The Gift of Tongues - Chapter Seven

Posted in: 2013
By Tom M. Ballinger
Oct 9, 2013 - 5:40:23 PM

Plainer Words since 1968
October 2, 2013
Chapter Seven

The first epistle to the Corinthians takes up the great question of spiritual gifts of which tongues were a part. In Chapters 12-14, the complete doctrinal consideration is given. It is interesting to note that in order to make known doctrinal truth concerning spiritual gifts, the Lord chose to do it through the epistle to the Corinthians. The Corinthian church was replete with abuses. In spite of the abuses, the church abounded with spiritual gifts.
In fact, a brief survey of the epistle reveals that the Corinthian church was a mess. We notice that:

1. The church was carnal (3:1)

2. There were divisions (1:11-12; 3:1-6)

3. Abuses at the Lord’s Table (11:18-22)

4. Public litigation against each other (6:1-8)

5. Gross immorality (5:1-5)

6. Arguments about food offered to idols (8:1-3; 10:14; 11:1)

7. Disagreement about marriage (7:1-40)

8. Misuse of spiritual gifts (12:1; 14:40)

9. Immorality outside of marriage (6:12-20)

10. Resurrection denied by some (15:12)

11. Paul’s apostleship questioned (4:3; 9:1)

It is apparent these abuses occasioned the writing of First Corinthians. It is in the midst of these abuses that we learn of spiritual gifts and, more particularly, of tongues.

“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit” (I Cor.12:1-4).


In these passages, we learn several things which are pertinent to our study. One of these is that some spiritual gifts were Satanic and some were Divine in origin. Those which were Divine were one, in essence, but varied in their manifestation. Verse Two shows a close association with “dumb idols” and being carried away unto them. This, certainly, indicates a time in which they were under the influence of demons. This is not strange, for in Acts 19:13-20, we learn that the whole city of Ephesus was given over to magic and was under the control of “evil spirits.” However, “mightily grew the word of God and prevailed,” hence, the Satanic power was broken.

Evidently, there were some in the Corinthian church who were speaking under the influence of evil spirits (demons) because when speaking in tongues, they were calling Jesus accursed (I Cor. 12:3) which was probably a form of renunciation. They were not saying this in their mother tongue. They were doing it in another language under Satanic influence. Thus, they knew not what they were really saying.

Paul points out that the Spirit of God which imparts the God-given gift of tongues does not direct the speaker to say, in another language, that Jesus Christ is accursed. He, also, points out in Verse 3 that no man speaking in tongues, under the influence of a demon, was able to say that Jesus Christ was Lord.

A misunderstanding of Verse 4 would lead someone to think that no one, unless directed by the Spirit of God, had the physical ability to frame the sounds, “Lord Jesus.” It, simply, teaches that no man speaking in “tongues,” can confess Jesus as Lord unless he is under the influence of the Holy Spirit. A person speaking in “tongues” of Satanic origin could not say, “Lord Jesus.” The Apostle John touches on this in I John 4:1:

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”

In view of this fact, John supplies more information regarding “trying the spirits:”

“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” (I John 4:2-3).

The supreme test to see whether tongues were being directed by the Holy Spirit, or by the “spirit of antichrist,” was to “try the spirits.”

If tongues were of God:

1. They called Christ “Lord.”

2. They acknowledged that Jesus Christ had come in the flesh.

If tongues were of Satan:

1. They called “Jesus accursed.”

2. They denied that Jesus Christ had come in the flesh.

It was clear that tongues were being manifest in the Corinthian church in a confusing manner. Tongues (i.e., real, living languages of men) were being spoken in the church. Some individuals were denying that Christ had come in the flesh. They did not know what they were saying─“Jesus is accursed.” They did not realize this until an interpreter informed them of what they had said. This was the fruit of demon possession.

We learn two things in Verses 2 and 3 of I Corinthians Twelve: (1) The Holy Spirit imparted the spiritual gift of tongues. (2) Satan had the ability to cause believers to speak in tongues (real languages) in order for them to blaspheme.

Tom L. Ballinger
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