Tongues and Sins of Omission
We’re going to look at two topics here. They are two topics which don’t seem to have much to do with each other, but the widespread deception concerning the first one has to do with the widespread neglect of the second, though it is only one of many reasons that the second topic is neglected. Yet it serves as a good example of how the second topic which we’ll look at at is neglected.
I want to give a quick analysis then, or you could say, a summary of what the Bible teaches about spiritual gifts- and specifically the gift of speaking in tongues. If you go to Luke chapter 11 you’ll see the right reason or motive wherewith we should seek any gift or any ability or any special blessing from the Lord.
Luke 11:1-13:”And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. 2 And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. 3 Give us day by day our daily bread. 4 And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. 5 And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; 6 For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? 7 And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. 8 I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. 9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. 10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? 12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”
Obviously we should have the glory of God as our highest priority when we pray; and consistent with this, we should seek beyond our own needs and consider the needs of others as well. Any need of ours that we want God to meet we should seek for others in our life; and we should seek as much as possible to fill the needs we see in others with the provision which God has given us. Jesus said in another place.
Matthew 7:11-12: “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? 12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” And it is no coincidence that in the following verses Jesus instructs about entering in at the narrow gate and walking the narrow way while avoiding the broad gate and the broad way which lead to destruction. If we want to be right with God we need to keep His ways; and that means not withholding help from those who cry to us or who we otherwise see need help- because obviously God is good and God is a Father who is concerned to help the poor and needy in the multitude of ways that a person might be truly poor and needy. The Scripture says in Proverbs 3:27-28: “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. 28 Say not unto thy neighbor, Go, and come again, and to morrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee.”
So obviously we need to keep this in mind when we’re seeking to understand the proper place of spiritual gifts in the Christian life and in discerning the difference between spiritual gifts which are genuinely from God and fake spiritual gifts which are generated by man- and maybe even generated from the prince of darkness and relayed through man. When Paul was dealing with this subject in instructing the Corinthian Church he made a foundational statement in 1 Cor 12:7. We see here the principle that God gives spiritual gifts to those in the body of Christ for the profit others in the body of Christ.
1 Cor 12:4-14: “Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: 11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. 12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. 14 For the body is not one member, but many.”
A lot of people immediately read this passage and go to debating about whether this, or or that, or all mentioned herem were only for the 1st century or not. But much more importantly, this proves that even in the 1st century, and any other time a spiritually gift is genuinely from God, it will be given for the profit of others. And when it comes to speaking in tongues then, this obviously proves that a genuine gift of tongues from God would be the ability to speak an actual foreign language on earth and not rather some unintelligible babbling that could only (supposedly) profit the one speaking it. There were people in the Pagan Temples doing that in the first century, before the first century, and there are STILL people following heathen religions who are doing THAT!
And so as Paul goes on dealing with spiritual gifts, he eventually comes to the ultimate point, a point which ultimately applies to everything in Christianity. Obviously if you get this right you’ll seek God for the right reasons and seek Him for the gifts you truly need to minister to others. You’ll then get whatever is fitting for you in due time. You’ll also be delivered from false spiritual gifts and the destructive false spirituality which accompanies these.
1 Corinthians 12:24-31: “For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honor to that part which lacked. 25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. 26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it. 27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. 28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? 30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? 31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.”
It is all about the body being edified and the body operating towards its maximum potential. And what is that more excellent way which obviously is the context in, and the proper motivation whereby we should earnestly seek spiritual gifts. Well it is ultimately no different than the man who had a friend in his journey come to him who sought to care for his friend like we read about there in Luke chapter 11.
1 Corinthians chapter 13:1-10: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. 4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.”
Note vs 8 above: If Biblical tongues were a heavenly, angelic language, they would not cease- even in eternity! This further that Biblical tongues are the languages of men on earth. And though we’re not going to get into 1 Corinthians chapter 14 in detail, the verses there which seem to say otherwise are a reference to someone in a congregation who speaks a different language praying, speaking, or singing out loud in his own language- he is edified, but the rest of the congregation is not because they don’t speak his language. That is one POTENTIAL INSTANCE in which the genuine spiritual gift of tongues would have a place if God were to give a person such a gift. This is proven and summarized well by the summary of spiritual gifts and their relation to charity/love in 1 Cor 14:12: “Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.”
As we shift into the other topic now, as a transition I’ll point out that one reason the counterfeit of the gift of tongues is so dangerous, and the reason that counterfeit spiritual gift or experience can be so dangerous, is that there is really only one thing that can make a person spiritual and fit them for heaven- and that is by denying self and following Christ faithfully on the narrow way of submission and faithfulness to God’s Word. All the conflict, the agony, the suffering, the loss, etc which that involves is inevitable for those who obtain and maintain authentic Christian experience. It is totally logical that one who digs deep and follows through with authentic repentance towards and faith in Christ will be given God’s Holy Spirit (Acts 5:32); and those who cooperate with God’s Holy Spirit will take up their cross and die to their carnal appetites and desires DAILY in order to walk in Biblical holiness and fulfill the righteousness of the Law of God (Romans 8:4, etc). They will suffer, they will go through deserts (in a spiritual sense), they will be tempted, tried, frustrated, afflicted, etc for the Word of God’s sake. But in continuing faithfully in that way comes spiritual maturity and eventually, in due season, authentic spiritual experience as they partake of God’s mercy and goodness which FOLLOWS THEM; and if they yet continue on this way to the end, they will be among the ultimately saved who inherit eternal life and dwell in God’s house forever (Psalm 23, Matthew 24:13, etc). BUT those who get the counterfeit tongues and other counterfeit spiritual gifts, they are prone to think they are walking with God and that that they have a sign of authentic Christian spiritual experience when what they really have is come under the power of a hypnotic spell or maybe even come under the power of a seducing demonic spirit.
There is nothing that can happen in a day that will ever be a substitute for genuinely taking up the cross daily and following Christ to do God’s will. There is no experience that can happen in a day that will bring one to Christian maturity. All that can happen in a day is a soul turning around and getting on the right road of wholeheartedly obeying Christ and striving against sin. And yet the big-time preachers and their shows, their circuses, their feel good manipulations, and their alleged secrets and keys to quickly getting to the height of Christian experience and the knowledge of God are vanities which deceive and ultimately let down. One example (and there are many) of such is how they take (i.e. substitute) their fake gibberish tongues and/or being “slain in the spirit” (which they produce by hypnosis and other manipulative means) for one REALLY getting their heart right with God and from there laying down their life daily to serve God and make sacrificial choices to bless others. And it is in and through submitting to, and walking through the purifying process this puts one through which ultimately qualifies one for genuine spiritual gifts and experiential growth in the grace and the experiential knowledge of God.
Philippians 3:17-21: “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law (through the sacrifices and ceremonies of the Mosaic Law), but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. 12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. 16 Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing. 17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. 18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) 20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”
2 Peter 3:17-18 “Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness. 18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.”
So then to build on what has been said, this an especially appropriate place to talk about sins of omission since false spiritual gifts and experiences ultimately accomplish something dreadful which we might very well let happen anyways even if we can basically be free of such. We can yet find our own reasons and justifications for not doing all that the Lord has commanded us to do, which puts us in the same boat as those subverted by the fake gifts and counterfeit experiences.
1 Peter 4:17-19 “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? 18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? 19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.”
Consider then how we started off looking at the right reason to seek spiritual gifts. We should have a heart and mind actively set on glorifying God and meeting the needs of others. Most of the time we don’t need a specific gift from the Holy Spirit to do this. We know that the Holy Spirit inspired the Word of God; and we know that the word of God is the Truth which testifies God’s will which we ought to do. Yes, we need to seek God for grace to do what is right in His eyes, yet we must follow through and do it! (Even not praying for God’s help and not having a right heart before Him are sins of omission) Why would God ever give a special spiritual gift to someone whose heart wasn’t set on that and who wasn’t wholeheartedly pursuing that? We have no reason to believe that He would.
Luke 16:10-13: “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. 11 If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? 12 And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own? 13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
Note how active, and not passive, running the Christian race is. We are our brother’s keeper.
Hebrews 12:12-15: “Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; 13 And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. 14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled”
Even not talking when that’s appropriate takes effort in a way; we have to open our eyes to sees the needs of the afflicted and needy; since sin does so easily beset and our flesh is weak we have to watch and pray to keep ourselves unspotted from the world.
James 1:26-27: “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. 27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”
Ezekiel 18:1-9: “The word of the Lord came unto me again, saying, 2 What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge? 3 As I live, saith the Lord God, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel. 4 Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die. 5 But if a man be just, and do that which is lawful and right,
6 And hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, neither hath defiled his neighbor’s wife, neither hath come near to a menstruous woman, 7 And hath not oppressed any, but hath restored to the debtor his pledge, hath spoiled none by violence, hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment; 8 He that hath not given forth upon usury, neither hath taken any increase, that hath withdrawn his hand from iniquity, hath executed true judgment between man and man, 9 Hath walked in my statutes, and hath kept my judgments, to deal truly; he is just, he shall surely live, saith the Lord God.”
Having a covetous and/or presumptuous heart will prevent one from doing good in God’s eyes. But those who don’t do the good that they know to do resist God’s grace and live in sin even if they are not living for riches nor totally given to other earthly pursuits.
James 4:13-17: “Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. 15 For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. 16 But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil. 17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”
Titus 2:11-14: “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; 14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”
A great quote relatedd to these things: “I shall pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer it or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” -Stephen Grellet, 19th century Evangelist
Note both Luke 10:25-37 and Luke 10:38-42: No one in either of these situations would have hurt their reputation, even their reputation among God’s people, by doing the wrong thing! Yet God sees all and knows the whole story. Jeremiah 17:7-10: “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. 8 For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit. 9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? 10 I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.”
Faith with works which is alive, or we could say, a living faith with works, is diligent to obey God’s instructions, active to side with God, and ready to do good for God’s people and any in genuine need
(see esp Matthew 25:31-46, James 2:14-26 here).
The Christian life is more than giving up your most destructive sins. It is a wholehearted turning from sin, striving against sin, and living commitment to learn and follow through with doing well, even to blood. Don’t settle for a cheap substitute for this or anything less than this in any way! There is no other way to know God as a Father and friend; and no other way to obtain glory and to escape damnation! There is also no shortcut to Christian maturity and all the good attributes which come with that other than by pursuing this diligently, strenuously, and persistently- over time!
Isaiah 1:13-20: “Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. 14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. 15 And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; 17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. 18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. 19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: 20 But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”
John 14:19-21: 19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. 20 At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. 21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.”
John 15:14: “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”
Hebrews 11:6: “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
Brother Aaron can be reached at [email protected]