Affirmations are popular and seen as helpful “positive” messages to boost confidence. But there is much more to it than that.


I received a message from someone who wrote this:


Management at my work has been kind of obsessed with “positive thinking” or “positive affirmations” and so they send out videos encouraging us to prepare mentally for our day ahead and to make it a great day. Nothing inherently wrong with that per se. But today at our monthly staff meeting, they had us watch the following video and asked us to say the phrases out loud.


To “mentally prepare for the day” can be quite innocent, depending on what is meant by that, and how it is to be done. The fact that the employees were asked to say the phrases aloud from this video is disturbing. They are being asked to repeat what are called affirmations.


Affirmations come out of the New Thought movement, specifically from Ernest Holmes, who co-founded The Church of Religious Science (now called Centers for Spiritual Living). Holmes believed that there are certain “spiritual laws” which we can manipulate to our advantage. New Thought, which claims to be Christian, is all about misreading the Bible to find formulas for the purpose of controlling one’s circumstances. This is based on the belief that humans are inherently divine and have such powers once they awaken to this reality.


Holmes was an inspiration to Christian minister Norman Vincent Peale, who studied Holmes’ teachings and turned that into his bestseller, “The Power of Positive Thinking,” based on New Thought principles.


What is an Affirmation?

An affirmation is not just a positive thought or statement. By definition, an affirmation is a statement (or thought) repeated and believed in order to manifest what it affirms. Notice that affirmations are usually in the present tense (or should be). This is because an affirmation is not a wish or a hope, which is viewed as tentative and therefore possibly not effective. Affirming a desire as real is supposed to manifest it.


The New Age adopted affirmations from New Thought, and they are very popular. New Age teacher Louise Hay (d. 2017) is known for her teaching of affirmations, and her popularity introduced them into the culture at large. Affirmations caught on in a big way through self-help and motivational teachings and continue to sell well as an appealing idea in books and online. They pop up on social media like a plague. Affirmations are often taught in conjunction with visualization techniques.


The Video

Here is a quote from the video that the inquirer mentioned at the beginning of this article and was told to watch at his workplace:


“I understand that my thoughts and visions create my future, therefore, I intend to only think positive thoughts throughout the day.”


What many do not realize is that this “positive thinking” is not about being positive in the sense of confidence, nor is it thinking in a positive manner so as to impress someone that you are a “can-do” person.


Positive thinking, which includes the practice of affirmations, is an occult technique, using the mind and words as a magical tool to manifest into reality that which one desires. In other words, this is a tool of mental sorcery. Affirmations are just one form of it and are the most widespread in the culture, and even found in the church.


Thinking on who God is, his promises, or what Christ has done as a way to remind one’s self of a biblical truth for encouragement or comfort is not an affirmation as described and warned about here. This is simply a way to renew biblical truth in the mind and build faith. The problem with New Age affirmations is that they are a technique designed to make something happen in reality.


What is the Alternative?

The only alternative is to know the truth that we are not divine and cannot control our destiny. God is the Creator and has his own purposes for creation, and for you. One is that he wants you to know his son, Jesus Christ, who came to reconcile man to God through faith.


“This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.” 1 Timothy 2:3-6


We are all born separated from God because we want our will, not God’s will. We live life according to our desires, putting us in opposition to God. We can never atone for this, even if we realize it is wrong. The penalty for this opposition is the “second death,” eternal separation from God. Jesus came to pay that penalty for that opposition and offer eternal life to all those who want to reconcile with God through belief in Jesus Christ. He calls all to trust and rest in him.


“He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:18


Jesus is the promised “rest.”


“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30


“For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.” Hebrews 4:10


The offer of eternal life is beyond anything conjured in an affirmation.


“….but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14



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