A Problem Saying “No”

May 01, 2021

“The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.It teaches us to say “no” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age…” Titus 2:11

Do you have a problem saying “No?”

You’re not alone. In reality, saying “Yes” too often leaves us spread thin and running on empty.

But have you ever considered the spiritual discipline of saying “No?” Resisting the pull of temptation is even harder than resisting the pull towards overcommitment.

The good news is that God’s grace equips us with the capacity to say “No” when it matters most.

God’s grace, His unmerited favor in Christ, should have a direct impact on our daily choices and behavior. Grace is meant to teach us, not just amaze us. To put it another way, grace should instruct us how to live. We are to receive a moment-by-moment education from the life-changing power of grace. 

Perhaps nothing is a greater testimony to the reality of the grace of Jesus than resisting temptation and trying to live differently than our surrounding culture. Countless temptations assail us, both internally and externally, especially in the postmodern 21st century. 

Let’s be honest. It’s one thing to know that a certain behavior is wrong. It’s far more challenging to say “No” to that same behavior and walk away from it. 

Yet, every temptation we face presents us with this choice:

  • Will we yield to enticing “worldly passions,” effectively saying “No” to Jesus?
  • Or will we say “Yes” to obeying Jesus, effectively saying “No” to the seduction of the world?    

This scenario plays out numerous times a day in all kinds of practical situations, each affording us the opportunity to demonstrate the transformative effect of grace. 

Is this easier said than done?

You bet.

It’s important to note, however, that the fight against temptation is not won by sheer willpower. Otherwise, we’re as doomed to fail as a dieter trying to resist the very tempting chocolate cake on the kitchen counter. 

First and foremost, saying “No” is a response to grace. This is why Paul reminds us that in Jesus, “grace appeared” (v.11). Jesus is literally the embodiment of grace. If our only response to His grace is a nonchalant “Thank you,” then perhaps we don’t really understand what we’ve received. We are the recipients of a grace so unbelievably astonishing that it should motivate us to surrender every aspect of our lives to Him, including our daily choices.

What’s more, the same grace that saves us, also enables us to say “No” by gradually changing us from the inside out, transforming our desires to be more aligned with His.

If you have a problem saying “No” (and I imagine you do), why not spend a few moments having an honest conversation with Jesus? Then, resolve to walk in humble obedience by saying “Yes” to Him and “No” to the lure of temptation.

Written by Jonathan Munson, Executive Director, RFTH