Faithlife Sermons

The Vanity of Self-Indulgence

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As we make our way through this book of Ecclesiastes, as I said last week...
…we’re going to continue to see this phrase: The Vanity of...
Again, the purpose of the author of this book (Solomon)...
…is to search out the MEANING of LIFE...
to see whether different aspects of life - JUSTIFY our existence....
…or supply any GAIN to our existence!
This week we’ll see Solomon’s pursuit to determine if PLEASURE provides an adequate justification for human existence...
Our approach today will be that we walk through the text...
…and then circle back to VIEW the premise of the text (as a whole), from a different angle.
Ecclesiastes 2:1–11 ESV
1 I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity. 2 I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?” 3 I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine—my heart still guiding me with wisdom—and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life. 4 I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. 5 I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. 6 I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. 7 I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. 8 I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines, the delight of the sons of man. 9 So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. 10 And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. 11 Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.
From the beginning of this passage we can see that Solomon introduces his experiment -
by talking to his - HEART (a dialogue with his heart)
Ecclesiastes 2:1 ESV
1 I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity.
So right away, we can see the premise of the experiment ...
…and he actually predicts the conclusion will be - VANITY!
Ecclesiastes 2:2 ESV
2 I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?”
Here - Solomon begins to explain his conclusion that PLEASURE in itself provides NO LASTING GAIN to our existence...
LAUGHTER he says - was insanity!
And FUN accomplished NOTHING!
What’s he really saying? - He’s NOT saying that ALL laughter is EVIL or that ALL fun is EVIL...
He’s simply saying that LAUGHTER and FUN, as a SOLUTION to the basic problems of life…is...
…an EPIC failure!
NOW the world - maybe you too - will live life - WEEKEND to WEEKEND…right?
Where it says -
Ok, let’s just GET THRU the week...
GET me to the weekend...
Where I can relax....have fun…decompress...
...and then I can RECHARGE for the coming week…(REPEAT)
Their solution to the ILLS of life is - Laughter and Fun...
And Solomon says - No - it doesn’t CURE anything...
Ecclesiastes 2:3 ESV
3 I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine—my heart still guiding me with wisdom—and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life.
So here we see Solomon MAKE IT CLEAR to his readers...
…that his experiment was a RATIONALLY CONTROLLED experiment...
MEANING - we see here that he TESTED if WINE could CURE the pain of life...
And we also see here that he EMBRACED “Foolishness”...
AND YET - he was still guided by - WISDOM
And so he’s NOT out to get DRUNK…!
Everyone knows that DRUNKENNESS isn’t the answer to life...
What Solomon wants everyone to know is this - This experiment is an experiment in PLEASURE…NOT DEBAUCHERY… (*explain - wisdom is still guiding him)
He wanted to know if RATIONALLY CONTROLLED indulgence in pleasure - gave meaning to life.
He wants to know WHAT was GOOD for children of man to do DURING the FEW days they have on this earth!
Should they pursue PLEASURE while they’re here…?
And he concludes that - drinking and drinking parties are not a solution to the emptiness of life...
…in the face of what’s coming - DEATH
Ecclesiastes 2:4–7 ESV
4 I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. 5 I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. 6 I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. 7 I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem.
Here we see...
an increase in ACTIVITY...
an increase in POSSESSIONS...
And notice how many times we see the phrase - FOR MYSELF in this passage...
Read again...
The purpose of these things were to bring about JOY and PLEASURE in the heart of Solomon...
Today - it might be:
houses (vacation houses)
boats
cars
enterprise
land
business
All THESE things meant to bring about PLEASURE in US!
For SOLOMON he says he ACQUIRED more than anyone else…in Jerusalem...
AND YET...
All of it still falling under the shadow of verse 1...
ALL of it - VANITY!
Ecclesiastes 2:8 ESV
8 I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines, the delight of the sons of man.
Here we see his pursuit of MONEY…attaining GREAT MONEY...
GREAT Wealth...
Money is one of those things in life that we can ACTUALLY feel - the comfort that it brings!
the JOY that it brings...
And yet - Solomon says - it’s all VANITY...
Our desire is NEVER satisfied!
That CRAVING is NEVER satisfied!
Solomon also pursues SEXUAL pleasures...
Whatever his eye desired, he acquired...
And yet - result?
Same as verse 1 - vanity!
Ecclesiastes 2:9–11 ESV
9 So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. 10 And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. 11 Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.
All of this...
A PURSUIT of PLEASURE....all KINDS of pleasure...
FUN
LAUGHTER
ALCOHOL
FOLLY
ACTIVITY
POSSESSIONS
STATUS
MONEY
SEX
All of these things - pursued....and attained...
And the DESIRE for THESE things was - NEVER SATISFIED!
the desire for...
MORE fun - came
MORE ALCOHOL - came
MORE ACTIVITY - came
MORE POSSESSIONS - came
MORE STATUS - came
MORE MONEY - came
MORE SEX - came
Never fulfilled - a chasing after the WIND...
And so - FROM HERE NOW - I want to look back at these verses from a higher angle...
The premise of our text today has been what?

The Pursuit of Pleasure

But what I want us to see is that the Bible doesn’t teach that we have to choose between PURSUING GOD or PURSUING PLEASURE...
SLIDE: FORK
We don’t have this fork in the road before us where we have to CHOOSE between THESE TWO THINGS!
And i know a lot of people feel that way...
They’ll make comments like -
Well - I’m just not ready to make a decision for God yet…I’m still young!
They say this because they believe they have to CHOOSE between - JOY and God...
In Scripture we clearly see this is NOT the case...
In Scripture we see that we are to...
SLIDE: Pursue Pleasure: In God Not In His Creation

Pursue Pleasure

We read this recently...
Psalm 16:11 ESV
11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
And so what we want to guard AGAINST after walking thru our passage today...
…The Vanity of Self-Indulgence...
What we DON’T want our reaction to be after reading thru Eccl. 2:1-11 - is to...
…NOT pursue JOY/Pleasure...
…and to ONLY pursue DOING things for God!
We DO want to pursue JOY/Pleasure...
We just want to REORIENT where our JOY is AIMING…!
And so WHAT is Biblical Joy??
Biblical joy is a good feeling, in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as He causes us to see the beauty of Christ, in His Word, and His work.
And so let's take this piece by piece...and march our way thru
SLIDE:
Biblical joy is a good feeling
Now, what we see here is that Biblical Joy is NOT A:
decision
conviction
idea
It's a - FEELING (emotion)
NOW - Emotions are interesting
*Ever been on an icy road in the winter and your car begins to spin? What happens to your emotions?
*Anyone ever WAKE up in bed after hearing a loud noise in your house?...
We all know that we don't have immediate control over our emotions!
AND YET - the Bible is full of commands that we RESPOND with this specific emotion! - JOY
The Bible is full of commands that we DO THINGS that are immediately outside our control to do...
Philippians 4:4 ESV
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
Psalm 37:4 ESV
4 Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
James 1:2 ESV
2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
And so we see this constant theme that runs throughout Scripture...
to DELIGHT in something is to WORSHIP that something...
to DELIGHT in something - is to MAKE MUCH of it...
We glorify what we DELIGHT in...satisfied in!
And the Bible is constantly asking us THIS question - ARE YOU SATISFIED in Jesus Christ!???
Is your JOY rooted in HIM?!!
For Solomon - in our text today - He experienced PLEASURE...
He experienced this EMOTION of joy...
So let’s continue with this definition of Biblical Joy to see what happens...
SLIDE:
Biblical joy is a good feeling, in the soul
And so when you take a bite of your favorite food and your body makes this noise - MMMMMM.....
That’s not JOY...
That’s an EFFECT of joy…but it’s not joy...
Joy is - immaterial
joy can't be held
it can't be touched
And so regarding Solomon - I would question whether the PLEASURE he felt from this experiment sprang forth from his soul...
But for the world - I don’t doubt at all that their earthly pleasures spring up from their soul...
WHY?
Because they’re serving their MASTER - Sin...
Romans 6:16 ESV
16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?
Now - relating this BACK to Solomon and our text today...
The problem with the world pursuing PLEASURE…pursuing JOY...
IS NOT that they’re pursuing PLEASURE...
But WHAT their pleasure RESIDES in!
And so - the UNBELIEVER obeys sin - WHEN - their JOY RESIDES in the world!
And When their JOY RESIDES in the world - they will PURSUE the world!!!
remember that list?
ACTIVITY
POSSESSIONS
STATUS
MONEY
SEX
And so Worldly Joy RESIDES in the unbelievers soul...
And Biblical JOY resides in the BELIEVER’S soul!
Let's keep going...
SLIDE:
Biblical joy is a good feeling, in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit
this Joy that we're talking about - this Biblical Joy we're looking at here is PRODUCED by the Holy Spirit...
And we see this very clearly in Scripture...
Galatians 5:22–24 ESV
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
you see what v24 says?
Those who belong to Christ, have - crucified (killed) the flesh with its passions and desires!
well what is DESIRE?
Desire is a - WANTING....a DELIGHTING - a CRAVING
Those IN CHRIST have crucified their EARTHLY desires...but now have NEW DESIRES....
In the flesh mankind has passions and desires...and (IF)...In Christ - mankind has NEW passions and desires...
And it takes the Holy Spirit to BRING ABOUT these new passions in us!..
this new BIBLICAL JOY in us!
My inner JOY, overflowing toward God, ROOTED in God, comes from the Holy Spirit...
The same was true for Jesus Christ
Luke 10:21 ESV
21 In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.
The Holy Spirit gave joy to Jesus Christ...The same was true of the disciples!
Acts 13:52 ESV
52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
So the Holy Spirit creates JOY in my soul....HOW?
next part of the Definition:
SLIDE:
Biblical joy is a good feeling, in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as He causes us to see the beauty of Christ...
So the Holy Spirit creates JOY, IN MY SOUL......not as a SIMPLE flip of a switch...
BUT...
AS He causes me to SEE the beauty of Jesus Christ! - OF Jesus Christ
Philippians 4:4 ESV
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
IN THE LORD - Rejoice!
Well HOW do you rejoice iN THE LORD if you don't SEE Jesus as being WORTHY of REJOICING in??!!
If I don't SEE Jesus for who He is and what He's done....I won't REJOICE in Him...
The Holy Spirit must WORK in me to CAUSE me to SEE Jesus!!!
And if this JOY is directed at Christ - WELL then that makes sense with what
John 16:13–14 ESV
13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
The Holy Spirit is given to US...in order to Glorify Jesus Christ!
Which means the Holy Spirit opens the eyes of my heart to SEE the beauty of Jesus Christ!
And WHEN I see Him for who He is - my heart overflows with JOY in HIM!
And lastly...
SLIDE:
Biblical joy is a good feeling, in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as He causes us to see the beauty of Christ, in His Word, and His work.
The most obvious place we SEE Jesus Christ for who He is..and what He's done...is in His word!
That's why the Bible says that it was written BY the Holy Spirit - through man...
That we might come to SEE and understand who Christ is!
BY reading the written word of the Holy Spirit - who is charged with GLORIFYING Christ!
But it's not just in the Bible that we see the beauty of Christ!
We also see the beauty of Christ in the world around us - in His work!
We see Christ in His creation...in His gifts that He gives us!
Every gift that He gives us is SPEAKING Jesus TO us!
WHICH IS WHY - our JOY isn't MEANT to terminate on His gifts!
The JOY of the Spirit will NEVER terminate on the gifts of God...OUR joy will!
But not the Spirit's joy!
The Spirit GLORIFIES Christ!!
AS Supreme!
ABOVE all things!
SO - as we close today....HOW DO WE PURSUE JOY in the LORD?
How do WE pursue HOLY SPIRIT wrought JOY - in Christ!??
This is what we want...
We want to pursue this CERTAIN kind of joy! Pleasure!
SLIDE
Realize that Authentic Joy in God is a Gift:
Galatians 5:22 ESV
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
Isn't it interesting to think that one of the ways we fight for JOY IN GOD is to realize that the JOY we're after must be given to us?
See God blesses those who pursue Him...
Which leads to our next point:
SLIDE
Realize that Joy Must Be Fought For Relentlessly
2 Corinthians 1:24 ESV
24 Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith.
You would think that Paul would have said this:"Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your FAITH...*
See FAITH has JOY at its heart: It is being SATISFIED with all that God is for us in Jesus.
therefore - the "good fight of faith" (1 Timothy 6) is a FIGHT FOR JOY!
SLIDE:
Resolve to Attack All Known Sin in Your Life
Romans 6:11–13 ESV
11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.
SLIDE:
Learn to Fight Like a Justified Sinner
Micah 7:8–9 ESV
8 Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me. 9 I will bear the indignation of the Lord because I have sinned against him, until he pleads my cause and executes judgment for me. He will bring me out to the light; I shall look upon his vindication.
SLIDE:
Meditate on the Word of God Day and Night
Psalm 23:3 ESV
3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
SLIDE:
Preach to Yourself, Don't Listen to Yourself
Psalm 42:5 ESV
5 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation
SLIDE:
Spend Time With God Saturated People Who Will Help You See God and Fight the Fight
Hebrews 3:12–13 ESV
12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
SLIDE:
Fight For Joy in Discipleship
As we’ve seen today from Solomon,
The world cannot satisfy us…all the world can offer us is - temporary
Pursue JOY - yes - but JOY in God!!
And let’s help each other do this...
Close - Pray
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