Also available as MP3: Flee Youthful Lusts – 2 Timothy 2:22-24
We know the “youthful lusts” Paul told Timothy to “flee” must include fornication, for he told the Corinthians to flee this as well (ICor.6:18), and there aren’t many things Paul says to flee. It’s only called a “youthful” lust because it is strongest in our youth, but it can be a problem at any age.
But Paul told Timothy to flee youthful “lusts” plural, so he was also thinking of other lusts, like the lust for vengeance (Ex.15:8,9). This lust is also strongest in our old age, but we must resist it at every age (Rom.12:19).
We also must resist the lust for things beyond what God has already given us (Num.11:4-6), and the lusts of the devil (John 8:44). These include the lust for power and glory and prestige (Isa.14:13,14). Pastors like Timothy must especially guard against this lust (Jer.45:5).
It will help us all overcome these lusts if we “follow” the things Paul says to follow, like “righteousness” (2:22). This may be best defined by studying what the Bible calls “unrighteousness” (Rom.1:29). Like lying (Ex.23:1), or be-ing dishonest (Deut.25:13-16). In those days they weighed things they bought and sold, and it was dishonest to use a different set of weights when buying than when selling.
Such unrighteousnesses will make it harder for the Lord to use us, which is the context here (IITim.2:21). But to be used of the Master you also have to follow “faith” (v.22), which comes by hearing and following the Word (Rom. 10:17). The most moral, righteous pastor on earth doesn’t do anyone any spiritual good if he’s not following faith.
But you can be righteous and faithfully follow the Word, but you must also follow “charity” as you do it (2:22). We know that’s true for all Christians because Paul said the same thing to the church Timothy pastored (Eph.4:15).
Paul also said to follow “peace” (2:22). He told the Romans that just doing the righteous thing that was true to the Word, like eating idol meat and observing idol holidays, wasn’t enough. They had to follow charity in do-ing so and not flaunt their liberty in front of others, for only that would make for “peace” (Rom.14:15-19).
Timothy had to follow those things with those who called on the Lord “out of a pure heart” (2:22). The “end” or goal of the law was love out of a pure heart (ITim.1:5), love for God and others (Mt.22:37-40). That’s what Paul is saying in 2:22, love God by following righteousness and faith in His Word, and love others by following charity and peace.
But to be meet for the Master’s use you must also avoid foolish questions (2:23), like questions about the law (Tit.3:9). Teachers of the law didn’t know what they were talking about (ITim.1:7,8), so would naturally ask foolish questions. The Galatians were “foolish” (3:1) for following the law, and asked foolish questions (2:17; 3:21). The Corinthians asked foolish questions that displayed a lack of understanding of a basic principle of (ICor.15:35,36), making their question an “unlearned” one (2:23).
Foolish questions gender “strifes” (2:23), which means to contend for superiority (Lu.22:24). Young pastors contend doctrinally with others to show their superior knowledge of the Word. But “the servant of the Lord must not strive” (2:24). Paul picked that phrase because Moses was “the ser-vant of the Lord” (Joshua 1:1), then Joshua (Josh.24:29). Paul was the servant of the Lord (Rom.1:1) and now Tim-othy was, and “must not strive,” like that other servant of the Lord (Mt.12:18-20). The Lord could have striven, He could have contended for superiority, for He was superior to others, but didn’t. Armed with the grace message, we too are superior to others in the Word, but mustn’t strive.
Pastors must also be gentle (2:24). God taught David to make war, but His gentleness made David great (Ps.18:34, 35). The grace message teaches us to war against oppo-nents of Paul’s gospel, but our gentleness will help us win. When men oppose Paul’s gospel we are apt to strive with them, but Paul says we should be “apt to teach” them instead (2:24). And we must be “patient” (2:24). You won’t last long in the Lord’s work if you are impatient.