Fleeing Lust, Pursuing God (1 Timothy 6:11 & 2 Timothy 2:22)

1 Tim 6:11 states, “But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.”

2 Tim 2:22 states, “Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”

Paul is presenting what it means to become a vessel of honor, sanctified, useful, and prepared for good works (2 Tim 2:21). In both verses, a person needs to flee and pursue. There are two commands here: (1) Flee and (2) Pursue.

In 2 Tim 2:22, a godly person flees youthful lusts while these things in 1 Tim 6:11 refer to the love of money which is the root of all kinds of evil (1 Tim 6:10). The porn industry is all about THE MONEY!! They do not care about the people behind the pictures/movies. They don’t care about the customer. They are in the industry because it is such a lucrative business (grossed $10 billion according to CBS News). So of course, Christians should have no part in “donating” to their profits through any kind of purchasing of any kind of pornographic material. However, most Christians do not have a problem with agreeing to this. This is definitely true because many Christians can obtain pornographic material (pictures, videos, and stories) for free on a regular basis since the invention of the internet. Why would the porn industry offer their product for free? Because they know the intoxicating, addicting nature that pornography has on an individual, both male and female. Now through the sciences, we know that orgasm and male ejaculation results in a chemical release in the brain, so that over time there becomes a chemical dependency (like seeking a high or a buzz). So once a person is addicted they will begin to spend money on their addiction, and they are hooked! So what are youthful lusts? If you look at the context he was probably thinking of the desire to argue (2 Tim 2:14-16, 23-26) and to develop a unique theology (2 Tim 2:17b-18), etc. The phrase is definitely broad enough, though, to include and carry the notion of sexual lusts or passion (Constable 18).

The image is a person fleeing, running, racing away from something evil, abhorrent, terrifying, danger. They are not just fleeing aimlessly but rather the person is fleeing towards safety through not only establishing distance between them and the perceived danger but also entering safe area. The word also carries the idea that the person will escape safely from this danger, that is, youthful lusts and the love of money. However, if we do not aim towards something, we surely will find “safety” in another danger or addiction or sin.

Therefore, Paul completes the image by stating that we need to flee in pursuit of righteousness, godliness, faith, love, peace, perseverance and gentleness, i.e. the things of God and the kingdom of God (Matt 6:33). It is not just running into a shelter waiting to provide refuge, but racing in order to overcome the object. The person fleeing from youthful lusts is to run after the things of God in such a way as to over-run, to capture, to arrest, to take hold of, and to tackle. So if we fail to pursue the kingdom of God and God’s will, we will “pursue” perceived righteousness or worldly righteousness and fall into another one of Satan’s traps. But the text does not stop there! 1 Tim 6:11 states that we should pursue “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.”

Dr. Tom Constable writes (Constable 69)

“Righteousness” includes all attitudes and actions in harmony with what God calls right.
“Godliness” is godlike character and conduct.
“Faith” is trust in God.
“Love” is selfless devotion to the needs of others.
“Perseverance” is faithful continuance through adverse or discouraging circumstances.
“Gentleness” is tender kindness toward others.

The first two of these goals are general characteristics that represent one’s relationship with God. The second two are specific attitudes that animate the Christian life. The third two are specific actions that define correct ways of relating to a hostile world. Together they draw a silhouette of a “man [person] of God.”

Not only are we to flee from anything immoral (pornographic material or the love of money), we are to pursue righteousness with the body of Christ! Note that the text says, “with those who call on the Lord with a pure heart.” Paul qualifies the person(s) with whom we are to flee from sin. They are to be pursuing God with a pure heart, that is, without any impurity or mixture. The pure heart was a heart that only had one passion, one goal, undivided in its focus. This pure heart is without guilt and free of corrupt desire, regenerate. We cannot flee sin and pursue God without the aid of the community of God. Paul knows that we grow faint so easily. We need the encouragement of one another to pursue the things of God. However, it isn’t just anyone at church, and it isn’t just showing up to church. It is a picture of walking alongside someone together helping one another (Rom 12:10), encouraging one another (Rom 14:19; 1 Thess 5:11; Heb 3:13; 10:24-25), carrying one another, bearing each other’s burdens (Gal 6:2; Col 3:13), laughing together, crying together (1 John 1:&, and racing towards the prize (1 Cor 9:24).

So (1.) in what ways are you fleeing your sin? In what ways can we flee the traps of pornography? Using the computer in a public setting? Eliminating useless computer time? Eliminating any down time? Develop a hobby or some type of recreation? Rid our houses/apartments/condos of anything that will ensnare our minds like magazines? Canceling cable? (2.) In what ways can we pursue God better? Spiritual disciplines? Fasting? Journaling? Praying? Devotions? Accountability? Church attendance? (3.) Who can you develop a friendship with in order to encourage you to grow spiritually? Friends at work? Friends at Sunday school class? Neighbors? Elders? Deacons? Pastors? Old buddies from the past?

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