Is autosuggestion God's way? Should Christians use positive thinking? This article answers these questions.
IS AUTOSUGGESTION God's way of positive thinking? I have before me a book entitled, Self-Mastery Through Conscious Autosuggestion. The author offers this as a way of positive thinking: "Every morning before getting up and every evening as soon as you are in bed, shut your eyes, and repeat twenty times in succession, moving your lips, and counting mechanically on a long string with twenty knots, the following phrase: 'Day by day, in every way, I am getting better and better.' Do not think of anything particular, as the words 'in every way' apply to everything." You may have heard this type of thinking called "bootstrapism" — trying to pull yourself up by your own boot straps — in other words, trying to improve and overcome with your own power. The author goes on to make these statements: "... autosuggestion... may be defined as the implanting of an idea in oneself by oneself... autosuggestion is nothing but hypnotism as I see it ...THE WILL MUST NOT BE BROUGHT INTO PLAY IN PRACTICING AUTOSUGGESTION." The author labels autosuggestion for what it is — self-hypnotism! Notice that the will must not be used. It is suppressed!
When a person does not exercise will power — when he does not resist evil — he is opening himself to demon influence (Jas. 4:7). Autosuggestion, then falls into the category of divination, witchcraft, and those who deal with familiar spirits — demons! Notice what God says about those who practice such things: "There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer [one who deals with magic). For all that do these things are an ABOMINATION unto the LORD... " (Deut. 18:10-12). God is against autosuggestion! Satan has deceived many people into thinking autosuggestion is a harmless method of improving self, when in reality, it teaches the suppression of one's will, and when practiced to its full extent, opens a person's mind for a demon (or demons) to enter. This can happen when God's Holy Spirit is not USED to help us exercise will power, resist evil, and build character. The world is full of weak-willed, demon-influenced and possessed people who have believed and practiced such methods as autosuggestion.
Why Are We Negative?
Human nature is normally hostile toward God (Rom. 8:7). God the Father sent His Son to this earth to set the example of how we should live and think. We are to follow that example (I Pet. 2:21). Jesus Christ came to this earth to show us that it is possible to OVERCOME this human nature and be saved — be changed to immortal spirit beings and inherit God's nature (I Cor. 15:50-53). Battling against and overcoming our human nature is God's way for us to build character — Godly character. God is creating sons after His own kind! Creating character takes time and free moral agency. We are not robots. We have human minds with the God-given ability to choose which way we shall go. There is a right way and there is a wrong way to live and think. God made human beings subject to vanity (Rom. 8:20). A carnal, unconverted mind is motivated by vanity. Human vanity is selfish, and selfishness is NEGATIVE. It causes a person to be puffed up or vain about himself. Lucifer, who was one of the highest of the angelic beings, created perfect, became vain (puffed up) about his beauty and brightness (Ezek. 28:17). He rebelled against God and became Satan the Devil. Lucifer was a spirit being (not flesh and blood) and he had vanity. Human vanity is the same — rebellious and sinful. There is a law of the flesh, a downward pull, that leads a person to do what he thinks is right (Rom. 7:23; Prov. 14:12). In other words, God has put within our fleshly members a natural tendency to sin. Read what the works (or habits) of the flesh are in Galatians 5:19-21. When God calls us and opens our minds to understand His truth (John 17:17 — the Bible), He then expects us to fight against the lusts of our flesh and crush out vanity. In this process of resisting sin (the breaking of God's Commandments — I John 3:4), battling daily against the lusts of our flesh, Godly character is created. With the help of God's Spirit, received after baptism, the very nature and mind of God is being created within us (Gal. 5:22-23). What does all this have to do with positive thinking? This process of building character is also a process of positive thinking, GOD'S WAY, a process of bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ (II Cor. 10:4-5)! This is a terrific fight! A fight to control your mind — to rule yourself and not let your carnal mind rule you!
Positive Thinking — GOD'S WAY
As usual Satan has a counterfeit for God's Truth. God does teach that we should be positive-thinking Christians, having faith and courage, looking to Him at all times. Notice Colossians 3:2: "Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth." A better rendering, as the marginal reference shows, is, "SET YOUR MIND on things above.... " God says you must SET YOUR MIND. You must exercise will power to do this. God has made us free moral agents, not robots, and we must choose and then set our minds (our wills) to do something (Deut. 30:19). Remember Satan's way is to repeat — "Day by day, in every way, I am getting better and better" — until you convince yourself you ARE. What is the fallacy in this? God says the big "I" must die! "For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God... Mortify [put to death] therefore your members [lusts of the flesh] which are upon the earth... " (Col. 3:3, 5). A true Christian has been buried in the waters of baptism. Self has symbolically been buried and a new man comes up to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:3-6.) What it boils down to is this. In order to think positively God's way, a person must be converted. What is true conversion? It is being deeply broken up and repentant, sincerely sorrowful about your sins and coming to see that your natural, physical, carnal mind is selfish and wicked! Notice how vile Jesus Christ said the human mind really is: "And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart [or mind] of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these evil things come from within, and defile the man" (Mark 7:20-23). We have ALL been guilty of thinking and dwelling on these filthy things! Our human mind is desperately wicked (Jer. 17:9)! Once we realize this and repent of what we are — and we are basically what we think — this evil mind can be changed. Then we can begin to think cleanly, properly, righteously. We can begin to think positively GOD'S WAY. The proper procedure to attain positive thinking God's way is given in Acts 2:38 — "... Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Once you have received the Holy Spirit of God by the laying on of hands (Acts 8:17-18), you can put Romans 12:1-2 (read these verses in your Bible now) into practice in your life: "...be ye transformed [changed] by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." The Bible you have before you reveals the will of God. It is God's revelation to man. It tells us the way to live and think! Now let us notice the example of three men who knew how to think positively God's way.
King David's Example
David was a man after God's own heart (Acts 13:22). This means that David pleased God in the way he lived and thought. When David sinned, he really REPENTED AND CHANGED (Ps. 51)! His worship, obedience and service pleased God. David's attitude toward God is the attitude God wants us to have. Notice David's attitude toward life aid the trials he encountered. He was a positive thinker — God's way: "I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved" (Ps. 16:8). Grasp the feeling and emotion David must have put into that statement — "... I shall NOT be moved!" David had CONFIDENCE IN GOD, not in himself "The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower... It is GOD that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect" (Ps. 18:2, 32). David looked to God for everything including physical strength and protection. He prayed often and meditated on God's laws continually (Ps. 55:17; 1:2). This is THE WAY David thought positively — THE WAY he overcame discouragement! He kept his mind on his purpose in life, on his goal Many of God's people get discouraged when God keeps His promise to them and gives trials and tests to help them grow — to help them build character — to help them become God! Here is the proper positive attitude — "Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all" (Ps. 34:19). This is a promise from God that you can stake your life on! You WILL have afflictions but if you will trust God and obey Him, He will deliver you! With that promise from the infallible Word of the Almighty God, there is no room for discouragement — which is lack of faith in God! There is only room for positive thinking — God's WAY, which is exercising faith in God! David asked himself this question — "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God..." (Ps. 42:5, 11; Ps. 43:5). God is asking us that same question — why are you discouraged and depressed? There is no reason to be. Set your mind on God and hope in Him, as David did. Let's follow his example of positive thinking. on God!
The Apostle Paul's Example
Paul suffered more trials and tests than most of us ever will. (Read II Cor. 11:23-28.) But look at the attitude this deeply converted man maintained through all of them, "... I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things [physical things), and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ" (Phil. 3:8). Paul was willing to suffer anything to be in the Kingdom of God — "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Rom. 8: 18). Yet some have not only compared their sufferings with the Kingdom of God, but some have gone astray. They have LEFT THE FAITH — given up the Kingdom of God because they weren't willing to repent, look to God for strength, and overcome! We need the positive attitude of the Apostle Paul — "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose" (Rom. 8:28)! If you understand the plain Truth of God, that you can now become His very own Spirit-begotten son and some day His Spirit-BORN son, you are one of the called. And, if you love God (keep His Commandments), then you have God's promise that everything that happens to you will work out for your good! Why doubt the inspired Word of God? BE POSITIVE. Step out on faith and take God at His Word! Here's how Paul did it — "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Gal. 2:20). Paul was crucified with Christ — buried symbolically in a watery grave — baptized for the remission of his sins (Rom. 6:3-6). He came up out of the water a new man, had hands laid on him, received the Spirit of God and then Jesus Christ lived in Paul, guided, helped, inspired him through the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul was then able to live a different, positive, obedient life by the faith of Jesus Christ in him. Jesus Christ does not change (Mal. 3:6). He is the same today as he was when He lived in Paul (Heb. 13:8). He will live in you in the same way He did in the Apostle Paul if you will yield to Him! You can have the same positive attitude as the Apostle Paul and say, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Phil. 4:13).
Jesus Christ — Our Example
God Himself came to this earth as a man. That man was Jesus Christ. He was human flesh and blood as we are. He had human nature. He was tempted with human carnal thoughts, yet he did not sin. "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. 4:15). Jesus Christ had the same battle you and I are having now against the down ward pull of human nature, yet He did not sin even one time! Imagine the terrific battle He fought with Himself! How was He able to do it? Hebrews 5:7 gives the answer — "Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him [God the Father) that was able to save him from death.... " The answer is that Jesus Christ got His strength from God the Father, THE SOURCE OF ALL POWER! Jesus Christ could have failed in His purpose of becoming our Saviour and qualifying to rule over this earth. He could have sinned — but He DIDN'T! He got down on His knees and shed tears, praying so fervently and earnestly that blood vessels burst — "... and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood" (Luke 22:44)! He set His mind on God the Father and prayed with His whole being! This is positive thinking — Gods WAY! Jesus Christ said, "I can of mine own self do nothing... " (John 5:30). Jesus Christ is our ultimate example. He thought positively by setting His mind on God the Father and asking Him for strength when He needed it. Then He said, "... not my will, but thine, be done" (Luke 22:42), and He made Himself obey His Father, who is also our Heavenly Father! Let's think positively — God's way! Let's follow Jesus Christ's example!