for the sovereign Holy Spirit distributes spiritual gifts individually as He wills (I Corinthians 12:11). If, however, a man rejects the Biblical principle that God bestows "gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will" (Hebrews 2:4) and demands the showy, lesser gift of tongues, that man must suffer the consequences if he should receive a counterfeit.

Three New Testament passages not treated earlier in this article demonstrate that supernatural speaking gifts such as tongues need to be tested. Although it has been variously interpreted, First Thessalonians 5:19-22 stands in a context of spiritual gifts.

Paul admonished: "Quench not the Spirit, Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil."

At the start of the fullest discussion of spiritual gifts in Scripture (I Corinthians 12-14) Paul contrasted the supernatural speaking gifts with the Corinthians' former idols that were unable to speak (12:2). Such idolatry involved demonism (10:20), and Paul wanted his readers to avoid anything false in speaking. Consequently he asserted that a man speaking by the Spirit of God will not call Jesus accursed,

Again, God's Spirit speaking through a man will gladly confess that Jesus is the Lord, The implication is that if a demon underlies the supernatural utterance he will decline to confess Christ's Lordship but will rather express his hatred of Christ. Surely the tests are stated here for a reason.

The testing of spirits is directly commanded in First John 4:1-3. Again the context refers to the fullness of the Holy Spirit and utterance gifts. The reader should note the verses in context thus: "Hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us. Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God" (I John 3:24-4:2).

Although the Holy Spirit confesses, every spirit that refuses to confess Jesus (cp. Greek and revised versions) is not of God but of Antichrist. Hence the spirit (not simply the message, as The Living Bible paraphrases it) that is responsible for a tongues message or other supernatural utterance can be questioned about Jesus.

Is Jesus God's Son? Does the spirit confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh? Is Jesus Christ coming again in the flesh'? Does all the fullness of the Godhead dwell in Him bodily? A spirit may be asked his purpose, since the Holy Spirit's basic purpose in the believer is clearly divulged in Scripture (John 16: 14), whereas an evil tongues spirit would be present to deceive.

No spiritual speaking gift today enjoys more popularity than tongues and none harbors such inherent possibilities of deception. In keeping with Biblical directives (I Thessalonians 4, 1 Corinthians 12, and I John 4) it is proper to conduct a prayer session to test a tongues spirit, I believe that such testing is best done in a private setting, with a chairman and a small group of intercessors, and only with the full consent and intelligent cooperation of the tongues speaker.

After a period of intercession it is well--but not essential--for the counselee to speak in the tongue. Thereupon the chairman addresses his questions not to the person but to the spirit inspiring the tongue. If the chairman and the counselee normally speak English, the tongues spirit should be commanded to give all answers in English.

The chairman should be alert for deceptive answers. Judgment depends not upon the sound of the tongue nor on subjective feelings but upon answers given to the questions in God's Word (cp. Psalm 105:19).

The Holy Spirit promptly, freely and consistently confesses Christ. A demonic spirit will give one or several answers that betray his real identity, or he will stubbornly evade the question, in itself a refusal to confess (I John 4:3). A demon may give a number of favorable answers, for he hopes to preserve his deceptive hold on the victim, but persistence and faith will soon unveil his actual identity, name and purpose.

If a tongues gift is being supplied by one or more demons, Scripture gives full authority to cast them out (Mark 16:17). The victim first should verbally renounce ground given to Satan through practicing a false tongue and should declare his rejection of spirits inspiring a satanic gift. The leader should order the demons to depart to the abyss (cp. Luke 8:29, 31; Revelation 9: 1-3) and should retest to make certain they have actually departed. In all of this God can grant "the power to discriminate between the true Spirit and false spirits" (I Corinthians 12:10, Williams).

I have learned four lessons through experiences in testing tongues in people who have voluntarily approached me and my colleagues during the past few years. First, I have been astonished at the high percentage of demonic tongues encountered. Counselees include people from virtually all sections of the United States, people from various age groups and occupations and denominations.

Many, but not all, used their tongues largely in private devotions. Some had doubts about the validity of their gift, but many were quite confident that the test would demonstrate a true gift from the Holy Spirit. But the shocking fact is that over 90 percent of those who requested a tongues test had a demonic, tongue.

Some Pentecostals and charismatics admit that demonic tongues exist. Yet most feel clear that their own tongue is genuine. One young lady asked me for a demonic test since she felt evil influences in her life. Routine questioning revealed she had come from a Pentecostal church and possessed a tongues gift, but she felt confident that her gift was divine. She informed me during the interview that a lady in her home church with discernment had assured her that her tongue was of the Holy Spirit,

When the deliverance session was later conducted we encountered a spirit named Jesus. He hated the lord Jesus Christ. I was suspicious because past experience had revealed that tongues demons often deceptively adopt the name Jesus. Upon my inquiry the demon admitted he was the spirit giving her her gift of tongues, rather than the Holy Spirit.

A second lesson I have learned is that strong Christians can be invaded by a tongues demon. In the course of a year's Sunday school lessons on the deeper life I spent several weeks exploring the gifts of the Spirit with my adult class. I did not know of a single person in the class that day with a tongues gift. I closed my treatment of tongues with a simple statement that anyone with a gift of tongues should make certain the gift was not a satanic counterfeit, since missionaries have reported hearing tongues speakers blaspheming in the language they had used on the mission field. Tongues should be tested.

At that time I had never tested any tongues, nor had my colleagues. But soon someone asked for a test. The only person from the class who approached me was an outstanding Christian lady --capable, talented, balanced, dependable, a soulwinner. She said she never used her tongue except in private. As she related her spiritual experience of some years ago to my wife and me I just could not imagine that this fine believer could have a tongues demon. I told her so.

But she was not satisfied. She talked with my colleague later. Upon testing we found a tongue quite manifestly of the Holy Spirit. But soon another tongue appeared in the same woman-- a tongue that was bitter and hateful toward Christ, toward her and toward us. The true tongue was clear evidence to me that her sanctification was genuine. Yet it was undeniable that a demonic tongues spirit inhabited her.

I already knew that some contemporary theologians had reversed their position upon discovering strong evidence that Christians can be invaded by evil spirits. I knew that stalwart Alliance teachers like Professor John A. MacMillan believed that a Christian could become demon-infested, as A. H, Simpson also implied in his writings.* I knew that contemporary ministers such as Ernest B. Rockstad and Alliance Evangelist K. Neill Foster had tested many tongues and had found a high percentage to be demonic.

Others who have had tongues tests are utterly sincere and deeply spiritual people. The lives of several show marked evidence of conversion, spiritual hunger and growth. I do not believe that a tongues demon can sever a person from Christ's love. I have no doubt that many in the charismatic movement are earnest Christians, with more zeal and love than their anticharismatic critics. Yet my experiences of testing make me suspect that multitudes of tongues enthusiasts are deluded.

The third lesson I have learned is the extreme deceptiveness of tongues spirits. An intelligent university graduate claimed she used her tongue only in private devotions and generally felt uplifted afterwards, and yet her gift proved demonic. One of my counselees had one demon who provided her tongues gift, another demon named Real Tongues, whose purpose was to make her believe her tongue was from God, and still another demon who kept her feeling rejected because of tongues.

Soon after a young lady from a Roman Catholic home was born again she was with some friends in a parking lot witnessing. All overflowed with joy. They decided to go to the home of one of the group for a prayer meeting. Soon she was speaking in tongues. After she approached me and we had studied the Scriptures she affirmed she would not again speak in tongues until her gift had been tested. Then one day when her emotions sagged something within seemed to say: "I gave you this gift; can't you trust me?"

As she later related these facts I asked her whose voice would likely say this, when the Holy Spirit had already told her in Scripture to "try the spirits." She saw the point. When she later submitted to a test, the tongues spirit answered initial questioning correctly but later was trapped in his own deceptions. He admitted to giving this young lady gifts of tongues, interpretation and prophecy.

Perhaps the most revolting thing about a false tongues experience is the horrible utterances people say in a language they cannot understand. This can be illustrated by the experience of an earnest young man who came to me after ardent charismatic involvement. When he offered public prayer or conversed about spiritual things, one could sense how deeply he loved the Lord Jesus Christ. He used his tongues gift frequently in private, and the words he spoke often formed the same line.

In our prayer session the spirit providing this gift was exposed as a demon. A missionary participating as an intercessor inquired if it would be possible to have the interpretation of the words the demon kept the counselee speaking. When the chairman commanded the tongues demon to interpret the line, the response was: "I hate you, hate you, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus." The victim was as shocked as the rest of us.

The deceptiveness of false tongues spirits is seen in the ways they take advantage of the victim, diverting him from serious spiritual exercises and centering his life around tongues, as well as in their misleading names and their tactics to fool the person who seeks to expose and dislodge them. Satan's whole kingdom is skilled in deceit, but probably no evil spirits are more sly than tongues spirits who simulate God's Holy Spirit.

The fourth lesson I have learned in tongues testing is the seemingly slight ground that can admit a tongues demon, particularly where an unscriptural view is entertained. An Alliance pastor became invaded when, while visiting in a Pentecostal home, he simply gave credence to the view that it would be desirable to have a tongues gift. He had neither prayed for tongues nor seriously pursued them, but a gift suddenly came upon him. One middle-aged lady visited only one charismatic meeting. When a saintly looking elderly man there urged, "Just yield your tongue," she did. She received nine different demonic spirits who all professed to provide her with tongues gifts.

There are many instances I could give. The above illustrate the methods whereby tongues demons gain admittance. God will never give a stone if we ask Him for the good gift of His Spirit (Luke 11:11-13), but experiences of many demonstrate that unscriptural views on tongues are frequently sufficient provocation for Satan to give an unsuspecting victim stones and scorpions of false tongues at the same time. God offers no automatic protection to the unwary.

Tongues are no plaything. A properly tested tongue can provide a channel of spiritual enrichment to a Christian and to a congregation. But it appears much of the current wave of tongues-speaking is satanic delusion.

God commands believers to "forbid not to speak with tongues" (I Corinthians 14:39), but He also commands us not to believe every spirit but to put them to the test to see whether they are of God (I John 4:1).

* J.A. MacMillan, "Modern Demon Possession" (Pamphlet). A.B. Simpson, The Gospel of Luke, pp. 175-176, 181-182 (out of print). Christian Publications, Inc. Harrisburg, Pa.


Alliance Witness, June 5, 1974, reprinted by permission of the author.

Mr. McGraw graduated from Nyack, Houghton and Wheaton colleges and the Chicago Graduate School of Theology. He is a doctoral candidate at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.