Charles Stanley — The Courage to Say No
The title of this message is, "The Courage to Say "No". Now most of the times we talk about the courage to say "yes". There are times when it takes courage to say "no". Do you have that kind of courage? When temptation is standing or lying or sitting right before you, when the offer of temptation is laid out before you, do you have the courage to say no, when you know that it is not right. It isn't the will of God, isn't His plan for your life. It may be a desire, but not the will of God for your life.
Do you have the courage to say no and walk away from the offer of Satan to your life? Many people do not and they find themselves in great entanglements in life because they don't have the courage to say no. They know it's not right. They know it's a temptation. They know it's not the will of God, but somehow they don't have the courage to say no. And there are some reasons which we'll talk about. So think about it in your life. Is it a habit that you have to say yes to things that you know that are not right? Are you one of those persons who has the strength, and who is sensitive to what's going on around you, and is able to discern the difference between good and evil, and the difference between the will of God and the will of the world? Do you have that or do you not?
Well, God wants us all to be courageous, because He knows we'll face times in life and situations and circumstances that it takes more than just a desire, it takes courage. So I want us to think about it for a moment. And I want us to think about first of all, two examples who had the courage to say no to a very sinful request. We know about Joseph, and we know that, he was sold by his brothers into bondage. And Potiphar bought him off the block as a slave, put him in his household, and Joseph did such a fantastic job that finally he just turned everything he had over to Joseph and let him run his household.
And so, when you turn to that thirty-ninth chapter of, Genesis, it's very interesting what happens here. And, the scripture says in the sixth verse, "Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. It came about after these events that his master's wife looked with desire at Joseph, and she said, 'Lie with me.'" And so, he refused and said to his master's wife, "Behold, with me here, my master does not concern himself with anything in the house, and he has put all that he has, all that he owns in my charge. There is no one greater in this house than I". Joseph speaking, he says, and has withheld nothing from me except you".
Now, naturally that's what Satan went after. He had control of everything in the house except one thing, and that's Potiphar's wife. He said, "He has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great evil and sin against God"? He didn't just say, "Well how could I lie with you"? He said, how could I do this great evil". That is, Joseph was wise enough to identify exactly what he thought going to bed with her was about. It was about what? Sinning against God. And so, she spoke to Joseph day after day, he did not listen to her to lie beside her or to be with her". And of course, you know the story. One day she framed him and kept his cloak and accused him of doing exactly what she asked him to do. And Joseph ended up in prison.
Well, when I think about that, I think about what a wonderful example Joseph was. He understood that where he was bought on a slave block. He remembered where he was, how God had blessed him and given him wisdom. He had the gift of organization. He absolutely controlled the household of uh, Potiphar. And now, being tempted by the devil, and immediately he said no. He had the courage to accept whatever her response might be. He made it crystal clear. I am not going to disobey God. And so he said no. Now, like the devil, she came after him day after day after day, probably dressed this way today, that way the next day, looking this way, sensuous and all of her talk, and you name it. Everything she said made no difference. Joseph said, "Absolutely not".
But look what God did. Now think about this. How many people need to listen carefully? Joseph could have gone to bed with her. He may never have been caught. But how was it being a slave in the household of Potiphar, or being the ruler over all of Egypt? And many people don't stop to think what the real choice in life is when it comes to being obedient to God. You never lose obeying God. You, listen, you take the wrong path when you disobey Him. He took the right path of absolute obedience. Not obedience for fear of being caught, obedience for loving and obeying God. Wonderful example, amen?
So another example is Daniel. Remember that Daniel was taken into Babylonian captivity, he and three of his friends, among others. The law of the land was that the king of Babylon said, "This is what I want you to do for all of these people who have been, captured and brought to Babylon. And so these young fellows were supposed to be given a particular diet that would make them good looking and very effective and so forth. And so when the keeper came to Daniel and his three friends and said, "You're to eat from the king's table". That food was offered to idols.
Well these boys came from godly people, godly parents, who believed that you should not eat meat offered to idols. That indicated that you agreed with them. And so Daniel said, "We're not going to do that. And the answer is no". But now watch this. Daniel was wise enough not only to say no, but he said, "I have a suggestion. I have an alternative. Let's have a test". And this would honor God. He said, "Let's have a test. While you feed all the rest of these young men all that meat and rest that you give from the king's table, we'll take vegetables and water. If you'll just give us a try and we'll only eat vegetables and drink water. And at the end of ten days, then you determine whether you think we look worse or we look better.
Now it took courage to do that. It took courage for him to say no. No, we're not going to do that. But he was wise enough to give him and alternative. Now watch this. I do believe that every temptation, every situation that you and I may face in life, there is always an alternative to obey God. He will always make a way. It could be costly, but He'll always make a way. So, he said to them, "Just give us ten days and let's just see," which is the wisest thing to do. At the end of ten days, Daniel and his friends looked handsome. They looked more vital in every area and seemed to be more keen about everything. And so, he escaped being forced to eat from the king's table, which was a violation of his conscience. And so, God honored that. Now examples of people who obeyed God, who had the courage to be obedient.
So I ask you a question. Do you have the courage to obey God when you're confronted with all kind of offers? It may be something sensual. It may be something financial. But people are offered all kinds of alternatives to being obedient to Almighty God. So I ask you the question. Do you have the courage to say no when you need to say no? Do you? Well why didn't you say no yesterday? Why didn't you say no several months ago and now you're paying the penalty? Did you stop to think about that there will be a cost to deliberately, willfully, knowingly disobeying God? It doesn't make any difference whether you're a Christian or not. Because if you're not a follower of Jesus and you say yes to sin, there's a penalty. If you are a follower of Jesus and you say yes to sin, there's still a penalty. So the issue is, do you have the courage to do the right thing and to say no to things that you know are not right?
Now, probably one thing that would help is if we knew the right questions to ask when we're tempted because temptation comes to everybody, one reason or the other, and it may be one of a number of things. But to say yes is a sign of weakness. To say no is a sign of strength. And so you say, "Well, what do you do in the heat of it? Whether it's to steal or whether it's something sexual What do you do in the heat of it? Well you ask some questions. Number one, what's the source of this offer? Where did this come from? Is this offer from God or is it from someone else? Must be from the devil. What's the source of it? And some things, the source of which would be very evident, you'll know.
Listen, watch this. God would never tempt you to do evil, never. Under no condition, would He ever tempt you to do wrong, under any condition. So if it's a temptation to commit sin, it is not from God. So you know right up front this is not coming from God. Watch this. When people get in situations like that, they don't want to think about God. They just want to think about the moment and what this means to me and what this will do for me for the moment. And you see, people who are spiritually blind, living in sin, do not see things in reality, they don't. They see them on the basis of what they want, what they desire. Lust of the flesh, the pride of life.
So the first question is, what's the source of this offer? The second one is this. Watch this one. What are the requirements of this offer? And this is a trap. What are the requirements of this offer? And sometimes it may appear that the requirement is just to do this or just to do that. Or make this decision or make that decision. But the requirements are more than that. Sometimes the requirement is lay down your conviction in the area of sex. Lay down your conviction in the area of money. Lay down your conviction in the area of your occupation. In other words, what's required of me? If you are a person who is honest and obedient, you have to give up something to sin against God. You have to give up your honesty. Or you give up your purity. You give up your integrity.
That is, listen, sin is not cheap. You never have sin with no expense, never. Remember that. Sin is always expensive. It may appear to some people that it's not expensive, but it is expensive. It may appear to you that, well, it wasn't expensive to him or her. Look how well they're doing for a season, only for a season. And so the question is, what are the requirements of this offer? What's it going to require of me? It's going to require of you to be disobedient to God. So here's a question. Is that worth deliberately, willfully disobeying God for? Just stop and think before you choose to be disobedient to God.
Then of course, you have to ask this question. And people don't want to ask this question. The question is, What are the consequences of this act? Most people today do not want to discuss or even consider consequences. It's the here and now. The here and now is temporary. The consequences are lasting. And people don't want to think about that. They just want to think about what brings me satisfaction for the moment? But everything that brings you satisfaction for the moment has consequences. So I ask you this question, Do you have the courage to say no in the heat of the battle? You will not do that, you will not participate in that, you will not be a part of that. That doesn't fit who you are, because if you stop to ask what are the consequences of being disobedient to God, they're always costly, not sometimes, always costly consequences of disobeying God.
So, we might ask the question, "Well, what causes people to hesitate to say no? And the first answer is very simple, and that is one of the most powerful reasons they can't say no is fear of rejection. Fear, fear of rejection is a powerful emotion. I can't stand not being liked. I can't stand not being wanted. If somebody rejects you because of your conviction, what does that say about you? It says something good about you. That you have a relationship to God that is so strong, the invitation, the temptation to sin doesn't appeal to you. A second reason is because they're afraid of losing a relationship.
Listen carefully. Anytime you lay down something God wants you to lay down, you haven't lost anything, you've just positioned yourself to be blessed of Almighty God in a way that you can't imagine. Fear of loss of finances, "If I don't do this, I'll never make enough. I'll never have enough". And so people are tempted to steal in all kinds of ways. Fear of loss of opportunity, "Well, if I don't do this now, I'll never have another opportunity". And sometimes fear of loss of opportunity will, "Well if I don't take this position, then I'll never make it". God knows about your position. And let me say this. He knows when your position is obedience, He is for you, will support you, strengthen you, put you where He wants you in spite of those who may object to you. God is in control of your life when you surrender your life to Him.
So somebody says, "Well, how do I come to this place in my life that I can say no"? I can tell you the simplest way. It works. It works for anybody and everybody, and you've heard me say it many, many times. By the way, turn to Isaiah forty-one. I just want you to read this passage with me for a moment. Isaiah chapter forty-one, listen to what he says, verse ten, "Do not fear," God speaking to Isaiah, "Do not fear. I am with you". That's Jehovah God. Watch this, "Do not fear, I am with you, do not anxiously look about you, I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you. Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand".
Behold, all those who are angered at you will be shamed and dishonored, those who contend with you will be as nothing and will perish. You will seek those who quarrel with you, but they will not find them, and those who war with you will be as nothing and non-existent". God says, "You obey Me. Let Me handle the consequences. Just trust Me. Just trust Me. Exercise your courage to say no to sin and just trust Me for the consequences".
The promise of the Word of God, meditation upon the Word of God is our greatest defense against disobeying God. What do I mean by that? Reading a portion of His Word each day, praying to Him and talking to Him. You want to walk obediently before God? You make humbling yourself before Him, reading His Word, praying, talking to Him, bringing to everything that brings to mind those situations and circumstances in which you know you need His help. Prayer and meditation is our defense.
Listen. It's our defense every day. And some days the temptation may be stronger than other days. Watch this. Watch this carefully. This fence will protect you from anything and everything, because when you're reading His Word and you're talking to Him, you are engaging God and accepting Him as your defense to face anything and everything you face in life. You don't have to say yes. You'll have the courage to say no. Because remember this, that not only is God in heaven, but when you trusted Jesus as your Savior, the Holy Spirit came to indwell you, living on the inside of you.
He's there. Listen, to remind you. He's there to not just indwell you but to strengthen you and to encourage you. You have God the Holy Spirit inside of you to encourage you to do the right thing. Listen. He not only is there to encourage you to do the right thing, He's there to empower you, enable you, strengthen you to face any temptation and say no. We can't give any excuse for sinning against God, because we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God to strengthen us, to be able to say no when we're tempted and tried to do the wrong thing.
Well, if you are seated here this morning, you've never trusted Jesus as your Savior, all of this may be a little cloudy to you because you've been living in sin, in disobedience to God and it never dawned on you, you don't have to say "Yes" to sin. But listen carefully. If you've never trusted Him as your Savior, you don't, you don't have the power and the resistance to do it. It's you verses the Devil. And so I want to encourage you to ask the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive you of your sin, surrender your life to Him, acknowledge what you're facing and tell Him today, Lord, I'm trusting you not only for my salvation. I'm trusting you for your deliverance from past way of life so that I can walk in the way you want me to walk. Amen?
And Father, how grateful we are that You loved us enough to protect us, to warn us and to give us a solution to dealing with these things. Talking to You, listening to You and obeying You. And I pray that the many, many people who will hear this message, who are going through all different types of temptations and trials, that You will speak to their heart personally. And help them to see that in their situation, whatever it is, You're there to help them, to guide them, to strengthen them. That You will enable them to say no to sin. You will enable them to say yes to Your will and purpose for their life. And I pray, Father, for those who are not saved. They've never trusted You as their Savior and they're facing all of this by themselves and they feel weak and defeated and discouraged. I pray right now they would recognize that the strength comes from Your indwelling presence. That when they receive the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior, that at that moment the strength and the courage to do what is right comes pouring into their life. I pray that every person who hears this message would say, "Yes, Lord Jesus, I'm trusting You as my Savior, believing that You died on the cross, shed Your blood for my sins. I receive You as my Savior and my keeper, Lord, not just my Savior, but my keeper all the days of my life. And I pray this in Jesus' name, amen.