There are teachings out there encouraging people to manipulate God (or “the universe”) with their words. God controls things and we are to simply trust his word and that he work things in the favor of those who love him (Romans 8:28). He is not a slave to us that grants our wishes. Remember it was God that called things to be not as though they were (Romans 4:17). In this chapter, Paul is talking about Abraham. Abraham only wanted at least one heir but it was God that said he would be the “father of many nations”. Notice in Gen 17:1-8 that Abram didn’t change his own name to Abraham “father of many”, God is the one that changed his name.
God didn’t tell Abraham that he would conquer Canaan, so Abraham couldn’t have gone to Canaan and tried to conquer the promised land Canaan, because that was not God’s plan. Abraham couldn’t have “spoken it into existence” or “manifested victory” for something that God did not give him. Abraham was promised an heir and would only sojourn in Canaan. God said Abraham’s “seed” (descendants) would inherit Canaan. In Genesis 15:13-16, God said Abraham would die before that would happen and that the promised land would be inherited over 400 years later after enduring persecution and enslavement. No amount of “manifesting” would have changed God’s word. We can repeat God’s word in faith because he initiated the idea and does the work, but we cannot tell God what to do.
In John 6:28-33 the Israelites made the mistake of saying Moses did miracles, but Jesus corrected them and said it was God that did the miracles. Hearing a word from God is the first step and then believing, receiving, speaking, and acting on it are afterward. Proverbs 3:6 says that if we acknowledge God in all of our ways, then he will direct our paths. The only reason someone would feel the need to manipulate God for their own gain is that they don’t trust him, so they have to usurp and subjugate him.
Christians are supposed to speak what God said and believe in it because God said it. The whole “manifest my blessing” thing is often used as a form of modern sorcery by non-believers. People like Alister Crowley (a new-age sorcerer from the 1800s) started the “do thine own will” movement and taught that we can manipulate the universe to bend to our will. Cults like the Free Masons, Rosicrucian, and others use pseudo-biblical principles and mix them with eastern mysticism and sorcery. People who practice these systems are more likely to view God as a force of nature rather than a being that loves us and asks us to follow his teachings. This is why modern new-age people call God the “universe” or “higher power/force” which is eluding a theology similar to the Dharmic religions which don’t require a belief in deities because there is only the cosmic engine of Dharma, Karma, and Samsara. Teachings like “The Secret”, “The Silva Method” and “The Law of Attraction” are based on ideas like this. God’s word is from a being that made us, loves us, and judges us, but there are deceptive ideologies that will redefine God as a substance or resource to be manipulated for personal gain. Christians must be watchful of the “make the universe do your will” stuff and recognize it as anti-christ since Christ is king and we don’t tell him what to do.
The thing about the law of attraction stuff is that it’s built on the foundation of doing things without God, so it’s a form of deception and it’s very sneaky. They often quote the bible to draw Christians into their theology. Keep this in mind, when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, Satan quoted Psalms 91 when he told Jesus to jump off a building (Matthew 4:5-7). Satan quotes scripture and that’s where we have to watch out for the deception. I’m not denying God’s power for us, which is executed through our faith and speech, but God’s power for us is given through the gifts of the holy spirit himself. It is a belief in our hearts and confession of faith that initiates our state of being saved and allows us to receive the promised gift of the holy spirit (Romans 10:8-10). However, there’s a difference between God’s power and Satan’s power. There are dark spiritual forces, that have nothing to do with God, working behind the scenes and people are getting connected to these things through deception (Ep 6:10-13, Col 2:8). Instead of “manifesting our blessing”, we should read God’s word and trust him to be our source. Our mindset should be, “Lord I trust you and I’m going to sow seed because I trust you, and in the process, I know you will provide the harvest because you love me.”
If you’re saying “money cometh” but you’re not sewing any seed and following the holy spirit’s instructions, then nothing’s going to happen. Or if it does come it’ll come in a sinful corrupt way. Proverbs 10:22 says, (KJV) “The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.” That means when God blesses us there are no side effects and no catch, like debt. If we get caught up with dark spiritual forces then there will be side effects. Satan can set traps designed to destroy us with the very thing we are given, think of it like a trojan horse attack. This is why Jesus warned in the parable of the sower about the deceitfulness of riches (Mark 4:18-20). We should seek first the Kingdom (Matt 6:31-34), and this means seeking God’s face and his direction. Remember it is when we acknowledge him by involving him in our decisions, that he directs our paths (Proverbs 3:6). These other systems don’t involve seeking God the Father at all instead, they treat God like a genie that grants wishes. God doesn’t grant wishes as if he is a slave to us, we are to be servants of him and to submit to HIS will from heaven to be done on earth (Matt 6:10). When we seek the Kingdom we are not trying to use the kingdom, we are simply seeking to join the kingdom and submit to its king. It is in the process of submission, that he blesses us because we are under his covenant promises as his children. The greatest two commandments are to love God and love our neighbor (Matt 22:34-40). Loving God means trusting him and submitting to his commands (John 14:15). The Law of Attraction stuff rejects a loving God because you can’t love a thing or substance that has no personality, instead, it is to be used and abused to get your own way no matter whom it hurts in the process.
Acts 8:9-25 features Simon the Sorcerer. Simon has been using witchcraft (pharamkeia) to manipulate people and make money. He was known as “The Great One” with “The Power Of God”. However, when Phillip shows up and heals people (in a greater way with no side effects), Simon is astonished by the power of the Holy Spirit. James and Peter showed up and ministered to people so that everyone can have the holy spirit. Simon wants to purchase it, but it is not for sale because it is a free gift, and Peter scolds him for asking for such a thing and threatens Simon with judgment. Simon repents out of fear. God’s supernatural power is part of a package of the holy spirit, these are the gifts of the Spirit that Paul talks about in 1 Cor 12:7-11 and they come free with the holy spirit. Only believers get the Holy Spirit, meaning unbelievers don’t have access to these gifts (John 14:15-17, Rom 8:5-11). In John 6:63 Jesus says “the spirit alone gives eternal life and human effort accomplishes nothing, and his [Jesus’] words are spirit and life”. So they use alternative means through partnerships with unclean spirits. There is a slave woman in Acts 16:16-24, who was being used by her masters to work as a medium, and a demon in her gave her the appearance of divine powers. She was being enslaved by both humans and an unclean spirit, this is a dangerous situation to be in, and when Paul cast the demon out, she was free.
There are people that go to the other extreme and deny the gifts of the Spirit and say all that stuff ceased in the first century. This is called cessationism and it’s pretty popular in certain Christian theology movements. However, I believe the idea that God’s supernatural power is available for our lives because of the Holy Spirit, but it’s based on God’s teaching and instruction and following his spirit. People of the world who reject Jesus, do not have God’s spirit since Jesus only promised the spirit to his disciples (John 14:15-17). Therefore his power is only executed through his people. I will say this one more time: “the only reason someone would feel the need to manipulate God for their own gain is that they don’t trust him, so they have to usurp and subjugate him to get their way”. There is one character in the bible who embodies this mindset, Satan.
Let’s take head to John’s advice from 1 John 4:
1 John 4:1 (NLT) Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world. 2 This is how we know if they have the Spirit of God: If a person claiming to be a prophet acknowledges that Jesus Christ came in a real body, that person has the Spirit of God. 3 But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God. Such a person has the spirit of the Antichrist, which you heard is coming into the world and indeed is already here.
4 But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world. 5 Those people belong to this world, so they speak from the world’s viewpoint, and the world listens to them. 6 But we belong to God, and those who know God listen to us. If they do not belong to God, they do not listen to us. That is how we know if someone has the Spirit of truth or the spirit of deception.