Saturday, April 7, 2012

Do Words Carry Power?

Do your words carry power? I was asked this question by a good friend yesterday morning and I thought it would make a good post. I also have had some other questions floating around upstairs that I've been meaning to do some digging in, so maybe I will respond to them in the near future. I haven't been blogging much recently due to a full plate of work, classes, and repairing my jumpshot. words have power?

Some background to this question is important. Today its not uncommon to turn on Christian television or even hear from the pulpit about the power of your words. Your words can "create your world" "improve your situation" or even bring you life's best days and worst moments, all you have to do is "speak it", "name it", "decree it" or "speak over yourself". Your words have GREAT power some say, but what does scripture say? Well, too often what supports these sayings we hear are verses such as Proverbs 18:21 which says

 "Life and death are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits",
 or even Romans 4:17 which states "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. (emphasis mine). A few others that are named are 2 Corinthians 4:13 which says "Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence."; and James 3:5-12 which says
"So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!  And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.  Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?  Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water." 
Lastly I wont forget the words of Jesus who stated throughout the gospels things like this "He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”(Matt 17:20) So according to these verses, do our words carry power?
The answer is no.
So the answer to the question. Yes and No. I know that's difficult, but its true. Yes your words carry power and no they don't. It comes down to how you define power. Some define power meaning the ability to use words to create, make things happen or to get things. Power in this sense means to use words to bring something to pass that currently doesn't exist or isn't true. The answer to this is no. To use any of the previous verses listed and to interpret them to mean that you and I, Christian or not, can use our words to create something, bring something to pass, or attain something, is a wrong interpretation. We cannot speak death to anyone and wait for them to die. Why? Because ultimately death is in the hands of a Sovereign God who controls all things - life and death. The same goes with life.You and I do not control that. We cannot speak life to someone and cause them to live longer or cause ourselves to live longer. To this end, our words do not carry power. Our words therefore cannot "create our world". We do not have the ability to call things into existence in our lives that do not exist. (Try it now, see what happens.)In Romans 4, it is God who does that. I cannot believe I'll have $20 and then speak "I have $20 dollars" and then see $20 appear in my hand. Personally, I've made hundreds of thousands of these "confessions" in my life and have only experienced frustration, anger, or condemnation when my words didn't come to pass. According to this perspective, my confession didn't come to pass because I lacked faith or doubted God and this was just wrong. Furthermore "decreeing and declaring" or "binding and loosing" is not another way for you and I to use our words to "release things" or make things happen or stop happening. We cannot open heaven's window's with our words anymore than we can open the Federal Reserve's safe door with them. To see yourself as the one who has the authority to do this and that is to make yourself a sovereign and it makes God your caddy. It is God who blesses His people. It is God who gives grace through Jesus and whose providential hands move the seasons of our lives. Prayer is the means that He has established of communicating to Him about these things. Through prayer we humbly depend on Him for all things, yet we come boldly before Him in our requests because we have an Intercessor and a High Priest in Jesus. According to Matthew 17:20, It is our small mustard see faith that is placed in the hands of an  All-powerful God that enables us to do the impossible. Our words or faith don't do the impossible, God, the object of our faith, does. Our faith is not a force, something that we wield. To see faith as a force is to see it as something that you use to attain something whether it be salvation or a beamer. Rather, if we see faith as a gift (Phil 1:29) or as an empty outstretched hand, then what that shows is dependence...we are beggars who deserve nothing and will receive anything, even a crumb and be content. In Jesus, God pours out steadfast love and the riches of His grace upon beggars who don't deserve anything. The basis of His blessing us is not how much we can declare and bind and loose and confess, but it is Jesus. Romans 8:32 "He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" Jesus is the basis upon which you are presently and eternally secure, not our words.

The answer is yes.
Our words do carry power in that they are potent but not omnipotent as my wife so wonderfully reminded me of while writing this. Our words are powerful in that they are given to us by God because we are made in His image and after His likeness.No other creation has been given words as a means of communication. Through God's Word(s), namely the Bible, God speaks to us. We find knowledge of His love, mercy, justice, holiness, grace, and wrath. We see the things He loves and we see the things He hates.We find promises and we find warnings all throughout the Bible and this is similar to how our words carry power.It has been said that because God's words create and bring something out of nothing in the Bible, that you and I have the ability to do the same, namely that we are "speaking spirits". This is wrong. Our words are not powerful in the sense that we are sovereign creators with them. Only God can create and uphold the universe by the word of His power. God's words to us also encourages us, convicts us, blesses us, and gives us knowledge of Him. Our words do essentially the same. By our words we can encourage, convict, bless others, and what someone says can tell much about them. Our words carry meaning. If they are truthful and honest and loving and grace-filled, then they can give life to and uplift those we are speaking to.On the other hand, if our words are negative, slandering, evil, and oppressing, then they can bring hurt, fear, dishonesty, and pain - words of death. According to James, our words are not so much as powerful as they are fickle. With our mouths we bless God and then curse our neighbors who are made in God's image. Rather than being concerned with the power in our words and what we can decree and declare and bind and loose and what we can name or claim, we ought to be more concerned with the nature of our words - do we bless God and curse others? Do we vocally profess Jesus one minute only to vocally deny Him the next? With our words, do we communicate our dependence on God, or do we claim to be in control of things? Do our words communicate the confidence we have in the object of our faith, Jesus,or do they convey that our faith is in ourselves or in something else?

Our words are powerful, but not in the way that they are sovereign. Our words do not control or create, but they do encourage or discourage. Our words are important because we will be judged by them(Matt 12:36-37), not by how powerful they are, but by how they convey the condition of our hearts.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This was a good post my friend. God is truly sovereign over life and death. Job 12:10 says in his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind. Deuteronomy 32:29 God says I kill and Make alive. I would go on to say that life and death are in the power of the tongue in a sense that words are an extension of our hearts condition. Matthew 12 does not just say that we will be judged by our words but says that its from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Jesus in Mark 7:20-21 says evil things proceed from the heart. So our words indicate whether we have a sinful heart or a regenerated one.