Posted by: Damon Whitsell | March 2, 2013

PROVERBS 18:21 – Are There Really Life and Death In The Power Of Words? (dedicated to Kenneth S.)

Rom 4:17  (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.

Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyers and other Word of Faith teachers proclaim there is creative power and literal power of life and death in the tongue, via (Prov. 18:21 KJV) “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof”.  Is this the correct interpretation and application of this verse?

The site posted a wonderfully well researched and written article entitled “Apostasy Alert: Joel Osteen and Oprah Preach New Age Majic”. In the comment section a very sincere sounding guy named Todd wrote a comment about the article and the subject of the Power Of Words that provoked a response from me. My response turned out to be way too long to post in the comment section so I copied Todd’s comment and made my response here for him and the readers of this blog. To Todd, and others – I am sorry this comment turned out so long that I had to turn it into a post here on this blog, but this is a subject that I am very very passionate about and as you start reading it you will discover why. Todd, your comment there was almost illegible and I had to edit it to make it more readable for everyone because I had to read it five or six times to comprehend all of what you was saying. I hope I did not misrepresent you, your words and your meaning by doing so. Please speak up if I did. To the readers of this blog, you can read Todd’s comment in it’s original form at the article link above. To everyone, if you do not have time to read my very long response, please read the two articles linked at the bottom as they are the best post on this blog about the overall subject. PLEASE NOTE – I usually do not open comments on this blog but I have done so on this post incase Todd or anyone would like to discuss this matter further. Here is Todd’s comment and my response. – Damon Whitsell


“Todd – Anyone who makes false claims confuses and aids disorder. While people should be aware of false teachers if you present it mixed with false hood it only serves to confuse. The bible clearly says (Prov 18:21 KJV) “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” God in the beginning called things into existence when He created the world. When Jesus came He has called us to do the same. If you say unto the mountain be thou removed and doubt not in your heart it shall be removed. The devil only copies God and has to work within the laws of the universe that are in existent. God with using Moses as a medium wrote the Pentateuch (the 5 books of Moses), penta as in 5 like Pentagram. Often in the occult they use a 5 pointed star. Does this make the Pentateuch evil? No. The established laws of the universe by God have it that death and life are in the power of the tongue [law of attraction]. Now you like Moses or Jesus or the Apostles can speak and cause a thing and will be righteous if you do it in His name and for His glory. Or you can use the law of attraction for greed, lust, yourself, the devil and death. Death or life is in the power of the tongue. This includes all you say every act is a magical act say those in occult. God says what you speak happens by many biblical verses like proverbs 18:21 and others. So if you speak out negativity you will get it. If you were to listen to a sermon like, Taming the tongue – by pastor Matthew Hagge, you might see a lot of similarities between it and ‘the secret’. The difference is in pastor Hagees sermon will be full of bible verses and biblical application. But the method is the same cause the laws of the universe created by God are the same. Get your facts straight cause it will further your cause. You have a lot of good info on this site, but wrong facts will turn those whom you wish to save away. And death and life are in the tongue. Jesus said ‘judge not lest ye be judged’ so be careful not to judge present facts and be clear and cross check them.

Prov 4:21 KJV) “Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart.”

(Prov 6:2 KJV) “Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth.”

(Prov 12:18 KJV) “There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.”

(Prov 15:4 KJV) “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.”

(Prov 17:20 KJV) “He that hath a froward heart findeth no good: and he that hath a perverse tongue falleth into mischief

Authority is released through words:

(Mark 11:23 KJV) “For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.”

(Mark 11:24 KJV) “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”

(John 14:13 KJV) “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”

(John 14:14 KJV) “If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.”

You receive what you believe…(Prov 6:2 KJV) “Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth.”

The tongue… oh how powerful”


HI Todd, I read your comment and felt lead to respond. This may shock you but I have to say that Joel Osteen and his teaching killed a very good friend of mine. I know you may think that sounds absurd but please hear me out. My friend got addicted to pain pills and when I would tell him “those pills are going to destroy you, if you do not get off of them”. He would respond “not if you will quit speaking negative things into my life”. He got that idea because he was an avid follower of Osteen. I know you might think Joel and his teachings had nothing to do with my friend’s death, it was the pills. Please let me explain further.

In Texas you used to could go to “pain management centers” and they would give you pain pills without even asking you if you were in pain. They cracked down on those places so my friend had to start buying them from street dealers. One day he had no money so he went to see the dealer and when the dealer put the pills in his hand he took off running, got in his car and left. They followed him and after about a 10 minute chase several cars converged on him and they shot about 50 bullets into his car, and one hit his spine leaving him paralyzed. About now you might be thinking – how was it Joel’s teaching that killed my friend, it was the bullet, or the pills – right. Well it keeps going.

My friend never got off the pills and eventually he died from bed sore infections because even though he previously had great upper chest strength, he lost that because he would rather be pilled out than anything else, so he eventually could not lift himself out of bed. So how can I sincerely say Joel and his teachings killed my friend?

Myself, all his friends and his whole family told him the same thing for over 3 years, “those pills are going to destroy you, if you do not get off of them” and he never changed his response of  “not if you will quit speaking negative things into my life”. A few days before he died the doctors told him it was only a matter of time until the infection took his life and the day before he died he accused us all of killing him with our words. So what killed him, the pills, the bullet, the bed sores, his sin, his addiction, our words – or a false interpretation of Prov. 18:21 that he got from Joel Osteen?

I say it was the teaching he got from Osteen, and now – despite being followers of Joel for years – his family agrees that it was the false teaching of Joel (and the Word of Faith Movement) that done it. If he had not blamed our words maybe he could have seen it was his actions that was leading to, and eventually caused, his death. No one forced him to take those pills and we were merely pleading with him to stop his actions that were killing him.  It took such a tragedy for his family to realize that you cannot just take verses out of context to impose a meaning on them that the context does not demand. If you read all of Proverbs 18 the meaning of verse 21 is clearly that words have influence to build people up or tear them down – not that words have magical creative power and the literal power of life and death.

If you think our words killed him let me ask you a few things I used to try to reason with him. If words literally kill then why do we make guns or use other inanimate objects as weapons? Why do nations use weapons in war if words really kill, why not just use words? If you cross an icy bridge and have a wreck because you did not slow down as the caution signs warn, was it the words on that sign that made the bridge freeze over, or is it just the nature of bridges to freeze over in the cold and rain? If you say words where used to create the world and universe as you did above, have you ever tried to create a new universe and been successful? Would it surprise you that some witchcraft sites also teach the “power of words” saying all of creation was created with words? Well try it sometimes and when it does not work, please realize that it is because you are not God and only God can create with words. And ask yourself, does He really have to use words to create or is that just something He said – or he chose to create that way – so we can relate a little bit to how he did it? Does God have a tongue and lips? Doesn’t scripture clearly say God is Spirit?  Are there words in the spirit world? Aren’t words and their sound just vibrations in the air caused by the movement of our vocal chords, tongues and lips?

You list other Scripture to make your point, but have you ever tried and successfully thrown a mountain into the sea with words? Just a couple of verses before Mark 11:22 Jesus had cursed a fig tree and it withered and died, have you ever killed a fig tree with words? You say that Satan “has to work within the laws of the universe that are in existence” to try to copy what God does. Where is this law listed in scripture? It only exist in the false interpretations of a few verses that Joel and other Word Faith teachers impose on them by using them, out of context, as proof-text to redefine faith as a force and not as simple trust in an object – like you trust (or have faith in) your favorite chair to hold you up when you sit in it because it always has done so. Do you know that Joel got his interpretation from other Word of Faith teachers who got it from Kenneth Hagin? Do you know that Hagin got it from EW Kenyon who in turn got it from Phineas Quimby who was into the occultic New Thought Movement. Mary Baker Eddy of Christian Science fame was also a student of Quimby, are you familiar with that Pseudo Christian Cult and it’s teachings?

You also use (John 14:13 KJV) “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”,, let me ask you, how do you balance that with (1 John 5:14-15 KJV) “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing ***according to his will***, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him”. Please note vs. 14 says ACCORDING HIS WILL. How do you balance that so these scriptures do not contradict each other? Do we get “whatsoever we ask” or whatsoever we ask “according to his will”?

You also cite the following Proverbs verses, to conclude “The tongue… oh how powerful”…….

(Prov 6:2 KJV) “Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth.” (Prov 12:18 KJV) “There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.” (Prov 15:4 KJV) “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.” (Prov 17:20 KJV) “He that hath a froward heart findeth no good: and he that hath a perverse tongue falleth into mischief”.

….. have you ever considered the following verse when interpreting those verses? (James 3:8 KJV) “But ***the tongue can no man tame***; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison”. So here scripture says NO MAN CAN TAME THE TONGUE – do you really expect to master your tongue to the point you can do as God did and create good realities, rather than bad ones, out of nothing but words. What does that mean and what does it mean that the tongue is full of deadly poison? Well if you look at much of chapter 3 of James without paying close attention you might conclude that there really is literal deadly poison in the tongue, as in like there is literally life and death in it – BUT PLEASE NOTE  VERSE TWO “For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body”. This is not talking about the tongue literal killing, it is saying that with the tongue you can offend and tear someone down or with the tongue and the words you speak you can bless someone and build them up.

Please look at all of Proverbs 18. 1 Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all wisdom. 2 A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself. 3 When the wicked cometh, then cometh also contempt, and with ignominy reproach. 4 The words of a man’s mouth are as deep waters, and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook. 5 It is not good to accept the person of the wicked, to overthrow the righteous in judgment. 6 A fool’s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes. 7 A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul. 8 The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly. 9 He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster. 10 The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe. 11 The rich man’s wealth is his strong city, and as an high wall in his own conceit. 12 Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility. 13 He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him. 14 The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear? 15 The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge. 16 A man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men. 17 He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him. 18 The lot causeth contentions to cease, and parteth between the mighty. 19 A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle. 20 A man’s belly shall be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth; and with the increase of his lips shall he be filled. 21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. 22 Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord. 23 The poor useth intreaties; but the rich answereth roughly. 24 A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

Please note and re-read all the bolded and underlined parts and ask yourself what is the meaning of verse 21 according to the context? What does “and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof” mean? Does it mean that if I say Todd is gonna die, die, die tonight that you will die tonight? Does it mean that if I say “I feel bad and think I might die soon” that I will die soon? If so then I should be dying soon and you should die tonight. Or does it mean that if you and I get bad-mouthy with people they will get offended and might get their feelings hurt and even maybe give us a whop on the nose, or be unfriendly back toward us? Or does it mean that if you do someone wrong and steal from them they might shoot you? Or does it mean that if you take handfuls of pills everyday they will eventually kill you no matter how much people try to warn you? So brother let me ask you, if you get hooked on pills and people try to warn you but you die from them anyway, is it your fault for your bad actions or would it be the fault of those who use mere words to attempt to lovingly warn you that actions have even more consequences than words? Please look at all the context to the other Proverbs verses you have quoted – out of context – and you will see the context demands the same interpretation of those verses, as words are influential but not magical.

There are many false things that the Word of Faith interpretation of Proverbs 18:21 is built on, but you won’t hear these more obviously wrong things from the likes of Joel Osteen or Joyce Meyers because they do not focus on these things. But other Word of Faith teachers (such as Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Jerry Saville, Charles Capps, Miles Monroe and many others that are shown regularly on Trinity Broadcasting Network) have taught such things as men are “little gods”, “Jesus paid for our sins in hell not on the cross”, “Jesus died Spiritually”, “Jesus was not God until He was born again in hell”, “God can do nothing on this earth unless man gives Him permission” – BUT Joel and Joyce get their “power of words”, “faith is a force” and positive/negative confession teachings from these same folks. And they get them from the same original source – Satan and the Occult. Brother,  just ponder the term Word Faith and ask yourself if you have faith (trust) in your faith and words or this “law of the universe” and “law of attraction”, or do you have faith in God?

I noticed you made a second comment on BeginningAndEnd,com saying “PS . To all those who commented in support of Oprah, the last days apostasy is written clearly in the bible and the bible says….”,,, and then you list scripture denoting the exclusive claims of Christ and Christianity for the salvation of men’s souls, and some noting the end times great apostasy and the falling away. But actually the one person who defended Oprah said “Joel Osteen, Oprah, Wayne Dyer, Deepok Chopra, Gary Zukav, and many others are on the right path!” All these people teach New Age Philosophy and as far as I am aware the only two who have ever claimed to be Christian are Oprah and Joel. And Joel has publicly refused to affirm the exclusive claims of Christ and Christianity – when pushed on the issue by Larry King – and Oprah has repeatedly ridiculed them. The rest of these guys are teaching straight up occult teaching without ever even mentioning our Lord Jesus Christ.

I know the whole thesis of your comment was that the devil “only copies God and has to work within the laws of the universe that are in existent” and therefore Christians “can speak and cause a thing and will be righteous if you do it in” Jesus name. But can’t you see these Word of Faith teachings renders these “laws of the universe” or the “law of attraction” to be more powerful than God and make God subservient to them? Who is God? Is God God? Or are these “laws” God? Benny Hinn said “if witches and occultists can speak death by the supernatural power of words, then Christian can speak life and prosperity by the same power”. And Kenneth Copeland has said “Jesus said that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks and that’s when the action takes place because that is when the spiritual force is brought up out of the mouth – whether it be fear or whether it be faith – and when that spiritual force comes out, it is going to give substance to that image that is inside of you. People say, ‘that is that New Age visualization stuff’. The New Age is trying to do this. And they get somewhat results out of it because it is a spiritual law”. And you seem to say the same thing, but are you absolutely sure? Do you really think that anyone can use these “spiritual laws” or the “law of attraction” to create things? If everyone including Satan and his followers can use these laws like God supposedly did to create the universe, how can you be sure that Satan and his followers will not win in their fight against God? And if these laws are thelaws of the universe”,, how did God use them to create the universe when the universe had not yet been created? Does it not sound more reasonable that God created the universe by His own power because He is God and He is above all things, and is all powerful, and we cannot because we are not God? Doesn’t it sound more logical that God could have thought or even just merely willed everything into being if He so desired – because He is just so awesome like that?

I have been blessed to co-found and administer this groupblog of mostly ex-Word of Faithers and have met well over 100 ex-Word of Faithers through this site, and I like to ask them if they thought that they were practicing Occult, New Age and Witchcraft teachings when they were practicing Word of Faith teachings – and all of them have said yes. We have many articles here showing how the Positive Confession or the Power of Words teaching is from the occult and is also taught in the New Age and Witchcraft – but you seem to already know that. You just seem to have this idea – like Copeland and Hinn – that Satan can mimick everything God can do to some degree. Well, if that is true why does he fight God over this universe and our souls. Why don’t he just create his own universe and souls? Instead of posting all of those articles on this blog about this subject I will close by posting links to the best two. I ask you to please read them. Thanks for taking the time to read all of this.


The Power of the Spoken Word – Biblical or Occult Law? PART 1

The Power of the Spoken Word – Biblical or Occult Law? PART 1

The Power of the Spoken Word – Biblical or Occult Law? PART 2

The Power of the Spoken Word – Biblical or Occult Law? PART 2



  1. […] PROVERBS 18:21 – Are There Really Life and Death In The Power Of Words? (dedicated to Kenneth&nbsp… […]

  2. Excellent article! We would be wise to ask ourselves these same questions instead of blindly following the arrogant gospel of man. How dare we think that God is not in charge, we are; that we are little gods which is why we can speak things into existence! Heart breaking to see people following these teaching one by one without asking the obvious questions- Is it really working for you? Not that the fact that something works make it OK for christians to be involved in!

  3. Thanks for these great responses ya’ll.

    1dayphoto, you sound like you must be ex-WoF. Walter Martin, in his legendary book on cults has a chapter on the psychology of cults and I have been thinking about writing an article about the psychology behind the WoF.

    Martin list things like many Christian Scientist know Mary Baker Eddy went to many doctors in her old age because of illness and even had all her teeth pulled when they went bad but they still think pain and suffering is an illusion and most won’t go to doctors themselves because of her teachings. And some WoFers know that Kenneth Hagin said on numerous occasions that he would live to be 120 and that when he left this world it would not be because of illness – he said he would just release his spirit to God – but they still follow his teachings and deny their sickness because admitting it would be a lack of faith and they think it would cause more sickness. I was going to take that tact in my article – if I ever get around to writing it – but maybe I should also try to touch on the things WoF will drive a person to do and lust after, like you have listed. That was a really great comment. TY for reading and liking post here.

    Pat, I have heard so many ex-WoFers say they got into the WoF because they wanted power to control their lives and things but I don’t remember any saying it was because they wanted to be God. But that’s what the WoF and wanting all that power amounts to. So glad you can see that. I hope one day you will find complete healing and will be able to forgive yourself for feeling as all of us do. A few days back 1dayPhoto above liked the testimony of ex-WoF pastor John Edwards wife and I re-read it. In it she details how abusive the WoF – especially pastors – can be and how they where taught to be abusive to others when they ran their WoF church. I’ve always admired John and Coni because they had allot of struggle to get past their own pain and the pain they cased others. Somehow they still managed to hold onto faith, and last I heard had eventually found a little church that they liked. That’s amazing to me because some ex-WoFers swear they will never never go to another church again – even after they have been out for a long time. And I’ve never heard of one that left the WoF and just jumped into another church and not had issues struggling with their faith. They have all told me they had to detox and doctrinally “reprogram” themselves towards orthodox doctrine – and most importantly to forgive themselves. Have a great day ma’am and TY for sharing here. 🙂

    Here is Coni’s testimony if you would like to read it.

  4. There is something else….that needs to be mentioned here about Positive Confession. When you truly ‘practice’ PC….over time…you find you are into sins you never thought you’d commit. You find you are ‘tormented’ by having sins like lust, covetousness, self worship to the extreme, worship of money, worship of earthly things, cars, homes, etc., even the trophy spouse, (not the spouse God would want for you). You will fight constantly from within…trying to rid your soul of these, but your PC…doesn’t free you from them. You are torn between two things now….Your ‘rights’ to your demands…. & your sins. How sad…..

    There’s no limit… that ‘window of PC’ and to what it will open…..UP. Beware!!!!! There will be a flood-gate to so many sins…..

    Then the most heart-breaking….realization:

    You have lost your first love.. your abiding love for God….and…. for the Lost Souls of this World….. and you no longer care for ‘others’ but….always…now…

    YOU put YOURSELF ‘BEFORE’ ALL…THINGS….. even ‘before’ God Himself, and you find….that your have lost your soul!

    My God, help those who believe in Positive Confession…to have their eyes opened to THE TRULY BIG PICTURE…for what does it profit man if he gain the whole world and loose his….own soul???? God forbid!

  5. AMEN, AMEN AND AMEN, Damon! Well said. I’ve yet to move a mountain or to get everything I ask for. We are not God. He alone is God, and it is HIS power to move upon the hearts of mankind to work and to will according to HIS purpose. We are broken sinners and will remain so until we are with HIM. Jesus said, “In this life we WILL have troubles.” When we claim HIS words and power to benefit ourselves and judge others, we are committing the same sin as Adam and Eve….wanting to be God. With that attitude, we are using HIM as our servant. That must break HIS heart. We are so misguided by human pastors and so vulnerable to the teachings that tickle our ears. So sad is the state of Christianity in America.

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