“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). The evil desires of youth are plain to see. It isn’t that the youth enjoy playtime. It is that they enjoy misbehaving. They enjoy misbehaving because they lack mental discipline.
One of my favorite illustrations on how to obtain righteousness, faith, love and peace is in Hebrews 12. I’m a sports guy. I’ve played sports all my life and I now train at the gym. I’ve learned that disciplining my body to get in better shape forces me to discipline my mind to get stronger so I won’t want to quit, and that’s why I like Hebrews 12 so much. The author says “…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1).
The author of Hebrews 12 is saying that Christians have a race to run. So, if Christians have a race to run, then Christians need to train for that race, just like athletes would train for their sport. Athletes put themselves through a lot of pain in order to get better at what they do. They push themselves to discipline their bodies and their minds to be the best athletes they can be, and that takes immeasurable amounts of perseverance.
Christians need to train in the same manner to shed off the sin in their lives. They need to push themselves as hard as they can to say no to evil desires no matter how bad it hurts in order to win the Christian race. In the Christian race, the competition is sin and the finish line is righteousness, faith, love and peace.
Running the Christian race is full of many good things, including the power of God. We can always call on the Lord for help. I’ve asked the Lord to help me shed off the sin in my life many times, and I’ve often found myself going through the same things while battling sin as I would go through while battling exhaustion in the gym. When all I want to do is quit, I coach myself and push through the pain by saying “Come on, baby! Just a little more. Come on. You can do this. You got this. Lord help me out, give me strength. Praise, Jesus. Alright, alright. Amen, Amen!”
I am getting better at resisting the evil desires of youth, but I am still working on it. One thing to keep in mind is that the Lord will help us achieve immediate results, but he will also help us help ourselves in the long run so the next time temptation hits it isn’t as difficult to resist as the time before. He will put things in our lives that will give us the opportunity to increase our mental strength, increase our level of personal discipline, such as allowing us to train our bodies as athletes which in return will force us to train our minds to do things we’d naturally rather not do.