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“So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” – 2 Timothy 2:22
The above Scripture verse is probably one of the most concise bits of advice reminding us how we should engage in fighting lust. Commit it to memory. Chew on this verse daily. Let your mind marinate in it, for in it lies three Biblical strategies for fighting lust.
1. Run From
“So flee youthful passions”
“Passions” refer to our cravings, our longings, our desires. More specifically the passage speaks of “youthful passions.” These fleshly lusts are said to “wage war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11). On the surface, these cravings are anchored in the members of our body (Romans 6:12), but as we look deeper we find they stem from our sinful hearts (Romans 7:7). Ultimately these passions are forms of idolatry (Colossians 3:5), revolving our lives and desires around created things rather than the Creator.
We must run from these things. Every Christian, even though he or she is indwelt by the Spirit of Christ, still lives in a mortal body surrounded by worldly amusements. These youthful lusts stubbornly cling to our heals. As we see these passions stirred in us, we must habitually flee from them.
- This might mean mentally fleeing: bouncing our thoughts away from lustful imaginations.
- This might mean visually fleeing: bouncing our eyes away from lustful images.
- This might mean physically fleeing: walking (or running) away from tempting situations.
2. Run To
“. . . pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace”
It is not enough to flee from youthful lusts. We must run toward a new passion. We are to “pursue,” that is, eagerly and swiftly run toward Christlikeness.
Christ promises His people a heart of . . .
- Righteousness (real integrity, a passion for justice, and a life pleasing to God)
- Faith (strong and welcome conviction and trust in God)
- Love (benevolent affection toward God and others)
- Peace (tranquility in the heart and harmony with God and others)
We are to run hard after these things each day knowing these character qualities are how we were created to live. We pursue these things knowing it is our destiny to live this way. A billion years from now, when sin is a distant memory, we will be living lives of love, peace, and righteousness in the kingdom of God. Have this hope we purify ourselves, just as He is pure (1 John 3:3).
3. Run With
“. . . along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”
We must not only run from lust and toward God’s vision for our lives, but we must also run with our brothers and sisters with the same vision. We must all find companions for this stretch of the road, those who share our faith and convictions, those in the common struggle for holiness.
These friends should be those who “call on the Lord,” an expression for those who are saved (Acts 22:16; Romans 10:13). These are other men and women who have also cried out to God for the forgiveness of their sin from a “pure” (genuine) heart.
Running with others involves a certain level of intentionality. It is not enough to simply know others around us are on the same journey because they profess the Christian faith. We must have real running companions, those who actually help us flee youthful passions and pursue a Christlike heart.
James 5:16 and Hebrews 10:24-25 offer a structure of what this kind of accountability looks like. (We build this structure out even more in our free ebook Coming Clean: Overcoming Lust Through Biblical Accountability.)
Building a good accountability relationship takes time. There are benefits and blessings along the way, but the ripest fruit comes after a real friendship is built.
Thinking of these four building blocks together, they form a structure that gives purpose and shape to our accountability relationships.
The foundation is meeting together. This includes all the basic methods of communication and conversation: meeting for coffee, talking on the phone, writing e-mails, or anything that involves a meeting of minds.
The central pillar in the room is a confession of sin: getting honest with God and one another about what we are doing that we shouldn’t do or not doing that we should.
The outer walls that support and protect this relationship are prayer and encouragement.
Why can’t I just stop lusting?
People ask me all the time, “Why can’t I just stop lusting?” I share my response to these people in this video below, which happens to include 2 Timothy 2:22. We believe so strongly that this verse contains the best strategy for fighting lust and quitting porn that we actually used it as the foundation for a 40-day challenge called Overcome Porn. This challenge (available on iOS devices and in email form) walks you through these three strategies and equips you with some of our best resources to put porn in your past for good. So watch this video, and give Overcome Porn: The 40 Challenge a try today.
This content was originally posted by Luke Gilkerson on www.convenanteyes.com and was republished with permission.
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Joshua’s Outpost is a source for men to find encouragement to be bold in their faith and walk with Jesus Christ.
Great list. For the married I would encourage run to your wife.
Yes 2 Timothy 2:22 provides a great list for fighting temptation. And I agree, flee from lust and run to your wife. If you know of any men who are struggling with temptation, please share this article. Hopefully God can speak to them through this post. God bless.
Absolutely. God bless you too.
Let’s be careful not to stretch the meaning of the term lust to be a catch-all term for all things related to sex. I doubt that Christ was condemning mere sexual arousal when He condemned lusting in one’s heart.
Thanks for sharing this encouraging post. I particularly liked that you mentioned “run to” and replacing it with a new passion. Tim Keller says many times on this subject how we need to not simply try to avoid sin and temptation, but to replace it with something of greater beauty. In everyday life, we usually have a tendency to lose interest in one thing when something better comes along. This is the same principle here. We need to make Jesus our passion, but also find other creative outlets as well.