Christianity is not a negative religion; it is a glorious Yes. The Apostle Paul tells us, “All the promises of God find their Yes in him” (2 Cor. 1:20a). Our Lord makes it plain that redemption means passing from a negative (“perishing”) state to a positive one—that of eternal life.

But when one has said yes to Jesus Christ, accepting him as Saviour and making him Lord of life, he comes to realize that there are negatives that are a part of the Christian’s daily life. Because he is in the world but not of it, he finds that no becomes a very important word and a very important attitude of life. Jesus says, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself [say no to self] and take up his cross and follow me” (Matt. 16:24).

This saying no to self is a continuing requirement for the Christian. However, it involves a distinction many earnest believers fail to make. For such people, not doing this or that, not going to this place or the other, is the sign of whether or not a person is actually a Christian, and whether or not they may have fellowship with him. From this attitude to modern Pharisaism there is but a short step, and some unwittingly take it.

Being a Christian involves but two things—faith in Jesus Christ and obedience to his revealed will.

But obedience does involve the clear leading of the Holy Spirit as well as convictions about God’s will. The Apostle Paul makes plain in word and by example what being a Christian means: “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal. 5:24). That means saying no to self. While life lasts we are confronted by temptations inherent in the flesh, and they must be dealt with by rejection.

As is true in so many aspects of the Christian faith, ...

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