Vain or Vanity
The Pilgrim’s Progress, the well-known Christian classic by
John Bunyan, tells about Pilgrim, who travels from the City
of Destruction to the Celestial City. On the way to heaven he
passes through a town named Vanity, and in this town, there
is a place called Vanity Fair. Everything sold there appeals to
a person’s vanity: houses, lands, honors, pleasures, lusts,
silver, gold, and the list goes on. At Vanity Fair, everyone lives
in sin and mocks or persecutes those who live a moral or
ethical lifestyle. People like those of Vanity Fair populate our
world today. The book of Ecclesiastes describes the life apart
from God as one of vanity. Thirty verses state that everything
is vanity unless it relates to God. We make choices: Life can
be spent in empty, vain pursuits, or it can be full of purpose.
Let’s consider some Scriptures that give insights into the vain
way of life.
1. Deuteronomy 32:40–47.
To whom does vengeance belong?
Men may vow to take care of themselves by
the sword, but where does real life come from?
What words are worth our time learning and observing?
(See Deuteronomy 6:4–12.)
What blessings come from following God’s Word?
2. Job 7:3–4.
Job said he endured months of vanity and futility.
What is he describing?
When sleep doesn’t come, what does man wait for?
How can we better face work and weariness?
3. Psalm 2:1–4.
What kind of vain plotting do people do? (Acts 4:24–27).
Why is this vanity?
What is God’s response to those who rebel against Him and His Son?
4. Psalm 127:1–2.
What happens to work we try to accomplish without God?
Why is rising early and retiring late toiling for food in vain?
What does God grant those He loves?
5. Proverbs 12:11.
What does working the land produce?
How is a vain person described?
A good work ethic curbs vanity.
Why is honest work honorable?
6. Malachi 3:13–15.
Why do some think it is vain to serve God?
Do their motives come into play?
Why is it the correct choice to honor God’s Word and live by it?
7. Romans 1:21–28.
Why do you think the people described
probably knew of God but didn’t truly know Him?
What happens when men and women give themselves over to the lusts
of the flesh rather than honoring their bodies as God created them to be?
8. 1 Corinthians 15:14, 17.
Why would preaching be in vain without the resurrection of Jesus?
Why would faith be in vain if Christ had not been raised from the dead?
9. James 1:26.
In what ways does religion become vain, empty, and useless?
How does a person deceive himself?
10. 2 Peter 2:15–18.
What is the future of proud, boastful people?
What do such people want to do?
What do evil people promise to others?
What is their true condition?
From 102 Fascinating Bible Studies by Preston A. Taylor
About the Author (2010):
Preston A. Taylor is a retired pastor and missionary to Argentina. He
received his BD and ThM degrees from Southwestern Baptist Seminary
and his DMin from Luther Rice Seminary. For the past 25 years, he has
written a weekly devotional message for newspapers in the towns where
he has served as pastor. Dr. Taylor currently lives in Zapata, Texas.