The word ‘vanity’ means both emptiness and pride, qualities on display in the lives of sinners. In relation to eternity, vain things are meaningless. Yet unbelievers take pride in them.
“‘What shall we eat? What shall we drink? What shall we wear?’ After all these things the Gentiles seek.” – Matthew 6:31-32 (NKJV)*
King Solomon said that for man to “eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor … is the gift of God” (Ecclesiastes 3:13). He still learned the vanity of gratifying his “flesh with wine” and creating vineyards, gardens, and orchards (2:3-5). Jesus tells us not to worry about food, drink, and clothes; our heavenly Father knows we need these things and he’ll provide them (Matthew 6:25-32, Luke 12:22-30). We must seek God’s kingdom first (Matthew 6:33, Luke 12:31). Sinners don’t know or trust God. Seeking the things of this world proves it.
The body needs food and drink for sustenance. They’re tools for energy and growth. But sinners have turned these tools into ends in themselves: grocery stores with hundreds of choices, The Food Network, and expensive restaurants. They even have food critics! People need clothes to wear too. But they don’t need London Fashion Week, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, or Abercrombie & Fitch. Clothes don’t make the man. They only reveal the desires of his heart.
Sinners have filled the world with ads for food, drink, and clothes. In relation to eternity, these things are meaningless. We must seek the kingdom of God instead, selling what we have and giving to the poor (Matthew 19:21, Luke 12:33). A person’s “life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15). Yet sinners take pride in the restaurants they eat at, the beverages they drink, the stores they shop at, and the designer labels they wear. Sadly, some Christians live like sinners. The things of this world are in their hearts and minds and on their lips, not the kingdom of God. Some churches even have fashion shows.
“You should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them [and] because of the blindness of the heart. Being past feeling, [they] have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.” – Ephesians 4:17-19
The sinful mind is foolish, futile, and dark. The unbelieving heart is blinded by sin and pride. So sinners are “alienated from the life of God.” They love and seek death (Proverbs 8:36).
Sex is a tool for cementing marriages and producing children. However, sinners have made it an end in itself. They love sex, just not the married kind. They prefer adultery, bestiality, fornication, homosexuality, and incest instead (Leviticus 18:6-23, 20:10-21; Romans 1:24-32). These things lead to physical and spiritual death (Proverbs 2:18-19, 5:5, 7:27, 9:18). Sinners have also filled this world with porn and advertisements for sex. People aren’t content to sell food, beverages, and clothes. They have to advertise scantily-clad models too.
Outside biblical marriage, this sex-filled life is meaningless. It doesn’t produce families in which to rear children in the ways of God – just STDs, societal breakdown, and moral confusion. Yet sinners shun virginity and take pride in the number and type of sex partners they have. Christians are called to be chaste and pure, to honor marriage, and to keep the bed “undefiled” (Hebrews 13:4). They must give their bodies to God, not sin (1 Corinthians 6:13-20). Yet some Christians live like sinners in the area of sex. Some apostate churches even sanction fornication.
Today’s vain and worldly sinners could be like King David. They could desire to “dwell in the house of the Lord” all the days of their lives, beholding God’s beauty and seeking his face in prayer (Psalm 27:4). But sinners always refuse. And it’s their eternal loss.
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is man’s all. God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.” – Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
* All Scripture verses are NKJV, unless otherwise noted.