To Escape Or To Fight, That Is The Question

Over the years, I have noticed two types of fellow Christians with opposing approaches on dealing with temptation. Both could be part of the same fellowship, in the same local church or missionary organisation. But why can’t they agree?
Let me briefly explain their stands below-

Side A. “God says Flee”
These Christians point out that temptation is not something to trifle or play around with. They rightly say that the Lord Jesus died for these very things that caused them to sin, and rather than facing the choice to sin, they choose to escape the object or situation of temptation, sometimes in “radical fashion.

Favorite verses : 1 Cor 10:12-13, Matt 5:29-30 , Eph 5:3 , Gen 39:2-12, 1 Cor 6:8, 2 Tim 2:22

Life-theme: Joseph running and escaping Pharoah’s wife’s wrong advances. (Gen 39:1-20)

Pet peeve against Side B: “Pride goes before a fall, have you not heard?”

temptation, fight, flee, Jesus, Devil, I am weak, Jesus is strong, missions or purity, Christians debate
A Cannon mouth your size? “Tumse Na Ho Payega”

Side B. “Stand and fight”
These Christians think that temptation is really unavoidable in our daily lives. While they too hate sin and try to avoid temptation, they don’t really understand “Side A”. They feel too many people are fighting the devil with their rules, and not with the abundance of God’s grace, depending on Holy Spirit. They suggest that facing and enduring temptations is God’s way of making the Christ-follower grow to be more mature in a world that needs Christians out there!

Favorite verses : Matt 4:8-11, 1 Cor 10:12-13 (!), James 1:12, Eph 6:11-18.

Life-theme: Jesus’ fighting off the Devil’s temptations (Matt 4:1-11).

Pet peeve against Side A: “Growth won’t come by running away from conflict. Grow up buddy!”

I am unable, on my own, to arrive at a definite conclusion as to which side makes more sense. Since I am fascinated by opposing convictions and at the way they lob theology-grenades at each other, today’s blog only poses a few questions to either side.

Questions to Side A
1. If your temptation is to be angry at someone, are you suggesting that we don’t meet that person? Would we rather not lock up ourselves in a monastery? Did not Jesus always step into problems?

2. Sin is a heart issue. The “flee approach” seems to be based on your strength. Where is the heart-change? Did not Jesus talk about dealing with the heart?

3. In today’s world, things like sexual temptation is on the rise. Is not such fleeing going to impede our reach to a perverse world who needs Jesus? Is this not really escapism?

Questions to Side B
1. If Scripture teaches us to flee temptation, who are we to suggest we should stand and fight? Is not the “flee” command present across the Bible? Could it be that your approach is based in your own strength?

2. About the “whatever causes you to sin, throw it away” teaching (Matt 5:29-30), do you think Jesus would not practice what He preached? I am certain He fled temptation on many occasions- can Jesus be a hypocrite?

3. Do you really believe that God wants us on mission while it compromises our purity? Mission never happens at the cost of our testimony. Did Jesus do that? Should we not rather admit that we are weak and He is strong?

These are my questions. Do you have answers?

Which side are you on? Do you have answers to either side? To both sides?

Please write in so we can learn God’s truths together!

2 Replies to “To Escape Or To Fight, That Is The Question”

  1. I have a lot more to write, but let me start with the most important thing that I want to share. Hopefully, I will get time to share the rest.

    1. The means to avoid sin/temptation is to grow in our knowledge of and love for God.

    For example:
    Galatians 5:16 – But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
    James 4:7 – Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
    Psalm 119:11 – I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
    1 Peter 5:8 – Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith…

    So,
    It is by walking by the Spirit that I gratify the desires of the flesh.
    It is by submitting to God that I resist the devil and he flees.
    It is by storing up His Word in my heart that I refrain from sinning against Him.
    it is by being firm in my faith, that I resist the devil.

    So, if I think of resisting the devil or fleeing from him without putting in place a life-transformation regime by growing in knowledge and love for God – then I am doomed to failure – whether I resist or flee.

    And the more I grow in (1) above, the Holy Spirit, who indwells me, will give me wisdom whether to resist and fight or flee. In His mercy, the Holy Spirit repeatedly reminds me of sins in my life that can ensnare and destroy me. My aim is to flee from them. There are other sins that do not have such a strong hold on my life, the Holy Spirit will continue to reveal these to me.

    There are two things that Paul asks us to flee – sexual immorality and idolatry. As a man, it makes sense to me. Sexual immorality – it is obvious why. Idolatry – well, idolatry is giving my allegiance to anyone (or anything) apart from God. Once that happens, life is a downward spiral. All the other sins will start showing – even those that I never knew I was capable of!

    And in all the other places where the Scriptures ask us to resist and fight – it gives us the means (as mentioned in 1 above).

    So, after all – the process of fighting temptation does not begin with ‘fighting temptation’. It does not begin with deciding ‘whether to stay and fight or to flee’. It begins with knowing Christ and His Word – and trusting Him that He will provide a way of escape (and tell me whether I must stay and fight or flee) when I am tempted.

    I must remember, that I will not fight any spiritual battle – unless my spiritual muscles are getting stronger through His Word. I have no strategies, plans, will, strength – nothing – that makes me capable to fight the Devil. I have only one weapon – Jesus Christ. The more I grow in my knowledge and love for Him, through His Word – the more I will experience and enjoy victory over temptation. That’s it.

    Nothing more. Nothing less.

    PS: These are my views, from what I have learned. Do correct me if I am wrong!

    1. Johns bhai,
      thanks for your comment! I think you pointed out the MAIN drive behind any lasting Christian transformation- walking by the Holy Spirit- that dependency on Him who indwells us. Do tell me if I understand you right-
      1. You seem to coming from neither Side A or Side B. Though I hear you say that the key is to walk by the Spirit, WHO will point to us whether to flee or fight, and it might vary from case to case?
      2. But for sexual sin and for idolatry, God says “flee” every single time?

      Can you clarify?
      🙂
      Aravind

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