2 Timothy 2:21
“Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.” (1 Timothy 2:21)
A couple came to visit my home, he was a good brother in the faith and had a lovely teenage daughter. They were visiting the university to choose a college for next year. But when I heard their story, I was astounded! If I had experienced what he did, I would be taking my daughter to the ends of the earth – anywhere else. He visited three friends who were in the seminary. One was working on his degree; another was my teaching assistant for ethics – my course on the Christian life. He was the most gifted TA I ever had. The third was studying to be a pastor. The three came to have something in common. Within two decades, all three had fallen to the sex goddess. Their ministry destroyed; their marriages dissolved.
For the missionary it was internet pornography. He abandoned his wife and left her to provide for six small children. The second was the church secretary. He terminated his ministry, badly damaged his church and his family. The third was also a pastor.
Paul gave some advice to Timothy. In 2 Timothy 2:19 Paul says Avoid. And then in verse 20 he says Flee. Thirdly in verse 26 he says Escape. That was the word. Avoid. Flee. Steer clear. Depart, avoid. Paul says in verse 19, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”
Avoid all iniquity. Are you a Christian? Then affirm your vows of purity today. Remain what he calls clean, set apart, useful, ready for service. We’re not only vessels of gold or silver, but also wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. “Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work” ready for service.
Consider this escalator. I call it the emotion or the affectional escalator: thrown together with an attractive person > time alone together > talk of personal matters > of prayer together > deliberately plan time together > preoccupation with thoughts about the person > signals that attraction is mutual > fantasy of intimate conversation > verbal expression of affection > embraces > finally sexual intercourse.
God made it. We all go on this escalator. But let us keep ourselves pure for Him. Just get off the escalator. The proper time is now. Billy Graham did not go beyond the first step. In fact, he didn’t even get to the first step. He had a rule that he would never be alone with anyone of the opposite sex other than his wife, that’s pretty safe. That’s pretty serious.
So where is your line? Covenant with God to flee at anything even approaching that line, determined to avoid it. Avoid the temptation situation as Solomon instructed us. Remove your way, far from her, the seductress, and do not go near the door of her house across the street and hurry on. But he had. Don’t visit her neighborhood. Get off the escalator. Too bad Solomon didn’t follow his own advice; “Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house, lest you give your honor to others” (Proverbs 5:8).
Now, there are three ways to avoid in Scripture. Your thoughts, your eyes and your touch. Thoughts? Avoid even that first imagination, the first emotion. Did you know that the stronger sex organ in your body is between your ears?
Well, how do you decide where you’re going to draw the line? Well, if it’s sexually stimulating, avoid it. Here is a practical test: if you saw some other guy doing that with your girlfriend or wife, how would you feel about it? So until you’re pledged to live your life together, in God’s eyes, she belongs to someone else. Don’t go near. Avoid the temptation. And then in verse 22 he says flee – flee youthful lusts, but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Flee.
The bird with a broken wing may fly again. But never may fly so high again. You say, but David was rehabilitated. Yeah. But don’t forget his miserable ending, a bitter old man with a radically dysfunctional family. One son was out to kill him. And the one son who stuck by his father accumulated 300 wives and 700 concubines.
Solomon made at least 999 unwise choices. I reflect on David and Solomon and recall God’s principle that the sins of the father are visited on the son.
There you have it. Avoid. Flee. Escape. Will you pledge to follow this instruction? For a lifetime. But there’s another message for men and women. I am my brother’s keeper. Back to the escalator. You have a responsibility to each other, not to deliberately draw another up the escalator by your talk, dress or behavior.
Where are you? Is there something you need to avoid? Tell Him so. Has it already started? Is there something you need to flee? Get out of there. Have you already been trapped? Agree with God about it. Turn around and he’ll spring the trap. Clean vessels honoring the master with useful service. Go for it!