Did You Say YES or NO?

Very likely, if you made a decision you said both. Because when you said YES to one alternative, you said NO to another.

The two words are hard to separate. Those who want to keep everything positive have a nearly impossible “want.”

This isn’t to deny the positive. It always feels good to affirm and approve—if it is good! But we also need the negative to survive—things we don’t eat, don’t wear, don’t do; things we don’t need, don’t want and don’t enjoy. Is this being Pharisaic? Some would say it is, but they deny reality. If we even want to live and keep safe, we keep our distance from any one or anything that might be contaminated.

Lots of need for that little word no, both physically and spiritually. And along with it, lots of need for “YES.” But when Solomon said YES to all kinds of pleasure and pride, God was getting a “NOo… NO… NO.”

YES and NO come together. One package. Take an example from Jesus:

Luke 9:23  23Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me [say YES], let him deny himself [say NO], and take up his cross daily [say NO], and follow Me.

And that isn’t all of it. Jesus said more, MUCH more:

Luke 9:24–25  24For whoever desires to save his life [say YES] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake [say NO] will save it. 25For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world [because he said YES too frequently], and is himself destroyed or lost?

Jesus condemned the Pharisees for their too frequent and insincere YESses.

Matthew 23:1–3  1Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples,

2saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3Therefore whatever they tell you to observe [say YES], that observe and do [say YES], but do not do according to their works [say NO]; for they say, and do not do.

In other words, don’t follow their example. What they SAID was better than what they DID.

What is the saying? Profession without possession is like a tree without fruit.

According to Jesus, it is very serious to say YES and then not follow up with the appropriate action. And just as serious to say NO when one should be saying YES.

The Pharisees in rejecting Jesus were turning down God’s blessing, God’s deliverance, God’s way to life. They were saying NO where they should have said a very positive and strong YES, and then followed Jesus.

But they were too loaded with pride for that! They felt superior to Jesus. They were older, better educated in the law than He. They kept that old law to the letter—and obviously it didn’t impress Jesus. To say YES to Jesus they would have had to say NO to their ego first, and that was—well, it was too much to even think about!

So what did Jesus say about them?

Matthew 23:23  23“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.

Note that last phrase:

…These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.  

Which means that both the external AND the internal matter. God sees and evaluates the WHOLE person, inside and outside.

Here is another point Jesus made about the YES and no, in this case moving from negative to positive.

John 5:24 24Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life [the promise of life], and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death [say NO]  unto life [say YES].

The apostle Paul gave an outstanding example of a YES-no-situation we all face every day. It is in Galatians 5:16 and 17,

Galatians 5:16–17  16I say then: Walk in the Spirit [say YES], and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh [say NO]. 17For the flesh lusts against the Spirit [says NO], and the Spirit against the flesh [says NO]; and these are contrary to one another [flesh against spirit, old nature against the new], so that you do not do the things that you wish.

Can you imagine Calvin using this verse to prove we are helpless creatures in sin, because we cannot do what we know we should? saying ‘you cannot do the things that you wish” means we cannot get out of this hapless, hopeless condition?

It is surprising how many translations slant the meaning that direction. The Revised English Bible keeps true to the text:

Galatians 5:16–17 (REB) 16What I mean is this: be guided by the Spirit [say YES] and you will not gratify [will say NO to] the desires of your unspiritual nature . 17That nature sets its desires against the Spirit [our nature says NO to the spirit], while the Spirit fights against it [the spirit says NO to our nature]. They are in conflict with one another so that you cannot do what you want.

It is a battle we all have to fight, one YES and one no.

Moses put it forth from God’s law, simple and straight. Two alternatives.

Deuteronomy 12:32  32“Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it [say YES]; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.

We must say YES to it just AS GOD gives it. It isn’t ours to edit or change.

Peter gives us many things to say YES to, a whole list of valuable additives for our spiritual lives (all “additives” aren’t bad!) When we think about each one, there is a built-in negative as well as a positive.

Let’s go to the first chapter of his second epistle. To be sure we get the most meaning and avoid the familiar, let us read it from the New Jerusalem Bible translation.

2 Peter 1:5–8 (NJB) 5With this in view, do your utmost

Before we go any further, don’t miss Peter’s intensity: “Do your utmost…”—give it all you have! And do what?

…support your faith with goodness,

The starting point is already on the way. You HAVE the faith, basic knowledge, conviction.

You are already recognizing a negative: when you said YES to FAITH you said NO to a host of falsehoods, confusion, and darkness. Now going forward: 

…support your faith with goodness,

Say YES to goodness—which is virtue, excellence, valor. This is saying NO to everything but the best. Then:

…[support your]… goodness with understanding.

Say YES to understanding, which brings in the application. What says the patriarch?

Job 28:28  28…Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, And to depart from evil is understanding.’ ”

To say YES to understanding is to say NO to evil. Then,

6…[support your]… understanding with self-control,

To say YES to self-control is to say NO to indulgence, instant gratifications, revenge and a whole lot more! Then,

…[support your]… self-control with perseverance,

To say YES to perseverance is to say NO to the temptation to relax, giving in or quit. Perseverance is keeping on—NO matter what! Then,

…[support your]… perseverance with devotion,

To say YES to devotion is to say NO to the critics who scorn and pervert the Word of God; it is to love the Word as from God, even when it condemns us. Then,

7…[support your]… devotion with kindness to the brothers,

Peter is intensely practical. Our goodness must SHOW in simple acts of kindness to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Who else can support them as we can, we who have a common love and a common goal? And when we say YES to kindness, we say NO to harshness, making a “pointed” remark, and maybe even say NO to our own feelings and opinions! Then,

…[support your]… kindness to the brothers with love.

Love is always the golden link at the end of the perfect life. Love, agape love, is the all-encompassing virtue. When we say YES to love, we say NO to all that is not loving, not godly, not supporting one another “in love.”

When we add agape love we say NO to animosity, unnecessary criticism, stubbornness, jealousy, envy, impatience, and a host of other undesirable traits.

What will be the result?

8The possession and growth of these qualities [saying YES to all these qualities] will prevent your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ from being ineffectual or unproductive.

You will NOT be ineffectual or unproductive—which means your spiritual life  WILL grow and flourish! That is, be effective and productive.

And the result of being productive?

Let’s go to the NKJV, to pick up another simile:

2 Peter 1:10–11  10Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent

Say YES WITH EMPHASIS, Peter says. Be even more diligent to do what?

to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble;

The election we want to win, and CAN win.

Then the grand climax of saying Yes? :

11for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Don’t we want to say YES here? Say “YES” to hearing, “Enter into the joys of your Lord”—with a grand welcome, an “abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Hear the love and honor in Peter’s words as he speaks of Jesus, the One who gave him that “second chance” when he stumbled; the one he knew in his youth. Peter was looking forward to that abundant entrance into the Kingdom of His Lord and Savior.

And we can be there with him—if we say YES to the good, and NO to the evil.

We just want to be sure we don’t say NO to eternal life because we said YES to some insignificant interest here!