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Flee and Pursue

In 1 Corinthians chapter 10 Paul discusses five ways in which most of the children of Israel were not pleasing to God. Paul says these things were written for our example and instruction.

In 1 Corinthians 10:12 Paul writes -- "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall."

The question is: how do we take heed to prevent falling away?

In 1 Timothy 6:11 Paul instructs Timothy how to take a stand against temptations and remain faithful. -- "But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness."

Notice that Paul uses two action verbs a Christian must be involved in to determine if one is to stand firm or fall--the verbs "flee" and "pursue."

The word translated "flee" means to seek safety by flight, to avoid danger by running away or to escape out of danger.

In 1 Peter 5:8 Peter pictures the devil as a prowling, roaring lion seeking someone to devour. If one came face to face with a lion one would run away or seek a way to escape that danger. We understand that physically, but when we come face to face with the devil spiritually we fail to see that we should flee that danger.

The Corinthians failed to see this and their lives were filled with sin. In 1 Corinthians 10:14 Paul tells them to flee immorality. In 2 Timothy 2:22 Paul tells Timothy to flee from youthful lusts.

James writes in James 1:14-15 that we are enticed by our desires and when we do not recognize that temptation and flee from it, it gives birth to sin. When we do not flee from our temptations and sin results, it puts us farther away from God.

The second word Paul uses is the word pursue. Pursuing the things pleasing to God puts us closer to God. The word "pursue" means to run swiftly in order to catch something or to run swiftly to reach a goal or to seek after eagerly.

You see, fleeing that which is displeasing to God, and pursuing that which is pleasing to God is how we take heed to prevent falling away.

The Corinthians had jealousy and strife among themselves. In 1 Corinthians 14:1 he tells them to pursue love. In 1 Corinthians 13:4 he tells them why--"Love is patient, love is kind, is not jealous, love does not brag, is not arrogant."

In 1 Thessalonians 5:15 Paul tells the Thessalonians: "See that no one repays another evil for evil, but always pursue after that which is good for one another and for all men."

In Hebrews 12:14, the writer writes--"Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord."

In 1 Peter 3:8-9, Peter explains how a Christian is to pursue peace. "To sum up, let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit, not returning evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing."

And in Romans 14, after writing that the kingdom is righteousness, peace, and joy, in verse 19 Paul writes--"So then let us pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another."

As noted earlier, the words "flee" and "pursue" are action verbs--they both involve running. When applied appropriately they will create a pure heart. These words are so important to one's faithfulness that Paul uses them again when he wrote his second letter to Timothy. "Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart." (2 Timothy 2:22)

* In 2 Peter 1:10 Peter writes that we can know where we stand--"...for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble."

—Jim Hunt