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WORDS have the Power of Life and Death

Proverbs 4:24 instructs us to “keep corrupt talk far from your lips.” The root Hebrew word for ‘corrupt’ is luz (looz), which means “to turn aside or depart from what is right or good.” To practice this verse you must realize the power of your tongue:

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

Proverbs 18:21

The “fruit” of the tongue is good, but only “those who love it will eat its fruit.” This means only those who realize and value the tongue’s power — and utilize it accordingly — will partake of the tongue’s fruit.

You must get a hold of the fact that your tongue is a powerful gift from God, which has the potential to bless or destroy. Only those who realize the value of the tongue will experience the fruit it has to offer.

Exactly how powerful is the tongue? The Bible likens it to the small rudder of a large ship that steers the vessel wherever the pilot wants it to go (James 3:2-6). Think about it: The very course of your life is linked to what you do with your tongue; or what you don’t do. How so?

Your words are creative forces or destructive forces. Let’s look at examples of both.


The earth & universe were created at God’s command (Hebrews 11:3). You were created in God’s likeness and therefore your words have creative power as well. Let’s consider a few examples:

God promised Abram countless offspring (Genesis 15:5), but Abram was still childless 24 years later at the age of 91. While people lived longer back then—Abraham lived to be 175 years-old—91 was still relatively mature and certainly uncommonly aged for having a first child. To bring this miracle to pass the LORD had to get Abram’s tongue into play:

  • So God changed his name to Abraham, which means “father of a multitude” (17:3-5).
  • Abraham and everyone else were in essence forced to speak of Abraham as “father of a multitude” every time they simply referred to him. And thus the promise came to pass (Romans 4:18).

Another example is the Old Covenant priestly blessing, which blessed people. The priests would bless people and God would in turn bless the people. Here’s how the blessing went:

22 The Lord said to Moses, 23 “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:

24 ‘“The Lord bless you            

and keep you;

25 the Lord make his face shine on you            

and be gracious to you;

26 the Lord turn his face toward you            

and give you peace.”’

27 “So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”

Numbers 6:22-27

To ‘bless’ simply means “to speak positive words that have a productive impact.” This explains why Jesus blessed children on occasion (Mark 10:13,16).

Another example of the positive impact of words was covered earlier this chapter: Christ stressed that your words, combined with belief, can remove obstacles (Mark 11:22-23).


To ‘curse’ means “to speak negative words that have a destructive impact.” The Bible likens the tongue to a sword that can harm people, including yourself (Proverbs 12:18 & Psalm 64:3). Consider these examples:

An influential person—such as a parent, relative, teacher or coach—tells a little girl she’s “fat,” which she then takes to heart and becomes anorexic.

Sadly, parents curse their very own children; the kids take the evil words to heart and the words essentially become a deadly prophecy in their lives.

  • Thankfully, underserved curses have no power over you, unless you allow it: “an undeserved curse does not come to rest” (Proverbs 26:2).
  • You can counteract curses by speaking blessings over yourself. For instance, you can take 1 Peter 2:9, personalize it, and say: “I am a part of a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that I may declare the praises of Him who called me out of darkness into his wonderful light.” Speak such blessings with fervor!

Even worse, people speak curses over themselves: e.g. “I’m so clumsy,” “I always get sick during flu season,” “I can’t do it”—“I can’t,” “I can’t,” “I can’t,” “I can’t.” Because they speak it and start believing it the words come to pass.

  • Never speak ill of yourself, your worth, your work or your goals. If you do, you’re cursing your own life, which could become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  • If you say anything enough you’ll eventually believe it; and as a person thinks or believes in their heart, so they are (Proverbs 23:7 KJV, Proverbs 27:19 & Matthew 12:34-35).
  • Your words advertise who you are and where you are going, like signposts.
  • Reject the victim vocabulary—“I was abused” or “I don’t have an education.” Instead, seek the Lord for inner healing with the assistance of mature believers; and get educated in the areas that interest you, formally or informally. One of the most successful filmmakers of our time, James Cameron, didn’t go to film school. He studied filmmaking on his own while working odd jobs and got experience by getting gigs on sets, working his way up as he increased in knowledge & skill.

We are to bless others (Romans 12:14), but sometimes cursing may be in order, like when Jesus cursed the fig tree, as a lesson for the disciples (Mark 11:12-14, 20-21) or when Paul cursed Elymas (el-OO-mass) the sorcerer (Acts 13:8-12).

Closing Word

Here’s one last powerful passage on the subject to chew on:

From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things, as surely as the works of their hands reward them.

Proverbs 12:14

For more on the power of words see the corresponding video.

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Demonic Spirits — How to Deflect Them

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