“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” (1 Timothy 6:11-12).
There are three words found in the opening text that express what the Christian life consists of. These words are Flee, follow and fight. If any of these are not in our own personal walk with Christ, then we have to question the foundation of that walk. In this study we will look at what the apostle Paul means by these three words and how they ought to be applied to our lives.
1 Timothy 6:4-5 gives us some specifics of what the believer should be fleeing from; “He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.” In this sense Paul is encouraging believers to flee from certain people who hold to and practice things that are contrary to Biblical truth and from those who stir up strife through foolish debates. Notice he uses the term “withdraw thyself.” We are not to have time for such people nor desire to be in their company. “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful” (Psalm 1:1).
The same command to flee from ungodliness and the ungodly is found in other New Testament verses: “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:17-18) … “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Ephesians 5:11) … “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us” (2 Thessalonians 3:6) … “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” (Romans 16:17).
Of course, alongside all this, we must flee from temptation and sin. It is often asked how we know certain things not specifically mentioned in Scripture are sin. The answer is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:22, “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” If we have to question an action then it is probably wrong to go ahead with it. The Holy Spirit is given to us to guide us away from anything that will lead us away from the truth.
According to our text we are to follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience and meekness. So we flee from all that is able to destroy our commitment to God, but build ourselves up in the things that reveal that we are true and faithful followers of Christ. This means that we must follow God and His word by putting it into action in our lives. We must fellowship with God’s people rather than the world. We must associate ourselves with good people.
We must follow after that which makes us stand out from the crowd. Those around us must know that we are different by our words, manner, speech and actions. Remember that Compromisers cannot do the work of God amongst those they compromise with. The Holy Spirit draws the lost to Christ through conviction not compromise. “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgement” (John 16:8). We can only be followers of God if we obey the voice of the Holy Spirit and do as He bids. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Romans 8:14).
This fight is both offensive and defensive. By preaching the Gospel to the lost, we are destroying Satan’s strongholds in people’s lives. The church has been commissioned to advance with the truth, “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:18-20).
The apostle Paul often found himself in prison because of his preaching of the word of truth. He described this as being in bonds “in the defence and confirmation of the gospel” (Philippians 1:7). The church of today has been browbeaten into silence and weakness by the world, false religion and perverts. It is time for the church to stand up and profess “a good profession before many witnesses” once again. We must “lay hold on eternal life” and fearlessly proclaim it to the whole world.
This fight is a daily battle. No wonder Paul tells us that the believer ought to be clothed in the whole armour of God (see Ephesians 6). It is not a battle we can win by willpower or human strength, rather we must be continuously looking to the Lord. “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds” (2 Corinthians 10:4) … “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (2 Timothy 2:4).
Flee, follow and fight. Flee sin by obeying God’s word. Follow Christ daily by taking up the cross and walking in holiness. Fight the good fight of faith. Three things that will prove that we are “more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Romans 8:37).