“Flee youthful lusts!”
There is a lot that I can be busy with as a young person. It can seem that there are so many exciting opportunities in the world around me. But the truth is that I am only young once. So, how will I use my youth time?
Paul writes: “Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but be an example for the believers in your speech, your conduct, your love, faith, and purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12 (GNT).
He also writes in 2 Timothy 2:22 (WBT), “Flee also [run away from] youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
What are youthful lusts?
The words “youthful lusts” can include many things. The lust or desire for money. The desire that people should praise me. The lust for power. And especially the sexual attraction towards and the desire for another person or people. When it has to do with this specific lust or desire, there can be a lot of impure thoughts, ideas and images that continuously come up in my mind.
Being attracted to someone isn’t wrong in itself. But attraction can mislead people and often this attraction causes my own lusts and desires to direct my actions, instead of being directed by a true love for God. When I live according to my lusts – allowing thoughts and ideas that are not pure to live in my heart and mind – then this is sin. And what does sin do? It separates me from God. It destroys my relationships with others. It corrupts and destroys everything. (Galatians 6:18; Romans 6:23.)
Take purity very seriously
It’s not strange that Paul used such strong words! His advice to Timothy still applies today and it is very helpful in teaching me how I can keep my heart and conscience pure before God’s face. Paul tells Timothy to “flee youthful lusts”. This means that he wanted Timothy to run away as fast as he could from youthful lusts - always saying No to them, and avoiding situations where he could get tempted to these types of sins. There was a great seriousness in his heart to be pure and godly.
Do I have this same seriousness in my own heart? Do I live my life as the Word of God says I should? Or do I allow a little impurity “here and there”?
Jesus had the same seriousness in His heart. He had made a firm decision that He would never give in to sin. (Isaiah 50:7.) He gave Himself completely to do God’s will and didn’t allow any room for impurity in His life.
The result of faithfulness
The more I seek to do God’s will in my life, the more clear and serious this becomes. Paul isn’t telling Timothy that he should literally run away whenever he is tempted or attracted to someone. He is telling him to start a real fight against impurity, to say No to everything that does not agree with God’s will or His Word. He is telling Timothy to live just as Jesus says in Matthew 5:27-30: Pure in every thought, word, look and intention.
When I think of the hope and promises that the Gospel gives – when I think of the final goal: that I can be like Jesus – then there is no question of whether I should run away from youthful lusts or not. There is no question of whether I can allow a little flirting here or a little impure thought there. It becomes very clear for me: I must throw away all impurity and run toward righteousness, faith, love and peace!
A firm determination not to sin
I must let God and His Word shape and direct my life, and fight for the purity that I read about in His Word. And of course, God will help me in this; He will make sure that I am not disappointed and that I overcome.
There are very few young people who run away from youthful lusts and fight for purity in their lives. They are very precious in God’s eyes, and He will use them to do His good and perfect will on earth. “All who make themselves clean from evil will be used for special purposes. They will be made holy, useful to the Master, ready to do any good work.” 2 Timothy 2:21 (NCV).
Do you want to be someone who keeps himself pure and is ready to do any good work? One who is like Jesus, his Master?
Then take up this challenge! Choose to be one of these few young people who have a firm determination not to allow even a little bit of impurity. God will richly repay each one who is willing to do this for His sake.