Posted in bible, discernment, joel osteen, positive confession, speech

"If you cannot be positive, then at least be quiet"- Christian, before you press share on that Facebook quote…

There is a quote going around among Facebook that I’d like to address. Here it is:

On the surface, it seems like a good goal, right? In the vein of making New Year resolutions, it seems like a pretty good thing to resolve. I’ll press re-share! After all, Ephesians 4:29 says let no unwholesome talk come out of our mouths and speak only what builds up. I’m on board with this.

Wait just a second. I’d like to plea for Christians to stop and think for a moment before sharing or posting. Think of what the quote really says when you consider the source. It is actually a chocolate wrapped cockroach. This quote is exactly the kind of subtle lie that satan spoke in the garden.

When we first meet the devil, we are told off the bat that he is the most subtle creature of all. (Genesis 3:1). He is crafty. Shortly after we were introduced to satan, satan became the god of this world. (2 Corinthians 4:4). He is actually in charge of the world system (as far as God lets him). Since satan is a liar and the father of lies, (John 8:44), and he is in charge of the world system, then the world system is a lie. (HT to Todd Friel for that syllogism).

So what could be harmful or deceptive about such a positive statement as quoted above? It goes like this:

Joel Osteen says it is not positive to speak of sin or judgment- so he doesn’t. Even though as a preacher he is supposed to give the whole counsel of God, he decided that speaking of the unsavory things in the bible is “not his calling.” He would also disagree on marking and avoiding false teachers as Romans 16:17-18 says to do. Osteen starves his followers of the spiritual bread they need by refusing to speak what he defines as negative, and therefore unnecessary, and only speaks what he deems as positive.

In this subtle way, Osteen gets Christians to remain quiet about confronting sin.

Another way the quote is deceptively harmful to our witness is that Osteen is a Word-Faith preacher.

He says that what we proclaim can impact and even create our reality. Osteen really believes that saying positive declarations aloud will make them come true. This is a false doctrine called positive confession.

Positive confession is the practice of saying aloud what you want to happen with the expectation that God will make it a reality.” (source)

Osteen says negative speech demonstrates that we lack the kind of faith God requires us to show Him if He is going to fulfill the promises He is ‘duty bound’ to fulfill- but only if we stay positive. However,

[T]the Bible is very clear that ‘negative confession’ does not negate God’s blessings.(source)

So in this vein I disagree with Osteen’s statement “If you cannot be positive, then at least be quiet,” because I know what he means by it- and it is not biblical. Alternately, if a person chooses to remain quiet according to the bible’s definition (and the two are NOT the same) then I agree.

  • Ephesians 4:29 says let no unwholesome talk come out of our mouths and speak only what builds up.
  • Ecclesiastes 10:12 says words from the mouth of the wise are gracious, but fools are consumed by their own lips.
  • Colossians 3:8 says But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips,
  • Colossians 4:6 says in part, Let your speech be always with grace,

There is no such thing as a good statement from a false teacher. The bible says, “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:17-20.)


Even in a case where the statement seems good and wholesome, coming from an evil and devilish source, it means the quote is evil also. It’s tainted by its unseen evil agenda. The bible says, “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.”(Romans 3:13).

Throat, tongue, lips; you see that no part of where an evil person speaks from is safe from the venom that permeates their speech before it escapes their body.

Because satan is so deceptive, he packages deception in pleasant-looking bundles. In this way, even a “positive” quote is poison.

The bible is full of admonitions regarding a Christian’s speech. And, it has the ultimate advantage of being the most impeccable source. There are many good preachers of the past and present to quote, and it is good to do so. However, if you are unsure of a the quoted person’s Christian credibility, you can’t go wrong quoting the word of God.


Further Reading

Got Questions: Is there power in positive confession?

Al Mohler: ‘Staying in His Lane’ — Joel Osteen’s Gospel of Affirmation Without Salvation


Christian writer and Georgia teacher's aide who loves Jesus, a quiet life, art, beauty, and children.