II Timothy 2:22 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
In verse 22 Paul helps us to understand what it means to purge oneself from sin. We know that God expects and in fact demands that His children flee youthful lusts. The lusts here are not listed, but rather are contrasted by that which the godly pastor needs to follow. We tend to look for loop holes in any law that is given. Carnality is not a good quality to have.
Romans 8:6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
From the context, we can see that youthful lusts would be the temptation to love the praise of men. Paul was directed to remind Timothy to flee youthful lusts. Youthful lusts are not just confined to young people. Any person can be tempted to hang on to youthful lusts.
We have noted before that James and John wanted Jesus to promise them that they could sit one on His right and and one on His left hand in His kingdom. They were puffed up with pride and were more concerned about perception, than reality. The Pharisees certainly were of that mindset. They loved to be seen as spiritual leaders. They wanted the praise of men. They did nothing to deserve that praise, but they thought their outward appearance should grant them that. They were vain men.
The man of God must understand that he is a servant of the true God.
Paul had already taught Timothy that a pastor should not be a novice. He needs to be someone who has been trained for the ministry. Part of that training is to understand how to rightly divide the Word of Truth. Part of that training is also the importance of humility in dividing the Word of Truth. There is no room for a man who assumes he is just a notch or two above everyone else.
In the secular world we see people who love the praise of others. Politicians love to get into a crowd where people will clap and cheer for them. When you listen to a speech of these people, you will notice that they intentionally pause at times, after they think they have said something great. They are waiting for people to applaud them. I watched the vote for the new Prime Minister of Sweden this week. It was the same woman that had just recently resigned from that position. After the call was made, a number of people in their government chambers got up and were clapping and clapping. They were clapping for quite some time. That adulation may feel good to the flesh, but a godly person would run away from that. Let us get on with that which is important.
One of the things that I have tried to be careful of in my ministry is to thank those who thank me for something I have said or written, but I also try to be careful to acknowledge to that person that the glory belongs to God. He saved me. He gave me a new nature. He gave me His Word to study and to live by. He placed His Holy Spirit in my heart. He has enabled me to preach the Word. There truly is nothing that I have that I can say ‘I developed that on my own’.
In the secular world, there are people who pride themselves in being good speakers. There are training courses a person can take to supposedly help them to be a better public speaker.
I recall in Bible school that I was docked for not using enough gestures when I was preaching. I believe that if God wants me to use gestures He will guide me in the use of gestures. My duty as a preacher is to preach the Word. If I am developing things that will be a distraction to the preaching of the Word, who gets the glory? I am not interested in being a people pleaser. I have been encouraged in the past to go into politics. I would make a very poor politician, as defined by secular society. I believe in speaking the truth regardless of whether it is popular or not. No true preacher is in a popularity contest. Paul addressed that in I Corinthians. There was a competition among the people as to who they would follow. It was not that the men who were preaching were in a competition, but the people in the church in Corinth were deciding who they liked better. What matters is the content of the message. Is it Biblical and is it with conviction?
Paul contrasted the first part of verse 22 with things that Timothy needed to follow after. He needed to run away from youthful lusts. God listed attributes that a preacher needs to follow after. He needed to follow after righteousness. His life needed to be above reproach. It is true that no man will be without sin. That does not mean that a Christian should be careless about sin.
I am told that for years Charles Spurgeon smoked a certain brand of cigar. The story goes that he was out for a smoke one time and someone came up to him and wanted to know what brand of cigar he was smoking. That seemed to have struck Mr. Spurgeon and he quit smoking at that time because he did not want to be known for his brand of cigar, he wanted to be known for preaching the Word of God. I am not a supporter of Charles Spurgeon. He was a Calvinist and I am not and I do not align with that false theological position. There are other better reasons why he should have never started smoking in the first place. He was a preacher from a fairly young age. He missed an important point in Biblical teaching that allowed him to pick up that destructive and sinful habit. Obviously following after righteousness does not fit with smoking or drinking, or cursing or any other sins.
Timothy also needed to follow after faith. Jude was directed to write of the faith once delivered unto the saints. There is a need to hold to the purity of true faith. Compromise needs to be shunned at all cost. We can be thankful that God has preserved His Word for each generation. If that were not so, we would be in big trouble today. It is imperative that true preachers hold to true faith.
Charity is also worth following after. Paul wrote of the importance of charity in I Corinthians 13. Charity will govern the actions of the preacher. He will know how to respond to different situations if he follows after charity.
Peace is also important. We are living in a very divided country right now. The mandates that have been imposed upon society are very divisive and completely unnecessary. They prove once again that the agenda of governments and health departments is control, not safety. Israel has been in the forefront of getting the shots and their hospitals are dealing with those who have not just two shots but even three and some times even four shots. The adverse reactions that some are getting is also putting a strain on the health care systems. Of course the medical system and the politicians, for the most part, are not going to admit that there are serious side effects from the shots. Some people have a greater tolerance to them and they do not seem to have any affects from them for now. The sad reality is that some professing Christians lack discernment in this whole matter. They would rather encourage people to follow foolish government policy, than wise Godly commands.
Pastors need to teach the Word of God and help those who are listening to know how to be at peace with God. If we are at peace with God the fear of man will not motivate us to do foolish things. If we have the peace of God we can help others to also see the value of that peace. God’s peace is not like the world’s peace.
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
God’s peace is not through compromise. It is through following after truth. Peace with God is essential to encouraging others to know God’s peace.
Timothy needed to join others who were of a pure heart. There can be no deceptiveness involved in the preacher’s heart and mind. We need the encouragement and challenge of others who are seeking to follow after God. The preacher is called to serve God first of all. His service to man is in accordance with his service to God. Keeping a pure heart will keep the pastor from becoming a profane and vain babbler.
Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.