Fleeing youthful lusts isn’t enough.

I use to think it was.

In college, I wanted to live a pure life, so I found some verses to memorize.  One verse I always heard people reference was 2 Tim. 2:22:

“Now flee from youthful lusts…”

And so I tried to do that.  Lust can mean a host of things.  While it is primarily used to describe a sexual craving, it also means

“to feel a strong desire for something.”

You can have a strong desire for sex, money, food, recognition, promotion, order, respect, status, materialistic goods, and so much more.

The adjective “youthful” doesn’t mean that this is a teenager Bible verse.  It means that I shouldn’t act like a child thinking that I should get whatever I want whenever I want it.

So, to live holy means I need to flee from all that stuff.  The problem comes when all I do is focus on fleeing from something that I actually dwell upon it.  It’s like my boys turning around on their bicycles to see where I am.  It can get dangerous because you don’t see what is up ahead.

Fleeing This and Pursuing That

It’s also a problem because that’s not the entire verse.

“Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace…”

More than just fleeing from something, I need to be pursuing something in its stead.

  • I flee youthful lusts and pursue righteousness.  I don’t want to cheapen holiness in my life.  I will pass on momentary pleasures for a greater reward (Heb. 11:25).
  • I flee youthful lusts and pursue faith.  While I have a desire to take everything into my own hands, I have faith and trust God concerning his plan and his timing (Ps. 118:8).
  • I flee youthful lusts and pursue love.  Instead of cheapening relationships based on what I can get out of it, I add value to them by what I can invest in them (1 John 4:7).
  • I flee youthful lusts and pursue peace.  My childlike set of endless desires leave me restless and agitated.  Choosing to trust him is when I can experience true peace (Isa. 26:3).

The New Testament is full of examples concerning training in righteousness.  Oftentimes, it instructs to “take of this” and “put on that.”  “Stop doing this” and “start doing that.”

In your quest to flee from youthful lusts, find another object on which to focus your attention.  Throw off the sin, but don’t focus on the sin — focus on Jesus (Heb. 12:1-2).  I often find myself obsessing about a sin I want to quit never realizing that it still has my attention.  Stop chasing that stuff and start chasing something else in its place!

Don’t just say that you are going to stop being sarcastic, replace your mouth with good things.

Don’t just say that you are going to stop having sexually immoral thoughts, pursue and romance your spouse.

Don’t just say that you are going to cease greedily accumulating riches, seek to give away what you have to those in need.

Make Sure You Have a Running Partner

After all this teaching, we still haven’t gotten to the entire verse yet!  You ready for the entire verse to be able to see the divine beauty in it?

“Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and purity with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”  -2 Tim. 2:22

Athletes know that having a workout partner is a tremendous benefit.  It’s harder to push the snooze button when your buddy is waiting on you to exercise.  It’s easier if you are all alone.

The beauty of this verse is that it teaches you that you have to run somewhere with somebody.

In order to flee youthful lusts, you have to run somewhere with somebody.

This is accountability.  This is biblical community.  This is what the Church is supposed to be.

We flee from the evil things that would put Jesus on a cross.  We run to the things that make his heart beat.  And we run in that direction with those who have the same finish line in focus.

If you don’t have running partners who desire to see you cross the correct finish line, you probably will never finish the race that God intended you to run.

Are you struggling?  Feel like you have unmet cravings in your life?  Flee those things that steal your affections.  Pursue things that please the heart of God.  And find some people who want the same thing and run as fast as you can.

Fleeing youthful lusts isn’t enough.  You have to run somewhere with somebody.

Travis Agnew is a Christian, husband, father, pastor, author, blogger, and religion instructor.