By: Dawn Hill, The Lovesick Scribe
And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them, and the evil spirits came out of them. Acts 19:11
While thumbing through old notes from years ago, I could not help but to notice things I had written down or had received from an instructor regarding the language of the Spirit. In these notes were true statements intertwined with things I now understood to be unbiblical. I was taught for years that the Spirit is not in charge and that Satan got man’s permission to dominate. This was why Jesus Christ came in man’s form; He came to reclaim the dominion for man. I was taught that the body has permission to be on Earth and that in order for the Holy Spirit to operate in the earth, He had to have us. He was limited in what He could do based upon our level of obedience. I had no idea at the time that this is classic Word of Faith teaching.
I was taught that the baptism of the Holy Spirit was a deeper experience than being born again. Imagine believing that any experience could surpass God raising you from spiritual death into life in Jesus Christ! I cannot even comprehend that thought now. I was taught that when you pray in tongues, you are speaking mysteries and building yourself up. I was taught many things about the prayer language, and I perpetuated these teachings as well. Over the past several years, it has been a blessing to study Scripture and to gain a better understanding of passages I was once taught out of context, now in context. It has also been eye opening to learn more about the history of speaking in tongues, with regards to the belief of a private prayer language.
If you have been a part of the hyper charismatic/ NAR movement, you tend to think you have seen just about everything. I have been proven wrong in this thinking more than I would like to be. I recently came across a video where a professing deliverance minister was teaching a group of people about the power of the anointing in written words on a whiteboard. However, these were not just words in English. On this board was an alleged interpretation of a sentence from Scripture into his prayer language. He invited the people to come up to the board and to touch the area where he had written the alleged prayer language, trusting that the same power in the Word of God would be tangible in this interpretation.
As individuals touched the scribble in dry erase marker, they fell onto the floor, some were crying and shaking, while others were speaking in tongues. This practice was said to have been modeled by another minister who had done the same teaching and application years ago. Talk of tapping into an infinite God was given for the outcome of this gathering and teaching.
When I watch videos like this, my heart goes out to those who attended this meeting and think that this is of God. I am reminded in my own life of how our hearts can be deceived. Our flesh can be manipulated, and our emotions can be heightened. The experiences are real, but are they Biblical? I find myself asking who is truly being glorified. Is it Christ, or is it the man or woman claiming to have a powerful anointing while using the name of Jesus? This particular individual seemed to believe in his questions and statements that his written private prayer language interpretation was as equally anointed as the very Word of God. Was he that powerful, or are these people being given over to strong delusion by God?
Some may ask why this is an issue, and it may seem benign to do such a thing. Some may even reference Acts 19:11 where Paul’s own handkerchiefs or aprons he wore during tent making were placed upon people and miraculous things were taking place among the people. I can recall this passage being referenced numerous times in years past. I can also recall the practice of cutting up cloth napkins, anointing them with oil, and giving them to people to use in desperate situations. There were wild stories told where specific objects in contact with anointed men and women of God were alleged to have supernatural power to heal and to deliver people.
The concern with using this passage prescriptively is the very fact of it being descriptive, not prescriptive. We are never instructed in all the epistles to conduct ourselves in such ways as Christians. There are no other instances, aside from Peter’s shadow. We may do well to take note of the time this occurred and the authentication of the ministry to the apostles by Jesus Christ. We are not instructed to create extrabiblical practices based on personal experience or on one descriptive Bible verse.
I also observed in this practice the potential similarities to New Age practices in believing objects contain spiritual energy or power. According to Pew Research, sixty percent of professing American Christians hold a belief attributed to the New Age, one of which included spiritual energy in objects.
If I can encourage you in anything, as I continue to be encouraged in my walk as a believer in Christ, personal experiences are not the barometer of truth. The standard of truth must be the Word of God rightly divided. Practices such as this should be avoided by us as members of the body of Christ. We are not to walk or to conduct ourselves in such a way that Biblical Christianity is foreign to the claimed beliefs and practices. This is my concern with such teachings as this.