Run Away? Or Stand Your Ground? Fleeing May Be the Smart Choice
- Summary: There are times to stand your ground, to take a stand and not flee. There are other times when simply running away is the smart choice — and the biblical one.
1) Flee from idolatry, greed, and covetousness.
1 Corinthians 10:14 Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.
Colossians 3:5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.
- •• The first-century Corinthians were steeped in pagan idolatry.
- • Even in our 21st century there can be idolatrous items in our lives and even in our homes.
• Throw out household idols, Buddhas, totems, etc.
• Many Americans make people their “idols” — athletes, actors...
- •• More commonly today, though, covetousness and greed are our modern form of idolatry — “covetousness, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5, KJV).
- • You can gain wealth, but lose your family.
• You can accumulate much, but become spiritually bankrupt.
• You can, like the Laodiceans, be “rich and increased with goods” and yet have Jesus vomit you out of His mouth (Revelation 3:16-17, KJV).
- •• 1 Timothy 6:10-11 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.  But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.
- • So our first biblical encouragement today for running away is to flee from idolatry and its modern counterpart — greed and covetousness.
• There are some things simply to stand up strong against, such as the devil himself (Ephesians 6:11-18). But in some other situations, the wise choice is to flee! Let’s look at another of those smart choices.
2) Flee from sexual immorality.
1 Corinthians 6:18 Flee from sexual immorality.
1 Timothy 5:22 Keep yourself pure.
2 Timothy 2:22, KJV Flee youthful lusts.
- •• Don’t just go and stand in front of the pornographic magazine rack and try to “war a good warfare”. No! You should put one foot rapidly in front of another and flee!
•• Married people: Don’t go out to lunch alone with coworkers of the opposite sex. Nothing but trouble there!
•• Singles: Don’t date unbelievers, who almost certainly do not possess biblical moral standards.
•• Youth: Remove yourselves from any and every circumstance that would present occasions for immorality. Ask yourself: is that upcoming Friday-night party going to present a godly atmosphere? Not likely. So why even go? Rather, flee from the very likely occasions for sexual immorality.
•• Proverbs 6:27-28 Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched?
- • That proverb accurately describes the folly of getting into sexually provocative situations and trying to stay there and be strong. No! The biblical remedy, the smart choice, is running away! — “Flee from sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18).
3) Flee from persecution in one place to another place of ministry.
Matthew 10:22-23 All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another.
- •• Nehemiah had the people who were building Jerusalem’s walls pray and, at the same time, post a guard (Nehemiah 4:6-9) against the nearby enemy. That was not “lack of faith”, as some would probably call it. No, rather, that was a smart choice to use God-given wisdom.
- • Sometimes the seemingly “noble” thing to do may not be the biblically smart decision. In our previous Scripture, it was Jesus Himself who said, if you find yourself persecuted in one place, flee. Take off. Move on. Run away. Get out of there. Persecuted? Go somewhere else to preach the Gospel.
• A friend and I many years ago went out at night to try some street witnessing in a dangerous part of an urban area north of New York City. We were confronted on the first street corner by three big, tough men who said, “You’d better get out of here, or you’re gonna get mugged.” My friend tried to share a word about Jesus, but the three men quickly repeated the very real threat. I then said, “Harry, let’s go.” And we went to a safer area to witness. A wise choice? I believe so, and a biblical one. Sometimes the one running away is the one who lives to preach another day — which I believe was at the heart of Jesus’ command to flee in Matthew 10:22-23 (above).
- •• John 11:53-54 So from that day on they plotted to take his life. Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the Jews. Instead He withdrew to a region near the desert.
- • He obeyed His own counsel to others — that is, “When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another” (Matthew 10:22-23).
4) Flee from the voice of an unknown, unproven shepherd.
John 10:2-5 The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep.... His sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice. (KJV: The sheep “will flee from him.”)
- •• Be careful who shepherds you. Don’t make premature commitments to a new church or a new pastor. Take some time to look for evident fruit of the Spirit and sound bible doctrine.
•• Be cautious about “television pastors”. The true shepherd calls his own sheep by name (vs. 3). He leads them (vs. 3). He goes on ahead of them, and they know his voice (vs. 4). Wise sheep will run away from the stranger (vs. 5). No pastor can do all these biblically appropriate things for you at a distance.
5) Flee from Babylonish influences in your spiritual life.
Jeremiah 51:6 Flee from Babylon! Run for your lives! Do not be destroyed because of her sins. It is time for the Lord's vengeance; he will pay her what she deserves.
Revelation 17:3-6 Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a desert. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns.... This title was written on her forehead: MYSTERY BABYLON THE GREAT THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus. When I saw her, I was greatly astonished.
Revelation 18:4-5 Then I heard another voice from heaven say: "Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; for her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes.”
- •• Babylon! Apostate Christianity! God’s solution is to “Come out of her!”
•• Babylon of old kept God’s people in captivity.
•• Many sincere Christians today are in captivity to:
- • Human church traditions that have replaced God’s reality:
- • Powerless rituals like confirmation have replaced the mighty baptism with the Holy Spirit.
• Instead of anointing the sick for healing, some churches today pessimistically anoint the sick to prepare them to die!
• Sprinkling babies has replaced the power of burying the old man of sin in immersion baptism of believers (Romans 6:3-4).
- • Many churches are under the leadership of pastors and elders who don’t personally know the Lord.
• Incense, robes, and ritual prayer books have supplanted the sincere prayers, praise, and worship of all the saints being offered directly from each believer’s heart to God.
- •• No church is exempt from the dangers of Babylonianism. The early Church began right, but much of the Church drifted from the path over the years. Ritual replaced reality. The initial power, anointing, and vibrant faith that began in Jerusalem was gradually replaced by the cold, formal, ritualistic prescriptions of spiritual Babylon.
•• Babylon of old stood for: wealth and luxury ... reverence for the work of man’s hands ... dictatorial leadership ... conquest of the people ... “Is this not the great Babylon I have built?” (Daniel 4:30).
•• Flee from spiritual Babylon! Run away from it at top speed and at all costs. If you stay, you are not likely to change it, but it is very likely to change you — for the worse.
In sum, there are things that God commands us to flee, things from which running away is the smart choice biblically:
- 1. Flee from idolatry and its modern counterparts — covetousness and greed.
2. Flee from sexual immorality.
3. Flee from persecution, if by so doing you are enabled to continue ministering.
4. Flee from the voice of the stranger who is not the true shepherd.
5. Flee from every Babylonish influence in your spiritual life.
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©2002, 2015, James H. Feeney.
Pentecostal Sermons and Bible Studies
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.