I have met skeptics of speaking in tongues. At one time, I was a skeptic too. But as of today, I firmly believe in the gift of speaking in tongues.
Because I was once a skeptic, I know what being skeptical about speaking in tongues feels like. As a result, I want to open up on how I navigated this hotly debated topic.
The purpose of sharing this information is to help a skeptic out there embrace the gift of speaking in tongues and teach those who believe in speaking in tongues how to handle skeptics.
The Origin of Skepticism about Speaking in Tongues
Nobody wakes up one day and decides to be skeptical about speaking in tongues. Usually, the skepticism gradually grows based on the information someone is exposed to.
If someone grows up with bad experiences regarding speaking in tongues, he will be tempted to doubt the gift.
From what I discovered, skepticism about speaking in tongues originates when people observe believers who speak in tongues living a life that does not reflect the fruit of the Spirit.
It is very clear from the Bible that when someone has the Holy Spirit, they will manifest His fruit. The fruit of the Spirit according to Galatians 5:22 is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.
In other words, if someone speaks in tongues and fails to live up to the standards of Galatians 5:22, then it makes sense to question his gift.
Since speaking in tongues is a gift of the Holy Spirit, it is expected that someone who has the gift must portray the fruit.
In fact, it is possible to manifest the fruit of the Spirit of God and fail to manifest His gifts. But it is impossible to manifest the gift of the Holy Spirit without the fruit.
I was once a skeptic of speaking in tongues and I know this to be true.
Skeptics of speaking in tongues hate the fact that they can’t see the fruit of the Spirit in the person speaking in tongues. And if the fruit is not in the person, then the Spirit of God too is not in the person.
And if the Spirit of God is not in the person, what Spirit is making the person speak in tongues?
This is why some skeptics claim that speaking in tongues is a demonic manifestation. Others don’t make any conclusion but they just avoid speaking in tongues.
The Truth about Speaking in Tongues for Skeptics
First, speaking in tongues is a gift of the Holy Spirit. Second, nobody knows for sure how speaking in tongues should sound like or should not sound like.
From these two statements, it means speaking in tongues exists even if we don’t know exactly how it should sound.
Skeptics who say speaking in tongues does not exist lie and do not tell the truth. Those who claim that the babbling that some believers call speaking in tongues is not speaking in tongues can neither be proven right nor wrong.
I have heard weird dialects of speaking in tongues that surprised me even though I have the gift of speaking and interpreting tongues.
From my experiences, I concluded that there is no limit to how speaking in tongues should sound. Anytime I hear weird speaking in tongues that makes me skeptical, I become an observer rather than a judge.
During my quiet time, if the incident bothered me, I ask God to confirm to me if what was spoken was from Him. This helps me avoid unnecessary arguments with people and I get the truth from the author of the gift.
Being skeptical about speaking in tongues affects even those who practice the gift. I have the gift of interpreting tongues, but there are some tongues I can’t interpret.
When I sought out to know why I could not interpret them, the simple answer I got was that they were intentionally concealed from me. I accepted that I am a man and God is God.
This attitude has enabled me to experience dimensions of speaking in tongues I could never imagine in my wildest thoughts.
Testing the Spirit behind Speaking in Tongues for Skeptics
The only way to end skepticism about speaking in tongues is to test Spirits. The Bible urges us to test all spirits.
It is true that there are demonic tongues. There is no way the devil can fail to have a demonic version of speaking in tongues. But demonic tongues are rare and if you hear them your spirit will protest.
The surest way to prove speaking in tongues is by being alert in the Spirit. If you have the Spirit of God in you and someone speaks in genuine tongues, your Spirit will bear witness that the tongues being spoken are His.
I remember one day I was in the mission field with other believers. A student in that school stood up and began speaking in tongues when the pastor was still preaching. Immediately, tears began rolling down my eyes and a deep overwhelming sorrow came upon me.
I knew without a doubt that God was grieving and the tongues were a message from Him. The interpretation confirmed it.
Because I was alert in the Spirit, it was easy to tell if the tongues spoken were from God.
Speaking in Tongues from the Pride of Man
Apart from tongues that come from the Holy Spirit and those from demonic spirits, tongues can also come from the pride of men.
How do I know this?
Because the Spirit of God revealed to me. In fact, many of the speaking in tongues that we hear in churches is corrupted by the pride of men.
If someone has not dealt with pride in his heart, it will show up when he speaks in tongues. The easiest way to identify prideful speaking in tongues is when it is not backed up by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Tongues spoken from the depth of the Spirit of God carry power. Your Spirit can’t stay calm when you hear them. I have told you of that incident I had in a mission field. I have had other experiences where I heard someone speaking in tongues and my spirit was stirred up.
But since we drift into carnality many times, our tongues sometimes will be empty. Empty tongues are not demonic tongues neither are they fake. They are just empty.
Apostle Paul mentioned empty tongues when he said he will be like a resounding gong if he speaks in tongues and has no love.
Most skeptics of speaking in tongues experience empty tongues and question them. We should definitely work our way into genuine powerful tongues but because we are in the process of perfection, it makes sense to overlook empty tongues sometimes.
I have witnessed and still witness many empty tongues but I understand that we are humans and we are learning.
Those who say they once spoke in tongues but felt nothing and quit only experienced empty tongues but instead of working to grow in the gift, they quit. Definitely not a wise decision!
If you are a skeptic of speaking in tongues, embrace the gift with this understanding and seek to be on the genuine side. If you do speak in tongues, work to grow in the gift and experience its power.