I’ve talked about false teachers here in general terms. I saw a post on facebook tonight about a new book from a popular “prosperity preacher” called “the power of I am.” I clicked on it, expecting to read about The Great I Am. Instead I read all about uplifting one’s self. Words from a millionaire speaker who calls himself a preacher.
Oh, how it breaks my heart to think of the people who are being kept in bondage by this preacher telling them that they can pull themselves up out of the mire through the power of positive thinking.
Friends, this could not be more wrong. The saddest thing is that there is a way to have peace in all circumstances, but it involves a Holy God and not positive thinking.
I know there are people who have refuted his teachings far more eloquently than I, but I just couldn’t let this go tonight. So, here are some of the fundamentally flawed beliefs behind this teaching.
Myth: God’s love is conditional
No one actually says this outright, but it’s the underlying assumption behind the self-affirmation teachings. And I get it. In the world, that’s the only kind of love we know. We have people who love us because we’re beautiful, funny, talented, valuable to them, wealthy, successful. People love us when, and if, we have something to offer them. It’s what we know.
We get so used to it that we start to pull God down to our level.
We preach affirmations to ourselves. It seems like every other blog post and speaker these days is telling us all about how awesome we are. How God loves us because we’re all so beautiful.
The truth is, I’m not beautiful. And no, I’m not even talking about my overweight self. 1 Samuel 16:7 says, “For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
We like to say people are good at heart, but that’s lie. There is nothing beautiful about my heart. It’s black and ugly and sinful. Deceitful above all things.
It’s true God loves me. He loves me so much that He sent His son to die for me, while I was yet in sin.
He doesn’t love me because I’m good. Or because I’m beautiful. Or because of any single thing about me.
He loves me because it’s His nature. He is love. He is gracious and merciful. That’s why He loves me–because He is good. It has absolutely nothing to do with me, and everything to do with Him. It’s completely undeserved and could never be earned. It is unconditional.
And I’m so glad. Because if I had to earn it, I would fail. Every. Single. Time.
Myth: God wants you to be comfortable
God’s deepest desire for us is not our comfort. In fact, sometimes we need to be uncomfortable. We need to feel our depraved state. We need to be uncomfortable enough to recognize our need for Him. The hot message these days is all about grace, but it’s cheap grace. The minute a person begins to feel conviction, there are thousands of writers and teachers just waiting to tell them not to feel bad about themselves because it’s not their fault, they can’t help it, and they are perfect just the way they are.
We should never be comfortable in our sin. God chastens those He loves. Conviction is a necessary step to salvation. Recognizing that we are sinful, and mourning for our sin is a necessary step. It’s hard, and it hurts. But we have to come to that point of being broken and at the end of ourselves, and seeing what we truly are without Him.
We can’t skip over those things in the name of comfort. And that message isn’t doing anyone any favors.
Myth: God wants you to have worldly success
Some people will have worldly success. I’m not saying success is bad, just that God has a higher perspective than we do. Jesus cautioned His followers to store up their treasures in Heaven, and not on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. He calls us to deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Him. Does that sound like someone whose biggest desire for us is happiness, health, and success in this world?
God’s ways are not our ways. Our ways are so small. Our vision is so limited. We are thinking in terms of comfort for tomorrow, and He is thinking in terms of eternity.
Myth: God wants you to praise…you
I admit I haven’t read the entirety of this book. I’ve seen the promo stuff on the website, and read the excerpt provided for free. It’s all about me, me, me, me, and me. Yes, there are some token references to scripture, but over and over we are told to constantly remind ourselves how awesome we are. “I am a masterpiece.” “I am successful.” “I am strong.”
I’m not strong. God is strong. His strength is perfect in my weakness. He deserves all my praise.
I once read a quote: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself. It’s thinking of yourself less.” So true! That’s what we should be doing. I’m not saying we should walk around beating ourselves up. If you’re lost, I pray the Lord will help you to take off the blinders and see yourself clearly. If you are saved, I hope for the same thing–that you would realize that we have nothing to boast in but Christ.
All through the Psalms, David mourned his sinful heart and lifted praises to God. This is basic, basic stuff.
Myth: Positive thinking solves everything
This book and author is preaching what tons of humanist, secular speakers are preaching.
Read over these declarations every day. Get them down in your spirit. Meditate on them. They may not all be true right now, but as you continue to speak them, they will become a reality.
He then goes on to list several positive affirmations and declarations such as: I am prosperous. I am successful. I am healthy. I am energetic. I am in shape. I am qualified. There are many more on the list.
Friends, we cannot take God out of the picture and replace Him with new age mysticism and the power of positive thinking. I don’t want to be the God of my own life! Yet that is exactly what he suggests: Believe in yourself and you can do anything. Embrace your destiny and do what you want to do. Envision yourself succeeding and you will. You are awesome and you can do this all on your own.
This is a lie straight from the devil. You cannot lift yourself out of the pit of sin or its power and effects on your life. Not with any amount of positive thinking.
But there is a savior who can.
We need less of “the power of I am” and more of The Great I Am.