Why I Can Say “No”

This past Monday night, as I was reading over my Bible passage for our family’s Bible Time, I saw a verse that has quite possibly changed my life. When I was copying this verse earlier that day I didn’t really think much about it, but in God’s sovereignty when I saw it that night I knew what it meant for me.

But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. Romans 14:23(emphasis mine)

Romans 14 is about how strong Christians should respond to weaker Christians who believe that a Biblical “gray area”is sin. Things that fall under this umbrella could be drinking wine, working on a Sunday, etc. Like many other Christians, I’ve struggled with what exactly this passage means. I won’t be writing a post on the whole chapter or its correlating passages today, just the one verse.

Over the last four years of my life, as I’ve become a teenager and been allowed to watch and read different types of materiel, I’ve had to make choices. Sometimes I’ve made the wrong choice. I’ve continued a book or movie or episode even though there was more explicit language or content than I should have exposed myself to. Those times have continued to haunt me as a Christian. I’ve asked for and received forgiveness of course, but the memory of not being willing to say “no” has tormented me for a long, long time.

In almost all of the cases, I’ve hesitated about reading or watching the particular book or show. I try to be very aware of any sinful content in movies I watch and try to listen to people who’ve read books before me for clues as to what will be in then. Hence, I normally have a good idea of whether or not I should “pick it up” or “turn it on”.

But I hesitate. I hesitate because  it’s probably something I really, really want to watch or read. It’s something that’s been recommended to me or is similar to other things I’ve enjoyed. Up until I read this verse, I didn’t think much about the hesitation I experienced. I thought it was simply because I might be an indecisive person. It wasn’t. It was the Holy Spirit, and on more occasions than not, I ignored Him.

After I finished watching a movie or reading a book that I’d hesitated over, I would feel terrible, almost sick to my stomach. I was sickened with myself for sinning in this way and I couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t say no. Why did I  partake in entertainment that I knew violated my beliefs- my conscience? I would ask the Lord to give me the strength to say “no” the next time something like this came up.

When I read that verse with new eyes Monday night, when I saw the words, “But whoever has doubts is condemned..” I knew. I knew what was wrong with me.

I didn’t have the guts to say “no” because I didn’t have anything to base my objections on.

I believe in the supremacy of Scripture. I believe that it is the inerrant, inspired Word of God, and that it is what I need to go to for everything I deal with in life. Up to this point, I hadn’t had a place in Scripture that I could go to to remind myself that my hesitation was from the Holy Spirit. I didn’t have a passage I could use to “defend” (in the kindest sense) my reasons for not viewing or reading certain things.

But now I do. Now I know exactly why I will refuse things. I will say “no” because is is violating the Holy Spirit. And I’m not going to do that. I’m going to start listening and start obeying. I’m going to stop ignoring my Lord and King, and I’m not going to be afraid to say so when people ask me why.

Because I’m a Jesus Freak. A daughter of the King. I’ve been saved by grace alone, through faith alone, by God alone.

People have told me that I refuse to partake in  entertainment that contains a lot of gore, foul language, sin-glorifying, or inappropriate content because I’m naïve or immature or afraid.

This is untrue. I may be those things in other areas, but in this particular field, I am very, very sure of my stance. I know what God has shown me through His Word about what happens when my intake of those types of sins occurs often. I know what those images, words, and sounds do to my head and my soul. They eat away at me and tempt me to sin.

I’m not afraid of what some people call “adult” content because I think I’m too young. I’m simply obeying the Lord and fleeing temptation. I’m  getting away from what I know is wrong- is sin- for me to see or hear.

The only thing I’m afraid of is sinning against a Holy God. Why would I want to harm the One who has saved me from His wrath and taken the punishment I deserve so very much. Why would I want to disobey my Heavenly Father? Why wouldn’t I want to flee temptation?

Since I’ve read that passage of Scripture, I know that I can smile, shake my head, and say “no” to myself, a friend, an adult, a book, a movie, a writing idea, anything. Why?

Christian freedom isn’t about being able to say “yes” to anything and everything because God will forgive me. It’s about being able to say “no”, because I know that I don’t have to try to find fulfillment in worldly things ever again. My fulfillment, my joy, my life, is in the God of the Bible, my Savior Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit that gives me that feeling of hesitation to keep me safe. He gives me that hesitation to remind me that saying “no” to sin and “yes” to God is going to bring me more satisfaction than  I could ever receive from the world and its foolish pleasures.

I think “no” just might become one of the most freeing words I know.

“As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” 2 Corinthians 7:9-10 (emphasis added)

-Sarah

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