We usually associate the word “abracadabra” with (supposedly) harmless magic tricks. But do you know its origins? Do you know what it means?
Do you realize that for the same function a magician will say, “Abracadabra!” to pull a rabbit out of a hat, Christians will say, “I decree and declare!” to conjure up their own supernatural experiences?
And no wonder! “Abracadabra” is a real word with a real meaning: “I create as I speak” (Aramaic), or “It came to pass as it was spoken” (Hebrew). If you don’t see the parallel here with the “you have what you say” practice among Christians’ trying to literally speak their wants, dreams and desires into existence, then you refuse to see it, or you’re willfully biblically ignorant.
I don’t mean to be insulting or unduly harsh, but this is serious. There’s just so much “decreeing and declaring” going on in the church these days — just the latest version of the age-old false doctrine of the Word Faith movement that insists “naming and claiming,” “blabbing and grabbing,” “confessing and possessing” and similar “positive confession” in the name of Jesus will supposedly change one’s circumstances. We have to be careful not to practice anything as followers of Christ without knowing for ourselves whether or not we should, and why.
The fact that pastors and television preachers are the ones teaching us to speak “positivity” over our circumstances, as they dangle in front of us enticing carrots of health, wealth and prosperity, is not enough to make the practice okay. We have to think for our own selves so no one can lead us into a cleverly disguised trap — a trap filled with dashed hopes of a better life now, but in reality having no meaningful, eternal impact for saving lost souls or storing up treasures in heaven.
That’s why I want to share with you some of the serious errors of the “Decree & Declare” doctrine. In this Part 1, I briefly show how “decreeing and declaring” is akin to certain false religions, cults and abominable occultish practices. In Part 2, Lord willing, I will look at seven Scriptures that proponents of “decreeing and declaring” use to try to support the practice among Christians, and how they take those Scriptures horribly out of context.
Read through this article and the next with an objective (unbiased) mind. Check me out against the Scriptures offered, but in their proper context. Pray the Holy Spirit will illuminate for you His Word on the subject. If you feel I’m the one in error, tell me in the spirit of brotherly Christian love for the sake of unity in the truth. At the very least, if you read this to the end, consider yourself informed and therefore accountable for what you do with it, especially if you practice “decreeing and declaring.”
“Decreeing & Declaring” is Akin to the Occult
In New Testament times and today, Gnosticism was and is a false, cultic religion that mixes distorted elements of Christianity with mythology and mysticism. How does this relate to the topic at hand? Because an ancient Gnostic sect used the word “abracadabra” as a magical incantation to invoke “friendly” spirits for healing and deliverance.
How many times have Christians, wanting to invoke the Holy Spirit, “decreed and declared” healing and deliverance?!
I suspect a lot of “decreeing and declaring” Christians don’t realize, the idea that our words have power to literally make positive things happen in our lives is not new, and not unique to Christian circles. It’s really just an extension of the metaphysical idea the Gnostics and others have had, that man’s thoughts have power to literally bring things into being. No doubt you’ve noticed, “Positive Thinking” is commonly talked about and advised in various secular fields as well, including medical and mental health, advanced education, self-improvement and business. Furthermore, it is foundational to the teachings of other false religions and New Age movements besides Gnosticism, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Christian Science, Science of Mind and Unity, among others.
“Decreeing and declaring” among Christians is very similar to this same principle of “positive thinking” and extends it to the practice of “positive confessing.” Now, “confession” really does mean speaking in agreement with what God has already said. But the problem comes in when the practice of saying what God has said (and when did He ever say to decree and declare cars, houses, wealth, etc.?) becomes like a formula a person puts into practice in order to get what they want for themselves in this life. Christians are being taught and are encouraging others to practice “decreeing and declaring” things and being told that God has to — has to — do it.
The fact that this practice is couched in Christian terms, with “In Jesus’ Name” tacked on at the end, does not legitimize it. It’s still “abracadabra.” Saying things for the purpose of “I create as I speak” or “It came to pass as it was spoken” is a form of divination and witchcraft, which God considers abominable and is clearly something for His people to avoid (Deuteronomy 18:10-14).
If we Christians go around “decreeing and declaring” positive things over our lives the same way a magician says, “Abracadabra!” or a cancer-stricken mind-sciencer says, “I am well! I am well!” or a Buddhist watching CNN (do they?) says, “Inner peace! Inner peace!”, we are disobeying our Heavenly Father. Such utterances and the meditations associated with them are incantations by Godless people. We should want to be so in line with our Lord that we avoid doing anything that looks even close to what they do when what they do is clearly and vehemently forbidden.
In closing this Part 1, I’m reminded of the movie I saw for the first time just today (God’s providence!) called “Now You See Me.” One of the characters said something like this: “Magic is about deception, but it’s designed for entertainment and fun.” Isn’t that part of its deception? To make us think it’s harmless fun? Since when is deception fun? And in the context of serious biblical concerns (versus planning a surprise party), since when is deception harmless? It is no accident that the real meaning of the magic word “abracadabra” is very similar to the “you have what you say” mentality of the doctrine of “Decreeing & Declaring.”
So, stop it.
Please leave your comments and I will reply at my earliest opportunity. Part 2 will look at Scriptures proponents take way out of context to prove “Decreeing & Declaring” is for Christians, starting with Job 22:28 which says, Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee: and the light shall shine upon thy ways (NJV).
You are right and correct. And JUST STOP IT or “don’t go there” is the simplest, wisest and most expedient advice. We rarely follow simple, wise and expedient down the right path.. but this issue is a great example of how quickly we will follow simple and expedient down the wrong path. Hmm.
I get why this practice is wrong and my spirit, thankfully, just turns from it. I can’t look at them and I can’t listen to them. I have a choice and this one is easy for me. But I don’t fully understand why I know this. Certainly not because I invested the study time you have. It just doesn’t feel right. But what do we say to the people it DOES “feel” right to? who hear a ring of truth in it? If they are spiritually mature and biblically studied you would think they would come to the JUST SAY NO place either by study or discernment. But we likely all know otherwise seemingly authentic Christian people who are engaging in this. Is the pull to this just evil interfering or is there something missing– certainly not in God’s instructions — but in the way, when called or in a position to, ‘explain’ those instructions we aren’t getting it right? Something more to reach that void, they are trying to fill?
Do what you are supposed to, when you are supposed to, for the right reasons and with the right attitude– and be thankful for the result… that’s simple to me. I understand it. But there are people (from the looks of the crowds– lots of people) that it isn’t simple to. Some days.. okay.. many days. I am in a “here’s the word, I told you like I was supposed to. Take it or leave it, I’m dusting these sandals off, and moving on to the next town.” frame of mind. I’m inpatient. I’m tired of stupid people wanting instant gratification– “to hell” with them. And on even worse days I’ve got an “I TOLD you that mess wouldn’t work you bible illiterate fool” waiting for them !!! But when I get past THAT first few minutes of the day I have to wonder is there something SHORT and biblical I can have in reserve for when that fleeting opportunity to interact with a person who is struggling with this particular temptation crosses my path? Clearly, I’m not good with SHORT.. Maybe someone reading this is?
I am thrilled by your careful and honest pondering of, not just why you agree that the “decree & declare” practice is anti-biblical, but also why professing Christians flock to it. I’m just sorry I could not respond to your comment sooner.
I’m glad and thankful to God that He has used this article to confirm to you what you already felt was wrong. And now you are equipped with definitions of terms and with specific Scriptures to understand why decreeing & declaring is wrong. And dangerous.
The reason you can’t rely on your feelings that decreeing & declaring is just plain wrong, is the same reason that those who practice it can’t rely on their feelings that it’s right. Feelings should never be the basis for accepting or rejecting a doctrine. The Word of God — the Holy Bible — should be that basis. Indeed, there are plenty of things in the Bible that don’t make me “feel” good — like persecution for the faith, not being able to do certain things, etc. — but because they are in God’s Word, the choice is either obedience resulting in peace, blessings and rewards….or disobedience resulting in temporary pleasure/satisfaction, often unforeseen consequences, and loss of rewards.
How can seemingly intelligent people who profess faith in Jesus Christ practice something that is so wrong? Second Timothy 3:1 through 4:4 gives a good understanding. People are heaping to themselves teachers, preachers, life coaches, and the like who give them what they so desperately want to hear. The unpopular preachers and teachers are those who talk about hell, accountability for sin, trials and tribulations for the Christian, being content in whatever state we find ourselves in, etc. It’s a mindset of what can God do for me versus what can I do for God. Decreeing & declaring is just a new name for an old problem in the professing Christian church.
I hasten to say, we all make mistakes. That is why I try to put such a strong emphasis on the Bible as the final authority for everything we believe, proclaim, practice, live by, hope for and share with others.
So, how do we deal with people who’d rather let their preachers and teachers think for them rather than thinking for themselves? You’re right, patience is key. Enduring persecution is key. Trusting God is key. Following His leading is key. And being equipped with Scriptures is key. Also key is reading and sharing Scriptures in their proper context. Please share these articles with them, too.
How to do it succinctly? How about: “Hey, did you know that speaking things into existence is an occultic practice, like saying ‘abracadabra’?” Sometimes it’s just enough to get them to think. Hopefully.
But some people still won’t hear it. At some point you do have to kick the dust off your shoes. Just know their problem is not with you but with God.
Thanks again for your comment!