When we talk about the flesh, the assumption is that our bodies are the flesh. But that is not true. The Bible tells us that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. How can the temple of the Holy Spirit have contrary desires to the spirit?
The flesh that the Bible talks about is our natural thinking. That part of you that says “You are hungry, eat something, you are feeling cold, put on a sweater, you are tired, rest”.
From the surface, the flesh doesn’t seem as negative as the Bible portrays it. That is because your flesh isn’t necessarily evil, it just loves natural things.
When you are fasting to improve your relationship with God, your flesh will want you to eat. Your flesh cares more about present comfort even if it is at the expense of your relationship with God. That is where the Bible sharply contradicts the flesh.
When Jesus showed up, He came to save us from sin; He was a savior. But to the flesh, Jesus was a poor son of a carpenter born in a manger and teaching a philosophy that didn’t make sense.
The flesh loves natural desires and does not care about our spiritual well-being.
When the flesh hears someone speaking in tongues, it wonders why someone would waste his time uttering such gibberish. As a result, those who walk according to the flesh are destined to ridicule those who speak in tongues.
If you have not dealt with your flesh properly and you have the gift of speaking in tongues, you will face a lot of opposition when you speak in tongues.
How the Flesh Hinders Speaking in Tongues
1. The Flesh tells you Speaking in Tongues is Gibberish
If you have ever openly shared that you speak in tongues, you must have encountered someone who claimed speaking in tongues is gibberish. That person was walking in the flesh.
It is the flesh that claims that speaking in tongues is gibberish. The flesh is not the same as the devil but the devil takes advantage of the desires of the flesh to quench the work of the spirit.
There are servants of God and born again believers who rubbish speaking in tongues. To them, speaking in tongues is clearly gibberish but what they don’t realize is that they are looking at it using the eyes of the flesh.
If a pastor forbids speaking in tongues, he is operating in the flesh but not necessarily serving the devil even though the devil will agree with the pastor because tongues are a nightmare to the devil.
If you have the gift of speaking in tongues and you encounter people who tarnish the image of speaking in tongues, know that they are operating in the flesh.
Attacks on speaking in tongues can come from other people operating in the flesh or they can come from your own flesh. Your own flesh will often protest when you start speaking in tongues.
“What are you saying now? Are these not your own stupid words? You are also in these things? Come on!” These are some of the things your flesh will tell you.
As a result, you may feel fearful to speak in tongues completely or you may fear speaking in tongues in the presence of people.
I have to admit I have struggled with speaking in tongues aloud when people who don’t believe in speaking in tongues were around even when the Spirit of God prompted me to speak aloud.
In most cases, I yielded to the desires of my flesh which told me to speak in a low tone so that people would not hear the gibberish I was speaking and tarnish my reputation.
It is never easy to deal with the flesh but it is definitely something we must do. God help us!
2. The Flesh tells you Speaking in Tongues is being Overly Spiritual
For some people, their flesh is completely in control to the point that they can’t do anything spiritual. They are spiritually dead. For others, they have some control over their flesh but they get constant backlash from it.
Majority of believers have control of their flesh to some degree. Have you ever gone to speak in tongues and felt you were praying too much? Have people ever accused you of praying too much?
That was the voice of the flesh right there.
Like in the previous case, people walking in the flesh can lash at you for being too spiritual because you are speaking in tongues or your own flesh can condemn you.
Is it not the Bible that told us to pray without ceasing? And is it not the Spirit of God who gives us the gift of praying in tongues so that we can pray without ceasing? How then does fulfilling the word of God become being overly spiritual?
The flesh is notorious for accusing believers that they are overdoing spirituality.
If you are used to praying in tongues for 30 minutes a day and you decide to increase it to 1 hour, the flesh will quarrel you. You may have managed to subdue the flesh to allow you to pray for 30 minutes daily but when you try to extend that period to 1 hour, the flesh fights back.
Anytime someone accuses you of praying too much or you get the feeling of being too spiritual, know it is the flesh protesting.
3. The Flesh tells you to be dignified
I have heard this many time and I’m sure you’ve heard it too “God is a God of order”. While those who say it quote the scripture in 1st Corinthians 14 where Paul asks for order when people are speaking in tongues, there is usually a sinister motive.
The flesh resists the gift of speaking in tongues by claiming it is not orderly. Then it backs up its claim by saying God is a God of order. But ask yourself this, if it is the Holy Spirit driving the tongues you are speaking, can it ever be disorder?
Remember Jesus sharply disputed the Pharisees and accused them of being white washed tombs. The Pharisees cared more about being perceived as good people over doing the will of God. In short, they were walking in the flesh.
People who demand that speaking in tongues must be interpreted or else it is nonsense usually speak from their fleshly perspective. If you need interpretation of tongues, you ask for the gift of interpretation. I thought that is easy and straight forward. In fact, if you are walking in the spirit, you will automatically understand what is going on.
Most times people who raise accusations of speaking in tongues being disorderly have no intention of speaking in tongues themselves or even understanding the message; they just want those speaking in tongues to stop.
If you walk in the spirit, you will find this kind of attitude very annoying. The anger that burns in you will help you understand what Jesus used to feel when the Pharisees would dispute with Him.
The flesh will disguise itself in dignity but in real sense all it wants is for you to stop speaking in tongues.
4. The Flesh will say you are Hungry, Tired, Sleepy etc
The flesh cares only about fleshly desires. When you go to speak in tongues, the flesh will not be involved. It will keep nagging you to go do fleshly things.
Have you ever started speaking in tongues and then felt you needed to drink water or check a message on your phone? That was your flesh pushing you to do what it wants.
Jesus is the living water but the flesh only knows physical water. When your throat is a bit dry, your flesh will shout at you to stop speaking in tongues and get drinking water.
Other times when you are speaking in tongues your flesh tells you to stop because you are tired. If you were kneeling when speaking in tongues, the flesh quickly gets bored and asks you to change your position or quit all together.
All the natural desires that you experience when you start speaking in tongues come from the flesh. The devil plays a role in some cases but mostly it is your flesh.
The devil may incite someone to send you a text message when you are praying and then your flesh begs you to stop speaking in tongues and read the message.
Surely, the ways of the flesh are death!
5. The Flesh will tell you to make Short Prayers
The flesh completely doesn’t care about spiritual matters. When you embark on speaking in tongues, your flesh will embark on persuading you to make the session short.
Have you ever started speaking in tongues but you constantly felt an urge to stop? The flesh will give you all manner of suggestions to get you to stop praying in tongues.
Spending more time speaking in tongues is more beneficial over spending a short time speaking in tongues but your flesh will tell you prayers don’t have to be long.
I have been to prayer sessions where I felt the sessions were becoming too long. That was my flesh protesting. “These prayers are supposed to end at 6 pm. I am hungry. I have other things to do.” That is what the flesh says.
The flesh can disguise itself in many ways but the reality is that it never wants long prayers.
How to Stop the Flesh from hindering you when Speaking in Tongues
1. Persist in Speaking in Tongues until the Flesh Weakens
The flesh will always protest when you start speaking in tongues. Expect it. The only way to subdue it is to ignore all the suggestions it gives you.
Usually, the flesh puts up a fight at the beginning but if you persist in praying in tongues, your spirit becomes stronger and subdues the flesh completely.
In my early days of speaking in tongues, I would struggle for close to an hour without success. Many times I gave in to the desires of the flesh.
But as I grew in the gift, I began subduing the flesh in less than an hour of praying in tongues. The time it takes me to kill the flesh when speaking in tongues has gradually reduced over time.
When you know that it is your flesh you are fighting against, it becomes easier to persist despite all the noise going on.
Set yourself minimum time you will speak in tongues and purpose to speak in tongues until you have hit the minimum time.
You can start with 20 minutes. Say to yourself “For the next 20 minutes I am going to speak in tongues no matter how strong the opposition is” and do it.
After a while, you will find it easy to subdue your flesh for a 20 minute speaking in tongues session. Then you can work to improve from there.
2. Subdue your Flesh in other areas
If you manage to subdue your flesh in other areas, it won’t be hard to subdue it when it comes to speaking in tongues.
If you usually workout, you will have an easier time subduing the flesh when it comes to speaking in tongues. Working out is one of the ways of subduing your flesh.
By pushing yourself through your workouts, you are suppressing the desire of the flesh to have comfort. When it comes to speaking in tongues, apply the same attitude and your flesh will submit.
If you can manage your fleshly desires in other areas, you will easily manage them when speaking in tongues.
3. Set your Environment before Speaking in Tongues
The flesh thrives in some environments and struggles in others. Before you start speaking in tongues, set your room to favor your spirit. Play worship music, read the word of God, put your phone on silent mode, get a comfortable pillow to kneel on, lock the door etc.
With very few opportunities for your flesh, you will have an easy time praying in tongues. Going to pray in tongues in a hot room will prompt your flesh to nag you to stop because of the heat. This is why I once wrote that speaking in tongues in the cool hours of the day is best.
Praying in tongues at night also ensures you have few distractions. The devil is a master of sending distractions when you start speaking in tongues and your flesh is a master of begging you to respond to the distractions.
While you may not be able to stop the devil from sending distractions, you can stop yourself from reacting to them. By staying focused on speaking in tongues, it doesn’t take long before the devil gives up and your flesh goes quiet.
That is how you can subdue the flesh so that it doesn’t hinder you from speaking in tongues.
How the Flesh hinders Speaking in Tongues Conclusion
The battle against the flesh happens daily. Prepare for it every time you go to speak in tongues. Some days you will have an easy victory but other days you will struggle.
Either way, don’t give in to the desires of the flesh. If you fail to overcome the flesh a few times, pick yourself up and keep going.
Have the fighting spirit and always bounce back no matter how many times you fail. Remember this is a lifetime battle.
Forget those preachers who make speaking in tongues look easy. Trust me, they also struggle sometimes but out of their pride they don’t want to admit it.
We are all humans and the desires of the flesh are a challenge to all of us. Let no one make you feel less spiritual just because you struggle with desires of the flesh.