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Faith Alive! | Commandments of Christ 13

13. “Drive away youthful lusts, but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:22)

From issue 92 (January–April 2009)

“FLEE youthful lusts” sounds somehow middle-aged doesn’t it? It often seems to be older people who refer to “youth”, while young people just live it. That’s partly because it is so much easier to look back with wisdom than to understand the situation you are facing right now. So if wisdom comes more easily with hindsight, why worry about commandments like this now?

Lusts are pretty normal after all – we all know how men and women lust after each other and that Bible teaching says a clear NO to sex outside marriage. Flee away from it. And you know who I am going to mention now, and why. Joseph is a favourite example of a young man who fled from sin (Genesis 39), probably because he had learned to fight his own lusts – even before Potiphar’s wife made her lust-driven play for him.

But Paul is not commanding Timothy about sex here. He is worried about lusts that are far easier to justify or overlook. In 1 Timothy 6, Paul warns his youthful friend about lusting after wealth (verses 9,10). He wants Timothy to run away from that desire in himself (verse 11) – and to fight it (verse 12) by desiring good instead. Righteousness and peace are godly, and Paul knew that Timothy would have to replace evil with good in his heart if he was to take hold of the eternal life God had promised (verse 12). Joseph must have experienced this lust too – he worked for a wealthy man. Wanting money and all it brings is just as normal as sexual lust, but somehow not as shocking to us today. It was to Paul!

In 2 Timothy 2, Paul’s concern is about arguments that cause division and profit no one (verse 14). He warns Timothy that this kind of talking – this attitude towards others and towards truth – corrodes (verses 16,17). Joseph’s position as a manager was bound to cause friction with other slaves – how easy to snap, to show the arrogance that so angered his brothers! Needless drama like this eats away at people’s confidence, their faith, their relationships. Paul urges Timothy to avoid people (vessels) with dishonourable characters (verses 20,21) so that, as an honourable disciple, he can be used by the Master for good, holy purposes.

So back to our starting point: why worry about “youthful lusts” now? Because honourable disciples are ready and prepared to be used by God for His holy, righteous purposes.

What of that last phrase: “with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart”? Joseph fought his battles without any friend who called on the Lord. We don’t have to face sin alone.

Like Paul and Timothy, we can find spiritual fellow-fighters to stand in battle beside us – warning, encouraging and advising. Are you fighting alongside someone who is battling their desire for money, or their enjoyment of divisive drama? Probably! Are you prepared to be used by God to support them (verses 24,25) in their battle?

And what about your battle? Are you ready for God to use others to help you?

Sarah Smith


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