My beloved, flee from idolatry.
–1 Corinthians 10:14
The Corinthians wanted to use their freedom in Christ to get closer and closer to the edge of sin. They were asking, “Is it okay to go to the temple of Venus and participate in the worship of an idol? After all, if there is no such a thing as an idol, why can’t we go up there and have some fun in that temple?” And Paul said absolutely not. To in any way be engaged in the worship of idols is sin. In 1 Corinthians 10:14, he wrote, “My beloved, flee from idolatry.” In other words, instead of seeing how close to the edge of idolatry you can get without falling into it, run as far and as fast as you can in the other direction.
Paul also used that word “flee” in 1 Corinthians 6:18: “Flee immorality.” And again in 1 Timothy 6:11: “Flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.” And in 2 Timothy 2:22: “Flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace.”
The Bible says we are to run away from sin. But instead of fleeing from sin, we try to see how long we can linger around the edges of it without getting burned–and we always end up getting burned.
One of the best examples of what it means to flee from sin rather than use our freedom to run toward sin is the Old Testament story of Joseph. In Genesis 39, Joseph was enslaved in Egypt to a man named Potiphar. Potiphar was the captain of Pharoah’s bodyguard, and he put Joseph in charge of all his domestic affairs. But Mrs. Potiphar had a thing for Joseph. She was always coming onto him, trying to get him involved in sexual immorality. The Bible says she approached him day after day. Then one day, she grabbed Joseph by his garment and said, “Lie with me!” (v. 12). That is a tame translation of the Hebrew. It was an explicit sexual invitation.
What did Joseph do? He did not say, “Mrs. Potiphar, I sense you have a deep spiritual need. Let’s talk about your spiritual condition.” No, he did not linger at all. In fact, the Bible says he ran so quickly in the other direction that Mrs. Potiphar was left holding his garment in her hand.
Joseph understood that his freedom might allow him to stay in that house, but he was too wise for that. He knew his freedom should be used not to pursue sin but to pursue righteousness. That is what Paul was saying to the Corinthians: flee from tempting situations. Flee from idolatry.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Ties That Bind” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2011.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.