Flee, Follow, Fight

FFF 14:7 (Aug-Sept 1968)

Flee, Follow, Fight

Leslie S. Rainey

“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” (1 Timothy 6:11, 12).

In these words, “flee,” “follow,” and “fight,” Paul the aged is seeking under God to encourage Timothy the man of God how he ought to conduct himself in the household of God.

Flee

We are not left in any doubt as to the things the Christian is called upon to flee. They are recorded in the earlier verses of this chapter. Paul knew he was speaking to a spiritually-minded man and shows him there are three mighty forces arrayed against him: the world, the flesh and the devil. The first two he is to flee from but in the third he is to stand fast. Surely it is a time to hold fast, stand fast, and run fast. We must be careful to maintain a standard of life worthy of the name of Jesus Christ. The normal order is to fight first, and only when there is no hope of victory, to flee. Spiritually, in order to fight the battles of the Lord we must flee certain things. How very difficult to learn dependence on God and oh! so often in the confidence of the flesh we fall. Our “strength” is to maintain a conscious weakness (2 Cor. 12:10). In every spiritual advance we need to recall, “In all thy ways acknowledge Him,” and the promise is, “He shall direct thy paths” (Prov. 3:6).

The idea expressed in this word is not to dodge the conflict or skulk behind the first ridge as a place of shelter, but rather to escape urgently — to run and keep on running from the danger at hand. How easy it is to become unsettled because of the departure from the faith and the doctrine of demons evident today! To become intoxicated with the pleasures of this world and the various cults, culture, wranglings and lust for things is easy. The spirit of dissaffection and discontent is everywhere, and their evil influence is at work in the Church and in the home and in our evil hearts of unbelief. To know these things and observe their development we must give ourselves to the reading of the Word of God, and by the help of God to turn our backs on them and set our faces as flint to do His will … Perhaps like Joseph we may lose our coat, but retain our characters in this evil age.

Follow

The next word is most emphatic and conveys the idea of persistent following. Never in the Bible are we told to dawdle or follow halfheartedly but wholeheartedly, relentlessly, consistently, as exemplified in the life of Paul when he pursued the early Christians, “I persecuted them” (Acts 26:11). Following suggests the single eye as John points out in John 21:21, and leadership as seen in Hebrews 2:10. Christ is our Captain, our Prince and our Example… He walked the pathway of righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and meekness. These spiritual qualities were found in their fullness and beauty in the life of Christ and oh! to follow even as Caleb. These virtues were also seen in men like Daniel, David, Abraham, John, Job and Moses. In our day none of these things listed may mean much in the eyes of the world but they are precious in the eyes of the Lord. To pursue them is a life-time occupation, and but for the grace of God none of us will be able to keep up with them … Few maintain an even keel amid the varying tides of life. We need to turn to God in prayer and to keep our eyes fixed upon Christ. We need to avail ourselves of His Strength for our weakness, His wisdom for our folly, His grace for our greed, His love for our lust, His peace for our problems, His joy for our sorrows, His plenty for our poverty, and His drive for our drift.

Fight

The next word carries us into the stern reality of war. Fighting is not good generally speaking, in fact it is usually devilish whether against nations, men or Christ. Here the fight is called by God, “the good fight of faith.” In such a conflict there is no room for the pacifist. Jude in his stirring book of intense and practical godliness uses the term, “contend earnestly” and surely this is the thought employed by Paul. It contains the root idea of agony as translated in Luke 22, “Being in agony He (the Lord Jesus) prayed more earnestly.” We are engaged in a mortal combat and all who are enlisted under the banner of the cross are to hazard their lives for the Lord Jesus Christ and be marked by deadly earnestness in all three things. We are to be entrenched behind the great fundamentals of our faith. We are to put on the whole armour of God, and be armed with the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. We are to dig in and meet the devil head-on in no do it yourself affair… The battle is the Lord’s and we are to get our orders from our Commander-in-Chief.

We must learn as Joshua learned; it is not a question on whose side the man with the drawn sword is, but that he is Captain of the Host of the Lord. He did not come to take sides — He came to take over. We are to be subject to Him and to our Lord in all things … He does not take sides — He takes over and then modernism, materialism, communism, racialism — are not the number one problem but the furtherance of His cause and the extension of His Kingdom here on the earth. How are we to fight the good fight of faith? As we let go the grip on material, we shall grasp with tenacity the mighty fact of Eternal Life. We shall confess Christ in word and life and labours before a hostile world. We shall not yield a foot in the face of the advancing enemy, but resolutely, determinedly and faithfully press the battle to the very gates of hell. It is the fight of faith that overcomes Jericho not carnal weapons and human innovations or worldly machinations.

We are not left in the dark as to this conflict … Faith is the slender charter upon which to live and labour, build and battle for God. Faith looks beyond this present evil world and thus the uplook is good, the outlook is better, and by far the best is the inlook when faith gives way to sight over the hill of this present evil world. Perhaps reader as well as writer knows a good deal of defeat and even at times despair, but oh! how blessed to peruse a chapter like Hebrews 11 and realize anew our Leader has never lost a battle.