As a newly born-again Christian, one of the first things that I was taught at my local church was what we called the ‘power of the tongue’. The idea was that Christians possessed the ability to bring about both positive and negative outcomes through their spoken words. And you can bet I believed it wholesale or as we say in Pentecostal fashion, “I took it and ran with it”.

So much that I would renounce any negative word that I inadvertently spoke. I also had people around me revoking and renouncing anything negative they said lest it came to pass. However, it soon occurred to me that speaking things into existence wasn’t as simple as uttering “abracadabra” and witnessing the magic happen.

Being that this teaching is prominent within the church today, I feel it’s important that we address it from a Biblical perspective.

What is Positive Confession?

Positive Confession, rooted in the wrong interpretation of Proverbs 18:21, is a doctrine centered around the power of the tongue. This teaching asserts that believers can manifest their desires into reality by speaking positive “faith-filled” words. It’s the bread and butter of the Word of Faith/prosperity gospel movement, which contends that our words, being containers of faith, can be used to affect both the physical and spiritual realms.

The proponents of this teaching claim that it finds its Biblical basis in the fact that we are created in God’s image (Gen 1:26). According to their understanding, God used the creative power of faith in His words to create the universe in Genesis 1.

To them, God did this to serve as an example of how words have the ability to shape our reality as spiritual beings.

As such it’s common for those who hold this view to teach that the physical world is controlled by the spiritual realm. In other words, what happens in the physical must have happened in the spiritual realm first. Therefore, we can use God’s promises (which are spiritual) to alter reality in the physical by speaking them out loud with much faith and gusto.

Similarly, negative confession is believed to attract a negative reality to oneself. In fact, it is tantamount to giving Satan a legal right over your life and blocking God’s promises altogether.

Adherents of this teaching are taught never to acknowledge anything negative even if it’s true. It’s taboo to confess words such as “I am sick” when they’re unwell or “ I am bankrupt” even though their coffers are empty. Confessing such is viewed as cursing or prophesying doom to yourself.

If they do, they are to repent of it and renounce it in Jesus’ Name for it to be canceled in the spiritual realm, to hinder it from happening.

The reason why this teaching is so popular is because it’s packaged as a surefire means of unlocking health, wealth, and prosperity. By confessing the positive promises of God, believers are made to believe that God will make them a reality in their lives. As a result, God is painted as one who continuously gives in to human whims and needs as long as the spiritual law of faith is enacted through our words.

The dangers of Positive Confession

It’s a New Age, New Thought Philosophy cloaked in religious garb

This teaching takes its cues from the “law of attraction,” a New Thought idea, rather than biblical principles. It’s simply a baptized version of manifesting, a common practice within the New Age, used to speak things into existence.

Hence why it resembles the beliefs in Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret, a New Age bestseller, more so than the Bible. It’s not a leap to replace The Secret’s affirmations with The Word of Faith’s “positive confession,”.

For example, here is a quote from pg. 2 of Joel Osteen’s book, The Power of I Am: Two Words That Will Change Your Life Today.:

Here’s the principle. Whatever follows the “I am” will eventually find you. When you say, “I am so clumsy,” clumsiness comes looking for you. “I am so old.” Wrinkles come looking for you. “I am so overweight.” Calories come looking for you. It’s as though you’re inviting them. Whatever you follow the “I am” with, you’re handing it an invitation, opening the door, and giving it permission to be in your life.

Compare that with this quote from The Secret, Pg. 168:

When you say, “I AM,” the words that follow are summoning creation with a mighty force, because you are declaring it to be fact. You are staying it with certainty. And so immediately after you say “I am tired”, or, “I am broke,” I am sick, I am late, I am overweight,” the genie says, Your wish is my command. Knowing this, why not use I AM to your advantage? I am healthy, I am receiving every good thing, I am happy, I am abundant…”

Do you see the striking resemblance?

I have written about the Word of Faith movement and its teachings. Please check it out to learn more about why this teaching finds its roots in the New Thought/New Age movement. Needless to say, New Age and New Thought beliefs are in complete opposition to what the Scriptures teach.

It misinterprets the promises of God by ignoring Scripture as a whole

Positive confession proponents contend that their confessions are not directed to the “self” but merely agree with God’s promises in the Bible. However, they cherry-pick “ positive” promises and ignore promises that would be deemed “negative”. In doing so, they fail to consider the whole counsel of scripture in the following ways:

  • Suffering is to be expected in the life of the believer (1 Tim 3:12; Phil 1:29; Rom 5: 3-5; James 1: 2-4). Reigning in Christ includes partaking in His suffering. (Matthew 8:20).
  • God has ordained prayer as a means of asking Him to meet our needs in the areas of material, physical, and spiritual blessings. Not claiming and confessing them.
  • As believers, we must consider the will of God in prayer. While Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”(Mark 11:24). Scripture also teaches elsewhere.
    And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.” (1 John 5:14). Moreover Prov 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”
  • God is sovereign over His creation (Psa 115:3; 135:6). The only thing that gives a believer authority is that which God wills. Therefore, it’s the believer’s obligation to learn and follow the sovereign God’s will even in the things they desire.

Furthermore, the positive confession teaching depicts negative confession as an indication of a lack of faith. Therefore, its adherents would rather deny reality than speak facts. Some have even gone as far as to deny their sickness to their demise. After all, they are taught that refusing what the medical report says and confessing they are healthy is the cure. This is how ridiculously toxic this teaching can be.

However, this is contrary to the scriptures. For example, in 2 Cor 11, Paul doesn’t hesitate to acknowledge what would be frowned upon as “negative confessions” when he openly shares the numerous challenges he faced as an apostle. He says,

Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one I am talking like a madman with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 2 Corinthians 11:22-31 ESV

Rather than avoiding or downplaying these experiences, he boasts about them, recognizing their role in revealing his reliance on God’s strength. Similarly, in 2 Cor 12:9-10, he acknowledged that He was weak and that it is in his weakness that God’s strength was perfect.

The book of Psalms is also filled with pleas for deliverance, severally the Psalmist admitted to being weak and in need of God’s help. Even Jesus asked God for help in Matthew 26:39 because he knew of the suffering that was before Him. And there are many more examples like these.

On each one of these occasions, God intervened when they expressed their circumstances as they were instead of pretending that things were different. No one was chastised for making what would be called a “negative confession.”

Furthermore, it’s clear in scripture that negative confessions don’t attract negative outcomes similarly, positive confessions attract don’t positive outcomes.

I have debunked the misinterpretation of verses popularly used to support the power of the tongue in my article on decreeing and declaring. Feel free to check it out.

Is there Power in the Tongue?

Yes! While our words cannot be spoken into existence, they hold significant power. They not only convey information but also impact others profoundly. Words possess the ability to either uplift someone’s spirit or bring it down. They can discourage, inflict pain, or incite anger. Conversely, words have the potential to strengthen, instill hope, and bring joy (Prov 18:21; Col 4:6; Rom 10:14–15; Prov 15:1).

This is why there are numerous warnings about the use of the tongue. The Bible strongly advises us to use our words wisely, by recognizing the potential for misuse. James 3:5-11 illustrates the tongue as a small yet powerful part of the body that can corrupt if left untamed. The book of Proverbs is also rich with wisdom about the impact of both the wise and foolish use of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21; Proverbs 13:3; Proverbs 15:4,28; Proverbs 11:9; Proverbs 21:23).

It’s such a big deal that in Mathew 12:36-37, Jesus said that we will give an account for every careless word we speak. With power comes responsibility and we ought to use our tongues in a manner that honors God and is full of grace.


The reality is that speaking ‘faith-filled’ words does not have the power to cause or compel God to act according to our desires. Such a belief is not only incorrect but also carries elements of sin, arrogance, and inappropriateness. Instead, our faith should be directed towards God as the focal point.

It reminds me of the church in Laodicea in the book of Revelation. Jesus addressed them saying:

“‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.” Revelation 3:15-18 ESV

This rebuke can serve as a powerful warning against the false sense of security and self-sufficiency that speaking positive confessions can bring.

At the end of the day, the doctrine of positive confession remains superficial. It’s not sustainable because it’s neither practical nor founded on the truth of God’s word. Moreover, it pulls the rug right from under the Gospel. It cheapens it to a quest for health, wealth, and prosperity while undermining God’s sovereignty. Therefore, making it a false doctrine.

That said, scripture is very clear that we ought to be careful about what we say. Our words ought to reflect God’s grace and the presence of the Holy Spirit in us. Therefore, should use our words to spread His love and the message of His saving grace.


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  1. avatar
    Jim Jones says:

    Very well done, I’m burdened with this very issue in the church I attend .

    1. avatar
      Wanjiru Ng'ang'a says:

      Thank you for your remarks, Jim. I sympathize with the burden you carry regarding this issue in your church, and I pray that God will give you wisdom and discernment concerning it.

  2. avatar

    Nice article – well done

    1. avatar
      Wanjiru Ng'ang'a says:

      Thank you Fred 🙏.

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