A self-help guru writes a book of affirmations that focuses on inner strength to define one's identity. A New Age spiritualist uses affirmations to manifest her dreams and obtain her desired lifestyle. A flashy televangelist speaks affirmations over his crowd of followers to evoke an earthly happiness rather than the eternal joy found in Christ. An affirmation is a positive statement that motivates a change in thinking or behavior.
Many affirmations are used in the situations described above. As a result, some Christians reject affirmations because of the self-centered worldview they sometimes promote. After all, it is important to understand what David wrote in Psalm 16:9 that "A person's heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps." We know that when affirmations emerge from our own thoughts, wants, or plans, without acknowledging God's sovereignty or submitting to His will, they will only bring us to a dead end. We are sinners at our cores. So, though a statement may appear helpful and good, it could come out of a rebellious heart that desires to pursue a life without God. Self-determined affirmations create an illusion that all is well, but in fact, they keep us dependent on disappointing idols and separated from the Lord's satisfying presence. Improved self-esteem, manifested dreams, or a generally positive attitude will not solve our greatest problems: sin and judgment. The solution is only found in the saving work of Jesus Christ.
In Christ's accomplishment, we find true affirmation. Through His life, death, and resurrection, Jesus defeated sin. He gifted us with faith so that we could escape judgment and enter into a life-giving relationship with God. Jesus does not give us the false and temporary encouragement that our hearts produce. Jesus gives us an everlasting delight in His character and fulfillment. This joy is real positivity that progresses us toward God-glorifying change in our lives. In this fallen world, we will still wrestle against the schemes of spiritual evil and the prideful desires of our flesh. But, with affirmations centered on Christ, our thinking and behavior will reveal the power of His salvation. We can use Scripture to meditate on God's promises and apply His truth to our hearts through truth-filled statements. In this way, affirmations can be a biblical tool to remember our new identity as children of God and help us become more like Jesus. Using practical examples, we will discuss a step-by-step way to create affirmations out of the victory Jesus Christ won and our need to be transformed by His love.
Below are four steps to creating truth-filled, God-centered statements of affirmation.
- Consider Your Fallenness
We begin affirmations by considering areas where sin has impacted us. In what ways do we feel shame, hopelessness, or weakness from the oppression of the evil around us? What are the hidden sins of our hearts that need to be brought to the light? Unlike worldly affirmations, Christian affirmations begin from a place of humility. We know that in our own abilities, we are not great, strong, or sufficient. Confess your sins and struggles in prayer or journaling.
I don't want to forgive my husband; I have been hurt so badly.
I'm not sure how this decision will turn out. I feel lost and without control.
I think I'm going to be stuck in this addiction for the rest of my life.
No one loves me or cares.
2. Establish God's Character
The next step in forming affirmations is praising God for who He is. We have just come face to face with our sin. We've declared our need for help. Now, we want to recognize the source of our help is the Lord. Spend the next moments in prayer or journaling, adoring God for His character. We can use Scripture to meditate on God's holiness, which describes how He is so different from us. We are fallen creatures, but God is great, strong, and more than capable. Establishing God's character is important so that our affirmations can be founded upon the truth of God and His constant goodness.
Truth: God is patient, compassionate, and forgiving. Verse to Reference: Exodus 34:6
Truth: Knowing all things, God is wise and sovereign. Verse to Reference: Ephesians 1:11
Truth: In God, there is freedom. Verse to Reference: 2 Corinthians 3:17
Truth: God is the Creator who delights in His creation. Verse to Reference: Psalm 149:4
3. Reflect on What God Has Done
Through Scripture, we see that God has illuminated His faithful character through Jesus's saving work. God the Father sent the Eternal Son to fully display His nature. Jesus has not only shown us God but has also reconciled us to God by His life, death, and resurrection. True affirmations reflect Christ's redemption and the newness of life it brings. Continue in prayer and journaling about the work of Jesus so that your affirmations will rest in the gospel.
Jesus paid for my debts on the cross so that I would be forgiven. The Lord is patient and compassionate with me.
The Father and Son saw and chose me before time began. God knows my future and the paths I take.
Jesus has liberated me from being a captive to spiritual evil.
God displayed His love and care for me when He took my punishment for sin and died in my place.
4. See the Goal
Now, it is time to write the affirmations! We have confessed our sins and recognized how God aids us in Christ, but it may be difficult to see how the gospel impacts our lives, especially if our situations or feelings do not change immediately. But, through gospel-centered affirmations, we see the work of the Holy Spirit. We remind ourselves that He is sanctifying us, applying Christ's salvation to our thoughts and behaviors day by day. Affirmations can help us exercise our faith in Christ. They keep us focused on the goal of believers: to walk in our new identity and live like Jesus. We can trust that at the end of our journeys, the Holy Spirit will complete us in the image of Christ. Let us write affirmations that capture such an image as we persevere in our faith.
I have the Holy Spirit who helps me be patient and forgiving toward my husband.
I trust the Lord to guide my footsteps, for He will bring me to His glory and blessing.
I am strong in Christ to resist the temptations of the enemy.
I have the Holy Spirit who enables me to pour out the love and grace God has shown me.
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