Bill Brinkworth

The unsaved world is concerned about many things, many of which are not as important as many believe they are. As Christians, we need to beconcerned with the priorities God has set for us and what He deems is "vain".

Webster defines vanity as “emptiness; want of substance to satisfy desire; fruitless desire or endeavor; trifling labor that produces no good; empty pleasure; vain pursit.” Vanity is a concern for things that really are not that important.

Here is a brief Bible study on “vanity” in hopes that more Christians will understand what is important, and what is not important (vain) in God’s eyes:

What Is Vain:
Ideas, popular trends of the world are vain.
“And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the LORD had charged them, that they should not do like them.” II Kings 17:15
“They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak.” Psalm 12:2

The “end justifieth the means” philosophy is vain.
“The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death.” Proverbs 21:6

The wages of sin are vain.
“He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity: and the rod of his anger shall fail.” Proverbs 22:8

Love of money is vain.
“He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity.” Ecclesiastes 5:10

Foolish desires of youth can be vain.
“Therefore remove sorrow from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh: for childhood and youth are vanity.” Ecclesiastes 11:10

Nations against God are vain.
“All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity.” Isaiah 40:17

Ungodly wisdom of judges are vain.
“That bringeth the princes to nothing; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity.” Isaiah 40:23

Good works (trying to get to Heaven by doing good deeds) without salvation is vain.
“Behold, they are all vanity; their works are nothing: their molten images are wind and confusion.” Isaiah 41:29

False religion is vain.
“For the idols have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie, and have told false dreams; they comfort in vain: therefore they went their way as a flock, they were troubled, because there was no shepherd.” Zechariah 10:2

Prideful wisdom is vain.
“For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.” II Peter 2:18

Cursing is vain, particularly when using the Lord's name.
“Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” Exodus 20:7

Beautifying the flesh is vain.
“Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.” Proverb 31:30

Customs and traditions are vain, especially religious ones.
“Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. 3 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.” Jeremiah 10:2-3

Philosophies of men are vain.
“But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” Matthew 15:9

Religion without Christ is vain.
“And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.” I Corithians 15:14 Also: Titus 3:9, II Timothy 3:5-7

What Is Not Vanity:
Hard work is not vanity.
“Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase.” Proverb 13:11

A godly stand is not vanity.
“This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,” Ephesians 4:17

Fear of the Lord is not vanity.
“Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.” Proverb 31:30

God’s creations are not vanity.
“For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.” Isaiah 45:18

The best word to define vanity is “emptiness.” No matter how much time and energy one spends in vain things, the results will be nothing of value. God has so much more to offer you than" emptiness". Fill yourself with the desires of God. They will have value that will last forever.


Do not put unnecessarily high value in what you cannot take with you to Heaven!


This lesson was featured in The Bible View #127.

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