Before answering the question as to whether the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues exists today, some preliminary issues will be addressed.
First, can believers be deceived?
The apostle Paul apparently thought so, because he writes in 2 Cor. 11:3-4, “But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully.”
In Col. 2:8, Paul writes, “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.”
In Eph. 5:6, Paul states, “Let no one deceive you with empty words…”
In 1 Cor. 15:33, Paul says, “Do not be deceived…”
In Gal. 6:7, Paul writes, “Do not be deceived…”
In Rom. 16:17-18, Paul tells the Christians to turn away from religious people who are teaching things contrary to God’s Word and who are deceiving the minds/hearts of the unsuspecting/naïve by their smooth and flattering speech.
In Matthew 24:4-5, Jesus tells His disciples, “See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many.”
In Heb. 3:13 it says, “But encourage one another day after day … lest any one of you be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”
In 1 Jn. 3:7, John writes, “… let no one deceive you…”
In Gal. 1:6-7 Paul is amazed that these Christians were deserting God for a different gospel.
Paul goes on to say in Gal 3:1-3, “You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”
James writes in Jas. 5:19-20, “My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth, and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death, and will cover a multitude of sins. ” Greek scholar Dr. D. Hiebert in his book, The Epistle of James, pages 332-335, states that the straying individual here is a Christian who loses vital relationship with God because of wandering astray from the truth. Dr. H. Alford in his book, The Greek Testament, vol. 4, p. 329, says that the verb “strays” means that this Christian was deceived and led astray by others. The Christian who restores this erring believer to the path of truth will save the erring believer from spiritual separation (severance from a close, experiential fellowship) with God and will cover (the erring believer will be forgiven) a multitude of sins (Dr. Hiebert, p. 336).
The apostle Paul in 1 Tim. 4:1 writes, “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons…” As Drs. R. Jamieson, A. Fausset, and D. Brown state in their book, Commentary on the Whole Bible, p. 1342, the word “some” refers to people within the Church. Some people within the Church, those, who made a confession of belief (1 Tim. 3:16), will fall away/depart from/abandon the faith/apostatize. “The faith” refers to: “that body of doctrine which forms the basis of what practicing Christians believe” (Dr. K. Wuest’s Word Studies in the Greek, New Testament, vol. 2, p. 66); “the true doctrine of Christ” (Drs. C. Pfeiffer and E. Harrison, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, p. 1376); “the body of redemptive truth, the Christian religion” (Dr. W. Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary – 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus, p. 145). The teachings/doctrines of demons are false doctrines taught by errorists/false religious teachers whose views are instigated by deceitful spirits/demons (Drs. J. Walvoord and R. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, New Testament, p. 739).
The Apostle Paul goes on to say in 2 Tim. 4:3-4, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths.” Drs. Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown state in their commentary, page 1381, that the word “they” refers to professing Christians.
In Acts 20:30 Paul tells the Ephesian church elders to be on guard for themselves and for all the flock/church people. Why? Because “from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.” False teachers were to arise from within the Ephesian church’s own members and would distort the truth. “From the ranks of the leaders of the church itself some will arise to seduce their followers into heretical by-paths” (Dr. F.F. Bruce, The Book of the Acts, p. 417).
From all these passages, it becomes evident that believers can and have been deceived by false teaching or wrong thinking.
The second preliminary issue is, can Satan or demons or people controlled by them perform miracles and duplicate the spiritual gifts that the Holy Spirit gives to true Christians?
From a study of Ex. 7:10-12, 20-22 and Ex. 8:6-7, it can be seen that the Egyptian magicians/sorcerers (involved with Satanic powers – Drs. Walvoord and Zuck, p. 118) duplicated the first 3 of Moses and Aaron’s plagues/miracles: turning sticks into snakes, turning the Nile River into blood, and covering the land of Egypt with frogs.
In Deut. 13:1-4 we see that if a prophet’s or dreamer’s future prediction (sign or wonder) comes true, God’s people were to trust God and His Word rather than their experience of miracles, should the prophet’s message contradict God’s command. The standard for truth must never be a miraculous sign or wonder (or other areas of human experience) but rather God’s Word, the Bible (Drs. Walvoord and Zuck, p. 286).
Just as God’s prophets could call fire down from heaven (a miracle of God’s, 1 Kings 18:38; 2 Kings 1:10, 12), so Satan’s prophet can/will do likewise (Rev. 13:11-13; the second beast is the false prophet – Rev. 19:20). Demons can/will perform signs/miracles – Rev. 16:13-14 (e.g., Rev. 13:13). False christs and false prophets can/do/will show or perform great signs and wonders/miracles – Matt. 24:24-25. The lawless one (2 Thes. 2:8) or antichrist/first beast (Rev. 13:1-7) is able to perform signs/miracles and false wonders by the power of Satan (2 Thes. 2:9; Rev. 13:2; 12:8).
In Rev. 13:2-4, 12, we see that the dragon/Satan (Rev. 12:9) has the ability to heal the dead.
In Matt. 7:21-23, we see that people who prophesied, cast out demons, and performed many miracles in Jesus’ name were not even truly saved/believers/children of God. Just because someone prophesies in God’s name doesn’t mean they are from God or that their message is from God. In fact, God says that even prophets who were involved in the occult/divination were having visions and prophesying in His name, but weren’t from Him but rather were false – Jer. 14:14.
So we see that Satan, demons, and people controlled/used by them can/do perform miracles and can/do duplicate some of God’s spiritual gifts.
A third preliminary issue is, should keeping the unity among Christians supersede division that might result over arguing differences in theology or doctrine?
No! Unity is important (Eph. 4:3), but not at the expense of purity in both doctrine (Titus 2:1, 7) and life (2 Cor. 7:1). True biblical unity is based on: correct Bible doctrine (Eph. 4:11-16; Titus 1:5-13; 1 Tim. 1:3-7; 4:6; 2 Tim. 2:14-18; 2 Tim. 1:13; 4:1-4; Rom. 16:17-18), oneness of mind/thinking on biblical issues (Rom. 15:5; 1 Cor. 1:10; 2 Cor. 13:11), biblical love (seeking another’s best interest according to God’s value system and truths rather than mere emotionalism/sentimentality – 1 Cor. 13:4-7; Col. 3:14; Phil. 1:9-10; 1 Jn. 3:18), correcting those in error (Titus 1:7-14; 3:10-11; 1 Tim. 1:3-7; 2 Tim. 4:1-4; 2:25), and disassociating from or excommunicating unrepentant sinning Christians until they do repent (2 Thes. 3:6, 11, 14-15; Rom. 16:17-18; 1 Cor. 5:9-13; Matt. 18:15-17). It is better to be divided by truth than to be united by error!!
A fourth preliminary issue is, should a person judge and interpret the Bible based on his experiences, or should our experiences be judged and evaluated by the truth of God’s word, the Bible?
In Jer. 44:11-18, we find the Jews experiencing plenty of good and having no misfortunes when they worshiped the queen of heaven, but when they stopped worshiping the queen of heaven everything went wrong (Jer. 44:18). Yet, the Bible says that idolatry is wrong/sin (Ex. 20:3). From this we can conclude that, just because someone (or group) experiences good from a certain religious experience doesn’t make that religious experience right. Experiences don’t turn error into truth or wrong into right. Because something works doesn’t make that something right. Nor does God’s answering a person’s (or group’s) prayer make the answer to that prayer right or what God really wanted.
A case in point is found in Numbers 11:4-6, 13, 18-23, 31-34; Psalm 106:13-15. The Jews wanted meat to eat when God had already given them manna to eat instead. However, God gave them their request for meat, but punished them for it with a severe plague. So just because God answers a prayer doesn’t mean that the thing being asked for is right.
To judge God’s Word by experiences is to set yourself up as god. Rather judge your experiences by what God already states in the Bible.
A fifth preliminary issue is, can a believer/Christian be demonically controlled?
Yes! Peter who was a believer (Matt. 16:16-17; Jn. 1:41-42; 2:11), was controlled/used by Satan (Matt. 16:22-23).
In Acts 5:1-3, we find Ananias and Sapphira, who are believers (Acts 4:32), being filled/controlled by Satan (Drs. Walvoord and Zuck, p. 365).
In 2 Tim. 2:24-26, Paul says that the Lord’s servant (spiritual leader) is to correct those who are in opposition (misguided Christians – 2 Tim. 2:18) “if perhaps God may grant them repentance (a change of attitude/mind/thinking) leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare/trap of the devil, having been held captive to do his will.” Both the false teachers and their followers are in the devil’s trap/snare. Wrong beliefs lead to wrong living. Since Satan instigated false teaching, those caught up in false doctrine are pawns of Satan, under his control, to do his will (J. Kelly, former principal of St. Ed. Hall, Oxford, A Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles, p. 190, 191; and Drs. Walvoord and Zuck, p. 755).
Some people object to the idea that Christians can be demon controlled or possessed on the grounds that the Christian’s body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19), and, therefore, God and Satan or demons can’t coexist together. But the Bible never says that they can’t coexist together. In fact, Scripture shows the opposite. In Job 1:6-12 and Job 2:1-7, Satan is having a dialogue in God’s presence. In 1 Kings 22:19-23, a deceiving spirit/demon is having a dialogue in God’s presence. In Rev. 12:9-10, Satan is in heaven before God having a dialogue. Also, the fact that God is omnipresent (present everywhere – Psa. 139:7-12; Jer. 23:23-24; Eph. 4:6; Acts 7:48-49) necessitates that God be wherever Satan/demons are at. So to say that Christians can’t be demonically controlled is unbiblical.
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