There’s a paradox in Christianity, that, while Christians are told to avoid danger, Christians are also known for their boldness in face of danger. That’s worth considering for awhile. What makes the difference? Are these Christians consistent in theology and practice, or not?
It has been correctly pointed out that Christians are not told to flee from Satan. We are to resist Satan, and he will flee from us. Does it follow that Christians who flee sin are acting immaturely? On the contrary! The biblical evidence suggests that a vigorous, deliberate avoidance of sin, along with the passionate pursuit of godliness, is the responsibility of mature believers. Let’s look and see some of what the Bible tells us to flee:
- We are to flee fornication (I Corinthians 6:18-19)
- We must flee idolatry (I Corinthians 10:13-14) (Two interesting thoughts: first, the whole context makes it clear that the idolatry Paul is talking about is broader than worshiping a wooden statue. Second, it is interesting that we are told to flee idolatry in light of the previous verse– God’s work and my work: he provides a way of escape, we flee)
- We should flee greed and pride.
1But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. I Timothy 6:11
You have to read the context, but it’s important to note that a MAN OF GOD (not just a weaker brother) is told to flee something, and further, that running away from sin implies the need to be running towards something else. I think it’s appropriate to suggest that anytime we are fleeing sin, we should be deliberately pursuing godliness.)
- We should flee youthful lusts, no matter what our age
Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. II Timothy 2:22
(again, note this is a mature believer told to flee, and again, note that Timothy is told to pursue something else in its place.)
- We should avoid the path of the wicked, and the way of evil men Proverbs 4:14-16
- We are told to avoid divisiveness (Romans 16:17, and others!)
- We are also told to avoid friendships with angry people
Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: 25Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul. Proverbs 22:24-25
- It is wise to avoid friendships with fools (biblically defined as a rebel against God)
He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed. Proverbs 13:20
- Twice we are told that it is wise to see danger ahead, and take steps to avoid it. A simple person passes on and is punished. Proverbs 22:3 and Proverbs 27:12
What can we learn from all these passages? It is clearly good and right to avoid moral danger. It is the mark of a mature, wise believer. We should encourage other believers (as Solomon and Paul did) to avoid danger. This is not the legalism of the Pharisees. When a Christian flees sin, he should be pursuing godliness. Fleeing sin does not equal sinful fear.
We still need great wisdom in correctly identifying danger. We haven’t talked about weighing the cost of avoiding danger (i.e., how far should I take avoiding danger) We haven’t considered the relationship between being in the world but not of it. Or avoiding evil people, but still sharing the gospel with them. We haven’t discussed adequately whether we should fear moral danger, and we haven’t considered yet what our attitude should be toward physical danger. Finally, we haven’t yet considered how these things apply to our responsibility as parents. There’s a lot to think about.
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