Today’s questions and answers comes from two of my own questions. One of the main purposes that the chaplain has at this University is to teach the truth that the Bible reveals. On the other side of that ‘coin’ I have also been given the mandate, by God, like all pastors to refute every error we encounter, especially if it is against His Holy Word. Earlier this week the alarm bells in my mind were ringing when I heard two statements during one of our devotionals. The first was “positive confession” and the second was, “decree and declare”.

 

I have heard those terms before and that is why I took notice of them. But I must admit I had never really studied them in-depth to find out what these terms where teaching about His Word and his followers. So,

 

The first question I asked myself was, is there power in positive confession?

So, this is what I understand Positive confession to be: It is the practice of saying aloud what you want to happen with the expectation that God will make it a reality because it is based upon His promises contained in His Word. This practice is popular among those who follow the teachings of the so called prosperity gospel. They claim that words (or their interpretation of the Words of God in the Bible) have spiritual power. Therefore, if we speak aloud the right words (especially if it can be shown that the ‘idea’ is in the Bible) then, with the right faith, we can gain riches and health, bind Satan, and accomplish anything else we want. To confess positively means then, to speak words that we believe or want to believe, and make them reality. The opposite of positive confession is negative confession, which is to admit hardships, poverty, and illness and by doing that we (supposedly) accept them and are refusing the easy life of wealth and health that God has planned for us.

Unfortunately, there are several things wrong with this teaching. The most dangerous is the belief that words have a kind of spiritual, magical power that we can use to get what we want. The practice borrows not from biblical truths, but from a metaphysical concept called the "law of attraction." It teaches that "like attracts like" or, in other words, a positive statement or thought will bring a positive reaction. The teaching is that everything in creation is filled with God’s presence and power (not “God” as the omnipresent Creator, but “god” in a Hindu/pantheistic way like the rock contains the essence of god, or that tree, or that chair). The end result of this teaching is the idea that our words hold the power to force God to give us what we want because He has previously promised it. This is a heretical belief because it does not agree with what is taught in the Bible, as I will show later.

Also, it involves the teaching that the faith of the individual is the power that brings about the positive results. This leads to the dangerous belief that illness and poverty are a type of punishment for sin (in this case, lack of faith). The entire book of Job and especially John 9:3 where Jesus is asked a question about who is responsible for a man born blind and He answers, Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. completely disprove this.

The second problem is that the prosperity gospel misinterprets and misuses the promises of God. “Confession” is agreeing with what God has said whereas "positive confession" is demanding human desires. People who teach positive confession say that, the practice is merely restating God’s promises as given in the Bible. But unfortunately, they don’t differentiate between universal promises God made to all His followers for example in Philippians 4:19, And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus”, and personal promises made to individuals at a certain time for a particular purpose as in Jeremiah 29:11, For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

By misinterpreting the promises that God has given to us, those who teach, and practice positive confession are actually refusing to accept that God’s plan for our lives may not match up with our own. We always need to remember what Isaiah tells us in Isaiah 55:9, As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

A perfect life free of trouble is not what Jesus said the Christian life would be like. Just think about the apostle Paul’s life or any of the other first believers who were persecuted and also executed for their faith. In Matthew 8:20, Jesus said, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” We also see in the Bible that Jesus didn’t promise prosperity, instead, He promised troubles. In Philippians 4:19, He didn’t promise that our every desire and want would be given, instead, He promised we’d have what we need. In Matthew 10:34-36, He didn’t promise that we would have peace in a family. No, He promised that families would have problems especially because some family members would choose to follow Him, and others wouldn’t. And He certainly didn’t promise us health in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. But what He did promise, was to fulfill His plan for us and give us grace when we go through the inevitable trials in our life.

Another issue that I have with positive confession is that, many of the statements are simply lies. Of course, saying that we are saved through faith in God and His provision of Jesus is good and true. But if we say that, "I always obey God," or, "I am wealthy," then we are just deceiving ourselves and others while possibly being against the very will of the God who says we are to depend on Him for everything. According to 1 John 1:8, If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. We need to acknowledge that God has given to each believer the freedom to serve Him or rebel against Him as we want. Those who claim otherwise are fools.

Finally, the Bible is very clear that the opposite "negative confession" does not bring an end to God’s blessings. All we have to do is read the Psalms and we will find them full of the prayers of God’s people who are crying out for His rescue from their troubles. 1 Peter 5:7 tells us to follow their example, Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Even Jesus in Matthew 26:39 on the night before His crucifixion, went before the Heavenly Father clearly understanding what was about to happen and asked God for help.

The almighty Creator God of the Bible is not some supernatural Santa Claus or genie. James 4:13 reveals to us what our problem is when we ask for things from God, What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. The Bible properly read and understood reveals a loving Father who wants to be involved in the lives of His children. It is when we humble ourselves and ask for help that He rescues us from our circumstances or gives us the strength to get through them.

I found myself asking just one more question, does positive confession have any value? A person who is confident in problem-solving is generally more relaxed and creative. An optimistic mood has been shown to improve health. Also, a successful person continually and consistently keeps their goals as the main thing in their life. For example, if a person is always thinking about getting more money then they will live in such a way as to make that their sole objective.

Unfortunately, there are more negative aspects to positive confession than benefits. The positive things I mentioned just a moment ago are all psychological and none are spiritual. The only spiritual benefit that I could think of to this type of thinking is that people who expect God to move are more likely to see God’s hand in a situation.

Therefore, in conclusion, I would like to suggest that, according to the teaching of 1 Corinthians 10:32, So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God,” we should refrain from teaching, or even the using the word, positive confession because, as I have shown, it is not taught in God’s Word. Even if we can prove that we practice it differently because we define it another way, it can still lead others into dangerous, false ministries because weaker brothers and sisters would not be able to differentiate between the practices and teachings of false teachers and others.

 I, however, still maintain that words are not magic. We should not think we can demand things from God but instead, we need to ask for help from Him and to trust in Him. Only then will we acknowledge that our blessings are not dependent on the strength of our faith, but on His plan and His power. Amen?

 

Next Friday, I will look at the “Decree and Declare it” teaching and another teaching that is also an extension of this positive confession teaching, known as “Name it and Claim it”. Until then my advice is to avoid them at all cost. I hope this teaching has blessed you by equipping you to stand against the schemes of Satan. God Bless you.

 

Let’s read this prayer together: Father, may we only base our faith and our lives upon your Holy, infallible Word. When we encounter troubles in our life then may we only run to You and ask for help rather than to some unproven teaching. Then let us wait patiently and trust that you will answer us as a loving Father to His children. You have already shown that you are completely faithful because you kept your promise to send your Messiah to rescue us from the biggest problem in our life. The problem of sin. May we boldly confess that He alone is our Lord and Saviour. In the Mighty name of Jesus, we pray, Amen.