Do you remember that I asked you to read these three chapters together? Here is my reason. As necessary as is everything I have already said, there is also something else to be said.
I, for one, cannot imagine a tongues-testing session after the day of Pentecost. The disciples had no previous experience with tongues, but they knew the Holy Spirit had come upon them. Later, however, Satan began his counter-attack upon the infant church, and Paul's Corinthian remarks were addressed to a church which had evidently heard some spirit-speaking where Jesus Christ was not proclaimed as Lord (1 Cor. 12:3). Later still, John talked carefully about trying the spirits, making sure that every spirit manifestation continually confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh (1 John 4:2, 3).
Apparently, then, there is some space between charismatic manifestations and the application of the verbal test.
Or to put it another way, there should be no rush to confrontation with supposedly spurious manifestations. At the same time, the final court of appeal, the acid test, is to try the spirits.
Perhaps an example will illustrate what I am saying. After I had shared the material of the last two chapters in one of our summer conventions, a woman came to me. She was under the gloom cloud and she confirmed it by her words. "What you have said really upsets me."
From our previous conversation I knew she was wondering if her experience of speaking in tongues was genuine. So I asked her a few questions (based on chapter 15). Did this experience in your life ever cause you to behave in an unbiblical way? Did this experience ever cause you to do anything that would not adorn the doctrine of Jesus Christ? Has any interpretation been unsound scripturally, doctrinally, theologically? In each case her answer was a firm no. Further, she explained that her charismatic experience had immensely increased her love for the Lord Jesus. Nor did her countenance betray any bondage at all.
"Sister," I said, "I'm satisfied that your experience of speaking in tongues is from the Holy Spirit. If there is any lingering doubt in your mind, we can always apply the verbal test, but I don't see that it is necessary."
She was understandably relieved, and out she came from under the gloom cloud. And I learned something very important. This material, unless held in careful perspective, could in certain cases bring sincere Spirit-filled Christians under the gloom cloud. To avoid that eventuality, I have written this chapter and earnestly ask you to consider it one with the other two. I don't want to give the enemy a peg to hang anything over anybody.
At the same time I'm surely not in favor of letting the phony stuff get by. The mother whose case I have just discussed above had introduced her son-in-law to speaking in tongues. One of my friends would say she "hustled" him for tongues and "laid the tongues trip" on him. But when I talked to her she regretted her action; because following the charismatic experience her son-in-law's spiritual life had fallen to a dismal low. In my mind, her son-in-law has a tongues manifestation which sorely needs to be tested.
Am I making myself clear? I'm saying that we must do away with credulity and gullibility. We must stop accepting everything supernatural as from God Almighty just because it happens in church. We have been naive for too long.
I'm also saying that testing tongues is not necessarily the first reaction we should have to a manifestation. A questioning spirit? Yes. But a rush to judgment? No. Let the verbal test remain as a final court of appeal for cases that are not clarified by other means. But the Bible speaks about trying the spirits. God knew there would be times when we would need it. And believe me, it wouldn't be in the Bible if we didn't need it.
I know that many believers who have an experience in tongues are going to read this book. Let me speak to you for a moment. If the devil tries to cover you with the gloom cloud, a few simple questions can blast it away.
Do you struggle with depression, fear, uncontrollable emotion or illicit sexual urges? Are you really free in Jesus Christ? You may not relate your spiritual problems with speaking in tongues at all, when in fact that experience, if spurious, can be the open door to all kinds of spiritual enslavement.
Do you ever have an uneasy feeling about the source of your experience?
Does the manifestation in your life ever prompt un biblical behavior?
Does the manifestation in your life ever cause you to do things that are erratic, that do not adorn the doctrine of Christ?
Does the manifestation carry with it interpretations which are faulty doctrinally or theologically?
Does the manifestation deepen your love for the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word?
In many cases, just answering those questions will resolve the issue and sweep away the gloom cloud. But if not, read on.
The gloom cloud may well hover over the intersection where biblical truth and spurious experience have collided. For example, in a certain hospital room there was a lady who always switched to another TV channel when Billy Graham came on. Her reason? He made her depressed.
I know very well (and I say this carefully) that many of my readers are going to discover, if they have not suspected it earlier, that they have been deceived by a spurious charismatic experience. The next chapter will be especially helpful, but right now my word to you is this:
Go to war against the enemy. Determine to renounce and repudiate Satan completely. And under no condition allow a spiritual manifestation in your person which does not continually, willingly genuinely and joyfully confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and that He is come in the flesh. If necessary, have the spirit tested. And if it is false, by all means get rid of it. That will blast the gloom cloud too.