1 Corinthians 14:15 What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. 16 Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest? 17 For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified.
Previously, Paul said, “IF I speak in an unknown tongue…” IF he did it, the whole exercise was unfruitful. So, now Paul gives the answer of what HE would really do. Concerning prayer, he will pray with the spirit and with understanding also. Concerning singing, he will sing with the spirit and with understanding also. Concerning blessing (edifying) people he will bless with the spirit and with understanding also. Notice, he is not doing anything IN the spirit, he is doing it WITH the spirit. Also notice that the “spirit” is a small “s” and not a capital “S.” He is using his human spirit to pray and sing and bless the others that are accompanying him in the same room. They are not two different things: Praying with the spirit and praying with understanding. They are one thing: praying with the spirit and understanding as well. When Paul prays, he understands what he is saying and so does the others that are nearby listening to him. Otherwise, the people listening to him won’t even know when to say AMEN because they cannot understand what he is saying. Likewise, when Paul sings, he understands what he is singing and so does anyone else standing near him. Otherwise, the people listening to him sing won’t even know what he is doing. When he prays or sings, and he is being thankful, how do others know?
Paul uses the word, “unlearned” to identify people who have not yet learned something. An “unlearned” person needs to learn something. To learn something, they need it to be explained to them so that they can understand it. This involves prophecy. If a person is praying or singing in unknown tongues, then the others standing by are not edified; they are not built up or encouraged.
Charismatics often say that their speaking in unknown tongues exercise is a “private prayer language.” However, Paul indicates that the gifts are being exercised in the local assembly. There is no such thing as a “private prayer language” being taught here. The prayer of verses 14 and 15 is being offered in the church. Therefore, the goal is for the congregation to understand what is being said whenever a mouth is opened. If you pray, make sure the others can understand you. If you sing, make sure that others can understand you.
Some Charismatics say, “If I pray in a ‘tongue’ my spirit is praying but my mind is inactive.” If they do such a thing, then they are in a passive state and when they are in a passive state, they are opening themselves up to demons.
The great charismatic nonsense has been aimed at influencing young people. It is a young people’s movement. Its background is the drug culture, “the children of God,” and the “Jesus people.” The reason why it is so popular among those people is that it is mostly emotionalism. There is nothing wrong with God having a person’s emotions. There is nothing wrong with being happy about God, and there is nothing wrong with praising God. There is nothing wrong with feeling good about God. All that is good stuff. But you have to be careful when you lose control of your nervous system. Nothing in the world will mess up your nervous system any quicker than drugs. A lot of those people that were on drugs, when they got saved, had a great emotional experience, and it affected their nervous system. Their nervous system was not functioning properly, and their nervous system came all apart, and the “tongues” began to come out. As soon as they did, somebody got hold of them and coached them. That is how they got involved in the charismatic nonsense. The reason it is so hard to straighten a charismatic out about this is because they connect their emotional experience with their salvation, or the power of God, and they think, “Well, if I deny that experience, I’ve denied the power of the Holy Ghost.” When a young person gets to this point, then the Charismatics have got them and they think, “If I ever criticize that or go back on it, I’ve committed the unpardonable sin.” Then they are really hooked.
We get saved by faith, we begin by faith, we walk by faith, and we live by faith. We do not put too much weight on those other things.
Sometimes we can get to a “high point” in a church meeting. Maybe the song service gets going and things really get moving. But we cannot count on it being that way all the time. What if a Believer went to work Monday morning after a wonderfully moving service like that and found out that they lost their job? Maybe their wife has a baby, and they have no way to pay their doctor bills. Suddenly it is BAM–Down on the bottom again! There is no way that it is safe for us to depend upon our emotions. So, if we have a great emotional experience, praise the Lord! We hope there are many more of them, but we are not going to depend on it happening. Rather than that, we will depend on the Bible. The reason why a charismatic never knows whether he is saved or not is once you place the tongues gift as evidence of Spiritual baptism (i.e. salvation), what happens when you lose that tongues? You have lost the baptism of the Holy Spirit (i.e. salvation).
Notice, once more, that the person praying understands what he is saying, (verses 16 and 17). He knows he is blessing (vs. 16); and he knows he is giving thanks (vs. 17).