Throughout the writings of the Apostle Paul, we read of the struggle [a war at times] between the flesh and the spirit of a born again believer. In Romans 7:15-25 we read of Paul’s personal struggle – for which all born again believers can relate to. Likewise, in the Book of 1 Corinthians we read of the struggle that occurred between the spiritual and the carnal within the body of Christ [that is, the Corinthian assembly].
Then, in 2 Timothy we read Paul’s letter to young Timothy. Drawing our attention to 2 Timothy 2:21-22 we read,
“If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work. Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity [love], peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
Paul began verse 21 with, “If a man purge himself from these.” This implies that though we have an assault from Satan’s temptations to our flesh [such as dishonorable behavior, misconduct, not keeping our body under subjection (or in control)], we can choose to follow the leadership of the Spirit. Herein lies the qualifier. We must choose to purge ourselves from the “works of the flesh” as recorded in Galatians 5:19-21,
“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Paul continues by stating that one who has “purged himself from these” shall be “a vessel to honor the Lord”, sanctified [set apart] unto the Lord’s call to service, available for the Master’s use, ready to serve in the Lord’s ministry.
Paul then concluded by telling Timothy that living a life for Christ must be a “daily experience”. To “flee youthful lusts” can be restated as, “conscientiously choose to run away from the works of the flesh [sinful desires, lustful passions, material things, one’s own way – all things that characterize a youth – especially one who is spiritually immature] – and choose to run after [diligently seek/pursue] the things of Christ [that is, righteousness, faith, charity, peace] – along side those who call upon the name of the Lord out of a pure heart.
To further illustrate this teaching, I recently read the following article. “Every time a particular young boy went to his playmate’s house, he noticed his friend’s grandmother studying her Bible. Finally one day he asked, “Why is your grandmother always reading that Bible?” His friend answered, “I don’t know, but I think she is cramming for her finals.” In reality, that grandmother was doing exactly what we, as Christians, should all do: preparing for whatever task God had for her by studying His Word. More often than not, it is the journey rather than the destination that matters most in life; for it is the lessons learned, the trials endured, and the truths discovered that mold our character and prepare us for that destination. If we desire more than a mediocre life, we must prepare in more than a mediocre way. “Winging it” doesn’t bring about the best results, so we would do well to use the time God has given us along the way to prepare for what’s ahead.” And this is the choice we make: learn and do those things that honor the Lord in our lives and reject those things that bring dishonor unto the Lord. Abraham Lincoln stated the following, “If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend the first hour sharpening the axe.”
The question must now be asked, “Who are you allowing to control your life: your flesh or your spirit?” Why not choose to allow the Lord to have control so that you can be an honorable vessel unto the Lord.