Speaking in tongues can be hindered primarily by incorrect doctrine. Some common doctrines that hinder speaking in tongues are: “the spiritual gifts have ceased”, “tongues are not for everyone”, “tongues are of the devil”, “Holy Spirit will take over”, and “tongues are a real language”.
Obviously, each one of these beliefs produces unbelief in our lives. If we have anyone of these misconceptions about speaking in tongues then it will be very difficult, if not impossible to receive.
Now let’s answer these common objections.
“The Spiritual gifts have ceased.”
The person who believes this usually has been taught that either the gifts ceased with the apostles or they ceased when “that which is perfect has come” (1 Corinthians 13:10).
People who hold the latter belief say that thing that is perfect is the Bible, so now that we have the Bible there is no need for the gifts of the Spirit.
Of course, I too believe that the Bible is perfect, but I do not believe that is what this verse is talking about. Let’s look at the passage real quick.
“But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.” (1 Corinthians 13:8-10)
Now, if we stop there it would be a valid belief, however, the writer continues.
“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.” (1 Corinthians 13:11-12)
These verses say here that when that which has perfect has come we will be mature, we will see face to face and no longer dimly, and that we will know just as we also are known by the Lord.
Does that sound like that has happened yet? Of course not. We do not know all things, our understanding is still a little bit fuzzy at times.
So “that which is perfect” in this passage is not referring to the Bible, but to the moment Jesus returns and we receive our glorified bodies.
Now to address the other belief – the apostles never ceased, nor will they ever cease until Christ returns. There are still apostles to this day, we just don’t call them that too often because everyone is afraid to.
“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13).
This verse reveals that the apostles and prophets won’t be done away with until we all come to the unity of the faith and until we all become perfect as Christ is. Well, that certainly hasn’t happened yet, nor will it happen until Christ returns!
So both of these passages reveal that the ministry and spiritual gifts that Jesus gave to the Church will never be done away with until we no longer need them and that day won’t come until Jesus returns and gives the Church a glorified body.
I have a whole article that covers this objection much more thoroughly, it is titled Are the Gifts of the Holy Spirit for Today? (Objections Answered).
“Tongues are not for everyone.”
Let’s cover some verses that say otherwise.
“And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues” (Mark 16:17).
Notice this passage says that “these signs will follow those who believe.” It’s plural because it’s for all believers.
So every single one of the signs mentioned in Mark 16 is supposed to follow a believer’s life, including speaking in tongues.
“Therefore if the whole church comes together in one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those who are uninformed or unbelievers, will they not say that you are out of your mind?” (1 Corinthians 14:23).
In this verse, Paul is explaining to the church in Corinth why it is important for their meetings to include more spiritual gifts than just speaking in tongues.
And his reasoning is if every believer spoke in tongues then that means that those who don’t understand and those that don’t believe will think you’re wacko because no one will understand what you are saying. They will be thinking you are speaking gibberish.
Therefore, Paul says there should be interpretations to interpret the tongues, and there should be prophecies, healings, words of knowledge, words of wisdom, etc. so that all can benefit and be edified because tongues without interpretation are only for the one speaking but when it is coupled with interpretation it is equivalent to prophecy.
This is why Paul says,
“If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret.” (1 Corinthians 14:27)
But notice Paul’s language when he refers to speaking in tongues among the church. He uses language like “anyone” and “every believer.” This is because tongues are for every single follower of Christ.
“praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication” (Ephesians 6:18).
“But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit” (Jude 20).
Notice both of these verses are addressed to the whole church and they are commanded to “pray in the Spirit.”
Now those who believe that speaking in tongues is not for every believer also hold the belief that praying in the Spirit and speaking in tongues are not the same.
They believe this in spite of the scripture directly saying that praying in tongues is praying in the Spirit.
“For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.” (1 Corinthians 14:14-15).
Notice Paul uses the terms praying in the Spirit and praying in tongues interchangeably.
Now someone may say, “Yes, but Paul is not saying that he is praying in the Holy Spirit (capital S) but that he is praying with his spirit (lowercase s) so what you are saying is false.”
Well said, but do you not know the scripture that says, “he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him”? (1 Corinthians 6:17)
So it doesn’t matter if Paul says “with my spirit” or “in His Spirit” because their spirits are joined together and they are one.
“Tongues are of the devil.”
This is crazy. God tells us to speak in tongues (see verses mentioned above) and it is literally a spiritual gift given by the Spirit of God to the Church so speaking in tongues can not be from the devil.
The only reason this is a belief is because at some point some pastor felt uncomfortable listening to tongues so he decided to preach to his congregation that tongues are from the devil, and the congregation never read their Bible for themselves so they blindly believed him.
This is truly tragic.
Let’s be people who read the word of God for ourselves so we don’t get deceived so easily.
“Holy Spirit will take over.”
The person who believes this thinks that when the Holy Spirit fills them He will control their mouth to speak through them.
This is a problem for many people. I sympathize with you. I use to believe this as well.
But this is not what the Bible reveals.
“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:4).
Notice, the disciples who were filled with the Spirit did the speaking, and the Spirit gave them utterance. Meaning all God did was simply guide their words as they willingly spoke. The apostle Paul says the same thing in his letter to the Corinthians.
“For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit..” (1 Corinthians 14:14-15)
So when you get filled with the Holy Spirit, all you have to do is begin to speak by faith and the Holy Spirit will begin to guide your syllables as you speak.
Check out the article Speaking in Tongues: Can you Control it? for a more in-depth answer.
“Tongues are a real language.”
The Bible says that the “one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 14:2).
This verse reveals that speaking in tongues is a real language but it is a language that is meant to be understood by God only and that when the individual speaks in tongues they are speaking mysteries.
This means that no one can understand tongues unless the mystery is revealed by God. And this “revealing” is called the interpretation of tongues.
If tongues were natural, known languages as some would suggest, then why do we need a divine interpretation to understand them?
The answer is we wouldn’t. We would just realize that the person speaking is speaking Arabic, for example, then we would just find an interpreter if we really wished to understand what they were saying.
People who believe that speaking in tongues is just a natural known language believe this because of Acts chapter 2.
I don’t have the space to explain Acts 2 in this article but I do explain it very thoroughly in my article titled Is Speaking in Tongues a Real Language? Or is it Gibberish?
I hope you enjoyed this article and that it assisted you in your walk with God.
God bless all of you!
P.S. I have an entire article that does an in-depth study on Speaking in Tongues if you are interested in learning more about this topic. You can read it by clicking the title here: Bible Study/Teaching/Lesson/Commentary on Speaking in Tongues. Enjoy!