by Tad Lindley
The old joke goes, “I said no to drugs, but they didn’t listen.” It was a response to Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the government trying to keep young people from getting addicted to drugs, but if you have ever been addicted to drugs or alcohol, you know that it takes more than just saying, “No.” Addictions are hard of hearing.
We need something far greater than “Just Say No.” If the government really wants something effective, how about a “Just Repent of Your Sins, Get Baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ, Receive the Holy Ghost, and Say No” campaign. I know it wouldn’t fit well on T-shirts, bumper stickers, or buttons, and it might be hard to remember, but it works. Not only does it work for staying off drugs and alcohol, but it will keep you out of the bingo hall and the card games as well. It will keep you from adultery and promiscuous living. It will bring hope and healing to the desperate, it will set you free from the pain of the past. There is nothing like it.
Just Say No in the Bible
James wrote to the church these famous words: resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7). It sounds a lot like “Just Say No.” In fact that is what it is. When we tell somebody to resist the devil, we are telling them to say, “No” to sin. If that is all we are doing, we won’t make it.
The part the Nancy Reagan left out
If you read the Bible verse it tells us to do much more than simply resist the devil. I think the reason we like to skip the front part of it is that it is too hard to do. Here is the verse in its entirety: Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7) Saying, “No” is easy, the problem is it doesn’t work unless we first submit ourselves to God.
Unfortunately most of us have trouble submitting ourselves to God. Drugs know this. Hell knows it. The Lord described it like this when he was trying to help Cain: If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it. (Genesis 4:7 NIV) Sin is crouching outside of every man’s door wanting to have us. The way to master it is to do what is right, which is to submit ourselves to God. It is only with his help that we can live free from drugs or whatever sin it is that we may be struggling with.
Jesus explained it like this
Jesus used this analogy: When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.” (Matthew 12:43-45 NIV)
It is not enough to get the alcohol and drugs out of our life. We must fill up the void left behind. This is why people can stay sober for periods of time and then wind up drunk with no warning: they got the sin out, but their “house” was unoccupied with the things of God. Ask any drug addict or alcoholic who has cleaned up their “house” and been sober for a period of time. When the drugs and alcohol come back, they come on like a storm, and it is always worse than it ever was before.
Letting the right spirit occupy the house
When we have said, “No” to sin, if we want victory, we must surrender to Jesus. Speaking of the Holy Ghost that would soon fill the disciples, Jesus said, “But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” (John 14:17 NIV) When the emptiness inside is filled with the Spirit of Jesus, then we have the power to say no to drugs, dishonesty, gambling, gossip, greed, and every other sin that we are tempted with. If you are fed up with the sin in your life, now is the time to turn to Jesus. He was speaking of folks just like you and me who had tried saying, “No” to sin and found that sin didn’t listen when he said, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) (John 7:37-39) Say, “Yes”, to Jesus, and then you can say, “No”, to drugs.
Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, Alaska.