Words are so powerful and our ability to communicate with words is one of the ways that we are made in the image of God. It is a gift to be able to speak.
In Proverbs 18:3 we are told that “death and life are in the power of the tongue.” James 3 reminds us that no one can tame the tongue and that both blessing and cursing can come from it. It is so important for us to live with these realities in mind; our words can release life and blessing or death and cursing—we get to choose.
This is a critical concept to understand on behalf of our own speech, but it is also critical to understand as it relates to destructive relationships. The old adage “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” couldn’t be falser. Words can be incredibly destructive to our body, soul, and spirit.
There are many ways that words can cause destruction in our lives, but one of the key elements is whether or not we come into agreement with them. When we receive false or destructive words as truth, we are coming into agreement with deception. And if we remain in that place of agreement, it can open the door to demonic oppression. When we understand this, it allows us to stand firm against one of the enemy’s greatest strategies.
Abuse is empowered by the enemy and all tactics of abuse originate in the mind of the enemy. This passage in Psalms exposes the weapon of destructive words and the way that it is employed in order to do damage.
“Hide me from the conspiracy of the wicked, from the plots of evildoers. They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim cruel words like deadly arrows. They shoot from ambush at the innocent; they shoot suddenly, without fear.” (Psalm 64:2-4 NIV)
In an abusive environment, the destructive words that are spoken can come aggressively (in attack and anger) or they can come passively (in a calm, quiet, and often passive-aggressive manner). What is important to remember is that the nature of the words stems from the spirit behind them and the fruit that accompanies them. Sometimes, on the surface the words may not sound all that bad. But the impact they have on you when they land, the way they stick with you and mess with you, is all the evidence that you need to know that they were destructive words. Again, it is the spirit behind the words, not just the words themselves.
What Can You Do About It?
1. Guard Your Tongue
It is so important for us to be good stewards of our speech. However, this is not just about how we talk to/about others, but also how we talk to/about ourselves. We can do incredible damage to ourselves through critical and false words and affirmations. Be aware of the things that you speak over yourself. Make sure that you are affirming Truth and Life. Ask the Lord to show you any words or labels that you have put on yourself that are not true and begin to verbally speak out the opposite. Use your own words to come into agreement with the Father and to speak life and truth over yourself.
2. Stand Against Destructive Words Spoken By Others
Sometimes you are present when destructive words are said, and sometimes you are not. If you are present and hear the words, you have the opportunity to refuse to accept them as truth. When you do that, you agree with Truth and refuse to agree with the enemy, which causes the words to lose their power. Depending what the words are or who said them, it can be good to verbally declare over yourself, something like:
“I refuse those words. I am not worthless and incapable. Because of the Cross I have value and I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
There is no formula here, but it is just a practical and tangible way of refusing to take on the curse/destruction associated with evil, destructive, and careless words.
Sometimes there are words spoken or released against you when you are not present. This may be in the form of gossip, slander, or sometimes even misguided prayer. In this case it can release confusion, heaviness, or other opposition that may be disorienting because you feel the effects without knowing where they originated from. This is why it is important to live in a proactive place of praying for protection over ourselves and our children. Breaking off every word released against us. Raising up a shield in the spirit against every flaming arrow. This is living on the offense.
I am praying that the Lord would minister to your heart. That He would uproot every word curse and that He would heal and restore the damage done through destructive words. I am asking that He would ground you in Truth so that you would not come into agreement with the lies of the enemy. I am praying that He would speak words of life, affirmation, and blessing over you.