Saying NO to other people remains a pretty challenging endeavor in my life. However, there is something that I find far more difficult: Saying NO to myself!
Our pastor recently encouraged us to focus again on saying NO to our own flesh as we keep reaching for the things God asks of us.
This is a powerful call to action and something any warm blooded Christian would agree to in a heart beat (that is when you’re sitting in the pew and everybody around you also agrees enthusiastically)
Unfortunately the church pew is not where we live out the truth of our conviction.
Soon after the above mentioned “call to action” I found myself head-on with my infamous “flesh” or “sinful nature”. In those moments, I knew exactly what I had to do but I didn’t want to!
It’s started in my quiet time: I was bringing an old wound before God that had just been ripped open; bitterness and anger came oozing out. I wanted revenge, but He suggested forgiveness. I didn’t want to!
Later that same morning I started thinking about a certain snack. Soon after I found myself holding the particular snack in my hand. I knew I had no business eating it. I clearly heard the Holy Spirit nudging me to simply throw it away… I didn’t want to!
It was then that the previous day’s sermon came back to me. Here I was, my flesh rising up in all its glory, and the battle was on!
What about you? Can you say NO to YOURSELF?
We are getting pretty good at saying NO to others these days (thanks to the Boundaries books:) and our awareness of the enemy’s schemes are growing as we educate ourselves on resisting and rebuking the enemy.
But what about that little voice inside of us crying out “I don’t want to!”
We live in a society where we all have rights, we all want to rule our own lives, and nobody wants to be bossed by anybody. However, this is not the way God created us; we are either ruled by GOD or by SIN. We have to choose. You can read all about this in Romans 8: 5-15
Let’s face it though, saying NO to yourself without the Holy Spirit’s help is excruciating, and frankly futile. Even if we muster up the courage to resist our flesh in certain areas of our lives, there are always those weak places where our flesh keeps getting the upper hand (hence the low success rate of diets)
So how do you say NO to yourself?
The same way you say NO to the enemy: SURRENDER TO GOD!
Start by being honest with yourself. Stop for one second next time you find yourself at that crucial place of decision making, and ask yourself this: Why can’t I say NO?
- That place where you’re either buy a bag of chocolates… or the bag of peaches.
- That specific moment in time when you either start thinking negative thoughts about a person who hurt you… or reject those thoughts and choose to forgive.
- That crucial point where you decide to either watch TV till 1:00 am in the morning, knowing very well that it steals your time and it will affect your work and family life the next day… or spend time with God and turn in early.
The answer might very well be … “I don’t want to”
Now you might not be ready to put down the remote or the expensive purchase yet, but at least stop and cry out to God IN THAT MOMENT.
Try this prayer “God I’m honest with you: I don’t want to let go of this thing. I know it’s harmful to me. I know it breaks every promise I’ve made to myself, but still…I don’t want to. Please change my heart. Take away the desires that is not of you. Help me grow in you and make time for you so that my desires will start to change, so that I will start to want YOU above all else!”
It’s not an easy prayer and it will take a brave woman like yourself to pray it, but I believe you can do it!
Please know that you’re not a horrible person if you can’t say NO just yet. It takes time. It’s like a muscle that you have to keep flexing, a little more every day, until it becomes strong. I have to DAILY starve that “I don’t want to” voice in me and flex my NO-muscle so that my spirit can grow and I can desire God above all else.
It comes as no surprise that it all starts in the mind! If you can say NO to the thought before it turns into action, you have won the fight! Start by saying NO to only one sinful thought today, then two tomorrow… and before you know it you are setting your mind on God ALL THE TIME!
Romans 8: 5 Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.
I love how Beth Moore puts it when she refers to David’s sin with Bathsheba in her study A heart like His:
” The gap between wanting and getting is where we must flex the muscle of self-control to protect ourselves. David had risen to a position where his every wish was someone else’s command. He had ceased to hear a very important word – one without which integrity cannot be maintained . The word is NO.”
My dear friend, may we learn to say NO to others when it’s appropriate, and may we say NO to the enemy when he tempts us, but most of all MAY WE LEARN TO SAY NO TO OUR OWN FLESH ALL THE DAYS OF OUR LIVES, so we can become strong in spirit and follow in the footsteps of the mighty women of old.
I love you ladies,