Fight or flight are two typical reactions for a person who encounters a stressful or threatening situation. Let’s say you are walking down a dark alley late at night when three large men in masks step out from behind a dumpster. Or let’s say that your mother-in-law chooses her granddaughter’s birthday party to make a point about the lost etiquette of thank you notes and how she never gets them from this generation. You want to cry and run out of the room, or you want to slap her head in front of all the guests, verbally, of course. Escape or battle.
In the Christian’s war on sin there are times when the appropriate tactic is to run. Standing strong is good in its place, but sprinting away is sometimes the better course. It is similar to the difference between abstaining and avoiding. I can abstain from smoking in a room full of lit cigarettes, no problem. I will avoid a pit of rattle snakes.
God commands believers to flee a number of times in His Word. We must flee from sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18). We must flee from idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:14). We must flee the love of money (1 Timothy 6:11). And we must flee youthful passions (2 Timothy 2:22) which may have some overlap with sexual immorality. We aren’t to keep watching the movie to prove how pure our thoughts are.
Joseph provides an example of running par expeditious. When Potiphar’s wife kept enticing him, he initially resisted with principles. When she cleared the house and made her last advance, Joseph didn’t sit her down and exhort her about the dangers of her sin. He fled her presence. Fast. He still got in trouble because she lied. But he didn’t get in trouble with God.
We ought to be awake in the war on sin. The devil prowls like a lion seeking prey to devour. Hanging around to tell him why another target is more tasty is not a shrewd move. As Kenny Rogers once put it, you’ve got to know when to get out of there.