I. Paul here exhorts Timothy to beware of youthful lusts, 2 Tim. 2:22. Though he was a holy good man, very much mortified to the world, yet Paul thought it necessary to caution him against youthful lusts: “Flee them, take all possible care and pains to keep thyself pure from them.” The lusts of the flesh are youthful lusts, which young people must carefully watch against, and the best must not be secure. He prescribes an excellent remedy against youthful lusts: Follow righteousness, faith, charity peace, etc. Observe, 1. Youthful lusts are very dangerous, for which reason even hopeful young people should be warned of them, for they war against the soul, 1 Pet. 2:11. 2. The exciting of our graces will be the extinguishing of our corruptions; the more we follow that which is good the faster and the further we shall flee from that which is evil. Righteousness, and faith, and love, will be excellent antidotes against youthful lusts. Holy love will cure impure lust.—Follow peace with those that call on the Lord. The keeping up of the communion of saints will take us off from all fellowship with unfruitful works of darkness. See the character of Christians: they are such as call on the Lord Jesus Christ, out of a pure heart. Observe, Christ is to be prayed to. It is the character of all Christians that they call upon him; but our prayers to God and Christ are not acceptable nor successful except they come out of a pure heart.
II. He cautions him against contention, and, to prevent this (2 Tim. 2:23), cautions him against foolish and unlearned questions, that tend to no benefit, strifes of words. Those who advanced them, and doted upon them, thought themselves wise and learned; but Paul calls them foolish and unlearned. The mischief of these is that they gender strifes, that they breed debates and quarrels among Christians and ministers. It is very remarkable how often, and with what seriousness, the apostle cautions Timothy against disputes in religion, which surely was not without some such design as this, to show that religion consists more in believing and practising what God requires than in subtle disputes.—The servant of the Lord must not strive, 2 Tim. 2:24. Nothing worse becomes the servant of the Lord Jesus, who himself did not strive nor cry (Matt. 12:19), but was a pattern of meekness, and mildness, and gentleness to all, than strife and contention. The servant of the Lord must be gentle to all men, and thereby show that he is himself subject to the commanding power of that holy religion which he is employed in preaching and propagating.—Apt to teach. Those are unapt to teach who are apt to strive, and are fierce and froward. Ministers must be patient, bearing with evil, and in meekness instructing (2 Tim. 2:25) not only those who subject themselves, but those who oppose themselves. Observe, 1. Those who oppose themselves to the truth are to be instructed; for instruction is the scripture-method of dealing with the erroneous, which is more likely to convince them of their errors than fire and faggot: he does not bid us kill their bodies, under pretence of saving their souls. 2. Such as oppose themselves are to be instructed in meekness, for our Lord is meek and lowly (Matt. 11:29), and this agrees well with the character of the servant of the Lord (2 Tim. 2:24): He must not strive, but be gentle to all men, apt to teach, patient. This is the way to convey truth in its light and power, and to overcome evil with good, Rom. 12:21. 3. That which ministers must have in their eyes, in instructing those who oppose themselves, must be their recovery: If God, peradventure, will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth. Observe, (1.) Repentance is God’s gift. (2.) It is a gift with a peradventure in the case of those who oppose themselves; and therefore, though we are not to despair of the grace of God, yet we must take heed of presuming upon it. To the acknowledging of the truth. (3.) The same God who gives us the discovery of the truth does by his grace bring us to the acknowledging of it, otherwise our hearts would continue in rebellion against it, for we are to confess with our mouths as well as to believe with our hearts, Rom. 10:9, 10. And thus sinners recover themselves out of the snare of the devil; see here, [1.] The misery of sinners: they are in the snare of the devil, and are led captive by him at his will, 2 Tim. 2:26. They are slaves to the worst of task-masters; he is the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience, Eph. 2:2. They are taken in a snare, and in the worst snare, because it is the devil’s; they are as fishes that are taken in n evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare. Further, They are under Ham’s curse (a servant of servants shall he be, Gen. 9:25), they are slaves to him who is but a slave and vassal. [2.] The happiness of those who repent: they recover themselves out of this snare, as a bird out of the snare of the fowler; the snare is broken and they have escaped; and the greater the danger the greater the deliverance. When sinners repent, those who before were led captive by the devil at his will come to be led into the glorious liberty of the children of God, and have their wills melted into the will of the Lord Jesus. The good Lord recover us all out of the snare.