Chapter Four: The Opposites of Yes and No

  Chapter Four:  The Opposites of Yes and No

 “No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”       Luke 16:13

 When last we met, we were under the Opposite Tree, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  It was the tree that split Eve’s world in two and our history in two.  Before she ate, Eve walked with God; after she ate, Eve walked from God.  Before Adam ate, the world was upright; after Adam ate, the world was upside-down.  As believers, we refer to this event as The Fall.  So many things in our lives, in our world, are traced back to The Fall, the time when sin entered through the door of choice.  Not only did Adam and Eve receive parting gifts of difficult labor and physical death as they were escorted out of the garden, but the earth also received some baggage of its own.  From this time on, new words were added to those which Adam had compiled for the first dictionary; words like weeds and thorns, drought and famine, poisonous and carnivorous, malignant and inoperable…sin and judgment.  When we look around at our world today, we trace every hurtful, harmful, hell-bent event back to The Fall.  It is one of our turning points in history.  And, because its hinges swing two ways, it too reveals the Law of Opposites.

As stated in the last chapter, (what we will now refer to as) The Fall came about because God created a world in which man could choose Him.  When God created Adam and Eve, He also created choice.  He did not desire programmed but preferential praise…and for that man would need a free will.  It was a daring move, but we serve a dauntless God…and a sovereign God, for He already knew the outcome of such an offer so that before Eve said, “Yes,” to the produce, His Son had said, “Yes,” to the plan.  It is in these yeses that we continue (or should I say continuum?) our look at the Law of Opposites, for where there is a yes, there is also a no.

In Matthew 5:37, Jesus said to let our yes be yes and our no be no.  The context is that of keeping one’s word; we are to mean what we say and to say what we mean.  But there is another application we can surmise from Jesus’ advice about our yeses and our nos, and it’s found in the Law of Opposites.

Surely we would all agree that yes and no are opposites.   They lie as direct contradictions to one another.  I can say yes or no to something, but I cannot say yes and no to the same thing.  If I were to place yes and no on a ‘decision line’, then one would lie to the extreme right and the other would lie to the extreme left; they would be opposite one another.  With this image of a yes/no line of continuum, it is easy to visualize this next statement:  every move toward one end is a move away from the other end.  If I take a step toward yes, I move away from no, and if I take a step toward no, I move away from yes.  That’s a simple presentation…with a compound application.

When Eve said yes to the serpent, she said no to God; when Adam said yes to Eve, he said no to Elohim.  And since that day, since that yes, we’ve been following in their footsteps…right out of the garden and right into the gulley.  With every yes we emit to the world, we utter a no to The Way (John 14:6); with every choice we make for, we make a decision against.  We say yes to a promotion, we say no to Saturdays at home; we say yes to a new boat, we say no to Sundays at church; we say yes to every activity, we say no to suppers at home.  It’s the truth of the yes/no continuum; we can’t move in two directions at the same time, though we often feel pulled in two directions!  “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other,” (Luke 16:13); we cannot please both God and the flesh, we cannot go left and right at the same time.

So how do we “walk the line”?  How do we let our yes, or our no, move us in the right direction?  We take one step at a time, we make one decision at a time.  The good news is, being opposites, the same principle applies to both ends of the continuum.  Therefore, for every no we reply to the world, there is a yes we release to The Way.  This seems so elementary, but it can be enlightening when it comes to the decisions we make.  If I can keep my mental eye on both ends of the yes/no continuum, then I can look to see not only what I am moving toward but also what I am moving from.  It’s a valuable perspective because, without it, I lose my peripheral vision; without it, I become myopic and see all movement as productive.  But, when I step back far enough to see what lies in each direction, then I can “let my yes be yes, and my no be no” for I know not only what I am moving toward, but also what I am moving from.

While this yes/no principle succumbs to the Law of Opposites and, therefore, stands true, God has provided many examples for our benefit…for our encouragement.  Let’s start with Noah; he gave God a resounding yes that lasted for 120 years as he committed to the task of building an ark…at a time when the earth had yet to know rain, much less a flood.  That yes to building a boat resulted in a no to building an admirable reputation…at least until the rain came.  Then, there’s Abraham; he said yes to a new land and no to an established homestead.  His yes led to the formation of a nation, which, by and large, is bigger and larger than a homestead.  Want another one?  How about Rahab?  She said yes to hiding some spies and no to those who were looking for them.  In doing this, she said yes to Jehovah and no to Jericho; yes to a scarlet line out her window, yes to a bloodline with her Savior.  Then, there are some infamous no-givers.  How about Joseph who said no to Potiphar’s wife?  It was a costly no at first, but its dividends paid off in the end as Joseph went from working in the palace to leading from the palace.  Ruth serves as an example of one whose no landed her in a new land…and yielded her a new husband.  When told by her mother-in-law to stay in Moab following the death of her husband, Ruth said no and followed Naomi to Bethlehem.  There, she met Boaz…and from their lineage the second king of Israel would arise; he too would say no.  David was his name; waiting was his game.  He’d been anointed as Israel’s future king in his youth, but waiting for God’s plans to unfold kept him walking the fine line of yeses and nos.  While he waited for a yes on God’s timing, David had to say a few nos to man’s timing.  No to killing Saul when he came into David’s cave and no to killing Saul when David came into his camp.  David’s no to taking matters into his own hands led him toward the yes of waiting for God to take matters into His own hands…and He did, and David, in time, became Israel’s second king.  The list goes on…Andrew and Peter, James and John, Paul and Silas, (John) Newton and (Charles) Wesley, (Charles) Spurgeon and (D.L.) Moody.  Each of these individuals said no to their plans and yes to God’s purpose; each of them had to turn their back to some things that they might turn their heart to one thing, and with each directional step, they let their no be no and their yes be yes.

It’s the Law of Opposites.  While practically we can only move in one direction at a time, positionally we can move in two directions as we realize each step toward is also a step from; with each pronounced yes, we are also proclaiming a no.  So let’s rightly position ourselves on the yes/no continuum.  Let’s look to see where our next step lands us; will we be closer to God or further from Him?  Will we say yes to our goals or yes to God’s glory?  Will we say no to our plans or no to God’s perfection?  We cannot serve two masters; we cannot walk in two directions; we cannot say yes without also saying no.


Chapter Five: Man’s Opposing Desires

Chapter Five:  Man’s Desires

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  Hebrews 11:1

From the garden to the gate; from the yes to the no; from God’s holy nature to man’s fallen nature.  Was it just three bites that Eve took?  Was it only one?  Did she polish off the whole fruit?  How many licks does it take to get to the center of God’s grace?  As we now look at man’s life outside of the Garden of Eden, we continue to see the manifestation of the Law of Opposites.  From man’s desires, to his design, to his dilemmas; at every turn, in every fold, there’s a left and a right, a to and a fro, a push and a pull.

In man’s desires, we see a preference for that which is visible over that which is invisible and a craving for knowledge over a hunger for wisdom.  This is evident in Eve’s pre-fallen, though present tempted, state.  How did Satan lure her toward the tree?  He caused her to look upon it…to examine it…to study it.  This wasn’t a passing glance, as perhaps it had been before; this was a visual scrutinization: “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it,” (Gen. 3:6; italics mine).  Eve saw the fruit, touched the fruit, held the fruit, and then tasted the fruit.  It all started with the casting of an eye, and in the blink of an eye, the tangible dethroned the intangible.

And haven’t we been following Eve’s example ever since?  Don’t we find within ourselves, and all too often affirmed by the voices around us, the desire to place our trust in that which is seen over that which is unseen?  Sure, God had said not to eat of the fruit, but at that moment Eve saw the fruit and not the Father.  And the eyes of her heart looked away as the eyes of her flesh looked upon.  Eve may have been the first to pick the visible over the invisible, but her desires are no different from our own.  Just as we are like her, so too was she just like us!  Any of us would have done the same thing then and, what’s worse, we do the same thing today…even with all the knowledge acquired through thousands of years of examples.  We still reach out for that which is seen; we still desire the apparent over the invisible.  In Hebrews 11:1 we read, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  Faith is believing in that which we have yet to see, accompanied by the assurance (through Christ) that we will one day behold that in which…Him in whom…we believe.  Why would this be recorded in Scripture if it was not a truth that needed repeating, that needed reminding…a truth we need to behold with our spiritual eyes because our temporal eyes desire that which is visible?  Lest we fail to see how tempting our vision is, let’s look at the past and remember that history lies not only behind us but also before us as we continue to allow it to repeat itself.

Before the children of Israel entered the Promised Land, their earthly eyes got the better of them.  While God had delivered them from Pharaoh and led them through the Red Sea, they doubted His ability to feed them.  They looked around and there was nothing to eat.  Gone, in their minds, were the abundant tables of food they’d sat down to while slaves in Egypt.  (Mirage number one…and only a few days into their journey!  There was no abundance of food for slaves…but the hunger of their stomachs skewed the hauntings of their mind.  Ironically, in looking for the visible, they remembered the invisible!)  God provided manna and quail; the people saw and believed, for a time.  Years later, when the Israelites entered Canaan, God warned them, through Moses, to beware of that which they saw.  He told them not to want what the other nations had; not in their lifestyle, not in their worship, not in their government.  But once again, the people wanted what they saw.  They saw the goods, the gods, and the guide…they were visible, they were touchable.  They failed to see the unseen hand of Him who held them; they failed to see their Provider, their God, and their Guide.  And so their hands followed their gaze and their hearts followed their hand and, years later, they asked for a king (I Samuel 8:4), and in time they worshipped statues (2 Kings 23:4-14), and they valued earthly treasures over heavenly rewards.  In their hearts, the tangible had, again, dethroned the intangible.

Fast forward from the fall of Judah in 586 B.C. (2 Kings 25) to the fall of Herod’s temple in 70 A.D. and we find a change in walls, courts, and altars…but not a change in hearts.  Before man stood a glorious temple that was encrusted with gold.  It was a sight to behold!  Under the rule of Herod the Great, the temple in Jerusalem was rebuilt.  In all, it took 82 years (46 for the temple and 36 for the surrounding courts) to complete.  It has been said that, in Jesus’ day, the magnificence of the temple caused the Jews to delight more in its spender than in God’s grandeur.  Once again, the visible captured the hearts of mankind.  Jesus foretold of the temple’s destruction (Mark 13:2), to which His followers gasped and the Pharisees grumbled.  For many, the Who of the temple had been replaced with the what of the Temple.  Wasn’t it beautiful?  Didn’t it exalt God?  Couldn’t it be looked upon…and touched…and held…and worshipped?

Not only do our eyes deceive us, but so too does our appetite for knowledge.  In fact, too often, it is our craving for information that causes our eyes to look upon forbidden fruit.  What did Satan tell Eve that caused her gaze to shift?  It’s recorded in Genesis 3:4, “in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  Timber!  What led to the fall?  The desire for knowledge; the desire to “be like God”.  Satan knew of this desire for he had it too, and from his fall (Ezekiel 28), to Eve’s fall, to our fall, it’s the temptation that keeps on luring; the fruit that keeps on appealing.  And yet, we know that knowledge is not always bad.  Solomon wrote of its value in Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge…” and in Proverbs 2:6, “…from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.”  Hosea supports this when he records God’s own words on knowledge:  “I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice and in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings,” (Hosea 6:6).

So, if knowledge is God given and God desired, then why is it wrong to seek it, to pick it?  The answer lies not in the what but in the why.  Knowledge is foundational, which means it precedes that which is to come and, by its very presence, implies that something will be built upon it.  When knowledge erects its own scaffolding for the glory of man, its beams are hollow and the result is destruction.  (Remember the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11?  Which, by the way, is a referential opposite to Hebrews 11.)  But, when knowledge seeks to build that which will glorify its Source, then its beams are filled with wisdom and its walls are braced with understanding. Knowledge, apart from God-given understanding and wisdom, will cause man to turn from God rather than toward Him, to reach for the immediate rather than toward the imminent.  Those verses on knowledge (recorded above) are incomplete and, as such, are as hollow beams without the rebar of wisdom.  Their strength lies in their complete filling:

  • Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
  • Proverbs 2:6, “For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.”

Fast forward 1,430 years, and how much has changed?  Have we learned to look back in order to know how to look forward?  Have we stopped valuing the visible more than the invisible, wisdom more than knowledge?  Upon what is our gaze cast, to what is our hand extended, and to whom do our hearts cling?  We are, and always will be, a visual creature, so much so that God warns us to look not at the appearance, but at the heart (I Samuel 16:7).  Our desires will lead us in the opposite direction of where we need to look, of what we need to know, and of Whom we need to serve.


This started off as part one of a chapter…I broke it into two pieces.  The full context will cover the Law of Opposites as evidenced in man’s desires, design, and dilemmas.  This part covers man’s desires; chapter six will address man’s design and his dilemmas.  Whew!  And I was afraid I wouldn’t have enough to write about!