From Episode # Seven: Actions Series #1: The Power of the Spoken Word, Part 1
Are Words Spiritually Powerful?
Have you assumed your beatitudinal stance – what are you fiercely grateful for today? Determinedly probing through the challenges and setbacks facing you presently, what are you stubbornly appreciative of today? The ability to speak is so commonplace – we take it for granted. It is so ubiquitous that we may overlook how profoundly powerful an attribute it is.
Acquainting ourselves with powerful spiritual realities can greatly illumine our experiences. It can ease the effort required to recognize the grounds for gratitude in our lives. Today, let us remind ourselves of what is, and why we should be grateful for, The Power of the Spoken Word. Today in Part One, we ask Are Words Spiritually Powerful?
Our theme song is “Encourage Yourself” by Donald Lawrence and the Tri-City Singers, from their Finalé (Part Two) album.
The power of the spoken word. Wholesome spiritual weapons or magic incantations? In the Name of Jesus, Amen, or Bibidi-Bobidi-Boo!!? This is an area marked by extremes and a good deal of wackiness.
At one extreme we have those who firmly believe that words are simply that – oral sounds which of themselves have no power: that negative speech, careless swearing, cursing has no metaphysical effect. On the other extreme, we have those who believe that the spoken word is extremely powerful, if not – yes – magical: all you need to do is name it and claim it, blab it and grab it – to get whatever you want in life, from the benevolent universe.
While the first extreme tends to be found more in secular, non-spiritual contexts, the other extreme is found both in conventional – e.g. Christian, as in some reaches of the Charismatic church – and unconventional – as in occultic spiritualist movements such as those associated with New Age or Wiccan religions, belief systems. Regardless of the context, acquisitive philosophies as the latter tend to be promoted in a manner that discounts God.
The Two Poles and In-between
Words of No Effect
There are those who firmly believe that words are just oral sounds that have no consequential power, let alone any metaphysical effects. The belief here is that words are merely a means of communication, a method to provoke a response or action. The effect of that provocative speech is deemed accordingly to reside in actions directly or indirectly linked to a responsive actor’s will.
If therefore, I say in a compelling voice “I command you to rise up and fly!” to:
(i) a person, the subject of that command (the Commandee) will certainly be able to rise to his feet (presuming he is not disabled) – he will will his body to rise up e.g. from a seated position, but that will be the limit of his compliance. Even if he walks to a window ledge and jumps to propel himself into the air, he will not fly. He will plummet, heavily, to the ground (unless he took the precaution of wearing a parachute).
(ii) a rock, my words will have no effect at all. The rock will neither rise up nor will it move to the window to attempt flight. Even if moved to the window, it will plummet like the deadweight it is, to the ground: THUD.
By this account, the human will, and the actions of the Subject that manifested in the action of the seated Subject to rise up and go to the window, are what produced the result, not the spoken utterances of the Speaker. Further, it may be pointed out, the result was unremarkable and well within the realm of the ordinary.
Psychology suggests that humans use only a small fraction of our mind power, and that extraordinary things are achievable when motivation is boosted and the subconscious somehow harnessed. A tiny woman desperate to save her child trapped under a car, for example, may, in some circumstances, somehow garner the superhuman strength to lift that car off her child. This is referred to as ‘hysterical strength. Though this is an example of the human will producing extraordinary results, those results are still the result of a human deliberately taking an action, and not the speech of that actor producing the effects e.g. there was no (unassisted) levitation of the car off the child.
The point is that the spoken word, an audible exhalation of deliberately uttered meaningful sounds, ordinarily depends on the exercise of a human will to consciously and deliberately produce an effect, which effect is usually within the scope of the ordinarily normal. This is the base reality.
The opposing viewpoint holds that while our words may be dependent on a human’s will and actions, that they are not devoid of inherently consequential effects either. It is believed here that words can produce an intangible force that may be amplified or diminished depending on a number of variable at play. Those variables influencing how potent or feeble this spoken force may be include the speaker’s beliefs, spiritual standing, level of faith, discernment and conduct.
x Careless Words
From this perspective, even words carelessly uttered may have a metaphysically consequential effect. The potency of words spoken heedlessly – negative pronouncements, obstructive sentiments, curse-like declarations – may be linked to the Speaker’s ancestral heritage, spiritual allegiances, or religious beliefs.
Now counting the spiritual dimension as part of the context at hand, the environment may be adjudged as tending to the darkness and being subject to roaming dark agents with malevolent intent. Where the subject actor has a weak or non-existent religious faith, the expectation becomes that there will be frail discernment – if any – with fleshly tendencies prevailing. Dark forces tend to be active in such circumstances, steering – habitually – the inclinations of the Subject, so that the ungodly, the distorted or minimal manifestations will seem normal, and the Subject is cheated of her rights as a child of God.
God knows all however. The path of every person differs – the timing of when or if they will continue in negative ways….there is always, by Grace, an opening for a turning point. This podcast may be such an opportunity. An opportunity to make a change and start reaping the benefits of judicious, spiritually potent speech. I pray so, in the loving Name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Deliberate Words (Curses)
Let it be sufficient for now to merely say that curses are real. They are utilized the Bible, for example in solemnizing significant covenants (Deuteronomy 27-28) and determining marital unfaithfulness (Numbers 5:11, 19-22). If undeserved however, a wrongly issued curse will not land (Proverbs 26: 2).
There is such a thing. Magic is but another face of the occult. So called magic is not always a pragmatic deception – think professional illusionists here – nor is it cartoonish mumbo-jumbo – cue the caricature of a hag muttering above a boiling cauldron in a dark cave in a forest somewhere. Incidents including occult practitioners are recorded in the Bible:
Simon the Sorcerer
There is an account of a sorcerer – referred to also as a wizard and a spiritist, depending on the Bible version, who earned the wrath of Peter the disciple – and a curse – because he tried to offered to purchase – for his selfish, nefarious purposes – the ability to heal by the laying on of hands.
But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great, to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the great power of God.” And they heeded him because he had astonished them with his sorceries for a long time………But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money. You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.” Then Simon answered and said, “Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me.” Acts 8: 9-12, 20-24
The Witch of Endor
The prophet Samuel, who has kept King Saul accountable had died, and Saul was panicking because what would be his final war was going badly. The Lord had also rejected him as King because of his repeated disobedience, and the usual sources through which he would previously have been able to seek the counsel of the Lord were stonily silent (1 Samuel 28:6). So, true to character, he compounded his offences by consulting a woman who is variously referred to as a a witch, a medium or a woman with a familiar spirit, depending on the Bible version to conduct a séance for him:
Then Saul said to his servants, “Find me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.” And his servants said to him, “In fact, there is a woman who is a medium at En Dor.” So Saul disguised himself and put on other clothes, and he went, and two men with him; and they came to the woman by night. And he said, “Please conduct a séance for me, and bring up for me the one I shall name to you…..Then the woman said, “Whom shall I bring up for you?” And he said, “Bring up Samuel for me.” When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice. ……And the woman said to Saul, “I saw a spirit ascending out of the earth……And she said, “An old man is coming up, and he is covered with a mantle.” And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground and bowed down. Now Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” 1 Samuel 28:7, 11-15
The bible provides us with insight as to what is really going on. The occult is the domain of dark powers and principalities. The transaction at the heart of occult engagement, in broad terms, is that in exchange for the allegiance of a human – whether deliberately, carelessly or skeptically conceded – supernatural outcomes will be brokered and attained. The occult goes by various names – juju, witchcraft, spiritism, necromancy, voodoo, obea, and many more.
We have in previous episodes spent some time distinguishing the diabolical power that has been permitted by Creator Father God, restricted authority and activity in the affairs of humankind (episodes 1 and 2). This subservient dark power – the devil, Satan – is the base of any power, activity or spiritual presence that is distinct, contrary to, or in defiance to the Word of God.
The word ‘occult’ means secret, mysterious, hidden from view. From the word go, the devil – a rebellious dark angel condemned to hell – has sought to entice humans into rebellion against God by promising secret knowledge. Defaming God, insinuating that the Lord God, the Creator, Owner and Giver of all things is a petty, jealous party-pooper trying to keep from us desirable knowledge (Genesis 3: 1-7).
Occult knowledge at its core refutes God’s word. It asserts that there is nothing wrong with seeking to live life independently from the God of the Bible, that it is smart to obtain whatever you want, when you want, by whatever means that you can; that it is a reasonable requirement, simply what is required, for there to be an exchange or sacrifice, and that the scapegoat need not be you (note: don’t be deceived – the occult demands a steep price of the initiated ALWAYS).
The devil is fine with people believing that there is no God, that there many equal gods, that all paths lead to god, or that there is no sovereign personality as such. Believing that there is only a cosmic soup consisting of the totality of all human souls once existing that have ‘graduated’ to a higher energy form. Whatever – you can even believe that there is no hell and no devil, just as long as you disbelieve what God has said about Himself, and deny the one thing – the allegiance that He invites – that will save you from eternal torment. The eternal torment at stake is an eternity separated from God, which is what hell is, and where the devil – your implacable foe – has been condemned to go (along with all who die refusing to believe or put their trust in God). Despite the old joke that fun-loving people prefer to go to hell, because that’s where all their fun friends will be, Hell will be ANYTHING BUT fun: it will never end (eternity is a long time), will be unimaginable torment, and here’s the kicker: there’s get only one chance – your lifetime – to make the choice. One’s deliberate or default choice become final after death; we only get to live and die once – i.e. THERE IS NO KARMA – Hebrews 9:27.
Even more sought after by the evil one is the initiation of people into active practice of the occultic– real magic, witchcraft, progressive spirituality varieties that are a front for the occult, whatever form, whatever it takes.
In the spiritual realm, pronouncements can have an immediate, physical effect: curses are real. Incantations and spells can have an effect. Any witch or wiccan – who, by the way, might be your nice, professional looking neighbor – will happily attest to that (not that we’ll resort to that quarter for an opinion!).
Thanks be to God that this is not the last word. Yes, we are in a spiritual battle. There are powers and principalities. There are modern day witches, wizards, shamans, satanists….yes, there are (growing) numbers of people who are willing to be initiated into the occult to get what they think is their hearts desires….BUT!!!! THEY ARE ON THE WRONG TEAM!!!! They have joined the losing side, and they have been deceived. They think they are being decisive, assertive, powerful….but they are heading for disaster. They evil one ALWAYS extracts a heavy price – when the deceived victim is far in, and deeply entrenched, almost beyond hope, but for the Grace of God. A good thing that:
- The Lord God is the Supreme Authority (Isaiah 44: 6-8)
- The devil is subordinate and subject to God (Job 2:1)
- The dark forces were and are defeated, humiliated by the blood of Jesus (Colossians 2: 15)
- The devil is evil, despite being able to masquerade as an ‘angel of light’ (2 Corinthians 2: 11-14)
- We as Christians have been given armor against ALL possible evil attacks (Ephesians 6: 11-18)
- We as Christians have authority over ALL of the power of the enemy (Luke 10:19)
- This power entrusted to us as Christians is irresistible against evil (James 4:7, Acts 19: 11-19)
Let us pray:
Father God, thank You for Your outstretched arms that are constantly inviting us home to safety in Your camp. With all the mis-information – malevolent and misguided – it seems hard to know what is reliable and true. For all listening to this podcast, who are searching for You, engage their hearts and deliver and deliver them from confusion and every deception.
The power of our words has become trivialized, obscured by a plethora of self-help schemes. The alluring face of evil has seduced many into cursing their present and future with careless speech. Deliver us from every enticement and curse. Clear our eyes and ears that we may recognize and be receptive to Your truth.
Thank You for what You are doing and for what You will do in our lives by the power of Your Word that gives life.
In Jesus Name we pray, Amen.