Flee, Follow, Fight by James W. Boyd

1 Timothy 6:3-12

“If any man teach otherwise and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, he is proud and knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envying, strifes, railings and surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness, from such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world and it is certain that we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment, let us therewith be content. But they that will be rich fall into a temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil, which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things, and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith. Lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.”

Our Guide

     We should appreciate such instruction and instructors that provide for us the right direction, good advice and godly counsel. Such is the nature of this inspired passage that we have presented by Paul. It is teaching that should govern the manner of our lives here on earth.

     The two books that were written to Timothy primarily consist of two elements.  One, they serve as guidelines for those who preach the gospel. Timothy was an evangelist. Obviously, some of the book is to him personally.  Most of it is instruction that is applicable to all who would attempt to preach the Word.

     Two, the Word that preachers are to preach to others, especially to their brethren, are found in these books. Therefore, great portions of the text were written for the admonition and edification of any who would go to heaven through Christ.  Paul told Timothy, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).  So it is obvious that the words to Timothy were also words to which we all must give attention.

     Our text consists of three divisions. One, there are warnings against teaching false doctrines or following after such things.

     Two, there are exhortations to be content with such as we have materially. We came into this life with nothing and we shall leave the same way.  We are stewards of certain things which God has given us for which we are to care and use responsibly for our limited time in this life. We are not to strive for material gain and lose the soul.

     Three, there is the three-fold instruction to flee, follow and fight.  These three directives are designed as guidelines to direct and govern our lives as Christians. Upon these three we shall focus our attention in this lesson.

Flee

Paul tells us, verse 11, “Flee these things.”  The inescapable inference is that it is not always cowardly to run from some things.  To flee is the action of wisdom and prudence.  To flee can reflect common sense, good judgment and respect for what is right and good.

     We are to flee from those things that can destroy the spiritual welfare of the soul.  In living the kind of life the Lord would have one to live, there are times when running is the proper and wise course and is in keeping with the will of God.  There are those things from which we are to separate ourselves, including people as well as situations.

Flee What Things?

     From what things are we to flee?  This particular text concerns itself with money and the covetous grasp many have for it.  The love of money is described as a snare or a trap.  It is the devil’s device to capture the souls of people who are not cautious.  Like when one drowns in deep and dark waters, being overcome and losing one’s life in the depths of the sea, so the love of money can overwhelm one into eternal perdition.

     The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.  It feeds evil.  People will commit almost any and every kind of transgression if they think it will pay them well in money.  The love of money, both by the rich and the poor, has caused even those who had come to Christ to tum away and follow Him no more.

     There are other things from which we are to flee.  2 Timothy 2:22 teaches us to “flee youthful lusts.”  We should run from those opportunities to satisfy passions that are so strong and powerful in the days of youth.  We must learn to control them and not remain with those people and in those circumstances where we are tempted to sin. The physical body was planned and designed by Almighty God and ought not be used for the dissipation of it and exploitation for sinful pleasure.

     Too many do not flee from such things but actually seek them out, daring the devil to ensnare them in transgression.  Paul taught in 1 Corinthians 6:18 that we are to “flee fornication.”  This is such a prominent and promoted sin in our society, if we can believe the reports that we read and hear. There are so many evidences that more and more people have no respect for purity and chastity as God teaches people to have. The moral standards of American society have been lowered to alarming levels of base degeneracy and publicly paraded as the acceptable behavior and lifestyle today.  But we read from the Bible that fornicators shall be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone (Revelations 21:8).

     Like Joseph of old, when he was tempted but fled from the scene rather than sin against God, so should be our behavior.

     We are told to “flee idolatry” (1 Corinthians 10: 14).  We are not to think that idolatry only consists of bowing before the images of pagan and heathen worship, or the statues of Romanism, even though this is included.  Surely that is idolatry.  But we can make most anything an idol.  Whatever comes between us and God, and our dutiful service to God, becomes an idol to us. Not only can such things be evil, but they can even be things that are not evil in and of themselves, but because we put them first in our priorities and goals of life, many things that could be a blessing to us can become our undoing and become idols that will bring our condemnation eternally.

     Why flee these things? The answer is found in verse ten of the text when Paul speaks of some being led astray from the faith and being pierced through with many sorrows.  These words were written to Christian people and serve as warnings to flee lest it cost us our salvation in heaven. What an awesome price to pay for the paltry offerings of this sinful world!

     We will have trials and tribulations in life without seeking them.  But we sure do not want to flirt with them. We should pray that we not be led into temptation, and when we are tempted, that we will not yield. Flee such things for there is nothing to be gained in them, but everything to be lost.

Follow

     The second instruction is to follow certain things. What are we to follow? Verse 11 reads, “Follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.”  These are traits of Christ, characteristics of the divine nature.

     To be righteous means to be harmonious with the Lord’s will in the way we live. Godliness is reverence and respect for that which is holy and sacred.  Faith, love, patience, meekness are qualities of character of Jesus that we are to add to our own characters and lives.

     Peter teaches us to add these things in 2 Peter 1:5-11.

     In living the Christian way of life there is a time to flee from wickedness, which is a defense mechanism to help us avoid sin.  But there is also the positive side of being a Christian because there are things to follow and pursue. We must go where the Master wants us to go. This is the nourishing, constructive, needful and positive side of Christianity. We cannot live in a vacuum and total void. Our lives will be filled with something. They are to be emptied of evil but filled with these righteous traits Paul and others have listed in Scripture.

Fight

     The third instruction is to “fight.” That which we are to fight is the good fight of faith. See it clearly as we can. There is a time to flee, and a time to follow, and a time to fight.  There exists that call to do battle against the devil and for the cause of Christ, standing our ground no matter what comes or what the cost and consequences may be.

     All fighting is not evil. There are those situations in life when a person must take a stand and fight for his convictions of truth, contending with all his moral fiber for what he knows to be right and just, not flinching in the process.

     The reason Paul was prepared to die was because he had been a fighter in his lifetime. 2 Timothy 4:6-8 reads, “For 1 am now ready to be offered and the time of my departure is at hand. 1 have fought a good fight, 1 have finished my course, 1 have kept the faith. Henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give unto me in that day, and not to me only, but to all them that love his appearing.”

     Paul taught Timothy, “This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare” (1 Timothy 1:18).  Paul knew that being a Christian in a sinful world would necessitate a fight to survive.

The Nature of Our Fight

     Our fight is the fight of the faith.  We do not wage carnal warfare to promote or protect the kingdom of God (2 Corinthians 10:4).

     Such is not the nature of the Lord’s kingdom (John 8:36). We are to equip ourselves with the armor of God so we can fight as we ought.  Ephesians 6:11-13 teaches us to, “Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand.”

     Paul then lists that armor as the armor of truth, righteousness, the gospel, faith, salvation, the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God, and prayer. With these as our weaponry we are to fight for the way of the Lord among those of a sinful generation.

     We are never to be ashamed of the truth, or afraid to do battle for the cause of the right.  We are in the Lord’s army, and Christ is the captain of our faith (Hebrews 2: 10). Read 2 Timothy 2:3, “Thou therefore endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” Also read Jude 3, “Contend earnestly for the faith once delivered unto the saints.” Paul also said he was set for the defense of the gospel (Philippians 1: 17).

To “A Man of God”

     With these three instructions to flee, follow and fight, words that are addressed to one who was a “man of God.” let us give heed to them as we rise and go forward toward the remainder of our lives to live for the way the Lord has died. Flee evil, follow good, fight the fight of faith. To do less is to sacrifice our salvation for this world that offers nothing but sin and death when all is said and done. For each of us there will come that time when all will be said and done.

     It goes without saying that we want to go to heaven.  The Lord’s words serve as a “lamp unto our feet and a light unto our pathway.”  He pleads with all people everywhere that they be Christians. Having once heard, believed, repented, confessed Christ and been baptized into Him, we must continue to abide in Him.  This we do as we walk in the light as He is in the light (1 John 1: 7).  May we soberly, seriously, reverently, intelligently and prayerfully consider and heed these three instructions to flee, follow, and fight.