Know When to Run
Reason is necessary in the battle against sinful desires. But typically not when a sinful appetite’s craving is upon us, especially if the source of gratification is close at hand. What we need to do at this point is run!
The apostle Paul understood this. That is why he wrote “flee from sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18). Sin-distorted sexual desire is a very powerful, persuasive appetite. Paul’s recommendation—no, his command—in the face of this appetite was to flee. Paul was very aware of this appetite’s ability to overpower our reason. So he told us to employ this intelligent, righteous alternative strategy: Hightail it out of there.
Joseph in Genesis 39.11–13″ data-version=”esv” data-purpose=”bible-reference”>Genesis 39:11–13 is a great example of this. When Potiphar’s wife cornered him and tried to seduce him, Joseph wasted no time reasoning with her, which he knew from experience was a waste of time. He “fled out of the house.”
David in 2 Samuel 11 is an example of a failure to flee. When he was on his roof and saw Bathsheba bathing, he could have done what Joseph did. But he didn’t. He lingered and looked. His reason and conscience told him it was wrong. But the longer he lingered the stronger his appetite grew and the more he listened to its promise of pleasure and he let it overcome him.
Proximity and Visibility: Plan Your Escape
We have all had our Joseph moments and our David moments. We’ve fled from and we’ve caved into sinful temptation. We all have certain familiar sinful appetites that tempt us to stumble. Therefore, we must make some plans of escape for the times when the temptation hits.
You know yourself. What are the patterns of temptation? When are the times that you are more vulnerable? When does the seductive voice speak sweet insanities to you in such a way that you want to linger and look and listen?
There are two ways to flee from sinful appetites that seek to entrap us. The first is to flee from proximity to the temptation. Get out of the house, away from the computer or T.V. or phone or fridge or Facebook.
But sometimes fleeing from proximity to temptation is not an option. At that point we need to flee to visibility. Either we must flee to a visible place that will minimize temptation or we must let a trusted friend know about the temptation. Often the quickest way to douse a hot desire is to tell someone else about it.
The time for Counsel Reason to speak with King Delight about the highest, truest pleasures is when he’s open to listening to reason. But if a deceitful appetite is awakened today, don’t reason with it; run from it! Be ruthless. Run from proximity to the temptation or run to visibility on it.
Sometimes flight is the best way to fight sin.