The Flaw in Positive Thinking (And How to Fix it)

  • I am successful

  • I am full of love

  • I am admired

  • I am courageous

  • I am more than a conqueror in Christ Jesus

Many in the world today would say “Hey, I can state the above affirmation, without the last line, thank you very much.” Yes, but it won’t be as effective. Why? Because even if you say it a million times, even if your mind acknowledges this positive affirmation as factual, your heart will barf it up. The positive affirmation will not work effectively because of one simple thing: You don’t really believe it. Deep down, you know you are flawed. Deep down, your heart understands that there is no legal basis to claim forgiveness. Most years, your resolutions are broken by February. You may be somewhat successful, but you haven’t been able to truly enjoy the success you’ve had. You may be beautiful, but you don’t always feel beautiful.
The solution lies in the gospel of grace, the answer of all answers. Because only in the gospel is the restlessness of the heart finally and completely stilled. God so loved the world that He gave His Son. That is the basis of assuring your heart that you are truly loved. That is power to eradicate guilt because there is a real legal basis for your condemnation to be set aside. If God is satisfied with the atonement of the cross, how much more your own heart.

Let’s take a step back and look at society at large. It is an undisputable fact of history that the most prosperous and wealthy nations on earth are largely founded and predicated on Judeo-Christian principals. It’s no coincidence that the Renaissance coincides with the Reformation, in which the Word of God flourished and was made widely available. When it became a la mode to reject the word of God during the so-called Enlightenment, what was the result? WWII, the Great Depression and a century bloodier than the previous twenty combined. There can be no stronger rebuke of the futility of secular humanistic philosophy as means of self-actualization.

If we are honest, look around the world, the countries with the most bondage poverty and suffering are overwhelmingly those with a bent to pagan idolatry and hostility to the word of God. This, however, is changing rapidly as the gospel of grace sweeps through massive swaths of Asia, Latin America & the Middle East.

Meanwhile, western countries appear to have achieved their apex and are even well in decline. Why? Simply because they have rejected the word of God and shamelessly embrace what the intellectual elites describe as the “post-Christian” era. The results speak for themselves.

Evidently there is at least a statistical correlation between national economic health and spirituality. But what of the individual? Only God’s grace can eradicate the lingering guilt and shame. Only the blood of Christ can cleanse us and make us righteous. His promise: “I will never leave your nor forsake you” is the anti-dote to all fear. When these truths sink in at a deeper spiritual level, the result is lives and relationships restored, beauty for ashes.

Let’s look at practical example of the power of the gospel to transform a life:


The testimony of Peter Daniels of Adelaide, South Australia is astounding. At the age of twenty-six, he was working as a bricklayer in Australia when he attended a Billy Graham crusade. Peter accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior that day in 1959. Prior to this, he had been practically illiterate, suffering from dyslexia. Without education, without literacy, coming from a broken home, having several relatives in jail or on welfare for generations, the prognosis for Peter’s career was not altogether optimistic. Yet, when he accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, something rose up on the inside of him: a realization that he was the equal of all men before God.

Peter went on a lifelong journey to “see how much money one could give away in one’s life.” First, he put a dictionary by his bed and in the bathroom. He carried a third dictionary around, asking people to explain what the words meant. Eventually, he learned every word in the dictionary. He also read 2,000 biographies during those early years. Peter started a business. The first business failed, the second failed, and so did the third. His wife pleaded with him to give up and just get a normal job. Still, he persevered, and the fourth business became massively successful with offices in Australia, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

I believe God is raising up countless numbers of people like this who are called to be salt and light in the marketplace. Peter went on to build several successful businesses, serve on the boards of several international ministries, author thirteen books and be named by Norman Vincent Peale as the best public speaker in the world. He credits his success to Christ alone.

So yes, the gospel changes everything, both at the societal and individual level. Turns out faith is extremely practical.