PROVERBS 18:21 – Are There Really Life and Death In The Power Of Words? by Damon Whitsell


Romans 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 (Proverbs 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 BeginningAndEnd.com 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

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“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.

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

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

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

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

(Proverbs 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…(Proverbs 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”

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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”…….

(Proverbs 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 reproach4 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.

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EXCELLENT REFUTATION VIDEO: Joel Osteen’s “Gospel of Ewe” by BEZELT3

This is an excellent expose/refutation video by BEZELT3. This might repulse your spirit but believe it or not Joel Osteen might be the most dangerous false teacher in all of Christianity because unlike Jesus he is always so positive, upbeat and likable. . Before you turn your ears away hear me out.

BEZELT3 correctly points out that Joel Osteen does not preach the gospel of Christ but rather the gospel of “YOU”. And he proved so by counting at least 244 times that Osteen used the word you or other personal pronouns. He watched a whole sermon from Joel Osteen and said there was nary a mention of Jesus Christ and his sovereignty. Joel Osteen teaches The Power of Words, the power of positive thinking and the false practice of positive confession, otherwise known as name it and claim it, or believe it and receive it.

BEZELT3 demonstrates how Joel Osteen takes every passage he quotes out of context or only quotes it partially to make the Bible say something that it does not say. The gospel is simply not about me and you, or you and I, it is about Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection from the dead so that we may be forgiven our sins and live with him eternally one day. That’s what we must believe and receive. Not this or that blessing.Scripture clearly says that it is God that calls those things that are not as though they are and causes them to be, not us and our words as Joel Osteen and other word of faith movement teachers teach. That is more akin to Witchcraft when humans do it but when God calls things into being it is real and really really miraculous.

If you have not believed and received the free gift of Salvation in Jesus Christ maybe you should consider doing so today. You’ll never find a better deal than God’s free gift to all humanity who will receive it, the gift of his only begotten son Jesus Christ.