It means beat it. Take off running. Get the heck out of there. Flee for your life.
We see it show up in Scripture in places like…
Now when [the Magi] had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”
He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.
And, during the famous ocean storm that took place on the way to Paul’s trial in Rome, Acts 27:30:
…the sailors were seeking to escape from the ship, and had lowered the ship’s boat into the sea under pretense of laying out anchors from the bow.
So, let’s see, we have the Bible talk about fleeing from wicked kings who want to kill you, ravenous wolves who would just as soon dine on human flesh as on lamb, and ships tossed about in vicious storms. That all sounds highly reasonable, and I bet most of us wouldn’t need to be told twice that escaping from these situations is a good plan. It’s obvious that murderous monarchs, wicked wolves, and sinking ships are things to be avoided like your life depended on it (because it does). What’s less obvious on a day-to-day basis, I think, is what the Apostle Paul would have us “pheuge” from.
Flee from sexual immorality.
– 1 Corinthians 6:18a
Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.
– 1 Corinthians 10:14
But why would Paul want us to flee from sin? I mean, what’s it going to do, nibble our bums? Can’t we just run right up to it and chop its head off? What’s so scary?
Of course, most of you know precisely why: sin isn’t some cute little bunny rabbit. It’s a killer. One only need pay attention to the corpses that litter its wake, strewn like some morbid parade stretching through time from Adam to us. This isn’t something you can fight like a normal foe. Engage it carelessly, and it will get the better of you. It will – in a sense more real than the deadliest ruler, the most rabid wolf, or the most waterlogged ship – kill you.
So what does Paul recommend? Don’t underestimate sin. Don’t overestimate your own strength against it. Pheuge! Run away!!
Run and shield yourself in the one who takes your sin away, banishing it as far as the east is from the west.
Run to Christ!