Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits (Proverbs 18:21, ESV).
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ (Romans 10:17, ESV).
There was a time when hearing these verses along with others I believed that my own words had the power to create my world. I believed that by confessing sickness, I would either get sick or accept sickness.
There was a practice of “not receiving” a negative report or words of doubt, defeat, and unbelief when spoken over a situation or circumstance. Undoubtedly, I likely drove friends and loved ones crazy with my warnings to watch their words and to not speak death over themselves.
Faith seemed to be in what I spoke rather than in God Himself, and essentially, I was filling the role of God in my life without realizing it. I sincerely loved God and had sincere motives, but sincerity does not necessarily lead to truth.
This teaching was enforced in my life during the years spent in the Word of Faith teaching. The power of your words was of necessity when walking in victory. People did not talk about their illnesses or struggles because words had power.
Prayer was more in the way of commanding rather than petitioning God and trusting Him whatever may come. There is an element of feeling like you have control while looking around at the sovereignty of God as if His hands are tied and His power rests upon your words.
I look back now wondering what others were not saying as they went through trials and difficulties. Were they afraid to admit fear in a situation because of this belief?
Did some walk away from the faith because the decreed outcome never came to fruition? What does this type of belief system do to someone’s faith?
After coming out of this teaching and growing in biblical understanding over the last several years, I have faced situations in my life that had I still been under this teaching, it would have likely devastated me.
The belief my words held such power that the devil trembled at their every utterance is embarrassing and absurd to admit.
It brings peace and joy to trust in Jesus Christ, the Author and Finisher of my faith, and that my faith is not in the outcome of this temporal existence, but my faith is in Christ to save me and to cleanse me from all unrighteousness.
My faith is neither the object of my focus nor is it a force, but God is the object of my faith. It brings much-needed humility to remember who the Creator is, who the created being is, and Who has creative power by the very utterance of His words.
What Power Do We Have with Our Words?
One of the most common verses to emphasize the power of our words is Proverbs 18:21. Many quote this verse when stating the importance of not speaking death over oneself in accepting a doctor’s report or in hearing a negative confession.
To accept such things and to speak negative confessions out of one’s mouth is to speak death. Our words most certainly do have the power to encourage and to discourage.
They have the power to tear down others and to build up others. Proverbs 10:19 says, “Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.”
James compares the tongue to the rudder on a ship saying,
Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison (James 3:5-8).
If we were to take James 3 literally regarding the tongue, we may believe that our tongue is a fire and is full of poison. However, we understand this is metaphorically helping us to see the importance of what we say, not in the sense of creating like God, but in the sense of glorifying God.
We want our words to testify of Christ and to bring Him honor and glory while encouraging others in the Lord. We can see why it is important to understand Scripture in context and to in doing so, we glorify God in the process.
We do have power in our words not to create but in the words of this author, “to inspire positive and negative responses.”
Consider the very proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. By testifying of the gospel, salvation may come to those who hear and believe.
What is even more important to consider is that the words of the gospel are not our own words or in our own power, but the power is in the gospel and in God’s own words testifying of His Son.
None of us can boast about someone coming to faith in Christ by the power of our words. God gets all the glory.
What about Romans 4:17?
This particular verse has been paraphrased and partially stated on numerous occasions when talking about the power of our words to create.
Romans 4:17 says, “As it is written, ‘I have made you the father of many nations’ — in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist” (ESV).
There is the temptation to insert oneself into the text and to apply the actions of God to personal actions.
However, when looking at this verse in context, we can see that Abraham had faith in God and His promise to make him the father of many nations even in old age.
It is God who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. This power exclusively belongs to God. He creates things out of nothing, we do not.
The Word of God is so helpful to us when we understand the context, and as believers in Christ, it brings comfort and peace with God in knowing the truth.
We do want to be aware of our words in the sense of honoring God and testifying the truth while encouraging others and proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ.
We simply do not have the power to create anything with our words. This is God’s power, and the danger in adopting such beliefs and practices is as old as the garden in believing we can be like God.
The power is not in our words but in the God to whom we trust and who is omnipotent. Be encouraged in the Lord, and if you have been a part of such teaching in the past, know that His mercies are new every day.
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Dawn Hill is a Christian blogger known as The Lovesick Scribe and the host of The Lovesick Scribe Podcast. She is passionate about sharing the truth and pointing others back to Jesus Christ through the written Word as the standard of authority for Christian living and instruction while being led by the Holy Spirit into maturity. She is the author of NonProphet Woke: The Reformation of a Modern-Day Disciple. She is a wife to Nicholas and a mother to Anabel and Ephraim. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram.