When God Says NO
September 5, 2016 • By Ed Wrather
Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them. – Acts 16:6-10 NKJV.
There is a TV commercial advertising a vehicle in which parents tell their children: “You can't take that.” One scene shows a boy walking out of a home's garage with a sledge hammer, and the parent says, “You can't take that.” Another scene shows a boy taking a fluorescent light bulb out of a fixture, and the parent says “You can't take that.” Another scene shows a little girl headed outside with hair clippers to cut the hair of another little girl, and the parent says, “You can't take that.”
A good parent knows some things are not good for their child to have, because some things can be harmful to the child, or used in a harmful way. Our Heavenly Father is a good parent, and because He is good, even though we want some things our Heavenly Father says, “You can't have that.” Our Heavenly Father says that, because he knows those things would be harmful to us. And, sometimes when we really want to do something our Heavenly Father says, “You can't do that.” Our Heavenly Father says that, because He knows something else would be better for us.
In Acts 16, God says NO to Paul twice as they were “forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia.” Next, “they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them.” Paul was on a mission to reach people with the Gospel, and even though he was the apostle Paul, God still told him NO. Why, did God not permit Paul to preach the word in Asia or Bithynia? God had a better plan which He then revealed to Paul: “And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’”
If the apostle Paul can be wrong about God’s will, it is evident that we can also be wrong about God’s will. Now Paul was a determined and persistent man of God, and we can see this when Paul beseeched God three times to remove his “thorn in the flesh.” God told Paul NO each time. Why? Paul says God told him this, “And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure (2 Corinthians 12:7).” Also, God said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9a).”
God may at times tell us NO. God may tell us that we can’t do that, or we can’t take that, or we can’t have that, or we can’t go there. However, if God blocks us from doing what we want to do, that doesn’t mean that God doesn’t love us. It may be that God has a better plan for us, or it may be that God is just protecting us from ourselves. Whatever it may be, as God said to the apostle Paul, He says to us: “My grace is sufficient for you.”