When Christians are filled with the Holy Spirit some speak or sing in an unknown language. How do we know if they are filled by the Holy Spirit and that the tongues (unknown language) are from God? This is a commonly asked question. Lately Jack has been pondering on this question. It is common prior a Christian meeting that all are asked to pray in the Spirit (i.e. speak in tongues) to prepare oneself. Speaking in tongues edifies the speaker. To some this is a wonderful experience. For those who would like to have the same experience and thereby draw closer to God in the Spirit, the answer to this question is essential.
Last night when the Bible teacher asked if all the attendees could speak in tongues, one of the participants wanted to know how she knew the tongue she spoke was not made up by her. The teacher asked her to ask the Holy Spirit. Another lady said she could not speak in tongues but she wanted to do so. So the teacher asked all to lay hand on her and pray for her to be Spirit-filled and receive the gift. All prayed fervently for her and indeed after awhile she did speak in tongues.
Jack tried to recall how he first had the experience. He and his prayer partner were praying and both wanted to pray in the Spirit as instructed by Paul the Apostle as the last item on the full armor of God. They prayed and asked the Holy Spirit to teach them (by the simple faith of a child). When they opened their mouths and tried to utter sounds, they started making terrible sounding baby gibberish noises. But the two of them persisted and ignored the sounds. Whilst both started together by faith, they produced very different noises. The partner’s tongue was like repetitive monosyllables. Jack’s tongue was quite complicated with variations.
When they continued after sometime, they each developed their own distinct tongues. Someone told them that the prayer partner’s tongue was like engaging in specific spiritual warfare. Jack’s tongue which was like train moving was various intercessions. When he sang in the Spirit he was said to be worshipping. Indeed he felt that he was. He could not simply decide he wanted to sing and worship God or intercede. Many times he wanted to intercede but ended up singing and praising God in the Spirit. The unknown language switched to understandable words and sentences at intervals. The flow between the unknown sounds and the audible words was natural and smooth. He felt comfortable and at ease.
Jack was a shy and reserved man and did not normally like to display his new-found singing skill. However when he prayed in tongues he often switched to singing in the Spirit as led by the Spirit and was not self-conscious anymore. He knew he was led to do an important mission and he merely obeyed.
This happened even when he prayed in public. (He certainly felt embarrassed after the event. However, he was comforted when he believed that the spiritual songs had served a specific purpose of God).
What sort of a character sings in the Spirit? Jack tried to analyze. He could not find a perfect answer. On the other hand when he compared himself with the prayer partner he realized that their major difference was their temperament. She was more an efficient, methodical and scientific person. He was more an artistic and spiritually sensitive person. However they were both rational and trained to use a lot of their mental faculties in their respective profession.
Did their tongues manifest what was in their respective spirits? The warring and the creative? Did their tongues reflect what their respective temperament could best detect in the Holy Spirit’s respective instructions (which were in tune with their characters)? He had no answer.
Was his tongue from God? Jack was quite sure on this. He knew he could never produce such varieties of sounds and music as he had never had any formal training in fine art and music. He was by profession in the business management line. His second profession was in the health psychology and wellness promotion line. When he sang he knew those songs sounded very nice to listen to (at least to him) and he felt he was joyously praising God and thanking God.
Someone may argue that his tongue could have come from the second heaven (i.e. counterfeit spiritual sources) and not God. But Jack knew that he was drawn nearer to God and Jesus like never before. He took Holy Communion daily, remained in the Covenant (instituted by Jesus through shedding His blood on the cross, and having His body broken and hung on the cross) and kept himself covered under the blood of the Lamb. He read God’s word like never before with fresh revelations. He lived a more focused life giving top priority to fulfilling the eternal goal set by God.
Power from the second heaven (counterfeiter) would draw people away from Jesus and the cross. They would be drawn to the world instead. In the temptation of Jesus the devil offered Him the world and all its power. That was what the counterfeiter (who was the ruler of the world) could do. But Jesus had chosen the cross and all the power that comes thereof.
Therefore the distinction should be whether tongue speaking makes one draw nearer to Jesus and the message of the cross or closer to the world and its ways. The apostle John told us not to love the world and warned that the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, are not of God. They are of the world. Does your speaking in tongue makes you continue in these “attractions” or worse increasing your interests in them?
Jesus told us to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him. Does speaking in tongues makes you deny yourself more and more? One consolation is that as Jesus has promised, His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Being filled with the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues help our faith to rise in the spirit.
P/s: Please be assured that speaking in tongue is only one way of the Spirit in you manifesting its power. There are many other ways. There is no condemnation for those who do not speak in tongue.