Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 2 Timothy 2:22 (NIV).
More good Pauline advice that re-iterates or re-enforces statements made in earlier letters. Paul’s message was consistent: flee evil and pursue good.
Notice that he doesn’t say “fight the evil desires of youth.” Let’s face it: there is no fighting them. Sin is strong enough to defeat us. Except for Jesus, it has defeated every human ever born. Without Christ at our side, we can’t fight evil and we can’t win against it because evil is stronger than we are alone. With Christ at our side, we can’t lose and evil doesn’t stand a chance.
Instead of fighting it, Paul tells us to flee from evil desires. So many in pop culture ridicule Vice President Pence for adhering to the Billy Graham practice of not being in a room alone with another woman. I pity them. Pence is staying blameless by living out an admirable practice. Rev Graham did the same and it kept impropriety and gossip away along with any chance to even consider evil desire because even Billy Graham was human. Ditto President Harry Truman, who once was called to a private meeting only to find it was a set-up with a woman. Truman immediately turned and walked out, fled.
When tempted to give in to desire, turn and walk away. Then run. Rhetorically run; physically run if you need to. Get away from the situation because there’s danger there. On your way fleeing, then pray for strengthened faith, love, and peace, calling on the Lord in thanks for the opportunity to flee. In my own experience, when I’ve done this, instead of desperation, I feel empowered. I’m betting the same would be said by you. In my own experience, too many times I wish I had fled; I’m betting you’d echo that as well.
The unspoken result of doing these things is best spoken in Acts 2:21: the Lord will save those who call on Him. Live a life that pursues Him and you’ll find He’s calling you. He’s already saved you, so live a life reflecting that by fleeing evil desires when they come to you. Others might be inspired to do the same and accept His truth, and that matters because their eternity matters most, too.
Sure, these seem like simple, common solutions to complex problems, but first principles are usually the best starting point when trying to address complex issues. Stick to the simple: flee from evil when we see it, then seek Jesus in thankful prayer to feel the bliss of protection and forgiveness.
For further reading: 1 Timothy 1:14, Acts 2:21, 1 Timothy 1:5, 1 Timothy 6:11, 2 Timothy 2:22.
Lord Jesus, You are the only desire of my recovering heart. Welcome me back as I flee desires when they tempt me. Strengthen me and help me to strengthen others.