Searching for the Truth in the King James Bible;
Finding it, and passing it on to you.

Steve Van Nattan






By Steve Van Nattan

Is it possible to answer in the negative
without being brash and confrontational?


Simon Bailey tells us that by the time a child reaches age seventeen, he has heard the word "NO" 150000 times, amd the word "YES" only 5000 times.

My son reminded me that I taught my kids to avoid using the word "No" to end discussions. I had forgotten this, so I was pleased that they remembered. Our standard in our home was to find ways to answer people with words seasoned with salt, that is, flavoring. Salt makes the food taste better, and the right responses to people cause them to benefit from our words, even when we have to disagree on things.

So, let us consider the perils of over using the word "No."


Jesus used the word "No" only when he was talking about "no man....." or in such a context. He never said "No" to his disciples to correct them, and he did not even use "No" on the Pharisees who were wrong much of the time except on one occasion which we look at below.

There clearly are times to say "No." Someone asks, does this road cross the river up ahead. The answer is either "Yes" or "No." At such times, it is very much in order to do so. The problem with "No", in every day life, and especially with our children, is that we brashly say "NO" to stop things that should not continue, or to shut down childish reasoning and begging with a "No.".

"Daddy, can you buy me this toy truck here?" The answer, "NO" is blunt, and the kid, over his childhood learns that he is constandly causing you to get brusque and almost irritated. To the same question, this answer is possible, "We don't have the extra money to buy you the truck right now. Also, what did Daddy tell you about begging in the store?" This puts responsibility back on your kid and trains him in reasoning out what is possible and what is not. But, it takes time and trouble, and, "NO" is the short cut we are tempted to take.

I am not suggesting parents and friends start burying themselves in long disertations on why and why not. But, if you do not want to be among those who bomb their kids with 150,000 "No's" in their lifetime, you will have to take a little time to come up with better options. Keep the standards right up where you should for your kids, but find ways to put the thing back on them to force them to reason and rationalize why and why not. Your reward will be that, one day, your kid will not ask for the truck. He will ask you if he can earn some money to buy the truck by working for you. DO NOT miss the opportunity to do exactly that for your kid so he is rewarded for moving forward in maturity.



Psalms 53:1 The fool hath said in his heart, There is NO God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good.


The Pharisees tried to trap Jesus by asking him a closed ending question asking for a "No" or a "Yes."

Luke 20:22 Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Caesar, or no?

A closed ending question is one which allows only a "Yes" or "No" answer. The old trick closed ending question is sometimes asked, "Have you stopped beating your wife?" To answer "No" is very incriminating, but to answer "Yes" is to admit you have beat your wife in the past. Closed ending sentences are often deadly and intended to make trouble.

In the case of Jesus above, he avoided the trap by diverting the conversation..... he asked for a penny, and he turned the thing around with his own question-

Luke 20:23 But he perceived their craftiness, and said unto them, Why tempt ye me? 24 Shew me a penny. Whose image and superscription hath it? They answered and said, Caesar's. 25 And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar's, and unto God the things which be God's.

When people use closed ending questions on you, do not give them a "Yes" or "No" answer. They may be trying to trap you, or they may be trying to command the conversation and not allow you to speak your mind. Turn the question back on them in some way. If you cannot think of a way, tell them you do not respond well to people who ask questions which appear to be a trap. If this offends them, explain what they have done. If they are a true friend, they will be edified. If they are offended, they are probably the enemy, and you need not feel bad about squelching the conversation.

The only time Jesus said "No" in answer to a question was here, and you will see that they asked him a closed ending question, probably so that they could continue to interrogate him without him taking over the conversation.

John 1:21 And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.

Jesus' response to the first question was Irish (more about this below), but his response to the second question was a direct "No." This was a closed ending question, and such questions can only be answered with a "No" or a "Yes."




Did you collect the mail yet? The answer is either Yes or No. The Irish solution is interesting. The Irish always answer a question without saying Yes of No. To the question here, the Irish would either say, "I did" or "I did not." The fascinating thing about the Irish is that they are keeping responsibility for their response with themselves. When we answer, "No," we are putting the force of conversation back on the questioner. When we say, "I did," or "I did not," we keep the story about ourselves. This results in the Irish being very careful not to ever offend one another. The myth about the fighting Irish is just that. The Irish are amazingly patient with one another, and they avoid offending with their speech.

I intend in the future to try to do this a lot more. I believe it is what Apostle Paul was talking about when he said, Colossians 4:6 Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

Furthermore, when we use the Irish countesy, we inform rather than bluntly shut down the conversation with, especially, "No." For example, "Did you go to town yet today?" The Irish answer might be, "I shall be going this afternoon." This not only covers the "No" or "Yes" aspect- it lets the enquirer know when you will be going.

In India the people have body language which is amazing. One of the most peculiar ones is the head wag. It is tricky. It is done by rocking the head from side to side on an axis about level with the nose. The chin wags to the right while the top of the head wags to the left. I have learned to do it by living with Indians for many years in Africa. The head wag is often used to show you are paying attention during a conversation. But, the most common use of the head wag is to be noncommital or decline to answer. It is a sort of Indian version of the US Constitutional Fifth Amendment.

HERE IS A TUTORIAL ON INDIAN GESTURING. Do watch this..... it is hilarious.

We need to let people decline to answer. When we demand answers, which is common in American culture, we force people to lie. Because of this, most of us have become liars much of the time. If someone says, "I would rather not respond to that question," or "I am uncomfortable discussing this subject," we assume they are guilty of something. This is why juries in court hearings often assume anyone who used the Fifth Amendment is guilty. Bible believers should be very willing to allow people to decline participating or answering. The culture be damned. The fellowship is far more precious than getting to the bottom of some topic you imagine you need to investigate.


"NO" IS UNREASONABLE- A Word Study from The Apostle Paul

2 Thessalonians 3:1 Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:
2 And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith.
3 But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.
4 And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you.
5 And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.

Look at Verse 2. Is it reasonable to be harsh and take short cuts when talking to our kids and our friends?

There is a closed ending sentence for you, and you can only REASONABLY answer with a "No," or you Irishmen, "It is not."

Please notice who unreasonable people have for company..... the "wicked." We live in a collapsing culture in America, Europe, and most of he world. Devils are possessing hundreds of millions of people. Hate and rage drive many, from the lowest of the lowly to the President of the United States and Congress. So, it should be no surprise to us that we are daily confronted by unreasonable people who shout "NO."

And, who chairs the Committe on Reason?

Isaiah 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

But, one of the issues men have had with God is that he is often unreasonable. By that, I mean that God thinks thoughts we do not think, and he knows the future. His perspective is eternal, and our is finite. What works for us does not work for God, and he invites us to come into his presence, sit quietly, and reason WITH him.

Some of the unreasonable people you meet are thinking thoughts you have not ventured with. They are far down the road, while you are in the here and now. These are people like Thomas Edison who invented electification of whole cities and light bulbs to use the electricity.

What is the point? Be careful with unreasonable people. Occasionally, not often, one of these people who will not stop and see things our way have ideas which are priceless. It is a good idea to try to listen and be patient for long enough to make sure we are not rejecting something very useful. You have learned to be patient in waiting for Christ to return, as in Verse 5 above, can you be a bit patient with your unreasonable friend or family member?

But, you may ask what we do when the unreasonable person, after we listen patiently, makes NO sense at all. They are clearly just stubborn and want to dominate things?

There is nothing you can do with them at this point. Unreasonable people always win. This is because they can hold out forever in any discussion or argument. They know they are right, and the fact that they are unreasonable means they have no motivation to take counsel. Do not waste any more time on them. Ask God to show you a way to be delivered from these unreasonable pests.

What does this have to do with our discussion of the word "No?"

Answer: An unreasonable person, more than anyone in your life, is a "No" person. Their constant disagreeableness is based in a zeal to say "No" to you and everyone they meet. Do not try to rescue them. They will never be cured of their "No" spirit, and every time you talk to them, they will do a "No" routine by disagreeing with you and showing you what an idiot you are, at least by THEIR definition.


This man, if he sat next to me in a anrplane, would not get a bit of notice from me. I might discuss the weather with him or the standing of his favoriate British football (soccer) team, but a man like Dawkins will never reason with you. He needs to be told, "I hate to see you go to Hell, sir, but as long as you insist on going there, could you please go quietly?"

The point is, unreasonable people are pathologically "No" people. Do not waste your life on them. That is, unless they repent, but that will come only after some horendous crisis that causes them to finally ask, "Why?" At that point, do not pass up the opportunity to point them to Christ and to Christian victory. Remember, unreasonable people are very lonely and have few, if any, friends.




"No" is found in the Bible, but it is given in other terms by God. For example, "Thou shalt not steal." "Thous shalt not commit adultery." God is saying no to our old nature's desires to rebel against his order and holiness. Ironicaly, there are many "ought nots" giving to us by God, seemingly more than the "oughts." This is a tribute to the fact that God is the universal expert on the nature of fallen man. While "Yes" is a very positive word in ordinary conversation, it is the word that takes us to Hell also.

When Satan tempted Jesus, Jesus quoted "shall nots" from the Bible book of Deuteronomy in each temptation. So, what does this mean in the context of our discussion on the over use of the word "No"?

It means that when we need to say "No," we would do well to say "thou shalt not...." instead. This puts the responsibility back on "thou," and this leads to the hearer being given the choice to do, or do not, the forbidden thing. God did not take away man's free will. God gave man the code, the law, to show man where to go with his will.

Do you trust your kids enough to do this with them? Over using the word "No" implies that you have not given them enough teaching and reasoning to know what to do with "thou shalt not...."


What will really help your kids mature will be if Daddy shares some of his "thou shalt not....." moments. Like the temptation at work to cut corners, or returning the change to the cashier who overpaid you. The "thou shalt...." moments are priceless, like tipping well when out with your kids at a restaurant.

We come back to your Christian friends and coworkers. The men are all going to lunch together, and they want you to come along. Do you ask where they are going? And, what do you say when they say, "Hooters?" "No" is rejection, and they will learn nothing about your zeal for Christ. Whereas, "I find myself guilty of being unfaithful to my wife when I go to places like that" brings the answer back to you, and they will never put that temptation before you again. If one of the men asks if you are judging them, you are not responsible for his wretched attitude. Just tell him you judge yourself, and he is free to do what his conscience tells him is OK.

This scenario happened to my son at work, and he replied in the manner I suggested above. The curious thing was that another employee was invited along, and he also declined, deferring to his love of his wife, and said so. Later, he thanked my son for taking a stand and admitted he had gone along with them before and felt guilty. My son's response was used of God to motivate another man.

Remember, you are not first and foremost called of God to be approved by men. You are to be approved by God, and if men like that, so much the better. But, when your "No" moment is resented, even after you defuse it from sounding judgmental, so be it. God is glorified.

Hebrews 4:13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.
14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

No negative moment in your life is a surprise to Jesus. He was tempted by Satan in every way you are. And, he rejoices every time he sees you come through the "thou shalt not...." moment with victory.



God never takes something away from us without giving us a replacement, and a blessed and rewarding one.

Psalms 40:1 I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.
2 He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.
3 And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.

I have tried to suggest ways, like the Irish response pattern, that you can use to replace the "No" response.

We need to talk about how we are tempted to shout "No" at our kids, and even sometimes to other people around us. This needs to be replaced with more useful words like, "That is dangerous," "Don't run in the store," and with adults, "I see that another way....." or "Have you considered this side of the issue.....?"

When you try to stop being a "No" person, you need to teach yourself to find words that convey the same messaage as "No" but which let your kids or friends participate in your thoughts and standards. This may sound like some sort of modern feel good discussion if you are a habitual "No" person. But, I showed you that Jesus very vigorously avoided the "No" word, and I assure there is a word for "No" in the Greek, and language Jesus spoke. It is ou, and it sounds like it looks. The word "No" in most languages of the world is a short word, like la in Swahili, and nyet in Russian. Some cultures use hand or head gestures for "No" in order to avoid speaking "No." This is to avoid the verbalizing of the negative. It is simply well known, by thoughtful people around the world, that saying "No" should be avoided. This was ceratinly true among the Ethiopian people we lived with. They went to a lot of trouble to answer with a negative by taking the bite out of it.

2 Corinthians 10:4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Try bringing your "No" into captivity in obedience to Christ.

If you co not replace your old manner of using "No" constantly with soemething better, you may find that your old ways come back with a vengeance.

Luke 11:24 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out.
25 And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished.
26 Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.

Learn ways that fit your Christian zeal and personality by which you can replace "No" with new and constructive responses. If you think about it for a while, the Lord will help you do this without using ideas from other people which do not fit you.



What the Bible and Jesus show us is that there is a way to speak words which answer the questions and issues, but there is also a way to avoid being brash and confontational by over using the word "No." It is certainly evil to accomodate the evil in other people, but we must not use that truth as an excuse for being confrontational and crude to people.

Does this make sense to you?

"It does make sense."

Proverbs 25:11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.








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