Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Does positive thinking have any power? ....................... Parables 138

Psychocybernetics: This word isn't in most dictionaries but defining each part could produce "the study of neurotic computers"!

Actually, psychocybernetics is a philosophy that was popular in the sixties. Who ever coined the name also developed the theory: Whatever you think yourself to be, that is what you will become.

Applying that, if a salesperson couldn't make sales, he just thinks of himself as sales person of the year... and he becomes just that. If an unpopular girl imagines herself the life of the party, she also becomes what she thinks herself to be. This same philosophy has dozens of other titles, most of them easier to spell.

When I was introduced to psychocybernetics, I noticed the use of Proverbs 23:7 to support it: "... as a man thinks in his heart, so is he."

As a new Christian, I was suddenly filled with doubt about my spiritual conversion. Did God change me? Or did I change myself? And if I did it, would it last?  How would I know for sure if God was real or if it was just my own mind removing my guilt and making me a better person? And what about the experiences of others? Did all Christians shape their lives by some kind of positive thinking?

Anyone who is not familiar with the claims of Jesus Christ would respond, "So What? What difference does it make as long as your life is the way you want it? After all, you are changed. Who cares who did it?"

I cared. I figured if we change ourselves, then Jesus is only a psychological catalyst who just gets us moving in a better direction, not a Savior who forgives sin and comes to dwell right inside us.

However, the Bible told me that just as a leopard cannot change his spots nor an Ethiopian the color of his skin; neither can someone who is accustomed to doing wrong begin to do good (Jeremiah 13:23). Simply put, that means I could not change myself.

The Bible also says no one can see or enter the kingdom of God unless they experience a spiritual new birth through the spirit of God. This does not happen by human decision or by the will of man but is an event entirely in the control of the Lord (John 1:13, 3:5-8).

So much for the principles, I wanted an illustration. I found it in Acts 9, the account of a man who eventually became the apostle Paul. He didn't have any intentions of becoming a Christian - nor did he have one positive thought concerning Christianity. In fact, he was on his way to Damascus with murder in mind. Suddenly he was confronted by Jesus Christ, who had other plans. Subsequently, Paul became a spiritual giant, a change he'd never consciously or subconsciously considered.

I also checked out the verse upon which this philosophy based itself, Proverbs 23:7. I discovered that it was in the context of a warning not to eat with an evil person. It said that he may bid you eat and drink but his heart is not with the actual measure of this man was not what was seen on the outside but "as he thinks in his heart, so is he."

The Lord says, "The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart . . . "

The positive thinker, without guidance from the One who knows our hearts, is in severe danger of deceiving himself. Mental Institutions are full of people who decide they are something or someone else. Every field of  endeavor has "experts" creating havoc because they only think they know everything. I know I could never think myself able to do anything than requires talent I don't have or skill I've not developed.

While it is good to have a positive rather than negative outlook on life, positive thinking has to square with reality and with the Word of God. Just as I could no more become an opera singer by deciding I was one - neither can I be made spiritually and eternally alive by merely thinking it is so. That is a transformation only God can make.

So much for psychocybernetics.

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