Verse of the Day Devotion: 2 Timothy 2:22
“Now flee from youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” – 2 Timothy 2:22
The thought in our focus verse is straightforward, even if the mandated response can be difficult: there are acts that are heinous, immoral, unlawful, or otherwise contrary to God and goodness, and regarding these actions Timothy is being urged to flee these things. Timothy is a young man and unmarried. And because of this, Paul is instructing Timothy to flee the evil desires of youth. The Greek word translated lust here is epithumia, which has the idea of an earnest longing or desire, especially for what is forbidden. Paul almost always uses this word as regarding negative behavior or impulses. This same Greek word is used by Paul in Romans where He said, “Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them.” Romans 1:24.
The idea is that if we do not flee these sinful desires, we may end up following these ways. So, what are these deeds? “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-21. Paul refers to these as the desires of the flesh. “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.” Galatians 5:16-17.
But the ethic Paul calls for is not simply one of sin negation. “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.” Galatians 5:18. This certainly is or can be true of Timothy. But Paul is calling Timothy to go further. He is to substitute these illicit longings with the pursuit of ‘righteousness, faith, love and peace’. This idea is as simple as what Paul wrote to the Church in Rome. “Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21. In essence he is saying not to allow ourselves to be overcome by these desires simply by trying not to do it but overcome them by doing what is good in its place. Paul again wrote to the Galatians the following, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16. We are to live under the influences of the Holy Spirit and admit His influences fully into your hearts. And do not resist Him but yield to all His suggestions.
This is something we need to examine within ourselves. Is there something we do that entices us to sin? Are their questionable books or movies we pursue that cause us to indulge in sinful thoughts? These could be illicit articles, or they could raise hate, anger, or other negative feelings in us. Do we focus on what people have done to us or against us? These also can raise improper desires in us. We need to look inside ourselves and see what causes us to sin. We then should pray about it, flee from these things, and focus on what the Holy Spirit calls us to do, that being pursuing righteousness, faith, love, and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. And notice the last part of our focus verse. “pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” 2 Timothy 2:22b. We do not need to do this alone. He is saying get with our brothers and sisters in Christ, where we can lift each other up in prayer and encourage each other in our Christian walk.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.