“Flee also youthful lusts …” 2 Timothy 2:22. “Having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 2 Peter 1:4.
We could think it was superfluous for Timothy to receive such an exhortation, but Paul would not have exhorted him if it hadn’t been necessary. The people who “flee” are the ones who are weak in themselves. The people who “flee” are the ones who hate their own lusts.
We cannot touch something that is unclean without picking up the scent of the unclean thing. Therefore, we are exhorted, “Do not touch what is unclean!” 2 Corinthians 6:17. There is also much written about cleansing ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 7:1)
What do you fill yourself with?
We are virtually encompassed by all kinds of filthiness all day long, and it is impossible to keep ourselves pure unless we hate it. There is something that is called “being inquisitive.” People like to know what is happening. It is impossible for such people to keep themselves pure; therefore, they will never come to divine nature. The best they can do is control themselves. In Revelation 2:24, we read that some people boasted about knowing the depths of Satan, as they say. However, Jesus says that He searches the minds and hearts, and He will give to each one according to his works. (Revelation 2:23)
It really takes an effort to keep ourselves pure from involuntary temptations that come our way. Why should we then look at something or read something that can awaken the desires in our flesh? “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” Romans 13:14.
Flee for your life!
“For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:10-11.
This exhortation applies mostly to our thought life. If we want to come to divine nature, then we must be faithful in our thought life. If we are dwelling on a temptation, we are not fleeing! When we dwell on a temptation, we love our lusts, and that means that we are under the law and serve in the oldness of the letter. When we put our lusts to death, we serve in the newness of the Spirit. (Romans 7:6; Romans 8:3) That is the same as hating the corruption that comes from the flesh. That leads to divine nature! We cannot live this life unless we stand before God’s face and zealously serve in the newness of the Spirit.
“Now ask the priests concerning the law, saying, ‘If one carries holy meat in the fold of his garment, and with the edge he touches bread or stew, wine or oil, or any food, will it become holy?’ Then the priests answered and said, ‘No.’ And Haggai said, ‘If one who is unclean because of a dead body touches any of these, will it be unclean?’ So the priests answered and said, ‘It shall be unclean.’” Haggai 2:11-14.
Here we see how appropriate the exhortation is to “flee!” When God is near and we have been blessed at a prayer meeting or through reading God’s Word, where the Spirit has made it living to us, then it is vital that we do not let our eyes and thoughts wander in every direction afterwards. We cannot preserve holiness in our hearts and our thoughts if we do not flee; we become superficial, and we will be defiled by what we see and listen to. Israel had become like that. Every work of their hands, and what they offered, was unclean.
Even strong and Godfearing people, such as those John wrote to, need such exhortations. (1 John 2:13-17)
This article was first published in Norwegian in BCC’s periodical “Skjulte Skatter” (“Hidden Treasures”) in March 1986, with the title “Flee also youthful lusts.”
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