THERE ARE many outstanding examples of noble people mentioned in the Bible who under stressful circumstances and temptations to sin were strong enough in character to say “no.” We will consider seven of these noble examples:
(1.) Job Said “No”
Job 1 gives a description of some of the great afflictions that came upon him for his testing. But with absolute faith in God, Job said, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return hither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taketh away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (verse 21). “In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly” (verse 22).
Job 2: 1-8 records that God allowed Satan to afflict Job personally “with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown” (verse 7). “Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die” (verse 9). “But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips” (verse 10).
No wonder that Job is one of God’s Ancient Worthies (James 5: 10, 11)! He was under the most unfavorable circumstances and adverse besetments and deprivations to say “no” to the temptations from his wife and counselors.
(2.) Joseph Said “No”
By jealousy Joseph was sold into slavery by his own brothers. We read in Genesis 39 that Potipher, an officer of Pharoah, bought Joseph and finally made him overseer in his house, and all that he had. But one day he was put to a great temptation. “His master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me” (verse 7).
“But he refused, and said unto his master’s wife, Behold, my master wotteth [knoweth] not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand; there is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (verses 8, 9). Day by day she enticed him, but “he hearkened not unto her” (verse 10).
Joseph had the courage to say “no” to her demands even though he was her slave; and as a result through her treachery he was cast into prison. But God was with him, and in due time exalted him next to Pharoah to be the ruler over all Egypt, and He wrought great deliverance through him.
(3.) Moses Said “No”
Moses is another strong character who in the face of great odds dared to say “no.” As the adopted son of Pharoah’s daughter he might have been the future ruler of Egypt, but we read of him in Hebrews 11: 24-27: “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharoah’s daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the [typical] reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.”
(4.) Ruth Said “No”
We read in Ruth 1 that Naomi’s husband and two sons died while they were sojourning in the land of Moab and that she was left with her two son’s Moabitish wives, Orpah and Ruth. When she decided to return to the land of Judah, her two daughters-in-law accompanied her; but she urged them to return each to her mother’s house and her own people, where they might again find desirable husbands. After much weeping, Orpah, one of them, returned “unto her people, and unto her gods” (verses, 14, 15).
But Ruth said “no.” She said “Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God” (verse 16). Later on Boaz, a man of God, became her husband, and she was honored by becoming an ancestress of Jesus.
Thus God highly rewarded and honored Ruth because she said “no” to the worshipping of heathen gods and to staying with her father and mother in her native land, and trusted fully in God and preferred to dwell with His people.
(5.) David Said “No”
In 1 Samuel 26 we have the account of David’s saying “no” to a very subtle suggestion to do evil. It occurred during the seven years of his experiences as a fugitive from the envy and hatred of King Saul. David with a trusted companion, Abishia, went into Saul’s camp. King Saul and his army were sleeping, and they could have murdered Saul in his sleep and escaped without detection had they chosen to do so. But because of David’s respect for God and his loyalty to Him, he recognized that God was the King of Israel, that God had set Saul in his position, and even though God had anointed David to be Saul’s successor, He had all the power necessary to dethrone Saul and to bring David to the throne in His own way.
To make the test even stronger Abishia suggested that he carry out the murder of Saul, so that the entire matter might have been done without David’s participation. But David knew that Abishia would not act without his consent, so he recognized that the responsibility would still be his. He said “no,” “The LORD forbid that I should stretch forth mine hand against the LORD’S anointed” (verse 11).
What a wonderful lesson is here illustrated! Not only are we ourselves not to do unrighteousness, not to speak evil, not to think evil, not to do evil toward friend or foe; but we should be so heartily in sympathy with this procedure that if another proposes to do an evil in our interests, we would be so in sympathy with the Divine will and the law of brotherly love that we would oppose the act with all our energy.
(6.) Daniel Said “No”
We note the case of Daniel in Daniel 6. King Darius had organized the kingdom of the Medes and Persians under 120 princes, with three presidents over these, of whom Daniel was first (verses 1, 2). The king even thought to set Daniel over the whole realm (verse 3). The other presidents and princes became very jealous of him and sought occasion against him, but could find no error or fault in him (verse 4). So they plotted Daniel’s destruction by deceiving the king into signing an unalterable decree that whoever would ask a petition of any god or man for thirty days, except of the king, would be cast into the den of lions (verses 4-9).
But Daniel said “no” to the king’s demand. He continued his practice of praying to God three times a day (verse 10). Then Daniel’s jealous enemies found him praying (verse 11), and forthwith reported the matter to Darius. The king had no choice but to deliver Daniel to the lion’s den. The king went to his palace and passed a sleepless night fasting (verse 18). He arose early in the morning, went to the lion’s den and to his joy discovered that God had delivered him. Then Darius gave to Daniel’s accusers the same fate they had plotted for Daniel. What a wonderful example we have in Daniel!
(7.) Jesus Said “No”
Immediately after His baptism at Jordan, Jesus was led into the wilderness by the holy spirit. He realized that He had a special mission in the world, and He wished to be away from all others and every distracting thing, that He might confer with His Father alone. After 40 days of prayer, fasting, study and meditation on the Law and the Prophets, “he was afterward an hungred” (Matthew 4: 2). It was then that Satan came to Him with three subtle temptations.
Satan’s three subtle temptations were the following: (1) that Jesus use the power of the holy spirit to satisfy His physical hunger; (2) that Jesus bring Himself and His mission to the attention of the people by performing a stupendous miracle; and (3) that if Jesus cooperated with Satan, Satan would give Him all the kingdoms of the world. But Jesus in full loyalty to His Father made no compromise with the Adversary. His answer to all three temptations was “no,” and He promptly referred to the Scriptures, replying “It is written.”