"Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body" (I Corinthians 6:18).
Four times in the New Testament we are warned to "flee" sinful actions and temptations. The Greek word, pheugo, from which we get our word "fugitive," means simply "to run away." Evidently there are certain things which must be avoided at all costs. Our text mentions fornication and brings to mind godly Joseph's reaction to Potiphar's wife's advances (Genesis 39:12). Even though his decision cost him dearly in the short run, it was the right thing to do, and God honored him.
Likewise, if we are to do the right thing, we must "flee from idolatry" (I Corinthians 10:14), such as participation in the pagan feasts of Paul's day, as well as the modern-day counterparts which might bring us under demonic influence or in contact with worship of the devil.
"But thou, O man of God, flee these things" (I Timothy 6:11), says Paul, after listing "envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings" (vv.4-5) and "love of money" (v.10). Paul knew, however, that merely fleeing these evils was not enough. He wisely instructed Timothy to substitute positive actions in the place of the negative ones he was to avoid, and to "follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness" (v.11). Elsewhere, he admonished Timothy to "flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace" (II Timothy 2:22) with the aid and mutual encouragement of "them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart." God does not expect us to live the Christian life entirely on our own.
We who have "fled for refuge" (Hebrews 6:18) to God have another bit of encouragement. This time, it is not the believer who must flee, but we are told that as we "resist the devil . . . he will flee" from us (James 4:7). JDM