At this juncture I wish to narrate several experiences; the first took place in 1963 and the others more recently.
I believe my readers all realize after getting this far into the book that I most certainly believe that there are true manifestations of the Holy Spirit. Three of these illustrations are cases where the spirit has not been of God.
Some years ago a teenager in deep spiritual trouble came to us. It soon became evident that her case was one of severe demonic invasion, and the deliverance covered a period of seven months. She received a great deliverance and was a radiant Christian for years afterward.
But about six weeks into the deliverance, which included many all-night sessions and long struggles against the enemy, the girl suddenly began to sing in tongues. The melody was very beautiful. We believed it certainly to be a divine tongue. But she had been and still was a demonized girt. So we carefully tested the spirit. We used the same procedures we had used with non tongues-speaking spirits.
We said something like this: "You spirit that is now manifesting, did Jesus Christ come in the flesh?" There was an instant reply in the middle of the unknown words and beautiful melody. It was the English word "Yes." The spirit was tried repeatedly with the same result.
However, the girl remained under demonic control for several months after that. During the time of her bondage the only time she could confess that Jesus Christ had come in the flesh was when she was singing in tongues. Apart from the tongues, we would say to the girl, "Did Jesus come in the flesh?" She wanted to say yes, but since the demons still controlled her, they seized her vocal chords and she was unable to confess the lordship of Jesus apart from tongues. This condition continued for a period of time after the experience I have now related.
I believe that to draw theological implications from a single experience would be unwise. But I do feel that this case stands as a clear-cut illustration of trying the spirits and of a genuine tongue.
Before I go further with these examples, I must insert here that I am fully aware that this may prove unsettling to many. In fact, I have been deeply burdened. I want this to be a loving, compassionate book, but the tendency of some may be to assume that I am being unnecessarily negative. Yet I have filled chapters with the positive and beautiful truths about spiritual gifts. They are beautiful. They are for us today. Thank God.
At the same time a vast deception has been foisted upon God's dear children. And there is just no painless way to say what I have been saying and what I must still say. My problem with negative illustrations is not to find them, but to keep from filling chapter after chapter with them.
I know especially that some of my Pentecostal brethren will be upset when I suggest at all that tongues should be tested. One author quotes a letter written by a charismatic Christian to a friend of his.
The Christian was concerned because the Evangelical Ministers' Association had brought a man to their community for a week-long seminar and the visiting minister not only taught the necessity of testing tongues but narrated incidents in which demonic tongues had been cast out and the ability to speak in tongues had been lost. The concerned Christian was losing sleep over such events and wanted an answer.
The charismatic response, if I may take the eloquence of the writer under discussion as typical, is unsettling. He says only that the visiting minister had never been baptized with the Holy Spirit and that he was attempting to discredit the genuine spiritual experience of the baptism with the Holy Spirit.
It is not enough to say that the evangelical minister was against the baptism with the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. He may have been. But that does not by any means signify that all who feel testing the spirits (including tongues) is necessary, are anticharismatic. And the author in question skirts the issue of trying the spirits altogether.
"Believe not every spirit." The command is to avoid naivete and gullibility, "But try the spirits whether they are of God." I do not think this scripture is warrant to send one on a "tongues-testing" mission. But it is a warning all the same.
John says not to believe "every spirit." And he says "try the spirits." The word every is missing in the second phrase. Discrimination between the true and false can be made by other tests as described in the last chapter. The final court of appeal is to try the spirit. All spiritual manifestations without exception are to be questioned. Some spirits are to be tried.
And though there be lying spirits by the thousands, two things circumscribe them. First, they cannot and will not ever continually and genuinely confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (1 Cor. 12:3). Secondly, they steadfastly refuse to continually and genuinely confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, sometimes they retreat to silence, but even the silence betrays the evil spirits. John makes it clear, "Every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God" (1 John 4:2).
Experience, of course, is not a fit base for biblical doctrine, but when doctrine is confirmed by experience, then those who differ must listen very carefully to what is said. And I want so much to say it compassionately.
Now to the second example. Recently a lovely Christian girl came to me asking, "Would you test my tongues?" I agreed to do so, but delays kept us from it until the final day of one of our summer conventions.
She had never spoken the words of the tongue aloud, but they had been running through her mind at intervals since she had attended a charismatic meeting in Calgary, Alberta, and had received the laying on of hands there.
I instructed her to speak the words of the tongue aloud, and I knelt beside her and began to speak repeatedly in the following manner, "You spirit that is now manifesting, did Jesus Christ come in the flesh?" Soon she stopped me. "I feel a big 'no' forming in my mind. I don't think that this is of God," she said.
So we simply made a verbal commitment in which she said something like this, "I here and now refuse, reject and repudiate completely this spirit of false tongues. I take back all the ground I have ever given to the devil, knowingly or unknowingly, and I give it to the Lord Jesus Christ. This I do in Jesus' name."
The next day she greeted me with a radiant smile. "It's gone."
The third illustration in one sense sprang from the second. The young lady evidently said something about what had happened to her. Several intermediate events followed, and finally a teenager, along with her girl friend, visited our home.
My wife entered into a lengthy counselling ministry with the troubled teenager. Then at 2:30 a.m. my wife wakened me and asked me to join the counselling session. At about 4:30 a.m. the girl was kneeling upright on our living room rug and speaking in tongues which we believed to be spurious. We commanded something like this, "You spirit that is now manifesting, in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God who came in the flesh, we command you to interpret and speak in English."
The command was instantly obeyed. The words were "I am the Lord of all, I am the devil." Unfortunately, deliverance did not come because the girl persisted in an unhealthy curiosity about the supernatural.
The psychic contamination had taken place mong what are loosely called the "Jesus PeoIe." This illustration should not be construed as a total denunciation of the Jesus generation. One of the major points of this book is that erroneous teaching on tongues opens the door to the enemy and breeds the unhappy mix of true and false so common within the charismatic movement.
A fourth illustration involves a teenage boy. After a Sunday school class in which this subject was touched, he came asking that his tongue be tested. I didn't know that he spoke in tongues but my first reaction was, "Fine. This should e a good tongue. He is such a fine and open-hearted Christian."
But as soon as he began to speak in tongues the spirit seized his face and contorted it. Persistently the question was put, "You spirit that now manifesting, did Jesus Christ come in the flesh?" And the answer came: "No. No." Two spirits of false tongues then had to be dislodged.
The contamination in this case had come from a youth retreat of what we would certainly call a fundamental no-nonsense Pentecostal denomination.
Not for a moment am I suggesting that all the tongues in that group are false, but apparltly some of them are. The error in the matter tongues opens the door to the mixture which does such great harm to our Lord's church.
John's exhortation is clear enough:
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: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.- l John 4:1-3.
Surely, brethren, the time has come to take these words very, very seriously.