Anybody remember “Just Say No?” (Just say yes, you remember it.) In the 1980s, the “Just Say No” campaign took off with a lot of push from First Lady Nancy Reagan. Programs kicked off in schools encouraging children to just say no to drugs. It’s a noble idea, but I always had a problem with it.
Kids need to do more than just say no to something; they need something to say yes to. An analysis of the program’s effectiveness found that the program did not prevent teen drug use. I content they needed to be offered something far more enticing. Let’s give them something to say yes do.
I feel the same way about sin. For Christians, it’s easy for us to rant against sin. We see the behavior of others—sins we personally don’t struggle with—and we react. Sin is bad! You’re condemned if you keep on sinning. I don’t care how it makes you feel. What you’re doing is bad and sinful! You’re a bad person!
Has anybody ever come to faith in Christ simply because they were told they were a sinner? “Just say no to sin” is a lousy campaign.
We need to give them something to say yes to. And that something is Christ. Before we rant about sin, let’s rant about the love of Christ. Yes, sin is bad—it’s deadly!—but it’s the love of Christ that moves a person to faith. When we see that a sinless, holy God loved us so much that He died on the cross to remove our sin … when we see the love of Christ frees us from our past and gives us a new life in Christ … when we see that what Christ lovingly offers is far greater than anything sin offers, we are drawn to Him.
See? Turning to Christ means turning from sin. We “just say no” to sin when we say yes to Jesus.
Let me chase this on another level. Instead of ranting about doctrine, let’s get on our soapbox about the love of Jesus. To be sure, doctrine is important, but there is too much arguing over the details with little result. Cold doctrine doesn’t lead many people to the love of Christ, but the love of Christ can lead us to a deeper faith and a deeper understanding and appreciation of doctrine.
In his landmark book, Holiness, J.C. Ryle wrote:
Love to Christ is the point which we ought specially to dwell upon, in teaching religion to children. Election, imputed righteousness, original sin, justification, sanctification, and even faith itself, are matters which sometimes puzzle a child of tender years. But love to Jesus seems far more within reach of their understanding. That He loved them even to His death, and that they ought to love Him in return, is a creed which meets the span of their minds.
So, before we talk about sin, let’s talk about Jesus. Before we wax eloquently on some point of doctrine, let’s talk about the love of Jesus.
Just say yes to Jesus.
“For every one of God’s promises is “Yes” in him. Therefore, through him we also say “Amen” to the glory of God” (2 Cor. 1:20).
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