Three Things to Flee From
When a father loves his children, he would give them instructions that he knows would be beneficial unto their lives, what he knows that when they do it, and continue in doing it their lives would be transformed, wouldn’t remain as it was before.
In the same way is the Lord through his Son Jesus has given his followers instructions to abide by, that in doing those things they shall succeed thereby and promote the gospel of the Lord the more.
When he left the world for his father’s abode, he left for the believers some apostles, prophets, pastors, evangelists and teachers. (Eph 4:11) Through these people and offices he continued to pass on his message to the believers that when they continue to do what he instructed us through them to do we shall know peace in this world and yea we shall find a place with him in the world beyond.
The contained instructions that father passes unto his children would essentially involve some which they are to pay attention to, some would involve avoiding, some would involve doing, some would involve ignoring and host of others.
Sometimes a father may not tell his children why he has asked them to do those things and a times he can tell them the reason why he has spoken thus.
When a father has not divulged the reason for doing what he has instructed his children to do, what is expected of those children if indeed they acknowledge that person as their father is to do what he has instructed them to do whether he is there or nay.
A typical example of this is found in the lives of the children of a man in the bible, whose parents handed over unto them the instructions of their fore parents that they shouldn’t drink wine, this instruction long after their parents and fore parents were gone, they still held close to it unwavering.
“The word which came unto Jeremiah from the LORD in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, saying,
“Go unto the house of the Rechabites, and speak unto them, and bring them into the house of the LORD, into one of the chambers, and give them wine to drink.
“And I set before the sons of the house of the Rechabites pots full of wine, and cups, and I said unto them, Drink ye wine.
“But they said, We will drink no wine: for Jonadab the son of Rechab our father commanded us, saying, Ye shall drink no wine, neither ye, nor your sons for ever:
“Thus have we obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab our father in all that he hath charged us, to drink no wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, nor our daughters;
“And Jeremiah said unto the house of the Rechabites, thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Because ye have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your father, and kept all his precepts, and done according unto all that he hath commanded you:
“Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not want a man to stand before me for ever.” (Jer. 35: 1-2, 5-6, 8, 18-19)
Because these children obeyed the words, instructions of their father and fore parents who were no longer alive, they entered uncommon covenant with the Lord.
To enjoy the grace of gray hair, we need to obey the instructions of our fathers, that is why the bible says, obeying our parents is the first law that is associated with a promise, the promise of longevity and blessings.
“Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)
“That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.” (Eph 6:2-3)
I am not here to emphasis those, but I am laying a foundation for this article of how important it is to obey and follow the instruction of our parents.
When a student fails to follow instruction in an exam hall, such a student may not perform brilliantly, exceptionally in the examination. But if he pays attention to the instructions on the question paper before answering those questions, he is likely to succeed.
Apostle Paul, being an apostle to the gentile and of course one of the people who is instrumental to the development of the Corinth church wrote to them that they need to flee some things. At other time he also wrote to his spiritual son encouraging him of what he needs to flee from. It is those words from the bible that I want us to see some things about in this article.
Flee is defined by Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary as to leave a person or place very quickly, especially because you are afraid of possible danger.
In the Greek word it is called “φεύγω”, Romanized form is pheugō which is pronounced as fyoo'-go meaning run away, shun, escape, vanish.
The Components of the Word Flee
From the definition of the word flee as seen above we shall note some important words there that make the word outstanding and should not be viewed as ordinary running.
1. It is not a passive word, it is a word of action.
2. It should be done quickly, not sluggishly, not acting like a snail neither a tortoise,
3. According to the Greek word it means “shun” which means to avoid somebody or something.
Why We Are Enjoined to Flee
Let us now see some of the reasons why the apostle uses the word flee but not some other form of words to talk to the church and his spiritual son.
1. Ability to Overcome: What he enjoins believers to flee from can overcome one, if one does not flee from it or them. And when a sin overcomes a believer one becomes slave to those things that overcome the person.
2. It Can Lure: Those things are appealing to humans senses; thus, they can lure one into what one does not wish to do, therefore he says, they shouldn’t negotiate with it, but to shun them.
3. There are Dangers in it: We are enjoined to flee from those things because there are dangers inherent in them.
Let us now see the three things that the apostle enjoins us to flee from.
It is defined as sexual intercourse between people who are not married to each other. In his epistle to the church in Corinth he told them that they should flee fornication.
“Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.” (1 Cor 6:18)
The Greek word for fornication is “πορνεία”, Romanized form is porneia (phonetic spelling is por-ni'-ah) which means harlotry. The word used here could also be used for adultery and incest.
While in Hebrew two words are found associated with fornication and they are “זנה”, Romanized form is zânâh (pronounced as zaw-naw'), (2 Ch 21:11) and the second word is “תּזנת תּזנוּת”, Romanized form is taznûth taznûth (pronounced as taz-nooth', taz-nooth') (Eze 16:29) both means harlot, play the whore. Often used for Israel nation by God because they are married to Yahweh. Thus, when they followed other gods, they are said to have committed harlotry or whoredom with those gods.
The apostle after telling them that those who commit sin would not in any way get to the Kingdom of God, at this verse calls them to purity. God desires that man be pure for without purity we shall not see the Lord.
“Because it is written, be ye holy; for I am holy.” (1 Pet 1:16)
God desires that the believers in Corinth give their body to him totally and that they should not argue with fornication, for such sin is common with people, but it is a sin that should not be argued with, neither negotiated with by people but it should be fled.
This is what Joseph did when Potiphar’s wife wanted to lure him into the sin, he fled, he stopped negotiating with her, he did not reason with her when she by pretense invited him into her bedchamber.
“And it came to pass after these things, that his master's wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me.
“But he refused, and said unto his master's wife, behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand;
“There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?
“And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her.
“And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within.
“And she caught him by his garment, saying, lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out.” (Gen 39: 7-12)
Apostle Paul shed more light on this type of sin, saying that the sin unlike all other types of sin is a sin that when one commits one injures himself, because through such sin one becomes bound up with the sinner in the spirit.
Other sins come from outside to inside as Jesus said, but this sin emanate from inside to outside, which shows the position of impurity in the person’s life. (Mar 7:18)
It is a form of disease that weakens the body, because of the energy involved in carrying it out, causes premature death, could bring curse on the person and his family as it did happened unto King David on the case of Uriah (2 Sam 11-12), it could cause God to cancel his promises and covenant for a man.
Thus, the Apostle employs all believers, that what should be fled from, what should be shun, what one should not negotiate with is fornication. Anywhere one sees its “yellow” light, before it turns to “green” light one should flee.
Idolatry is defined as the worship of idol or cult image(s); being physical image such as a statue or a person in place of god. Idolatry in Greek is “εἰδωλολατρεία”, Romanized form is eidōlolatreia (pronounced as i-do-lol-at-ri'-ah) which means image worship.
In this dispensation, the modern days, idolatry has to do with anything that one loves, treasured, prioritize, identify with and or look to for fulfilment outside god. Such things are idols in our hearts, what we have substituted God with in our hearts.
Google says there is also self-idolatry. In this, one looks at himself with extravagantly, seeking for admiration for or devotion to oneself. It could also be a form of self-worship in which one allows his or her life’s work to become his monument. This was akin to what the bible says happens to Nebuchadnezzar that moves the Lord against him, and he was removed off his seat of power for seven years.
“At the end of twelve months he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon.
“The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?
“While the word was in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee.
“And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.
“The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles' feathers, and his nails like birds' claws.” (Dan 4:29-33)
From any form of idolatry, the apostle enjoins that we flee.
“Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.” (1 Cor 10:14)
This word was sent to the believers at Corinth in view of their words, perhaps their objections raised to the Apostle on their association with the heathen that are all around them. We shall not forget that the people of Corinth were gentiles and they have given their lives to small gods like other countries.
However, when the gospel is preached to them and they accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ and have been enjoined to leave idols and embrace the true God they cannot but raise the question with the apostle of how they would be interacting with their unbelieving partners, friends, siblings and relatives. Those who yet continue with their religion.
He partly answered their objections in chapter eight of this book and when he gets to this place, he has to nail the word to their ossicles that they need to flee idolatry.
Since they have been exposed to such way of life before, they could easily drift away from the gospel if they continue to reason with those people who have not believed the Gospel. For those people would show them some proofs, and perhaps some enjoyments which they have been enjoying in the worship of gods before they left for the real God.
When something like that is not forthcoming to them on the immediate as it is common with believers of this days who left idolatry in this part of the world and or some forms of spiritisms that are not in tandem with the living God, they may be tempted to want to go and see what’s up there again.
Therefore, the apostle nailed the word fast to their ears that what they need to do is not to negotiate with the word again but to flee it, they need to shun it and cleave to the living God.
Those things that we placed at the pinnacles of our hearts that are competing with the position of God and Holy |Spirit in our hearts, we are also enjoined to shun, to flee from for we cannot overcome those by arguing neither negotiating with them, what we need to do is flee them.
This was the error made by Judas Iscariot that makes him to sell his master, Jesus Christ. He has loved money; the love of this earthly mammon has filled his heart and it has displaced the love he has for Jesus in his heart which pushed him to sell his master.
“This he (Judas) said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.” (Joh 12:6)
All the while that Jesus has been cautioning them against love of money, that they cannot serve two masters, those words he used to hear them, but they never get sunk into his inner man, and this essentially would push away his love for God and his Jesus out of his heart at a later date as he went ahead to connive with the enemies of Jesus to sell him to them.
“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Mat 6:24)
Apostle Paul while writing to Timothy shed light on this the more as he says,
“For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1 Ti 6:10)
Those things that we place at the apex of our hearts which has displaced Jesus love from our hearts are small gods and they have made us idolater before God. It is those things that we are enjoined to flee from, and embrace the good news.
c. Youthful Lusts
Lust is a very strong desire for something or enjoyment of something. Youth is a period that starts from the teenage years. The time of life when a person is young, especially the time before a child becomes an adult.
During this period people are prone to behave in certain ways that people who are older would not behave like. Some of the characteristics that they show during this age is that they are prone to quickly take offence, empty show off, they thirst and pursue vain glory, they are overtly ambitious, rashness, obstinacy, pride, contempt, seeking pre-eminence, popular applause, hastiness, sensual pleasures, lovers of company, they are bold etc.
Some of the attributes demonstrated at this stage are not good, while few of them are good. But those qualities especially those that involve strong negative desire are what the Apostle cautioned his spiritual son, Timothy against that he should flee from as he said in his letter to him that,
“Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” (2 Ti 2:22)
Timothy at this period when the apostle wrote the letter to him was said to be in between 30 and 40 years old, and as a leader of the church, such attributes of the Youths could still manifest in his life while leading people who are old enough to be his parents and some grand parents in the church, thence the word of caution was sent to him by his spiritual father of what he and by extension God expects of him to behave among the people while leading them. (1 Ti 4:12)
Apostle John in his first epistle to all says that the world itself is full of those things that readily appeals to our senses, lusts are those things that commonly manifest in the world. youths are therefore prone to accepting this as the normal things of life, while the old people are not because of the experience they have had before getting to that stage, yet, they are equally enjoined by the apostle to be careful of those things.
“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (1 Jn 2:16)
Lust in Greek word is “ἐπιθυμία”, Romanized form is epithumia (pronounced as ep-ee-thoo-mee'-ah) which means longing, concupiscence, desire (especially for what is forbidden).
This is the kind of desire that overwhelmed Eve, the mother of humanity in the garden of Eden that made her eat what God has said they shouldn’t eat.
This kind of longings also fills the heart of younger ones at this age, such that they would think they are the only one in the world, even at the position of authority and leaderships and would not want to listen to anyone, for they would see people as antagonizing them when they are being counseled against going or doing those things at that age.
That was what happened to Samson, which eventually overwhelmed him leading to his destruction, by having interaction and association with the uncircumcised, the unbelievers of their days.
“Then his father and his mother said unto him, is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well.” (Jdg 14:3)
Samson was seeing his parents as antagonizing him by their suggestion to him to look inside, to look for someone among the brethren and be married to.
That is common with the youths, especially when they are placed at the position of authority and they can “do and undo”, when they decree and it comes to pass instantly, the attributes of youthful lusts, negative strong desires would be emanating from their lives, and they would not want to listen to anyone, for all the people of the world would become enemies unto them and their inordinate desires and ambitions at that age. Thus, the wisest king says, destruction lies ahead for those who continue with their headiness in this position and they failed to repent and turn a new leaf.
“He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” (Pro 29:1)
The destruction herein sometimes is being misconstrued to mean physical death, which is true, but it is not always associated with physical death sometimes, it may mean that the person would not achieve what he hopes he would achieve and would lose, at the end of it all when he or she looks back to his previous, early youthful lives, he would discover that he has missed because those things he ought to possess, the position he ought to be, he would not be there because of what he has done while in his youthful days, lusting after things and which his people called his attention to which he rejected to yield to their counsels.
It is at this period on looking back and seeing his colleagues making advancements, growing, progressing that he would know that his life has been destroyed he has destroyed his future albeit unknowingly when he was in his youthful days, because of those lustful desires.
Now nothing other than such counsel like this should have been given to anyone other than one who loves and wants the success of his partner, follower and spiritual son as apostle Paul has given unto Timothy in this epistle to him. It is someone who wants success for another person that offers such counsel.
The apostle thence says, it is when he demonstrated these, fleeing youthful lusts, that he would become a true leader without blemish among the people of God.
He wants him to be stable physically and spiritually becoming a vessel of honor, a worthy ambassador and a good representative of Christ among the people he leads.
As believers in the world today,
God also wants us to be stable physically, emotionally and spiritually, he wants us to demonstrate this rarity fleeing the youthful lusts, shunning those lustful desires that would make us be an enemy of God in all we are doing. And by becoming good ambassadors of his’ being role models for others after us.
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