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Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Proverbs 18:20 - 21 

Are Death and life  in the power of the tongue? The faith teachers interpret this in a metaphysical sense instead of using a biblical interpretation. But this is not the whole Scripture, it goes on to say “And they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” In other words, what you sow to others you will reap.

Lets read the whole portion of Scripture to gain the context. Prov. 18:19-21: ‘A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle.

A man's stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth, from the produce of his lips he shall be filled.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

From what they speak will come consequences – good or bad. Not because they control reality from their words but because what one says can affect others – words can hurt ones emotions or build them up. In fact this is the context as he starts with v.19 about a brother being offended.

The ultimate sense of Proverbs 18:21 was related to Solomon, the author who penned it. The verse can be attributed to Solomon being the king and in a practical sense he has the power to pronounce death or life (condemnation or pardon) over his subjects. In the same manner Pilate said when he spoke to Jesus he has the power of life and death. That his life was his decision As a ruler in authority, in a certain sense over sinful man he did but not over the Son of God.

Jesus affirmed that it is which comes out of the mouth, defiles a man. Not what goes in (as in eating food). Here again is the fruit from our speaking.

Jer. 17:9: “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked” Jesus further explains in Matt. 15:18-20 “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man” what comes out of the heart defiles man makes him really polluted or offensive in the sight of God. Ezek.28:2 sin begins in the heart v.17. (Prov.12.23 ,15:28 Jer.23:25-26)

Jesus said in Matt.15:18-20 our words show our thoughts. The heart was considered the seat of our emotions. The heart is called the center of our spiritual activity, of all the operations of human life. “Heart” and “soul” are often used interchangeably in Scripture. But it is not speaking of the physical heart but mans spirit.

The fruit of our words can do good or harm emotionally just as our actions can affect someone physically

Matt 12:34-36 “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.” Its not our words that have power to change circumstances and create as Jesus is pointing to our heart as the origin of these word. In other words is a man speaking what is righteous and true or unrighteous and false will affect others.

The passage is also about our spoken words affecting another person's feelings, emotions (12:18,25; 16:24). What we speak affects people can affect their perceptions, even affect their circumstances. But nowhere does the Bible teach or mean that as believers we can speak things into existence. We need to look at a better explanation for this than to rely on those who want power. If this were true no faith teacher would be sick or die if life is in their tongue.

Are Life and death in mans words.

When Jesus cursed the fig tree He spoke out loud but He did not pray. He instructs us to pray showing that we do not have the power to do what he did by speaking. This ability is reserved for God alone, not man. Jesus showed He had power over nature because of who He was, not from some innate ability in man because of our being made in God’s image.

Romans 4 is used as an example of the power we believers have - just like God. The Faith teachers will quote the end of Romans 4:17 pulling it out of the context it was written in, attributing to them what is ONLY attributed to God. “(As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.”

The word faith teachers left out the subject in their interpretation: “even God,” who quickeneth the dead (Abraham and Sarah), and “calleth those things which be not as though they were,” (creation of anything that did not exist prior)

In its main context: Rom 4:17 `Abraham is the father of us all, even of those who were not in existence in his day, in the eye of that God whom his faith apprehended.' (from Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary)

In a more broad context it has to do with God being the only one who can bring anything into existence.

This cannot be used to prove that our “faith” speech literally contains power to create things. It should be obvious, this verse is a reference to God and is reserved for Him alone who was able to speak things into existence. To suggest that believers are capable of performing the same acts of creation is attributing God’s abilities to his creatures. This exalts us to godhood, which has no biblical precedent. We find no apostle practicing what faith teachers teach as standard biblical doctrine.

Did God create the universe by speaking words? The answer is yes and no. Some of the things God made were spoken into existence but not all of them. God spoke and things were created but this was not done by faith but because of whom God is. He alone is the one who existed in eternity past long before anything was made. He alone is all powerful and all knowing is the cause of all things existing. There is, after all, only one God, who alone is capable of calling what is not into existence (Isaiah 43:10; 44:6, 24). “Calling into existence” is the description chosen by the writers of the Scripture explaining what we creatures can never do, create something from nothing. “God's voice” represents His ability and authority to create from nothing.

Romans 4:17 is then a double reference to Genesis, to Abraham, and where God spoke and the physical universe came into being

1.Gen 1:3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.

2.Gen 1:6 Then God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.”

3.Gen 1:9 Then God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so.

4.Gen 1:11 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so.

5.Gen 1:14 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years;

6.Gen 1:20 Then God said, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.”

7.Gen 1:24 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind”; and it was so.

8.Gen 1:26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

8 times God spoke and things were created that were not existent before. Ask yourself, have you seen anyone who claims to have this same ability do any of these things today?

They are claiming to have the same ability. Notice that there were some things God made that were not spoken into existence. For example the heavens and the earth in Gen.1:1 are not said to be spoken into existence. This would include all the angelic creatures that inhabited heaven. In Gen.2:21 when God made Eve from man’s side, He did not speak.

All things find their source in God he holds incomprehensible power that cannot be apprehended by man. Nothing came into existence without him, He is the source of all and upholds all Col. 1:16-17: “for by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” In other words He holds it all together. How? It is explained “upholding all things by the word of His power”(Heb. 1:3). That is the difference between God and man.

Attributing this capability to humanity diminishes the being of God and his God's power. Have you ever seen anyone speak something into existence at the moment they spoke? No you have not and all you have heard is them tell you that they or you can have this power. These are empty promises.

Prov. 18:20-21: “A man's stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth, from the produce of his lips he shall be filled. Jesus said out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. But he never said that they come true. Words can wound or bring health to our spirit and to others but they can’t change our reality. It does not mean whatever is spoken changes another person or the world around you.

Lets look at some of the Scriptures pertaining to our speaking.

Prov. 12:17-18: “He who speaks truth declares righteousness, But a false witness, deceit. There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, But the tongue of the wise promotes health.”

There are words that cut that are like a sword. The tongue can be uses as a poison or medicine. Just as James says but there is no evidence from the Scripture to believe any word spoken (good or evil) will come to pass because of any supernatural faith power contained in them. It is what the recipient makes of the words they hear. You can repeat a scripture over and over believing it but this does not mean it will take place, because there is still the will of God that controls things that will or will not happen. Power does not reside in the words we speak. We are to have understanding. Many people overcome ill words that were spoken to them. Many people believe something with their whole heart and it does not happen. What you believe that affects how you live. You can believe the truth or a lie. Believing in the truth will bring understanding.

Prov. 25:15 “ By long forbearing is a prince persuaded, and a soft tongue breaketh the bone.”

Prov. 16:24: “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.”

He is speaking metaphorically, they affect us emotionally or spiritually. If one has a bone deficiency they do not go to the doctor and ask him to speak pleasant words for their healing.

Prov 13:17-18: “A wicked messenger falls into trouble, but a faithful ambassador brings health.

Poverty and shame will come to him who disdains correction, but he who regards a rebuke will be honored.”

Prov. 4:10-13 “Hear, my son, and receive my sayings, and the years of your life will be many. I have taught you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in right paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hindered, and when you run, you will not stumble. Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go; keep her, for she is your life.”

Those who follow obediently will have a full life in years and quality. But this is not a general promise to all. How do we know this? Look at the examples of the apostles, all had their life cut short, except one. Look at the prophets and their lives; it was not comfortable but trials in life forged their faith (Heb.11).

Prov. 8:35-36: “For whoever finds me finds life, and obtains favor from the LORD; But he who sins against me wrongs his own soul; all those who hate me love death.”

This is speaking of a quality of life that cannot be lived without the Lord. To despise His instruction is to love death more than the life God gives to those who surrender to His lordship blessings.

God has a much to say about our speech, our tongue. Prov. 13:3: “He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.” Prov. 21:23: “Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.”

Jas 1:26: “ If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.

1Pet. 3:10: “For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile.”

Prov. 10:19: “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.

Prov 17:28 “ Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.”

Prov. 17:27 “He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit.”

Prov. 15:1 “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.”

Pr 25:11 “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”

Ec 10:12 “ The words of a wise man's mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself.”

Ec 12:11 “The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd.”

Prov. 9:10-11 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For by me your days will be multiplied, and years of life will be added to you.” (Prov.14:27 and 19:23) Prov.11:19 “As righteousness leads to life, so he who pursues evil pursues it to his own death.”

Prov.13:12-14 “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life. He who despises the word will be destroyed, but he who fears the commandment will be rewarded .The law of the wise is a fountain of life, to turn one away from the snares of death.”

If a Child is trained up in only correction and never affirmed that they are doing good they will be affected in that when older they will be conscious of thinking everything they do maybe wrong.

In the end “Who is he who speaks and it comes to pass, when the Lord has not commanded it? 38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that woe and well-being proceed? (Lam. 3:37-50)

Ps.12:2-4: “Help, LORD, for the godly man ceases! For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men. They speak idly everyone with his neighbor; with flattering lips and a double heart they speak. May the LORD cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaks proud things,” Who have said, “With our tongue we will prevail; our lips are our own; who is lord over us?”

Instead, to have true worship of God we must humble ourselves and acknowledge Jesus as master over our lives, not ourselves. To walk in the truth is to walk in his word with understanding – who He is and who we are in relationship to Him.

Rev. 4:11: “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.” Yes God spoke but it was his will, his intent for things to come to existence.


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