One of the things that is very common to hear today is that our words have the power to speak things into existence. This is commonly called the power of positive confession. The idea is that our words are an expression of our faith and that this expression of faith has the ability to create or speak things into existence. This teaching comes in a very extreme element and a more familiar element. On the more extreme side, there is a well knowing prosperity gospelier that once taught that Adam didn’t just name the animals. Instead, he created them through his faith. God basically gave Adam blocks of energy and Adam used his faith to create them into the animals we see today.
Of course, this isn’t what Scripture says but that wasn’t a problem for this guy because God told him this is what happened. Brother if God told him that’s what happened, then that’s what happened regardless of Scripture. If you disagree with him then you are disagreeing with God. As I said this guy is on the more extreme fringes with this teaching.
On the more familiar side are those who still basically teach that faith is a creative force, but that the power of faith is released through positive confession. This is the “name it and claim it” crowd. It has been my experience that these folks use Scripture to back up their claims but they are using Scripture incorrectly. Let me quickly give you a couple of examples.
One guy I heard used Abraham as an example of someone who “believed it and received it.” The preacher told the story of Abraham being called by God. He talked about Abraham’s faith in leaving his home and going where God led. After talking about that for quite a while, he then jumped ahead to Genesis 17 where God changed Abram’s name to Abraham. If you remember from your Old Testament studies, Abram means exalted father and Abraham means father of a multitude.
From this point on, Abraham always refers to himself as Abraham, father of a multitude. He does this despite the fact that he had no children at this point in his life. According to this teacher Abraham was positively confessing what was going to happen. He was naming it and he was claiming it. The preacher went on to say that Romans says that Abraham called those things that were not as though they were and thus received the promised child. Abraham had Isaac because he positively confessed that he would be the father of many nations. By doing this, he was calling those things that are not as though they were. This positive confession of faith is what caused the promise to happen.
Much of what was said was accurate. God did change Abram’s name to Abraham before he had any children. Abraham did refer to himself as Abraham, or a father of a multitude, before he was even the father of one. However, Romans does not say that Abraham called those things that were not as though they were.
“(as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed–God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did;” Romans 4:17 (NKJV)
Now, according to this verse, who made Abraham a father of many nations? Did Abraham make himself the father of many nations by his faith and positive confession or did God make him the father of many nations? Did Abraham call those things that are not as though they were or did God call those things that are not as though they were? Abraham was a man of great faith. However, the point of Abraham’s story isn’t that through faith and positive confession Abraham caused things to happen. Instead, the point of Abraham’s story is that Abraham believed God and God caused things to happen.
The opposite side of the positive confession is the negative confession. According to this teaching, just as speaking positive things causes positive things to happen, so speaking negative things causes negative things to happen. For instance, you should never say, “I feel sick” or “I’m getting sick” because in so doing you are “speaking these things into your life” and causing them to happen. Once again, there is a Scriptural basis for this.
“You are snared by the words of your mouth; You are taken by the words of your mouth.” Proverbs 6:2 (NKJV)
The “negative confession” explanation of this passage goes something like this. “You will be snared by the words of your mouth. What you believe you speak. What you believe and speak will come to pass. When you believe and speak negative things, then you will be snared by the words of your mouth as they come to pass.” The problem with this interpretation of this passage is that isn’t what it means. In fact, the context of this passage guarantees there is no way it can possibly mean this.
1 My son, if you become surety for your friend, If you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger, 2 You are snared by the words of your mouth; You are taken by the words of your mouth. 3 So do this, my son, and deliver yourself; For you have come into the hand of your friend: Go and humble yourself; Plead with your friend. 4 Give no sleep to your eyes, Nor slumber to your eyelids. 5 Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, And like a bird from the hand of the fowler. Proverbs 6:1-5 (NKJV)
When you read this passage in the God given context you can see that verses 1-5 are all part of one thought by the author. What we see in verse 1 is the primary subject of the passage. So what is the primary subject of this passage? The primary subject of this passage is the danger of being the “surety” or cosigner on another person’s loan. The one who is the “surety” or cosigner will have to pay the debt if the primary signer defaults.
In the days that this passage was written pledges were often taken by giving your word. If you have given your word that you will pay a friend’s debt if he doesn’t, then you have snared yourself, or made yourself liable, by the words of your mouth. This is a dangerous thing to do and so you must quickly go and try to get yourself released from this pledge. Don’t wait until tomorrow, go and do it today.
When we see it in context, we can easily recognize that it cannot possibly mean that when I say, “I think I’m getting sick” that I’m going to make myself sick. This mindset almost makes faith like the force and Christians like Jedi’s. Don’t get me wrong, like any normal guy I’d love to be able to use the force. It might be especially great to be able to force choke someone. However, God is not the force that can be/will be manipulated by our positive and negative confessions.
While our words have the power to encourage or discourage they have no power to create for the positive or the negative. The only words that have the power to create are God’s Words. Our job as believers isn’t to rely on superstitious theology that calls on us to “speak things into existence” because “our words have power.” Our job is to believe the words of our Almighty God who can do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think (Rom 4:17-21, Eph 3:20).