Choose to Avoid Sin
You’d think this would be a “no-brainer,” because of the many downsides to sin both in short-term and long-term contexts. But sin is so pervasive both inside and outside of us that we need to consciously choose to avoid it.
The Bible uses the word “flee” in the specific examples we’ll look at. You know instinctively how to flee a danger, like a vicious dog. Included might be the idea of running away (assuming you had a healthy head start), or it might mean getting to a place of safety, tied with these options you may well call for help as part of the fleeing process. Once away from the threat, you’d stay away, choosing to avoid even the possibility of future contact.
The same ideas may well be applied to fleeing sin. Physically remove yourself from the place of temptation. Find a place of spiritual refuge. Pray for help. Then don’t expose yourself to the threat again. We’ll apply these ideas to three specific contexts, today.
Our first example comes from 1 Corinthians 6: 18 where we read: “Flee sexual immorality.” I know sometimes Christians are a little squeamish talking about sexual stuff. We get fidgety and feel awkward, but it happens and needs to be addressed. We can’t just bury our heads in the sand and say “We don’t talk about that. Sexual impurity is something we need to be moving away from.
Let me throw in a little word picture here. The further we move away from sin the less control it has over us. Visualize a piece of steel being drawn to a magnet. The closer the steel is to the magnet, the greater the attraction. If it is in direct contact, it can be very difficult to pull the two apart. But then, once contact is broken, even if the steel and the magnet are separated by only a millimeter or two, it becomes easier to pull the steel further and further away. The further you move it the less influence the magnet exerts on the steel.
It is kind of like that with sin. The closer we get to it, the more we play with it, even just in our minds, the stronger the attraction is going to be. If we actually get physically involved, it becomes very difficult to break the bondage to that sin. This is particularly true with sex which often has an emotional component as well. However, if we can start to move away from it consciously and intentionally, then, the further away we get, the less power it will have over us.
The next area I want to consider is one of the favourite topics of conversation these days. Come to 1 Timothy 6 where Paul describes the danger of loving money. He says that it “is a root of all kinds of evil,” and because of it, some have even strayed from the faith. In verse 11, Paul challenges Timothy with these words: “But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.”
If you love money too much, you need to flee that and replace that passion with righteousness, godliness and the rest. If you find this magnetic attraction to money so great that it interferes with your relationship with God you need to flee it. The current situation in the world economy is shaking up people’s perception of how well off they are. It will reveal our real values to us. Do you feel devastated that you are only worth half as much on paper now as you were a year ago? Are you feeling psychological pain? Is it keeping you up at night? Is it interrupting your ability to function well in your relationships? Is it making you edgy and anxious? Or are you able to cast your cares upon Him because He cares for you? Are you able to keep plodding along doing what God wants you to do regardless of how much money is in the bank.
While we are fleeing the bondage of sexual immorality and the tyranny of money, lets look at 1 Corinthians 10:14 for a few powerful words, “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” In some cultures, idolatry is easy to identify with their idols, shrines, and temples. Our idols are often immaterial. Entertainment can be an idol, sports, music, money, work, celebrities, possessions, even yourself are all potential idols in a culture that pushes God to the margins.
Idolatry occurs when we allow anything to serve as a substitute in the place that God should have in our lives. I believe it is safe to assume we all have the tendency to worship things other than God. You may be a brilliant student and you worship the power of your mind, you would never say this because you are modest and humble but deep inside you say I totally depend on my smarts. I can go anywhere, do anything because I can figure things out. Others might substitute, talent, beauty, strength, personality, career, something we own, something that is precious to us, the list is nigh onto endless.
Idolatry. Search your heart for it. Paul says flee from it. Don’t allow anything to give you your identity, your significance. That is God’s job. He is the one who gives me my identity as His child. He is the one who gives me significance in terms of what I am able to be and do whether it is in Christian service or the ability to touch people in my community or whether it is just my ability to do work of some kind that is meaningful and useful in the world as stewards of the planet.
So there you have three specific examples of sin we should flee, but avoid all sin. Shun sin because it interrupts your relationship with God. It gets in the way. It spoils everything. The momentary benefits are never worth the sacrifice.
© April 2009