My heart is guarded against the Word-of-Faith Movement, an evangelical Christian movement “which teaches that Christians can access the power of faith or fear through speech.” (wikipedia.org)
Here are a few paragraphs from Wikipedia that explain the Word-of-Faith movement in more context:
“Distinctive Word of Faith teachings include physical, emotional, financial, relational, and spiritual healing or prosperity for those who skillfully manage their covenant with God. The movement urges believers to speak what they desire, in agreement with the promises and provisions of the Bible, as an affirmation of God’s plans and purposes. They believe this is what Jesus meant when he said in Mark 11:22–24 that believers shall have whatsoever they say and pray with faith. The term word of faith itself is derived from Romans 10:8 which speaks of the word of faith that we preach.
The Word of Faith teaches that complete healing (of spirit, soul, and body) is included in Christ’s atonement and therefore is available here and now to all who believe. Frequently cited is Isaiah 53:5, “by his stripes we are healed”, and Matthew 8:17, which says Jesus healed the sick so that “it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the Prophet, ‘Himself took our infirmities, and bore our sicknesses’.”
Because Isaiah speaks in the present tense (“we are healed”), Word of Faith teaches that believers should accept the reality of a healing that is already theirs, first by understanding that physical healing is part of the New Testament’s promise of salvation. It is reinforced by confessing the Bible verses which assert this healing and believing them while rejecting doubt. This does not deny pain, sickness, or disease, but denies its right to supersede the gift of salvation in Isaiah 53:5 and many other passages. According to adherents, sickness is generally Satan’s attempt to rob believers of their divine right to total health.”
Years ago, I believed speaking and proclaiming Isaiah 53:5 (“by His stripes we are healed”) thinking I released that healing over my mind. Though I am functioning normally and with great health and wellness because I’m taking an antidepressant and antipsychotic daily, there is no telling if I found the exact dosage combination I needed because I named and claimed those verses over myself.
“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” states Romans 10:17 (NKJV). I realize that when God’s word and the gospel message are preached and spoken aloud, we grow in our faith and are stirred to put that faith to action.
When I went off my medications because I believed I held the power of faith to change and be healed in Jesus’s name, was that real faith in action? Apparently not – I ended up in the psych wards on and off for three months with a repeat of a psychotic break.
What do we mean when we speak our faith aloud like God spoke the world into existence? In the beginning, God speaks all creation into existence. But, who are we to be like God?
Are we proclaiming prosperity, good health, wealth, etc. because that means it WILL happen as WE SAY it will?
Are we exercising true faith in action by SPEAKING what WE WANT into existence? There is nothing more opposing to God’s greatness and prideful than to want to be like God in the vein of Satan’s nature who aspired to be as mighty as God.
And to note, I am not God, so, therefore, I don’t exactly equate my speaking to creating things out of nothing…
Though I will say – what I THINK and how I THINK can be influenced by self-talk that I produce out of my heart. “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7 NKJV, and “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Matthew 12:34 NKJV
I’m not so sure that I believe in “speaking into existence” or “Word of Faith” theology anymore. It must be measurable to be truly sound doctrine.
I don’t want to conclude that what I say doesn’t make things happen or not. I think we can influence our thoughts and beliefs with what we hear come out of our mouths. I think we need to be discerning, though, as our hearts are where those beliefs are rooted, and the heart “is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 NKJV)
So if I have any infirmity, do I just roll over and surrender to its demise? Or should I claim Isaiah 53:5 if I have a mental or physical disability, and believe and hope and anticipate healing? That’s what I did. I wasn’t purely cured of my mental illness, however, I was given the answer to my prayers for healing in the form of a daily dose of psychotropics.
However, my case is unique. Plenty of Christians with mental illness, mild or serious, are dealing with their symptoms and struggling daily to find some semblance of normal. I acknowledge that they are fighting their demons non-stop, literally and figuratively. The best Biblical application I can find in scripture that deals with an unwanted trial/tribulation is Paul in 2 Corinthians 12.
God didn’t take the thorn in his flesh from him, but rather left him with the words in verse 9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” And Paul takes that illness/vision/tormenting spirit/disease/fill-in-the-blank and says in verse 10: “Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
This paradox that we are weak and then strong…that God’s power is perfected in our weaknesses. How? What does that exactly mean? I’ve grappled with this on and off for a while now – where my strength ends and God’s begins. Maybe that means the poor brain chemistry that I possess is now made miraculously balanced again because I humble myself and take my pills daily. Maybe that means I can praise God no matter what the issue is, and make His name great and glorious regardless of my state of mental or physical health. And maybe that means I can stop striving to do things on my own in my own power (going off medications) and surrender to the plan God has had for me all along (taking medications) that are for my good and His glory.
However, like Paul in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all this through Christ who strengthens me.” I will believe that, and bank on it, and claim it in believing that with the strength Jesus gives to me. He will enable me to act in benevolence toward my soul, and ultimately make Himself greatly esteemed, as opposed to making myself greatly esteemed. His power/strength, my weakness.