Today I want to chat a little about a common trend I have seen recently in Christian circles. Frankly, a trend that concerns me a great deal. A trend that very closely resembles Eastern mysticism and New Ageism and is more often referred to as New Thought. Affirmations. More specifically, affirmations that will wreck your soul. These are very dangerous grounds not to be tread lightly.
Have you ever heard something that sounded good, and even felt good, but had a slight not-quite-rightness about it? This is the feeling I get when I see and hear affirmations or anything about affirmations. They seem to be a good thing, they sound good, and they can sure make you feel good. But something is just a little not right.
Speaking daily affirmations is the practice of choosing specific positive phrases, and repeating them daily in an effort to boost one’s self image, productivity, and bring good things in to one’s life to beat negativity.
Affirmations in New Thought and New Age terminology refer primarily to the practice of positive thinking and self-empowerment—fostering a belief that “a positive mental attitude supported by affirmations will achieve success in anything.” More specifically, an affirmation is a carefully formatted statement that should be repeated to one’s self and written down frequently. For affirmations to be effective, it is said that they need to be present tense, positive, personal and specificWikipedia
This is a very disturbing definition in relation to belief systems, specifically Christian beliefs. Do we really believe that our positive attitudes and positive words repeated to ourselves, written down and thought in our minds will achieve success in anything? If I think it enough, it will be true. If I want it enough I will get it. If I envision it so it will be so. This is the epitome of idolizing ourselves and the power of our minds. Putting ourselves above God Himself to think that we can control our own destinies. Is it not abiding in the truth, submitting to the will of the Father and remaining in Jesus that leads us to joy, fruitful lives and most importantly, eternal life? Or can I get what I want by saying good, personal and specific things?
The enemy would like us to think so. You see, he’s been playing this game with us for a long time. Since the Garden of Eden actually. He is the master of taking God’s words and twisting them just a little bit. And if you aren’t paying attention or know your scripture, you might not even notice. That is why it is so important to be abiding in Christ, abiding in the Word of God and praying always.
Satan loves to take the focus off of God and bring himself the glory. He does this through affirmations by making it about us and how we are in control. If we say it, it will be truth. Essentially we are glorifying ourselves, not God.
You could argue that the bible does say
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8
But, there is a HUGE difference between Philippians 4:8 and the practice of positive affirmations. They make us the focus of our meditations, not God. Jesus says we are to deny ourselves and follow Him. Yes, we are created in the image of God and are beloved, have worth, value, significance and were created with a special purpose before we were even born!
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. Psalm 139:13-16
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13
BUT, our worth, value, significance and purpose are not found in ourselves or the words we speak, but in Christ. When we truly understand that and accept it, we are free from having to
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Philippians 2:3
There is definitely power in our words. James confirms this But where does that power come from? Is it my power? Or is it the forces behind those words? The power comes from one of two places, God or Satan.
When we assume that our speaking words can transform our reality, we are essentially playing God and denying His power to transform us. Only our Creator can speak anything into existence.
2 Timothy 3:5 says that in the last days people will have a form of godliness, but deny it’s power. People will look godly, they may even say things that sound Christian and righteous, but their very lives deny God’s power.
Isn’t the message of the gospel that we cannot do anything to save ourselves? That there is absolutely nothing we can do to redeem our lives, make us better people, live better lives, do anything at all apart from Jesus and His atonement work on the cross through the spilling of His blood and death, burial and resurrection? Why can we not see that this practice of speaking our reality offends God?
Do you know where these new trends began? There is nothing new under the sun. We cannot take that which is evil and twist it a little to turn it into worship. Just like we cannot make tarot reading anything less than divination by calling it Christian tarot reading, we cannot worship The Most High in ways that have their origin in pagan worship.
“When the Lord your God cuts off before you the nations whom you go in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, take care that you be not ensnared to follow them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods?—that I also may do the same.’ You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the Lord hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods. “Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it. Deuteronomy 12:29-32
God has specifically told us in scripture how we are to worship him. We are commanded not to follow pagan cultures in their worship practices and worship our God in that way. We are commanded to be set apart, holy.
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” Peter 1:14-16
It can be our tendency to “Christianize” worldly things to make them fit our agenda. But even speaking self-affirming, positive bible verses over ourselves to make us feel good is not right. Scripture tells us that we are nothing, without Jesus. Nobody. Nothing good in us. Completely and hopelessly LOST. Our hearts are corrupt. Everything we do apart from him is worth nothing.
We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. Isaiah 64:6
Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. Ephesians 2:12
So the focus here is Jesus. Not us. We are nothing without HIM. Glory to God! We absolutely need to know who we are in Christ. Our identity in Jesus is so, so important. We also must understand that being in Christ comes with certain responsibilities. We are commanded to abide, to live crucified lives, that the Word of God has absolute authority for every activity we participate in, every word we speak and decisions we make. Every single thing we do should bring glory to God, reflect that we serve Him. And bear His image as a daughter or son of the King. We reject anything that does not reflect our royal lineage. We reject what is just a feel-good exercise. Our lives must be about sacrifice and submission to God’s authority over our lives.
The positive and seemingly affirming verses in scripture are not meant to affirm us, but to renew our minds, conforming us and our entire life and worldview to Christ’s image. Not a beautiful image we create for ourselves.
But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:20-24
I encourage you today to take a look at the areas in your life that may be imitations of pagan ways. Seek God, ask Him to reveal to you anything that may be offensive to Him. Anything that is bringing glory to you, and taking it from Him. He is faithful to give wisdom when we