The Apple Of God's Eye

January 30, 2011

Vanity: Our Greatest Weakness

In the epic battle in the wilderness, after Christ had fasted for 40 days and forty nights, Satan thought he could get to Jesus through vanity (Matt. 4:3). Notice he said IF you REALLY are the Son of God, then you aught to at least be able to turn these rocks into bread. Why should you go hungry obeying God when you have the power to appease yourself?

The question was first one of vanity and second of fleshly appeasement. Sure Christ could have been indignant at being called something less than God’s very Son, but that would have been vain. And He could easily have turned the stones to bread to relieve His great hunger, but that would not have helped Him grow spiritually stronger in his battle with Satan. The very purpose of fasting is to draw close to God, for strength in the fight against our adversary. Christ answered by speaking the mind of God:

“….it is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God (Matt. 4:4).

When Satan tempted Christ a second time by saying He could easily have His angels protect Him if he threw Himself  from the temple, he again resorted to vanity. Surely Christ had the protection of God at His disposal in any situation?

But ” Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

Obviously, vanity does not put God first, and Christ set a sterling example of humble submission to His Father.

Vanity was again at the root of the third attempt from Satan to draw Christ into sin. He took Him up to a high mountain and showed Him all his domain, saying it was his to give. Notice that Christ did not dispute this fact. However, Satan acted as if the power given to him was of his own. In fact, it was from God Himself.

Satan attempted to draw Christ into an immediate gratification of power, without having to go through the difficult path of scourging and being crucified. After all, isn’t the easier way the better way, Satan reasoned. Why should Christ have to suffer to get all He wanted?

But that’s why Satan was banished to the earth by God. He wanted the power of the Father for himself and sinned mightily in battling the angels of God:

For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit (Isaiah 14:13-15)

Christ showed righteous indignation after this third attempt by Satan to cause Him to sin, saying: ” “Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” (Matt. 4:7).

Satan struck at the most vulnerable weakness of human beings – vanity and hunger. If we give in to vanity, our responses will be carnally motivated. Christ wanted us to see that we should worship God only.

David’s Struggle

David also struggled with his attitude and wanted God to intervene:

I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me. (Psalm 39:1)

He decided not to speak, which did not make him happier (verse 2). He had to pray to his Maker after realizing how weak he really was (verse 4). In our best state, we are nothing but vanity. Do we recognize it and do something about it? (verse 5).

The word vanity is # 1992 in Strong’s Concordance and means “something transitory or unsatisfactory.” Isn’t this a perfect description of human man?

Surely every man walketh in a vain shew: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them. (Psalm 39:6)

There is no hope in the material world, but man keeps clinging to material possessions and wealth. But anything that doesn’t lead to the spiritual or isn’t permanent, is vanity. If we don’t attain this, what worth does it have? (Ecc. 1:2).

Solomon, the richest (and wisest) man who ever lived,  hated life because all is works were empty, temporary:

And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit (Ecc. 1:17)

There are two distinct ways of life. What do we fill our minds with most?

“For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.” (Rom. 8:5)

Being spiritually minded is the only permanence of value. We are nothing – otherwise we deceive ourselves (Gal. 6:1-3). A more sober way of thinking helps us to stay humble (Rom. 12:3). If we humble ourselves, we will be exalted. (Rom. 12:3). This is a spiritual reward, not physical, but it is the only reward that matters.

1 Comment »

  1. Spot on with your assessment.

    Comment by John Feng — February 10, 2011 @ 1:48 am | Reply

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