What does it mean to flee from idolatry?

Paul, writing to the Corinthians, has just brought up Old Testament examples of the idolatry of Israel, and he says that those things were written as an example for Christians, that we wouldn’t desire evil as the Israelites did.  He calls the Corinthians to not be idolaters, to not indulge in sexual immorality, to not put God to the test or grumble. 

Then, he warns them not to overestimate their own strength.  He shows that God is the one who ordains testing and will never allow a Christian to be tempted beyond ability.  Furthermore, when a Christian is tempted, God always gives the way out to stand up under temptation. 

This is when Paul says, 

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. – 1 Corinthians 10:14

Earlier in the letter, he addressed the subject of eating food sacrificed to idols (1 Corinthians 8).  For some of the Corinthians, they couldn’t help but eat that food in the way they used to eat it in worship to the Greek gods.  In this way, he returns to this subject and warns the Corinthians not to play around with it.  Those who are prone to such idolatry shouldn’t even flirt with it.  Rather, they should flee.  

Now today, we may not struggle with eating meats sacrificed to idols, but certainly we have our own temptations that can hold sway over us.  Even though it’s true that God is faithful and He will not let us be tempted beyond our ability (v13), we should still very much flee (v14).  We don’t take God’s grace on us for granted.  We should be as Joseph, his cloak in his temptress’ hand, running out  of the house like a crazy man.  

Such should be our faithful war against sin and our steadfast devotion to our gracious God.  May He help us to that end. 

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