A random internet search on the phrase “positive thinking” uncovered a plethora of websites that promised
- “the ability to create positive mental states you can summon instantly on command;”
- tools that promised to “deliver the maximum value from positive thinking, so that you can overcome the negative thoughts that are holding you back and allow your self-esteem to rise naturally”;
- an “eWorkbook” that will deliver a “permanent cure for your worries” and “the life you want – guaranteed” as you learn how to “harness your personal power… now you can be on the way to achieving your dreams in just minutes.”
By contrast, in Romans 3 the Apostle Paul has even better news for you: You’re sinful wretch who deserves hell, and apart from the grace of God, there’s nothing you can do about it.
All these websites — despite their popular shiny appeal — share a fatal flaw in this philosophy of self-improvement — it can’t be done.
Take a little closer look at their claims. How do you “summon your most enabling emotional states any time you want”? What tools exist that could possibly help you “achieve your dreams in just minutes”? This kind of a philosophy is a problem trying to solve itself — which is impossible
One of my mentors explained it this way: Israel is like the Surgeon General who had been given the scalpel of God’s word to probe deeply into the human heart. The disease of sin so damages the heart that nothing short of a heart transplant will cure the disease. Israel, as the surgeon, is not immune to the disease and needs the same cure herself. But instead of radical surgery, she tries topical cures which amount to putting a band-aid on the cancer.
Or signing up for the programs at any one of these websites I quoted.
We may not have joined a website program, but we could ask ourselves the same questions. Have you tried topical cures like serving the poor, church attendance, charity and bible study without submitting to actual conversion?
The outward marks of religion are of no value unless they reflect a radical heart transplant on the inside (Romans 2). Paul says in Romans 3, take your own medicine; you, too, need a heart transplant.
For more detail and explanation, please listen to the podcast.