Vanity Among the Religious

Text: Ecclesiastes 12:8

By the end of Ecclesiastes, Solomon had thoroughly discussed the vanity of life. He concluded with our purpose: to fear God and keep His commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Spiritual things must come first; everything else is secondary. Yet some, attempting to serve God, end up following vanity anyway in their improper pursuit of spiritual things.

Vain Religion (James 1:26-27)

  • James already described how we need to be doers of the word (James 1:22)
  • But though we may do certain things, we can neglect others which renders our religion worthless
  • How our religion becomes worthless – we fail to bridle our tongue; we do not visit the orphans and widows, we do not keep ourselves unstained from the world

Vain Worship (Matthew 15:1-9)

  • Pharisees & scribes confronted Jesus about His disciples breaking the tradition of the elders – Jesus exposed their problem
  • They elevated their tradition to the level of Scripture – when this happens, and tradition inevitably conflicts with Scripture, man ofter reinterprets Scripture to fit his ideas
  • This renders our worship worthless – not worshiping as He instructed (John 4:24) and/or not acting according to His authority in all things (Colossians 3:17)

Vain Manner of Life (1 Peter 1:18-19)

  • Christians have not been redeemed with perishable things, but with the blood of Christ
  • What have we been redeemed from? – the futile way of life inherited from our forefathers
  • He is talking about the pursuit of & focus on material things – the things in this life are temporary, so we must focus on laying up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21)

Vain Faith (1 Corinthians 15:14)

  • Some in Corinth denied the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:12) – one consequence of this position was that their faith was vain
  • Faith is absolutely essential for one to please God (Hebrews 11:6) – but faith comes by the word (Romans 10:17); therefore it is based upon truth (John 17:17)
  • If we believe what is false, no matter how strongly/sincerely we believe it, our faith is worthless

Vain Hope (1 Corinthians 15:19)

  • Paul is again addressing the false claims of those who denied the resurrection – without the resurrection, the only hope we have is in this life
  • Those who seek to follow Christ for some reward in this life have a vain hope – the “prosperity gospel” is false (1 Timothy 6:3-5); our hope is in something greater (1 Timothy 6:6-8; Matthew 16:26)
  • We must not focus on the things of this life, but set our minds on things above (Colossians 3:2)

(Adapted from an outline by A.W. Dicus.)

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