Here are some great reasons from my book, Declarations, for why declarations are a life-changing, transformational part of the Christian walk. Let’s look at some objections people have had to the use, and misuse, of declarations, and the biblical basis for the breakthroughs which are coming as you declare God’s Word in your life with wisdom and faith.
OBJECTION ONE — Aren’t declarations simply repackaged “Name it and claim it, blab it and grab it” heresy?
Some object to the teaching about declarations because of abuses they have seen or things they have heard during the “positive confession” movement. The confession teaching gained prominence particularly in the 1980s through the influence of Word of Faith teachers like Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, and Charles Capps. These men, and others like them, emphasized confessing God’s promises as a key ingredient in the life of faith. This teaching was criticized (justly and unjustly) for reasons we will address, and some labeled it as “name it and claim it, blab it and grab it” hogwash.
Certainly, there were many poor examples by the proponents of positive confession teachings. One of the most common problems was the perception that confessions were mainly used for personal gain (money, Cadillacs, life of pleasure, etc.), instead of Kingdom advancement. Another negative characteristic of this movement was the tendency of people who embraced this teaching to be critical of others who made negative confessions. They often became self-appointed “word policemen” who stirred up fear or opposition to this teaching. Thirdly, these incessant promise speakers often overemphasized the power of words, while underemphasizing other important aspects of the Christian life. Finally, the message fell into disrepute because many of the confessions made by people did not happen, including some well-publicized situations where people actually died after refusing medical care because they were “standing on their confession.”
While it is understandable why some would label it “name it and claim it, blab it and grab it” in an effort to discourage others from falling into what was perceived as error, it is unfortunate that most Christians seemed to “throw out the baby with the bathwater” concerning the truth about declarations and positive confession. This inclination to overreact to perceived error is not unique to the positive confession movement, and, unfortunately, causes many to miss out on powerful truths God is revealing to the church. Indeed, numerous fresh revelations are messy in their inception as the body of Christ seeks to walk in them. It is the wise believer who asks God what He is doing in controversial teachings before dismissing them because of apparent negative fruit. As we consider the teaching on positive confession, it is clear God was revealing through the power of words that —
- life is truly in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21)
- confession is made unto salvation (Romans 10:10)
- if we bridle our tongues, we can bridle our whole body (James 3:2)
- faith comes by hearing (Romans 10:17)
- God calls those things that do not exist as though they do (Romans 4:17)
- speaking causes things to happen (Genesis 1:3)
Yes, let’s stay away from extremes in our declaration journey, but let’s also be zealous in our implementing the speaking of God’s promises over our lives.
OBJECTION TWO — Isn’t this just a formula that one can do apart from intimacy with God?
Some object to the message about declarations because they believe it is a “formula.” Their concern comes from an assessment that those who promote the making of declarations are saying we can have whatever we say, regardless of what else is happening in our lives. It is seen as a formula to receive spiritual blessings without a covenant commitment to the Lord.
This same criticism could also be directed at many other Christian disciplines (i.e. Bible reading, tithing, prayer, church attendance, fellowship, loving your spouse, honesty, hard work, etc.). These, too, can become formulas for Christian success even if the individual does not have a current vibrant relationship with Jesus. Godly principles work at some level for the saved and unsaved alike. Those who practice godly disciplines dramatically increase the likelihood of living a blessed life. Declarations (speaking life) certainly fall into the category of godly disciplines. The “that’s just a formula” label gets placed on positive proclaimers (more so than other disciplines) because the anti-negative speech advocates tend to be more vocal about their convictions, and their imbalances seem to be more obvious. They’ve boiled life down to this: Say the right words and everything will turn out wonderfully. Yes, the belief that our words are powerful is one of the most important truths we will ever believe, but the authors of this book want it to be clear that declarations are one piece of the pie of truth, not the whole pie. The truths shared in these writings are to be lived out in tension with other important teachings. They are also to be lived out in the context of a community where healthy relationships are fostered. This will help prevent us from simply using declarations as a formula.
OBJECTION THREE — Can’t declarations be a presumptuous attempt to override God’s sovereignty in our lives?
This question goes to the heart of whether or not we believe our beliefs and actions actually influence what happens on planet earth and impact the quality of our lives. There are two extremes concerning this. On one side, there are those who believe our lives are completely predestined by God and cannot be altered. On the other hand, some feverishly proclaim we can have whatever we speak without any acknowledgment of the larger purpose God might have for us. We believe the answer is somewhere in between these perspectives and would emphasize much more a person’s ability to create history rather than be a robotic pawn. Yes, “A man’s steps are of the Lord” (Proverbs 20:24), but it is clear throughout scripture we have been given delegated authority by God to:
- increase our talents (see Matthew 25:14-30)
- control the devil’s activity (see James 4:7)
- hasten the return of Christ (see 2 Peter 3:12)
- increase personal prosperity (see Psalm 1:1-3)
- bring peace and blessing to our cities (see 1 Timothy 2:1-4)
- remove spiritual mountains with our words and faith (see Mark 11:22-24)
Each of us will need to work out for ourselves how we balance the truth of God’s sovereignty with the great God-given spiritual weapon of declarations to make things happen for ourselves and others. It is important to understand we won’t have something just because we say something, but saying something is vital for having something.
OBJECTION FOUR — Aren’t those who make declarations and positive confessions prone to being unrealistic and are often in denial about circumstances that need obedience and action, not just a declaration?
Certainly, these concerns are valid if someone is standing on their confession while ignoring other scriptural principles (or a serious medical diagnosis) about the situation. Even though we don’t want to walk in foolishness in our declaration journey, it is important to also realize God has not called us to be realistic but to live life as He sees it. We do not deny the negative facts of a situation, but we are to declare God’s truth, which is higher than the facts. Joel 3:10 is an example of this, “Let the weak say I am strong.” It does not say, “Let the weak say I am not weak.” We don’t deny weakness, but we declare the truth of strength before it has manifested into reality. Declarations thus become an important part of our plan to build our faith to experience all that Jesus has made possible for us to walk in.
OBJECTION FIVE — I tried it, and it felt fake to me.
Some have attempted to make declarations in the past, and it just did not feel right; therefore, they quit. As we consider this, there are two things to remember: First, it is important to realize that many beneficial habits are not exciting in the beginning (for example exercise, nutrition, etc.). It often takes time to get over the initial discomfort. Secondly, because declarations are so powerful in demolishing negative strongholds in our minds, we should not be surprised at the resistance these long enduring belief systems put up. They just don’t want to go. Even so, as you persevere in declaring truth, the confirming feelings will come.
OBJECTION SIX — I tried it, and it did not work.
Throughout the Word, God promises a good result if we heed certain truths He presents to us. For instance, “Give and it will be given to you” (Luke 6:38) or “’Honor your father and mother that it may go well with you and you may live long on the earth” (Ephesians 6:2-3). We are challenged to choose a certain course of action and then expect a positive outcome as a result. There are numerous verses in the Bible such as Proverbs 18:21 that tell us to anticipate blessing as we speak words of life. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue; and those who love it will eat its fruit.” As with any spiritual discipline, we must persevere and overcome the perception that nothing is happening when we make declarations. “Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap . . . and let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:7-9). The losing of heart comes from a belief that nothing is improving. We believe it is impossible to be relentless in declaring truth and not have forward movement in life and in the things of God.
For more on this, listen to this week’s podcast here.
ABOUT STEVE BACKLUND
Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.