Fleeing Youthful Lusts
Purity: Fleeing Youthful Lusts
The world is obsessed with cleanness. Everywhere you look you see people with different hand cleaners and antibacterial soaps and lotions. People want cleanness outwardly, but purity in heart? That is not the case. Everything that we see in this world is saturated with all kinds of impurity; tv, internet, books. Sin is viewed as the normal thing to do. If you are trying to live a pure life, trying to rid your life of sin, you are viewed as odd.
But our God calls us to live differently from the world. He calls us to take sin seriously; to rid our lives of it. He calls us to live lives of holiness and purity; lives that are focused on filling our hearts with Him and Him alone. He calls us to be pure in heart. We need to eliminate anything that competes for our allegiance to God and resolve to give Him nothing less than our whole hearts.
Paul says to the Thessalonians in that we need to know how to possess our vessels/ our bodies with sanctification and honor. This is a command to us. We need to live in such a way that we can be daily used by the Lord and please Him; free from impurities and from sin.
I’m sure that we all would agree that maintaining your purity in the sight of God is a hard thing to do. We are faced with so much impurity in this world. We face this tough battle each and every day, and the world is obviously not going to help us in that struggle. All they will do is encourage us to do what they do.
We need to arm ourselves for this great battle that we fight against sin and temptation. I believe that in this text in , we see some great keys to equip us and to encourage us.
I would like to take note of 4 lessons we can glean from this text to help us in our battle for purity and holiness.
1. The right standard!
Sometimes we feel comfortable with a lower standard or the standard of the world. But we need to remember that just because we are accepted in a group does not mean that we are acceptable with God. We will not be judged on the standards of the world, but by the standards of the word of God. God shows us the standard of holiness.
In verse 15, we see Paul tell Timothy to be diligent to present himself approved of God, as a worker that does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth; the correct standard that we are given by God.
He goes on further to give Timothy an example of whom not to be like. He gives the names of 2 men that were not rightly dividing the standard that God gave in his word. Hymenaeus and Philetus strayed from the truth, teaching things they shouldn't have been. Their message spread like a cancer and was wrecking the faith of some of the brethren.
Then Paul writes in verse 19 “Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: "The Lord knows those who are His." The standard of those such as Hymenaeus and Philetus led to more and more ungodliness. But the standard of the Lord stands firm. No matter how much the world wants to lower the standard, the word of God remains the same.
We need to remember the standard that the Lord gives us in His word. Men do not set the standard. We should never allow ourselves to accept a standard lower than the one that the Lord has given. We should not feel comfortable with the standards of the world and we should never find ourselves trying to justify the standards of the world. We will be judged by the Lord's standard. We cannot settle for anything less.
Jesus in this chapter begins many statements telling the people listening that they "have heard that it was said, reminding them of the present accepted standard, then He continues by saying "But I say to you," showing them the accepted standard of God!
When Jesus addresses adultery He says in verse 27:
"You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery.' 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Jesus said that the people have heard that the accepted standard was adultery, but that was not God's line. God set the standard at lust! When you lust in your heart you cross the line.
That is the line that Jesus draws! The standard that the Lord gives to those listening to him here is far higher than what they had been taught in the past.
It is so easy when temptation comes to try to justify committing the sin that you are being tempted to commit. But we shouldn’t deceive ourselves into thinking that if we lower the standard to ease our conscience that God will lower the standard in which he will judge us. He calls us to be holy.
Paul says in that among His people there should not even be a hint of any kind of impurity in our lives. Not even a hint! Only when we are accepting the Lord's standard and striving to keep it will we be able to be pure. Our Lord gave His life for us so we as His people could be washed and sanctified, having no spot or wrinkle, blameless and holy in God’s sight. We cannot compromise our standard.
2. We must have the right standard! But we must also have the right motivation for Holiness!
Paul wrote in …
“ Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: "The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity."
The first thing we need to be reminded of to motivate us to maintain our purity is the name that we wear! Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.
We remember the terrible sins of David that are in this chapter; adultery and murder.
In verses 13-15, Nathan tells David the consequences of his sin.
David's life would become difficult. This sin he committed I believe led to all of the problems that he would have throughout the rest of his life. His sin led to the death of his child, and the reason the child had to die is an important one we need to take note of: in verse 14 it says “by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme.” But why? God did not cause David to commit this sin. Why was God's name going to be spoken of as evil? The reason why is David represented God to others. He was the king of the people of Israel.
We are God's representatives to the world. We share a close relationship with our God. When we sin, we are dragging the name of the Lord into that sin with us.
We wear the name of our Lord. We need to realize that there are other ways of taking our Lord’s name in vain other than using it in some kind of frivolous way. We can take the Lords name in vain and dishonor it by our sinning against Him. We need to be careful because the way people will look at us as Christians more than likely will be the way that they look at Christ!
"Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity."
What else should motivate us to maintain our holiness?
We also need to remember our mission as motivation.
“But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. 21 Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.”
Our goal is to be useful to the Lord in serving Him. If we preach to others that the Lord calls them to be Holy and we ourselves do not live holy lives, how useful will we be? We cannot be useful if we are in sin and compromise in our purity. At the beginning of , Paul gave Timothy an illustration of a soldier in active service. He says that one who is an active soldier should not entangle himself in the things of the world so that he may please the One who enlisted him. As soldiers of Christ, how can we be useful in service to our Commander if our lives are not focused on service in the kingdom, but pursuing serving ourselves and our own desires? We all need to set examples of what it means to be workers in the kingdom. Just thinking of how we need to be conforming ourselves to the image of Christ should give us motivation to be pure and holy. His life was focused on His mission, and ours needs to be also!
3. The Right Pursuits?
Are They Holy??
“Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace…”
We cannot pursue things that will fulfill the desires of the flesh. We cannot feed our desires and our lusts. We need to flee temptation. We need to flee just as Joseph fled from Potipher's wife in . She grabbed a hold of him to get him to compromise his purity, and he fled from that woman. He ran right out of his garment that she grabbed a hold of!
Jesus says that we must make radical changes in our lives to prevent ourselves from sinning:
“If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.
We need to take drastic measures to maintain our purity. The Lord encouraged radical, decisive action: cutting off a hand or a foot or plucking out an eye in order to avoid abandoning Him. He was not speaking literally--but He was forcefully declaring that we should sacrifice anything that is tempting us to sin. There should be nothing that we are not willing to give up so that we can have pure hearts that are solely focused on God. Is there anything in your life that you are holding on to?
But not only do we need to flee and empty ourselves from lust, but we need to fill ourselves with what is good and right.
We need to remember the great principle in the scriptures of sowing and reaping:
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.”
We need to feed the spirit not the flesh. I can speak from my own experiences, that the times when it is the easiest to fight temptation is when I am busy serving the Lord, studying His word, and spending time in prayer. We need to fill our minds with things that will strengthen us to fight the battle, not with things that will make it easier to compromise our purity.
…and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.
4. The Right Company
“With those who call on the Lord with a pure heart”
We are not in the battle alone. I believe that we just don’t realize how important it is to spend time with our brethren, not only here, but when we are not here, going to one another’s home to encourage one another, study with one another, pray with one another.
Also I can’t begin to explain how important and helpful it is to have accountability. We need to be willing to humble ourselves sometimes and ask for help when we are struggling with sin, which I can speak from experience- IS NOT THE EASIEST THING TO DO! It can be humiliating sometimes going to a brother in Christ and telling him that I have sinned. But even though it can be hard to do, it is so helpful. It can be helpful knowing that someone else knows what you are struggling with, that they are praying for you, and that they are going to be there for you to help you defeat what it is you are struggling with.
Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. 10 For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. (NASB95)\
Woe to the one who falls when there is no one to lift him up.
There are brethren here that care about you and want to see you make it to heaven to be with the Lord! If there is any way that we can help you, I think I can speak for everyone here in saying, don’t be ashamed or afraid to ask for help.
I hope these thoughts have been encouraging to you in helping you to remain focused in your battle against sin.
Is there anything that we can do for you today to help you know the Lord, to help you in your battle against sin, to help you be purer in heart and focused only on Him.