The Power of Negation: The "Meta-No" In Scripture

The Bible, Meta-States and the Neuro Semantic Model - Part I 

Rev. Michael Davis  

Over ten years ago I began my journey and research in the area of "renewing the mind" (Romans12:2). My purpose then, as now was to understand how the mind works. My prayer and goal were to find more effective ways to renew my mind to the liberating truths of God's word. 

My research first took me in the field and literature of the "self-help" movement. From there I began to read books on psychology, neuro-science, cognitive neuro-science and even quantum physics! Eventually I found my way to Neuro-linguistic Programming and began to find the answers I was looking for. A few years later I discovered the fields of Meta-States and Neuro-Semantics and my understanding has increased a hundred-fold! 

As an ordained minister, with over twenty years of experience I have learned how important it is when teaching concepts and principles for renewing the mind in using the models of cognitive  psychology, NLP, Meta-States, or Neuro-Semantics to "crouch" the teaching in biblical language, i.e., to provide a Scriptural basis for the concepts I am presenting. If you have been around Neuro-semantics for any length of time you know how important and powerful "frames" are ("He who sets the frame controls the game." Hall 2001)1

Since most evangelical Christians hold the Bible in high regard, as the Word of God, there is already in place a very powerful frame of reference. Working with and in the Biblical frame of reference as one learns and  teaches Meta-states/ Neuro-semantic concepts makes it easier for Christians to embrace and apply those concepts. Since it is "in" the Bible and we are committed to "living by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God"2

The purpose of this article and future articles is to provide scriptural frames of references for those who are working with Christians and using the Meta-States/ Neuro-semantic models to help them renew their minds. I also seek to give you materials when you may encounter resistance from those who ask "where is that in the Bible?" (a legitimate question given their frame of reference for not wanting to do anything contrary to God's will). I have found in my experience that using the Meta-States/ Neuro-Semantic models within the framework of supporting scriptures adds strength and power to the application of the models and their patterns. 

The Meta-No within Scripture 

During the 2000 Summer Intensive Meta-States training in Tampa, Florida Dr. Bob Bodenhamer made a statement that really struck me and made a lasting impression on my mind. During our session on the Meta-Yes and Meta-No Pattern3 he said "All change in essence boils down to "No" to what you don't want and "Yes" to what you do want. That was a simple statement yet to me a very profound one. Several months later during my own study and personal devotion time I got to thinking about that statement as it related to obedience to God. I realized that all obedience to God boils down to saying saying either "Yes" to God or "No" to God. When I obey it is because I have in some way said "Yes" to God, and when I disobey it is because I have in some way said "No" to Him. 

Some passages from the New testament illustrates this quite well. In Hebrews 3:18 the Bible states that the children of Israel could not enter into God's rest because they" BELIEVED NOT" (this passage is in reference to an incident in Israel's history as recorded in Numbers chapters 13 and 14). In chapter 4:6 it states that could not enter in "...because of UNBELIEF"; In vs.11 of chapter 4 we are exhorted to to not follow their "...example of UNBELIEF". 

The word for "believe not" (vs.18) in Greek is APEITHEO. It carries the meaning of "disobedience". Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon gives as one of its meanings "to REFUSE belief and obedience"4. The word "UNBELIEF" (Chp.4:6,11) in Greek is APEITHIA. It also carries the meaning of "DISOBEDIENCE"5 (some translation use the word "disobedience" in place of "unbelief"). Both of these terms come from the root word APEITHES6. This word is composed of two words in Greek: the particle "a" and the word peitho. Peitho means "to persuade to convince, to assent (to evidence or authority); to induce one by words to believe." The prefix "a" is known in Greek as a privative, a negative, which when added to peitho creates a NEGATION7. Thus apeitho/ apeitheia/ apeitheo all carry the meaning of "to refuse to be persuaded, to refuse to be induced to belief by words, to refuse to believe"; again apeitheo itself means "to refuse belief AND obedience."

Here then in Hebrews 3:18;4:6,11 we see that to disobey God involves a refusal, a NEGATION. To disobey God one must first say "No" to God and to His word. The bible tells us that "faith comes by hearing the word of God" (Romans 10:17). This means that for me to disbelieve/ disobey His word I must first "go meta" to the word I hear and utter a "No!" to it. 

In thinking about this I began wondering " what caused the Israelites in the wilderness to say "'No!'" to God and to His promise? Then it hit me "frames"! They had a frame that kept them from saying "Yes" and that compelled them to say "No." And what was that frame? In Numbers 13:30 ( the original reference for this incident) the Ten Spies said ".... we BE NOT ABLE to go up against the people of the land for THEY are STRONGER THAN WE.' In vs.33 they said, "....and we were in our own eyes as grasshoppers." No wonder they said "No" to God! Just look at the frames they were operating by, the "frame game" they were playing! They were playing the "we don't have what it takes" frame game (or maybe the "victim" frame game). With that type of frame there was no way they could say "Yes" to God and His will. 

Contrast this with Joshua and Caleb who said "Let us go up at once and possess it. We are well able to overcome it", and, "....neither fear ye the people of the land for they are bread for us and their defense is departed from them..." Joshua and Caleb were able to utter a confident "Yes!" to God. What was their frame? " ....the Lord is with us ..."(Num.14:9c). Joshua and Caleb were playing the "God, the Almighty God, is with us; with Him on our side how can we lose " frame game. When God Himself becomes your frame of reference how can you say "Nope! Can't do it." So Joshua and Caleb possessed a frame of reference that enabled them to say "Yes!" to God. The frame of references we have determine what we say "Yes" to and "No" to. 

The Apostle Paul and the Power of "No!"

Two other examples of the power of "No" in the scriptures come from the apostle Paul. In Titus 2:11,12 Paul writes that the grace of God has appeared "Teaching us that DENYING ungodliness and worldly lust we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world." The word translated as "denying" in Greek is arneomai. It means to disavow, to reject, to refuse, to renounce, to disown. Arneomai is composed of two words "a" the privative, denoting negation and rheo meaning to say or speak8. Literally arneomai means "to say 'no'" to something or someone. Thus in Titus 2:12 we are instructed to "say No!" to thoughts and frames of mind (the word "ungodly" refers to an attitude or way of thinking towards God9) that will hinder or prevent obedience to God. We are to disown, reject, and renounce through the power of "No!" all that does not support us in living according to the Truth. 

Another example of the power of negation, of "No!" in Paul's writing occurs in an oft repeated phrase of Paul's "God Forbid!". Paul uses this phrase fourteen times in the New Testament. In Greek the Phrase is actually me genito and is an expression of strong abhorrence, rejection and negation. Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon states that the term "me" in Greek denotes the denial of the thought of a thing, or the denial of a thing according to the judgment, opinion will, purpose and/ or preference of some one10

Thus "God forbid!" or me genito! means "Away with such a thought! Don't even think such a thing! Don't even allow such a thought to arise in your mind or remain in mind!" As used by Paul it is a total rejection of concepts, of ways of thinking that are contrary to the mind ,will and purposes of God. And because it is a rejection of thoughts, of concepts and ideas it means that to reject them one first must "go meta" to them. Paul's use of "God Forbid!" can be used as an example to all believers that a thought, concept or frame of mind needs to be examined to see if it accords with God's will before it is unthinkingly accepted. Paul's serves as an example of running a "quality control check" on our thoughts. 

In part two we will deal with "The Power Of Affirmation: The Meta-YES in Scripture." 

1. Hall L. Michael Frame Games: Persuasion Elegance, Winning The Games Of Life p. 310 

2. Deuteronomy 8:3 

3. See "Updating the 'Submodality' Model" Institute of Neuro-Semantic website. 

4. Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon; pg. 55, #544 part b. 

5. See Strong's Concordance #543 

6. Strong's Concordance #545 

7. See Strong's Concordance, Greek dictionary #1and #3982;Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon #3982 

8. Strong's Concordance Greek dictionary # 720; #1 and # 4483 

9. "Ungodliness/"'Asebeia'" Vines: An Expository Dictionary Of New Testament Words 

"me" Thayer's Greek English Lexicon, # 3361, pg. 408 

All Biblical Quotes are from the King James Version.

About the Author:

Michael L. Davis is an ordained minister, business consultant, trainer and coach. His Biblical teachings focuses on The Renewing of the Mind, the Semitic background of the Christian faith,  the study of the Bible in the light of the Cultural, Linguistically and Historical context in which it was written. 

Contact information: 
Michael Davis
PO BOX 3000-469 Chino, Ca. 91708 
Ph. (909)988-6067 
Fax: (909) 988-5558 

2001 Michael Davis All rights reserved.