Strength to say No

More than 100 years ago a man living in London was converted to Christ. He became pastor of a church in the slums of London. He went to the poor, the down and out and the oppressed. He formed a little group of people called the Hallelujah Band, and he would stand on street corners and preach the Gospel. Many of the clergy were embarrassed by it all. The man was called before a conference of religious leaders, who said, “William Booth, will you go where we tell you to go? If not, you will be defrocked.” In the balcony a woman stood. She was Booth’s wife, Catherine. She said, “William, say, ‘No, never!'” And he said, “No.” That no changed history in Great Britain and in many other parts of the world, as Booth founded the Salvation Army, which has given help for both body and soul wherever it has gone.

I want to ask you a question: What is the most difficult word for young people to pronounce? It’s the word no.

There was a man in the Scriptures who said no. His name was Daniel. He “purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank” (Daniel 1:8). Daniel was a young man who had found a purpose in life. As a teenager, he had been captured by the Babylonians. He was taken to Babylon to be trained in all their ways. But Daniel refused to eat the king’s meat or drink the king’s wine, even though he knew how dangerous that refusal would be. How different Daniel was from those who can’t wait until they get away from home to live it up. Daniel was a long way from home. He could have yielded; no one back home would have known the difference. Daniel knew that it might mean death to refuse the king. This early no in Daniel’s life prepared him for the big no when he faced the den of lions (Daniel 6:4-23) and when he refused the gifts that Belshazzar promised him if he would interpret the handwriting on the wall (Daniel 5:16-17).

There’s another man in the Bible, by the name of Joseph. He also said no. Joseph was sold into Egypt and became a slave to Potiphar, who was a top man to the emperor, Pharaoh. Joseph was strong; he was handsome. And Potiphar’s wife found him appealing. She begged him to have sex with her. But he said no. Day after day she begged him, trying to wear him down. And time after time Joseph resisted and said no. One day, when everyone was out of the house, she grabbed him and said, “Come with me to bed.” Once again Joseph said no, and he pulled away. As he did, she took his coat and kept it. Then when her husband came home, she accused Joseph to her husband and said, “This slave has tried to seduce me” (Genesis 39:1-20).

Another man in the Bible who encountered a similar situation was Moses. The Bible says, “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:24-25). Moses had to make a choice, just as we have to make choices. Moses, as heir to the throne of Egypt, had the choice of accepting all the pleasures of Egypt. But one day he made a choice. Moses said no to all that was offered. He said, “I’ll go suffer with the people of God. I choose God rather than these pleasures.”

When we say no, God will help us to stand by it. He will give us courage. You say, “But the temptations are so great. I can’t resist them.” Of course you can’t. In my own strength I can’t either. We cannot live pure lives without the help of God. We need to give our lives to Jesus Christ, let Him come in and help us to live during these times of wickedness.