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Flee Youthful Lust (Paul Washer)

Pastor and preacher Paul Washer talking about lust.
Pastor Paul Washer, who converted to Christianity while studying law at the University of Texas.

The best ways to resist a temptation is to avoid it. As people, we are far more likely to compromise our values when we place ourselves in the wrong environment. We cannot hang out with the wrong people at the wrong time and place and expect the outcome to be right. In this day and age, it doesn’t take a lot. I’ve heard it said that everyone in the 21st century has a Playboy magazine underneath their bed. What they mean by that is that no one with unrestricted access to the internet is more than a few seconds away from indulging the basest part of their imagination.

Paul Washer understands the unique modern challenges of sexual integrity, which is why he is so adamant about the Bible’s ancient wisdom on the subject. The Apostle Paul told Timothy to “flee youthful lusts” [2 Timothy 2:22]. We can start, for example, by putting restrictions on our phones, charging them in a room other than our bedrooms, and establishing local accountability. Paul Washer also counsels people in a relationship not to spend time in isolation since it’s only a matter of time before something unwanted goes down.

Today, I’ve transcribed an impassioned sermon jam in which Paul Washer talks about how to win the battle for sexual integrity using Biblical wisdom.

For more, see the complete archive of articles on integrity.

Transcript Of Paul Washer On Fleeing Youthful Lust:

The first thing that I want you to know is that Paul told Timothy to flee youthful lust. Timothy was a young man, he said “flee youthful lust.” You live in one of the most lustful and exposed ages in history. Not because men have gotten worse, it’s just the opportunities have gotten greater. The internet, media–everything. So you’re bombarded by every sort of image and every sort of lustful thing.

Young men, if you want to have a passionate love relationship with your wife, guard your eyes. Because here’s what’s going to happen. Does any of you remember Cindy Crawford, the famous super model Cindy Crawford? I was listening to her one time, I think it was CNN or something–I don’t know where it was, I think it was in the airport. She said a statement that I thought was remarkable. She said “what everyone needs to understand is Cindy Crawford doesn’t look like Cindy Crawford.” And her whole point was after they take a picture of [her], they do all kinds of things. They make her legs longer, she’s bent this way and that little roll of fat–they take it out.

You see here’s the problem, young men. You fill your mind with a bunch of images with something that’s not even real. Not even those girls look like that. And then you marry and you enslave your wife. Do you see how it can mess with your head? “You didn’t marry a beautiful woman, you didn’t do this.” Because our whole view of beauty is absolutely twisted and perverted. I hate it because it kills women. It kills them dead. That’s one of the reasons why you want to protect your eyes because the more you protect your eyes now from looking at media and from looking at other human beings, the more you will be able to passionately love one woman. That’s why clothing is important.

Another thing that I want you to understand. Notice when he talks about the devil in Ephesians 6, he says we wrestle with him, and he doesn’t tell us to run, he says wrestle him. We wrestle not with flesh and blood–wrestle him. But when it comes to youthful lusts, he says “don’t wrestle with it, run.” Let me give you a little principle, you will not be able to be in a relationship with someone of the opposite sex alone for any normal length of time without falling. It’s just not going to happen. It’s not going to happen, and you know it. You’ve already been there many of you. Well, you say “falling, I haven’t fallen.” No, falling comes long before what the world today says falling is.

You cannot do it. One time a young guy came to be, he was getting ready to go to seminary. He was a college student, really loved the world, knew he did. This guy was a man’s man and he just breaks down crying in the office. And I said “what’s going on?” He said “You know, my fiance and I, we want to be holy.” I said “Yes, I know her, she’s a wonderful girl. And I have great respect for you–what’s the problem?” “Well, we get together and we make these commitments that we’re not going to do this, we’re not going to do that, we’re not going to have physical contact. We’re not going to go too far–all of these grandiose ideas. And we read scripture together and we pray together and we end up doing something that we hate.”

I said “Yeah? What do your campus counselors tell you?” They tell us it’s difficult and we need to read the word and we need to pray. I said “Tell them to call me because they shouldn’t be counseling people anymore.” They’re so far off from the Biblical picture it’s unbelievable. You can’t be strong enough to do something that God already told you not to do. Don’t be alone with someone of the opposite sex where you can be in a position to compromise yourself because it will happen if you stay there long enough. That is the Biblical mandate. You can’t be spiritual enough, strong enough, bold enough, anything else. It’s going to happen. So don’t do it. Just don’t do it.

You say, “Well, that’s costly.” Welcome to Christianity 101. Did you think you were going to get Jesus without cost? That you were going to heaven and be just like the world? No, sorry, it’s not going to happen that way. It’s not going to happen that way. Especially for you guys that are Christians. You get in a relationship with a girl. You don’t practice these principles, and one night you just go too far. And it doesn’t help the relationship. “You’ve got to kiss a bunch of toads or whatever it is before you find your prince.” That’s not true–the more toads you kiss, the more warts you get. The whole thing is, Guy, you may be in a relationship with a girl that God may want you to marry but because you’re not leading correctly and you’re not establishing the principles you ought to be establishing, and you compromise yourself with her morally. . You think she’s looking at you now thinking “what kind of spiritual leader this? He’s led me down a trail that’s caused me great pains.”

And then’s she’s thinking about you, “He must think what kind of Christian am I doing all these things.” Young man, let me tell you something. If you want to know where God is going to lay the blame, it’s primarily going to be at your doorstep, more than hers. Yeah, you’re responsible. She’s responsible, but you’re responsible more than she is.

An intellectually curious millennial passionate about seeing people make healthy, informed choices about the moral direction of their lives. When I’m not reading or writing, I enjoy hiking, web-making, learning foreign languages, and watching live sports. Alumnus of Georgetown University (B.S.) and The Ohio State University (M.A.).

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