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Home » Billy Graham Sermon: Just Say No (Transcript)

Billy Graham Sermon: Just Say No (Transcript)

Full text of Billy Graham’s sermon titled ‘Just Say No’ which was preached in Fargo, North Dakota in 1987.

Listen to the MP3 Audio here:


Billy Graham – Evangelist

Now I want you to turn with me to 1 Corinthians, the 9th chapter, beginning at verse 24.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27: “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but only one receiveth the prize? So run, that you may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but we an eternal incorruptible crown. I therefore so run, not as uncertainty; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep my body under subjection, lest that by any means, when I’ve preached to others, I myself should be disapproved.”

And then, the 12th verse of the next chapter:

1 Corinthians 10:12-13: “Wherefore, let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall. There hath no trial or temptation or trouble taken you but such as is common to all men: But God is faithful who will not allow you to suffer, to be tempted above that you’re able; but will with the temptation or the trial, also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

Young people today are faced with so many problems, especially peer pressure. And the hardest word that young people have to say today is the little word: ‘no’.

Whether it’s drugs, whether it’s picking up a cigarette, whether it’s illicit sex, whatever it is, it’s the hardest word. Do you say no when the peer pressure comes, when the hormones begin to rise, when the excitement is there?

Yes, we’re all tempted, but there’s no temptation taken you but what everybody else has had. You say, well, did Jesus have temptations like that? Of course He did. It says “He was tempted in every point, like as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)

Because the moment you’re tempted, God provides a way to escape. There is a way out. He provides it. But you have to make the decision to go that way. And when you make that decision, the Holy Spirit is there to help you and give you strength and courage.


And then another man, another person in the Bible, the young person was named Daniel.

In Daniel 1:8, it says, “Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor the wine which he drank.

Daniel was a young man with a purpose. His motivation to serve God had come early, because Nebuchadnezzar the great king of Babylon, had come over to Jerusalem and captured Jerusalem, captured the king and captured a few young Jewish men that he wanted to take back to Babylon and train them in the language of Babylon and all the ways of Babylon so that they could be of help to him in running his empire.

And one of them was Daniel. And he wanted young men with whom there was no blemish, well favored and skilful in all wisdom and cunning in knowledge and understanding science. He wanted him to be proficient in physics and all the scientific studies of that day.

And during the period of training they brought the finest foods for Daniel to eat. But Daniel wanted the simple lifestyle. He wanted to eat ordinary food, he didn’t want to eat the rich food off the king’s table. And he asked the head of their training program, his professor, if he could do it. And the professor hesitated. He said, ‘if the king finds out about it, I’ll lose my head.’

So Daniel said, well, why don’t you give us ten days and let’s try it out?

And so in ten days they fed them just beans and water and the things that Daniel was used to eating, simple food. And when the ten days were finished, Daniel and his friends were stronger and better looking than all the others that they had been feeding all those fine foods to from the king’s table.

How different from those who can’t wait until they get away from home to live it up. Because Daniel had been taken 1500 miles. Who would know, who would care if he drank the wine and got drunk and ate the finest and lived a soft lifestyle?

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Daniel was far away from home, but he lived the life that he had learned to live as a young man of God. He could have gained popularity by indulging. And this early ‘no’ in his youth prepared him for the big ‘No’ when he had to face the den of lions, when he had to face Belshazzar the king, he said no because he had learned in the very beginning.

We defile ourselves by overeating; 11 times we’re told about overindulgence of food in the Bible, overdrinking alcohol, drug taking, too much television.

Jesus said in Luke 21:34, “And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and the cares of this life, so that the day of death comes upon you unawares. (Or the day of His coming comes upon you unawares).”

Paul said, ‘make not provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof.’ (Romans 13:14)

Peter said, ‘for the time passed we walked in lasciviousness, lust, excess of wine, revelings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries’. (1 Peter 4:3)

What about you? Do you live a disciplined life? Do you live an organized life? Have you got your life organized and disciplined to the point that you can say no to those things that you know that are hurting your body?

You see, the Bible teaches that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. God doesn’t live in a church building. God lives in you. And a group of us, called the church, an assembly, make up the church and we use the building and its facilities to meet in. And so it’s a sacred building. It’s a holy building, as the temple was in Jesus’ day of the synagogues were considered.

But the real temple of God is your body. And yet you harm your body by the way you treat it.


And then another man in the Bible, a young man that said no, that changed history was Joseph. He was the boy that his father loved the best, apparently. And the other children became jealous and envious of him. And so they said, let’s kill him.

And Reuben said, his oldest brother said no, let’s put him in a pit and we’ll just leave him to die there and father will not know the difference.

But then some Ishmaelites came along and they said let’s sell him and make some money and then his blood won’t be on our hands. We’ll let the Ishmaelites take him.

So they sold him into slavery to these Ishmaelites and they took him on to Egypt and they sold him to a man by the name of Potiphar that was in the cabinet of Pharaoh. And he became a slave, strong, handsome.

And the Genesis 39 tells us of the temptation of Joseph. And he said no, because Potiphar’s wife was a beautiful woman and a sexy woman. And she came to him and she said ‘Joseph, come and lie with me. Go to bed with me. I’ve been wanting you ever since you’ve been here. And now all the men are gone. My husband’s away. Come with me.’

And he said, ‘No, I will not do this great wickedness. Your husband has treated me well and I would sin against my God if I did that.’

And she begged him. And finally she became angry and he rushed out of the house and left his coat behind and she began to scream and yell. She yelled, ‘Rape. He tried to rape me.’

And when her husband came home, he had Joseph thrown into prison.

Joseph said no. But then God was with Joseph in the prison. And you all know the story of how God used Joseph and made him the prime minister of all of Egypt and helped save again his family later on, a long story which I don’t have time to tell tonight but most of you know it, I’m sure.

Now, the Bible teaches that sex is not a sin. God gave it. It’s a gift from God. It’s the wrong use of sex that’s the sin.

God gave you the ability to make love, but within the bonds of matrimony, not outside; adultery is wrong. That’s when two people who are married, and then fornication, unmarried people; it’s wrong. It’s a sin.

And I know that the tremendous urge especially when you see it at every counter where they sell books and magazines, you see it on the television, you see it in the movies. You see it everywhere. And the whole atmosphere is saturated with the idea of sex.

How do you say no?

I don’t believe young people today can say no without Christ. With Christ and with the Holy Spirit giving you supernatural power, you can say no. But I’ll tell you it’s tough.

But the marks of a Christian are self-control and self-discipline. Paul wrote to Timothy and said, ‘Keep thyself pure.’

He said, ‘Flee… flee youthful lusts.’ Run. When that temptation comes, run. He also said, ‘But I keep my own body under and I bring it into subjection.’

What about you? Do you do that?

Joseph did. And God greatly used and blessed Joseph, and He’ll use and bless you if you’ll say no.

But suppose you say yes to any of these things, what are you going to do? All right. We’re all born with the seed of sin in our hearts.

‘In sin did my mother conceive me’ (Psalm 51:5), said David.

But you see, these people made their decisions when they were young, and God gave them the power to say no to the things that were wrong, whether it’s a lie, whether it’s jealousy, whatever it is.

And we’re all sinners. We’ve all broken God’s law. We all deserve judgment and we deserve hell. But that’s why Jesus Christ came.

Do you know why He came? Because the Bible teaches God is love. God loves you. And if you were the only person in the whole world, God would love you. And He would love you so much that He would give His Son to die on the cross for you, even if you were the only person that had sinned against Him.

In spite of our sins, in spite of our bad things, God loves us. And that word ‘love’ is a love far beyond human love, agape love, God’s love, supernatural love, love beyond anything that you have ever known. God loves you.

Don’t ever doubt it. And if you don’t get anything out of these three days, I hope you’ll get one thing, that God loves you. And God is willing to forgive you of all your sins. He’s willing to wipe the slate clean. He’s willing to fix it so just as if you had never sinned. That’s what the word ‘justification’ means. Just as if you had never sinned.

That’s what the blood of Christ does. When the blood was shed on the cross, that blood cleanses from all sin. I deserve judgment and I deserve hell. But my sins are gone. My judgment is past. It was taken on the cross for Christ when God laid on Him the sins of us all.

I’m not going to go to hell. I know that; I’m going to heaven. If I died right now, I know I’m going to heaven because of the promise of the word of God, that ‘if we confess without mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead, we shall be saved. (Romans 10:9)

I’ve done that. I know that I’m saved. “But as many as received Him, to them gave He the power to become the sons of God, even to them that put their faith in Him. (John 1:12)


Then there was another person who made a decision to say no when he was young, and that was Moses.

It says, “by faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.He chose notice. ‘He chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.(Hebrews 11:25)

Yes, you can have pleasure in sin. You can have a good time in getting drunk on drugs at a sex orgy. You can have pleasure, but it’s short; it’s for a season. It’s soon gone, and Moses decided that he would rather choose God’s way.

We think of Moses sometimes as an old man with a beard, but it was in his youth that he made the decisions that brought him to greatness. And there’s a difference in the Bible between pleasure on the one hand and joy on the other.

He that loveth pleasure is a poor man’ (Proverbs 21:17), said the writer of Proverbs.

Paul wrote to Timothy and said, ‘but he that liveth in pleasure is dead…

For she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she lives’ (1 Timothy 5:6), you’re living physically, but dead spiritually. Your heart is dead toward God. You can be a dead man.

I’ve just written a book on death called ‘Facing Death’. It’ll come out this fall. And I’ve gone into some of these things. I’ve gone into such things as euthanasia and suicide and all of these things that people are talking about today, what’s right and what’s wrong, and how do we get through these things.

The Bible says in 2 Timothy 3:4, Paul wrote, ‘we’re lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God.’

Pleasure, the things that appeal to our flesh and our lust. Joy is something else. It runs deep. And no matter what the weather, what the climate, what the troubles, what the difficulties are, there’s a joy, because the joy is produced by the Holy Spirit, supernaturally in you, so that the whole world can fall in on you. And there’s a joy that’s always there.

We have about 15 or 20 springs on our place at home, and all of our springs seem to go dry. But there’s one that never wavered. And that’s the way with joy. No matter what happens and how the drought may come, it’s always there, produced by the Spirit of God.

But pleasure is different. That’s temporary. It only lasts a short season.

What about you?

Blessed are you”, said Jesus, “when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company and shall reproach you and cast out your name is evil for the Son of Man’s sake. Rejoice ye in that day and leap for joy. For behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in like manner did they the Son of Man, and they did the same thing to the fathers and the prophets.(Luke 6:22-23)

He says, when you have suffering for Jesus’ sake, and somebody makes fun of you at school, leap for joy, be joyful about it. You’re doing it for Jesus’ sake, ‘but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.’

Is your name written in heaven? If it is, rejoice. If it’s not, you better weep until you do find Christ.

‘These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you and that your joy might be full.’ (John 15:11)

You can have Christ’s joy. Do you have His joy?

‘My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into different temptations and trials.’ (James 1:2)

Moses chose the joy of following God rather than all the pleasures of Egypt, because Moses was heir to the throne of Egypt. Many great things Moses did in Egypt. A mighty man. He gave it all up to follow God out into the desert and to go with the despised people that were the slaves in Egypt.


Then there’s Jesus. The Bible says, ‘tempted in all points, like as we are, yet without sin‘, that the devil took Him into the wilderness and tempted Him three times.

And Jesus was hungry. He hadn’t eaten 40 days and 40 nights. He was tired. He was thirsty. Yes, but you said He was God. He was different. Oh, no. He had divested Himself of all those supernatural powers at that moment. He met the devil, just like you do as a man.

And the devil said, if you are the Son of God, command these stones and turn them into bread (Matthew 4:3). You can feed the whole world. There’ll be no hunger in the world. You can solve all the social problems in the world. Right now, Jesus, you do that.’

And did you know that Jesus never argued with him? He never debated him. All He did was quote Scripture.

He said, “It is written, ‘man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God’.” (Matthew 4:4)

And then the second temptation came when he said, if Thou be the Son of God, cast Thyself down. For it is written, ‘He shall give His angels charge concerning Thee, and in their hands they shall bear Thee up’.” (Matthew 4:6)

You see, the devil had said, Jump out, make a big spectacle, and people will believe. You don’t have to go to the cross. You don’t have to die on the cross as You’re planning to do, to save the world. You can do it. And they’ll all believe when they see the angels catching You in midair.

But Jesus said, “It is written again, ‘Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God’.” (Matthew 4:7)

And then the third temptation was, ‘all these things will I give you if you will fall down and worship me.’ (Matthew 4:9)He said, look at the world. All the world, all the oil, all the gold, all the power in the world is yours.

And Jesus didn’t dispute with him that he didn’t have the power to operate, because he’s called the god of this world, the prince and power of the air, the prince of this world. The devil has tremendous power, tremendous authority, and tremendous wealth, and he can offer you everything there is if you just worship him a little bit. Just nod your head and say, all right, devil, I’ll go with you a little way anyway.

Jesus didn’t do that. He said, ‘Get behind Me, Satan. It’s written, ‘Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God and Him only shalt thou serve.’ (Matthew 4:10)

So the Bible says, after those three temptations, the devil left Him and the angels came and helped Him.

Note those three things.

Jesus quoted Scripture.

He was filled with the Spirit.

He was in the will of God.

Are you willing to say tonight, no to the temptations of the devil, and yes to the call of Christ who tells you, repent of your sins? That means to change your way of living? Follow Me.

Oh, but you say, Billy, I’m a member of the church, and I’ve been baptized and I’ve been confirmed. Yes, that’s a wonderful thing. But it’d be wonderful if you would reconfirm your confirmation.

It would be wonderful if you would rededicate yourself to the things that were promised at baptism and at confirmation. It would be wonderful to come and say, I want to rededicate myself to You, Lord, or for some of you, as 30 some percent did last night will say, I’m receiving You for the first time.

I really want to come to Christ now. I want my sins forgiven. I don’t want to take a chance of dying without God.

Do you know Christ? Have you received Him? You say, Billy, what do I have to do? Three things.

First, be willing to change your ways, change your mind. That’s called repentance in the Bible.

The second is, by faith you receive Christ. You don’t work for it, you don’t buy it. It’s a free gift, and you receive it.

And thirdly, you’re willing to follow Him. Bible reading, prayer, witnessing, living, letting love shine through your life. That’s what it means to follow Christ. That’s what it means to say no to the things the devil would like for you to follow.

I’m going to ask you to make that choice tonight. I’m going to ask you to do something we saw hundreds of people do last night, and we’ve seen people on every continent in over 60 countries.

I’m going to ask you to get up out of your seat and come in front of this platform and say, tonight, I want Christ in my heart. I want to know, I want to be sure. I want to rededicate my life to Him.

For Further Reading:

‘You Must Be Born Again’: Billy Graham Sermon (Transcript)

The University of Life: Billy Graham (Transcript)

The Power of the Cross: Billy Graham (Transcript)

Billy Graham: Who is Jesus, Really? (Full Transcript)


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