Along with the growing unbliblical trend of self-care among Christian women is a growing trend of speaking positive affirmations.
Speaking positive affirmations is a daily practice of one choosing certain phrases, thoughts and quotes to speak to themselves in an effort to boost their self-worth and defeat negativity in their life.
These affirmations are a self-help mechanism that stems from the idea that a positive mental attitude will help you achieve anything, therefore, you need to speak and think only positive things in order to achieve your goals.
To be sure, there is a biblical parallel that can be drawn here.
But isn’t that how the enemy always works? He takes a biblical truth and then twists it to serve his own purposes and to lure people away from glorifying God to glorifying him….by means of glorifying themselves.
5 Reasons Why Positive Affirmations Are Not Biblical
Positive affirmations, like self care, makes us – fallen man – the center of our focus, which is humanistic – the worship of man.
This is where practices like this are so dangerous because they carry an element of truth to them, but twist them so that the object of our meditation and worship is no longer God, but a god we have formed of ourselves.
Yes – the Bible does tell us that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45).
The Bible also instructs us to think on those things that are good, true, honest, lovely and of a good report. One could say that the Bible tells us to think about positive things.
But there is a significant difference between the practice of positive affirmations and Philippians 4:8!
1. Positive affirmations make self the focus
Just as we saw with self-care, positive affirmations are a humanistic idea, making ourselves the central focus of our daily meditation.
However, in God’s Word we are told to do just the opposite.
God’s Word instructs us time and again to keep our eyes fixed on Christ. We are took to Him for our validation, strength, help, and comfort.
We will not find these things in ourselves, and in just a moment we will see why.
2. It seeks to affirm self
Positive affirmations are all about affirming ourselves, validating our own worth, and training our minds to believe that we have significance.
In Scripture, however, we read that we are to die to ourselves.
“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Matthew 16:24
Yes, it is true, we all have worth and value, we all have significance. God has created us for a special purpose, which He determined before the beginning of time.
But our worth and value are not found in us, but in Christ.
When we discover that – when we truly understand who we are in Jesus Christ – we are free from having to convince ourselves of our own significance and are able to focus on others, affirming others, imparting that value to those around us.
“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.” Philippians 2:3 (emphasis mine)
3. It assumes power in the positivity our own words.
James does say that the power of life and death are in the tongue.
What we speak has tremendous power, because it confirms what we already feel in our heart. That is why when we get a sense that something is wrong, very often we hesitate to speak it out loud because it somehow makes the situation real.
There is great power in our words.
But behind this power are two forces at work, because words in and of themselves are not powerful. It is what inspires those words.
Inspiration comes from two sources: God and Satan.
To assume that just the act of speaking words about ourselves to transform our thinking and achieve success has power, in and of itself, is to deny the power of God.
And this is danger we face when, as God’s children, we adopt this practice of positive affirmations.
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, say things that sound godly, but their very lives deny God’s power.
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4. It is a technique for self-improvement
The central message of the gospel is that we cannot save ourselves. There is nothing we can do to help ourselves – we are hopelessly and helplessly lost.
There is nothing in us from which we can improve, and we certainly cannot improve ourselves.
Any worth and worth we have is in the fact that God created us.
Any significance we have is because of the blood of Jesus Christ.
Scripture has this to say about us: “The LORD looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God. They have all turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is none who does good, no, not one.” Psalm 14:2-3
This is repeated in Psalm 53.
Jeremiah says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9
If we think that that any words of man – who lacks goodness apart from God and who is at the very center of his being deceitful and desperately wicked – can improve upon our situation, we are not only wrong…
We have exalted the power of man above the power of God.
We are putting our faith, hope, and trust in the words of fallen man, and trusting in our own power for success.
Do we not see how this offends God?
5. It has its roots in New Age, eastern religions, Buddhism, and yoga
Anytime I see a new trend like this explode in society, I like to go back and look at the origins of that trend, and here’s why.
While some may argue that as long as we use an activity as worship to God, it’s not important where that activity originated. Example: yoga
Some say that s long as we use yoga only as exercise, or we meditate on Scripture and worship God while doing yoga, it’s not bad.
But God said this: “When the LORD your God cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell in their land, take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way; for every abomination to the LORD which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods. Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.” Deuteronomy 12:29-32
We are not to borrow their activities and turn them into worship of God. God has already prescribed in His Word how He wants us to worship Him, how we are supposed to live as dedicated children of God.
We are not to borrow activities from the world – no matter how good and nice they seem – and adopt them as our own personal practices.
Beware of using the Bible as a replacement for affirmations
The temptation would be, now, to take the concept of positive affirmations and “Christianize” it.
Taking the nice, positive, self-affirming, and uplifting verses of the Bible and making them our main focus, while speaking them over ourselves to make ourselves feel good.
For every nice, positive, and affirming verse in the Bible is a verse that reminds us that without Christ we are nothing and nobody.
Without Him, we are lost.
“…at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” Ephesians 2:12
For every nice, positive, and affirming verse in the Bible is a verse that reminds us that there is nothing in us that is good, our heart is corrupt, and everything we do apart from Christ is only worth of a dung heap!
“But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. Isaiah 64:6
Yes, we need to know who we are in Christ, but we also must understand that being in Christ comes with certain responsibilities.
Being in Christ means that we live a crucified life.
It means that God’s Word is the final authority for every decision and activity.
Knowing who we are in Christ is realizing that as a child of God we must make decisions that reflect our royal lineage, we must reject those things that are in not in line with who we are as a royal son and daughter of God.
Embracing our identity in Christ means embracing more than good feeling.
It means embracing a life of sacrifice, commitment, loyalty to Scripture, and submission to God’s supreme authority over our life.
These verses are not meant to stroke ourselves and affirm ourselves, but to renew our mind so that our mind, our world-view and our entire life is in alignment with God’s Word.
“…and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:20-21
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- Rosilind, a Pacific Northwest native, is a missionary living in Croatia and married to her hero. Together they live in the country with their 2 active boys where she enjoys fruity candles and a hot cup of herbal tea on a blustery fall evening. She holds an Associates of Practical Theology and is passionate about discipling and encouraging women. Her passion for writing led her to author a number of books. She is the author of A Little R & R where she encourages women to find contentment in what God created them to be. She can also be found at these other places on a regular basis. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google +.