- “Flee immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18).
- “Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9).
- “Flee from idolatry” (1 Corinthians 10:14).
- “But flee from these things you man of God, and pursue righteousness” (Timothy 6:11).
- “Now flee from youthful lusts” (2 Timothy 2:22).
- “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
At this point there are two common objections which I have heard. The first is that fleeing does not sound very courageous or bold. Yet the truth is that everyone is presently fleeing from something or someone. The Bible notes that the “wicked flee when no one is pursuing” (Proverbs 28:1). Which can include the idea that the wicked are always looking over their shoulder, because at a very basic level they know they are doing wrong that their sins are going to catch up to them. It is difficult to sin without feeling guilty. You can fool yourself for awhile, but keeping up an act over the long term is far more difficult. To put it another way, you cannot roll in the dirt and not feel dirty. Yet the wicked equally can flee from what is not a threat to then. Fleeing when they should not flee. I have seen this happen frequently when a Bible discussion was started and all of a sudden the room begins to empty. Another objection is, “Why should I flee from temptation and sin?”, “Why should I flee from something that promises to offer pleasure and happiness? After all, I am young and want to experience all that this life has to offer”. “If I flee, won’t I miss out and regret my decision to opt out?” So the following are some of my reasons to resist temptation and abstain from what the Bible labels as sinful.
A Cheap Counterfeit
In the very first temptation recorded in Scripture we see that the devil can only offer a cheap and temporary substitute for real joy, satisfaction and happiness. Adam and Eve trade intimacy with God and each other for a piece of fruit, and the pleasure is short-lived. In the very next verse all the negative consequences started to arrive (Genesis 3:7ff). The devil cannot create anything new or superior to what God has created. He cannot improve upon the human sexuality that God created, or he cannot offer a better relationship than marriage. All he can do is offer a knock-off or copy that is inferior to the real deal. For example, all the devil can do is offer something like a living together relationship as a substitute for marriage. Yet, even non-Christians realize this is a poor replacement.
“Despite the fact that individuals who live together before marriage have a greater rate of divorce than those who do not, many who read the statistics simply don’t believe it. They do not believe their chances of divorce increase if they live together before marriage. Surveys show that there is a negative “cohabitation effect” – couples who live together before marriage “tend to be less satisfied with their marriages – and more likely to divorce – than couples who do not” (Meg Jay, New York Times, “The Downside of Cohabiting Before Marriage,” April 14, 2012). Living together is involvement. Marriage is commitment.
“Very religious couples enjoy higher-quality relationships and more sexual satisfaction than less religious or secular couples, according to a new study by the Institute for Family Studies and the Wheatley Institution. The report looked at four key outcomes – relationship quality, fertility, domestic violence, and infidelity – among couples in religious, mixed, and secular marriages in 11 countries around the world. It asked, ‘Is faith a global force for good or ill in the family?’
Overall, religion is good for couples, the study concluded. Those who attend religious services together are more likely to say their relationships are marked by satisfaction, commitment, attachment, and stability. Nearly 50 percent of women in couples with a shared faith reported being satisfied with their sexual relationship, compared to just 32 percent of women in secular or mixed-religion couples” (For the full article, see “Religion and Romance”, Kiley Crossland, 6-7-19, worldwng.org).
The Temptation is Often Better Than the Actual Sin
Once again we see this in the garden with Adam and Eve. The fruit seems so promising and alluring prior to eating (3:6). Did you observe that the text never actually says how it tasted? What the actual experience in the moment was like? The text immediately jumps from the anticipation to the let down. So just a heads up. Anticipating the sin is frequently far better than the actual commission of the sin.
It Comes With A lot of Baggage
When I yield to temptation I am typically going to end up with a lot of stuff that I did not order and nor did I want, which was never part of the original pitch by the devil.
- “Who as woe? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause?” (Proverbs 23:29).
- Again, we see this pattern in the original temptation. Adam and Eve started to experience a lot of negative consequences that the serpent never revealed in the original presentation.
So How Is This Going To Work?
That is, how is doing what I want to do and constantly yielding to my own selfishness going to result in happiness arriving into my life? The more you think about it the crazier it sounds. For example, consider the people in Romans chapter one who decided to turn from God and ponder what arrived. Is it really any surprise that people who opted for “I want to do what I want to do”, ended up really selfish? That they ended up greedy, full of envy, causing lots of drama in their relationships, backbiting, gossiping about others, over-confident, arrogant, and having no respect for parental authority? The pattern is predictable and we see the same truth emphasized in Galatians chapter 5. If I follow the flesh, then I end up producing the works of the flesh. Consider Titus 3:3 as well. So never believe the lie that sinning will not turn you into someone who is now thinking and acting like a sinner.
Further and Further Away from the Best Version of Me
I need to flee from sin, so I can pursue holiness (2 Timothy 2:22). Because I cannot develop such qualities as real love, patience, kindness or self-control as long as I am yielding to what is pulling me in the opposite direction. Or, to put it another way, you cannot paddle downstream and yet be heading upstream at the same time.
Sinning Against My Own Body: 1 Corinthians 6:18
“Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body”. I believe we see a similar truth in Romans 1:31, where those who rejected God’s truth ended up in a condition of being without understanding, untrustworthy and unable to love.
The verse does not say that fornication is the most serious of all sins, and certainly other sins also end up bringing physical consequences to the body of the sinner. What Paul may be driving at is that God designed the sexual relationship to unite two individuals (husband and wife) not only physically but emotionally, mentally, relationally and spiritually as well. Human sexuality was designed to cement the relationship between married couples (Genesis 2:24). Yet sex with a prostitute or without the commitment of marriage tends to make it into only a physical thing. The man has no mental, emotional, or spiritual connection with a prostitute, rather she is just someone to be used for gratification. “Every time he has sex with a prostitute he further separates the physical component of sexuality from its emotional, mental, and spiritual components. In so doing he becomes less than human in his sexuality (acts more like just an animal); he has deadened himself to the emotional, mental, and spiritual components of sexuality, and may never be able to restore them… Therefore, if you participate in fornication or use pornography, who is hurt? You are! In fact, you are ruining yourself. Every time you participate in the gratification of physical lust outside of marriage you further divorce the physical component of sexuality from its emotional, mental and spiritual components. Every such use will make it that much harder to fully give yourself, mind, body, and soul, to your present or future spouse” (Sinning Against the Body, Ethan Longhenry, Truth Magazine, February 2016, p. 11). We all need to ponder these statements. Increasingly I am hearing about men and women in our culture who cannot enjoy the normal sexual relationship in a marriage because they have for so long divorced sexual activity from the vital emotional, mental and spiritual connection in their brains. That is one reason I seek to resist temptation, because I do not want to become someone who is incapable of:
- Keeping my commitments when they require a lot from me.
- Telling the truth. Accepting the truth. Submitting to the truth.
- Facing the truth about myself, seeing my own sins.
- Listening to needed advice.
- Having a real and loving relationship.
- Being patient, forbearing, forgiving, and dealing with imperfect people.
- Arguing without becoming mean or offensive.
- Having fun or relaxing without alcohol or some other form of drugs.
Mark Dunagan | email@example.com
Beaverton Church of Christ | 503-644-9017