2 Timothy 2:22
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 (NIV).
Every adult ought to take children into toy stores and candy stores. After hearing that statement you’re probably thinking that Pastor David is out of his mind! But having helped raise three children, I’ve thought it through, and I still think it’s a good idea, if the parents are self-controlled and in control of their children. Why? I think we can learn a lot about ourselves by watching children in toy and candy stores. We ought to learn something about our hearts when we hear them say, “I want this and this and this,” which is basically everything in the store!
God has given us the good gift of desires, but since the human heart has been twisted by sin, human desires do not naturally seek what is holy and good. This is true even of those who follow Christ. Those who have been saved by grace feel two competing sets of desires. For example, consider the words of a song written by Eric Grover. In the first verse he writes:
In my heart there is a stirring
One that did not start with me
A love to worship my Creator
To show His love for all to see
But in the second he brings out what is also in our hearts:
In my heart there is a treason
One that poisons all my love
Take my heart and consecrate it
Wash it in Your cleansing blood
While we are on this earth, our hearts will struggle with the pull between these two desires—one to glorify God and the other to walk away from God and live like he doesn’t exist.
In previous articles, we considered the desire that we should have for the law of the Lord, the Holy Scriptures. Now, let’s think of another holy desire—the desire for a godly way of life.
In the words from 2 Timothy, the Lord urges us to flee from the evil desires of youth. What is meant by these words?
This is the only time that this word occurs in the New Testament Scriptures, so we cannot determine its meaning by seeing its usage in other passages. However, since the word is used in a negative sense, we can safely conclude that there are various spiritually immature attitudes and cravings to avoid. We can learn what they are by examining other passages where spiritual immaturity is presented (1 Corinthians 1-3; Ephesians 4:15-16; Hebrews 5:11-14; 2 Peter 1:4-9). To summarize:
- A spiritually immature person evaluates things based on worldly standards—eloquence, strength, influence, human wisdom and selfish ambition.
- A spiritually immature person is easily moved from one set of ideas to another; he or she likes to hear something new (cf. Acts 17:21).
- A spiritually immature person has trouble distinguishing good from evil. This comes from a lack of experience with God and his ways.
- A spiritually immature person is not spiritually productive.
What areas of spiritual immaturity do you see in your life? We all have some. All of us need to ask the Lord for grace to examine ourselves according to the Scriptures. Perhaps you are struggling with a delight in human wisdom or selfish ambition (pride and jealousy). Ask God to show you.
Grace and peace, David