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There is a myth which has become very prevalent within Christianity that has to do with the power of our words. It began in the â€śWord-Faithâ€ť movement, but it seems to have expanded into the common evangelical vernacular. The myth to which I am referring is the absolute fear of saying anything which could be negative.
I have heard people who would say, â€śI will not say I am sick, because I am not claiming that in my lifeâ€ť when they are clearly very ill. Let me make a point very clear from the beginning: Your words are not magical.
I have heard people say, â€śI will not even speak the name of a specific disease because I am not agreeing with the possibility that I could have it.â€ť This is the very nature of the Word-Faith heresy (and it truly is heretical), but I find this type of thinking is becoming more and more accepted even among those who would not identify themselves as Word-Faith.
You cannot create a disease simply by speaking it. You are not God. You cannot create something from nothing. Only God can do that. He spoke the world into existence and it continues to exist under His sovereign control. By claiming that your words have the power to either create or to eliminate something like an organic disease, you are deceiving yourself.
But what about the Word-Faith movementâ€™s favorite verse? Proverbs 18:21 clearly says, â€śDeath and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.â€ť I encourage you to take a very serious look at what this verse says and what it does not say. Yes, it says that words are powerful. They can bring life and they can bring death. But, I submit to you that this is not an expression of some mystical property which is contained within the words themselves, but rather the way in which our words affect others which can be to speak life or speak death to them.
For instance, consider a husband who tells his wife, â€śYou are ugly and brainless.â€ť Those words are dreadfully cruel, and they are deadly to her own sense of self-worth. They are, in a very real way, words of death to her. Likewise the father who tells his son that he is an idiot, or the mother who tells her daughter that she is stupid. These words are words of death. In this way, the tongue can be very dangerous.
Conversely, the husband who tells his wife how precious she is, and how much she brings him joy, that husband is speaking life to his wife. When parents offer their children words of encouragement and constructive correction, those words are life to them. Those words build up, and in that way the tongue is very useful. This is why the Apostle Paul tells us, â€śLet no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hearâ€ť (Ephesians 4:29).
So, I am not denying the tongue is powerful. It is immensely so. As members of the body go, there is not one that has more power than the tongue to do harm or to do good (James 3:2-11). But this is not because the tongue is magic.
The modern Word-Faith movement has created a sense in which the words we use are the formula for creating things out of thin air. In this sense, they are much more akin to the spells and incantations found in a Harry Potter novel than they are associated with anything found in the Word of God. The Bible says that our words are powerful, but not sovereign. Only God is sovereign; only God has the power speak things into existence.
Ultimately, this behavior and belief is not only erroneous, it is also sinful. It is sinful because it replaces Godâ€™s sovereignty with the belief in the mystical power of oneâ€™s own words. It demonstrates that the person practicing it is more concerned with his own comfort than he is with Godâ€™s glory. We are not promised a comfortable life as believers. Rather we are promised strength through persecution, trials and suffering. To believe that you can â€śspeak awayâ€ť these things simply by saying or not saying certain words is seeking to exercise a power which does not belong to you.
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