The Monthly Bread Archives
Fleeing Youthful Lusts
2 Tim 2:22 Flee also
youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on
the Lord out of a pure heart. (KJV)
When I first read this verse years ago, the word "Lust" seemed to be an awkward word for me that rang my alarm bell over one thing, and that was to flee sexual temptation at any cost. My convictions are still the same, although after careful study, I have come to the conclusion that the definition of "youthful lusts" has a much broader meaning than a single issue of illicit sex.
By nature, the word in the original language is a neutral word that can apply to both righteous and unrighteous applications. It does not relate just on the level of evil things, but also in the realm of Godly desire. For instance, Jesus himself used this same word "desire" when speaking of prophets and righteous men who longed to see the kingdom of God and its riches of grace through the coming of the Messiah.
Matt 13:17 For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them. (KJV)
Likewise, Jesus desiring to eat the Passover with His disciples; also uses the word "desired" again, the same word as "lust" in 2 Timothy.
Luke 22:15 And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: (KJV)
Maybe there are people who would cringe at the thought of my suggesting this, but I believe it is evident that such a thing exists as lusting after God. You see, lust is not just a casual feeling. It is an intense desire and by nature does not express itself in a passive way. Fervent desire however, can be found in both a righteous and unrighteous context: one of the inner-man, and one of the flesh. It is not only a longing after the forbidden but also an intense passion to know God.
Secondly, I might mention that when it comes to longing for the forbidden, you do not have to be young to experience youthful lusts. You can be a person who is older and have youthful lust problems because you have never properly matured and grown out of the problem. That is why we hear about dirty old men on the evening news in their late seventies being caught up in molestation. Most likely, they are beyond their prime years of sexual activity, yet they have never been set free from the bondage in spirit and soul.
Thirdly, we see in Paul's warning to Timothy and his church that the greek word "epithumia" is in the plural sense, meaning there was more than one lust to contend with. Sex scandals may be sensational enough to get the headlines, but quite honestly, there is more to youthful snares than what comes out of the heart. There is also the lust of the eyes which enters into the heart.
1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
John the Apostle gives us the definition of the lust principal in the negative. He says there are three main areas of temptation that serve as spiritual stimuli to ensnare mankind. The "lust of the flesh" brings forth evil treasure out of the heart of man ...
Matt 15:19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: (KJV)
Whereas, the "lust of the eyes" enters into man as a stimulant from an outside source.
MARK 4:19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. (KJV)
Let's face it, America is hooked on a feeling. It is not just a coveting desire that pulls at us to possess materially, but an obsession with stimulation. Having the object is not as exciting as the challenge of getting it. The entertainment industry in Hollywood has designed its influence over the public by mass appeal to satisfy the "lust of the eyes." Story lines have become secondary to special effects, but one has to wonder how far can things go? Man's lust will long outlive the movie budget to make blockbusters and then what? Since every addiction grows and needs a greater fix over time, the ability to satisfy the senses leads to greater frustration. The only answer is to seek the fulfillment in the living God.
Fourthly, it is not enough just to flee youthful lusts that hurt you. One must reach out and move into God's path for the help He offers us. That path is called "following after righteousness" as well as "faith, charity and peace." If one only makes the effort to flee by just avoiding the problem, the end result is a self-management program for a bad habit. The failure to follow means that one has never fully submitted to the process of God and therefore fallen short of becoming an overcomer. At best, the problem lies dormant and has yet to be drawn out in the open to be acknowledged and dealt with.
To the one who is trapped in youthful lusts, following after righteousness may seem difficult and far out of reach but ultimately it is salvation to free us from ourselves. It is fully attainable and fully able to satisfy the needs of those who would sincerely turn to God.
Matt 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. (NIV)
This hunger and thirst for righteousness is a desire that is never innate in the depraved heart of man, nor does it have any potential of being born there, except it be given by God Himself.
John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. (KJV)
Back in John 2:16, John the Apostle is careful to put in God's disclaimer clause to say that these three areas of temptation are desires not of God, nor should they ever be related to the will of God and His purposes.
1 John 2:16b .. is not of the Father, but is of the world.
17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. (KJV)
The emphasis in scripture here says that these lusts whether out of the flesh, or outside entering into the heart, have nothing to do with the desire of our heavenly Father which is from above.
In our day, carnal Christianity hasn't realized that sensuality and spirituality do not mix. They don't blend any better than oil and water. The most baffling thing is that if the bible says that "these things are of the world," then why is sensuality found in ministry today? The word is clear to say that sensual people do not move in the spirit since they are those who walk after (follow) their own ungodly lusts and have "separated themselves." That separation would be from the spirit of God since they have left the one to follow the other. Though the appeal of sensuality may make sense to human nature, it has nothing in common with God on a spiritual level.
Jude 1:18 How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.
19 These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit. (KJV)
Strangely enough, this attempt to mix ungodly lusts and the anointed influence of God is recorded in the book of John when Jesus encounters a group of Jews who claim to believe on Him. The Lord challenges them to continue in His word, progressing from being just believers into becoming disciples.
John 8:31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (KJV)
These believing Jews were a paradox since they were at the same time expressing the lusts of Satan. The reason Jesus instructs them to continue in the scriptures is not that they might free themselves, but that the word of God would find liberty to work in them. This would then make it possible to flee the ungodly lusts produced in them by their father, satan and thus, follow after the righteousness of God.
John 8:44a Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. ...
One has to wonder, how is it possible for a believer to be moved by Christ on the one hand and express anti-Christ desires on the other? Most likely, it isn't a matter of evil possession, but a stronghold of the enemy established to control their desires. If given license, the enemy will come enticing and inspiring the hearts of men to express his will, even to the point where they believe they are serving God. Remember, Samson moved in the anointing of God and was used mightily, yet he walked in ungodly lusts. He went out to battle defeating the Philistines with anointed strength from on high and returned the same night to sleep with a harlot. Believe me, it is possible for this kind of contradiction to occur, but the wise understand that the key to successful and true Christianity is living holy.
The Apostle Peter addressed the saints in the church as "strangers and pilgrims" in relation to the lustful desires of the world, because the strength of that sinful influence was a thing of the past. Peter reveals that the real battleground for spiritual survival takes place in the soul, where lust seeks to war and dominate the spirit-man. However, while lust may fight to control our well-being spiritually, God is still the "Man of war" who fights on our behalf. His help comes that we might follow on into His righteous provision.
1 Pet 2:11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; (KJV)
Fifth, as I mentioned earlier, there are other youthful lusts at bay that need to be addressed as much as immorality. And if I can spend just a little time and space outlining them here, I think it will be of great benefit.
To begin with, another desire that begins early in life is the area of vain hope, the motivation that comes out of trusting in our own ability, producing an esoteric belief that one can save themselves.
Alexander the Great accomplished much in the strength and power of his own might. His influence was felt far and wide by those who followed him and of those he conquered. But the glory of his self-strength was short-lived, and eventually he died before he was thirty years old. How futile, when one considers that the strength Alexander exhibited to conquer an entire world, failed to save his own life.
Ps 33:16 There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength.
17 An horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength.
18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; (KJV)
Another youthful lust to take note of is vain beauty. Peter is not dismissing the need for personal hygiene here, but people solely occupied with external beauty make little effort toward the inner life of the spirit. Once more, we do good to take heed that we see the emphasis of beauty according to God's value system. "Great worth in God's sight" is the "unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit."
1 Pet 3:3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.
4 Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. (NIV)
Still another youthful snare to flee is the lust for riches. Money, apart from God, is by nature the second closest thing to man's heart. The bible tells us the greatest commandment is to "Love God with our whole heart, mind, soul and strength." The second command is to "love our neighbor as thyself." But honestly, I doubt most people love their neighbors more than money. Most have trouble loving God more than money.
2 Tim 3:1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, ....
4 ... lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; (KJV)
The fact is, if our will is totally involved all our days in making money, it will cause us to fall into "many foolish and hurtful lusts" (1 Tim 6:9). The money itself is not the culprit. God himself, gives instruction in scripture to those with a right heart on how to manage wealth as a good steward. No, it is the love of money (self-desire) that is the root of all evil (1 Tim 6:10).
The youthful lust of selfish love is also a danger in the last days, as male predators seek to creep into lives of foolish women loaded down with sin. The familiar term "stalker" has become a household word mainly because of the obsessive lust to worship and control the life of another. It is one of those strong desires that no one, including those in the mental health field, seems to be able to define or understand because of the spiritual complications that run much deeper.
True love by God's standard, is to give sacrificially as Christ loved the church. A predator who sneaks into a woman's life to take advantage of her weakness and gain control is just plain selfish. This creep knows how vulnerable and defenseless she is, but seizes the opportunity to dominate. The love of a husband is to protect a wife from unsanctified influences of the world, yet there are creeps who seek to lure weak women into deeper levels of perversion. I believe this description would include a husband who foolishly leads his wife into a swinging lifestyle of illicit sex. The physical concern over AIDS is just the beginning of danger when one considers the demonic ramifications of "divers (strange or perverse) lusts."
2 Tim 3:1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2 Tim 3:6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, (KJV)
Beware of the party spirit, which is yet another youthful lust to consider. It is listed as one of the works of the flesh in Galatians 5;21 called "revellings" which primarily means "to let loose". Although this kind of outrageous conduct has become impressively popular with some, its undisciplined and unrestrained behavior is in flagrant disregard for the "fear of the Lord".
Peter charges saints everywhere to no longer give preeminence to the effort of living "to the lusts of men," but that we should endeavor to live for the will of God. To put it plainly, if Christ died for us, at least we should be able to live for Him. The proud revellings of letting it all loose benefits no one. Whether it is for reasons of pleasure or rebellious causes, like all other works of the flesh, it stands for no other purpose than to feed the sinful nature.
1 Pet 4:2 That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.
3 For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:
I have spoken of just a few of the youthful lusts to flee from, and yet plurally, there are a number to watch for. Certainly one cannot spend their entire time focusing on what they are fleeing from. What will save us the trouble, is knowing that following God is the way to flee. If we are faithful to "walk in the spirit", then we will discover what it means to halt the fulfillment of fleshly lusts (Gal 5:16). The will and determination on our part is not a matter of aiming at the problem but seeking healing in the spirit as a way of life. No man can live and grow on auto-pilot. We must be involved to the extent that we are willing to wait on the promise of the Holy Spirit to guide us. Furthermore, God's priority does not begin with taking away "the provision for the flesh." If we are to hinder the fulfillment of lust, we more importantly are to "put on Christ" (Rom 13:14). We are not equipped to fight this lust battle that wars against our soul on our own. To do our part, we must be responsible to put on the Anointed One to move in the anointed life. This in turn, "breaks the yoke" of the enemy. This should be the aim and attitude of every believer in warfare if they are to be winner in Christ.
Finally, in order to flee youthful lusts we are to follow after God with others. A lot has been said about the need for unity in the body of Christ, but unless we call on the Lord together out of a pureness of heart, many will continue to follow their own "pernicious ways" (2 Pet 2:2), even living out a form of their own christianity.
2 Tim 2:22b .. with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (KJV)
The word "call" here means "to invoke for aid or decision, or even to call on the Lord in worship." It is obvious that corporate prayer and worship are a vital influence when it comes to unity, but Paul takes it one step further to say that each individual has personal responsibility to do it from a heart that is clean before the Lord. In doing so, they are making a personal contribution toward this corporate unity. In other words, the Apostle Paul is advocating "unity in purity."
A longing desire for holiness in the church is a must, to be a corporate voice that is effective in calling out to the Lord. I do not believe that our prayers have any weight with God if it is done without the quality of righteousness necessary "that availeth much" with the Lord. That is why there needs to be a following to flee and a following together in the unity of purity if we are to overcome and reflect Christ to the world. There has been much calling out to the Lord but not much has been heard. Prayers have often been met with silence. One has to wonder, why is there so little manifestation of Christ in the Earth today? A final thought to consider is that the Lord not only hears, but answers the heart of purity. Those who call out to God in purity will hear the answer of the Lord in purity.
Ps 27:4 One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple. (KJV)
The most important desire of all time has always been the same, and that is to dwell and abide with God ("in His house"). All other desires are either in conflict or secondary to this one. To see the Lord in His holiness ("behold the beauty") and to know the Lord beyond the veil ("to inquire in His temple"), both must be approached with a purity of heart. This is our refuge and this is our salvation.
Heb 12:14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: (KJV)