(Rev 2:2) I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
(Rev 2:3) And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast labored, and hast not fainted.
(Rev 2:4) Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
(Rev 2:5) Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
If it is true that pride comes before the fall it must also be true that vainglory is the evil which comes before pride. In this study of God's word we will examine a few examples which seem to prove this biblical precept.
In the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ our Lord instructed the apostle John to write unto the pastor of the church in Ephesus who could not tolerate those who are evil, who has tried them which say are apostles and found them to be liars and has not fainted from this labor done for His name's sake.
Yet our Lord rebukes this pastor because he has forgotten from where he has fallen, he has ceased doing the first works because he has left his first love.
Now we know that this is no new thing because it has been written; there is no new thing under the sun (Ecc 1:9). In fact this truth is made evident from the beginning of creation. Yet mankind refuses to learn this lesson, Jews fail to learn this lesson and Christians likewise continue to become snared by vainglory.
The Wisdom of Solomon
Scriptures tell us:
(1Ki 4:30) And Solomon's wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt.
(1Ki 4:31) For he was wiser than all men; than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol: and his fame was in all nations round about.
(1Ki 4:32) And he spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five.
(1Ki 4:33) And he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes.
(1Ki 4:34) And there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom.
Subsequently the name of Solomon, to this very day, is honored and revered among people of all nations and beliefs just as it was in the days of old.
What has been lost over the course of human history however, what is often ignored by those who read about Solomon, is the moral of the story. Vainglory and pride come before the fall!
Yes Solomon was thought to be the wisest of men and even the richest of men, even by today's standards, but what is forgotten about the life of Solomon is how it ended.
Solomon was appointed by God to build a house into His name. Unlike his father David, Solomon was given rest on every side (1 King 5:4) so that he could build this temple which would become the house of the Lord. His people were blessed by God and subsequently the kingdom of Solomon was likewise blessed.
(1Ki 6:11) And the word of the LORD came to Solomon, saying,
(1Ki 6:12) Concerning this house which thou art in building, if thou wilt walk in my statutes, and execute my judgments, and keep all my commandments to walk in them; then will I perform my word with thee, which I spake unto David thy father:
(1Ki 6:13) And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake my people Israel.
God also said unto Solomon:
(1Ki 9:3) And the LORD said unto him, I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication, that thou hast made before me: I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name there for ever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually.
(1Ki 9:4) And if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my judgments:
(1Ki 9:5) Then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever, as I promised to David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel.
(1Ki 9:6) But if ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and worship them:
(1Ki 9:7) Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people:
(1Ki 9:8) And at this house, which is high, every one that passeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss; and they shall say, Why hath the LORD done thus unto this land, and to this house?
Did this not eventually come to fruition concerning Israel?
Were the actions of Solomon not the cause?
You see Solomon became so full of himself, for all people in the world gave him great glory (honor) because of his wealth and his wisdom, that he actually began to believe the hype and began to succumb to his own wisdom, the wisdom of man. rather than the wisdom of God.
In 1Kings 11 we are told that Solomon loved many "strange" women (women from other lands and beliefs) and that these women (seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines and wives) turned away his heart from God.
(1Ki 11:4) For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.
(1Ki 11:5) For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.
(1Ki 11:6) And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father.
You see what separated Solomon from His father David was the condition of his heart!
Yes both sinned against God in one way or another but the heart of David never left God. David never thought more highly of himself than he aught. When he did sin against God, when he did transgress the word of God, he humbled himself before the Lord, acknowledged his sin and repented.
The lesson to be gleaned here is that the wisdom of Solomon was really worthless insomuch as all that it brought him was vainglory while it was the wisdom of God, the law of the Lord, which truly profited him.
(Jer 8:7) Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of the LORD.
(Jer 8:8) How do ye say, We are wise, and the law of the LORD is with us? Lo, certainly in vain made he it; the pen of the scribes is in vain.
(Jer 8:9) The wise men are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken: lo, they have rejected the word of the LORD; and what wisdom is in them?
The Word of The Lord
What many fail to keep in mind is that "the word of the Lord" is Jesus Christ:
(Joh 1:14) And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
Likewise many forget that when old testament scriptures say; " and the Lord said" or "the Lord said unto", or "thus says the Lord" for example, it is Jesus Christ, the Word of God, who is doing the speaking.
Yet there are those who give that which comes after what "the Lord has spoken" in the old testament scriptures more or less authority than what Jesus Christ has said, while in the flesh, when they are one in the same!
And even still there are those who do not rightly divide the word of truth to keep the words of the Lord within their proper context:
(Luk 5:36) And he spake also a parable unto them; No man putteth a piece of a new garment upon an old; if otherwise, then both the new maketh a rent, and the piece that was taken out of the new agreeth not with the old.
(Luk 5:37) And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish.
(Luk 5:38) But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved.
(Luk 5:39) No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better.
A patch from the new garment of righteousness (grace) can not be used to patch the old (the law). Doing so makes the new rent (torn) because the new does not agree with the old. Likewise new wine MUST be put into new bottles if both are to be preserved but those who have drank of the old wine at once or soon desire the new because they prefer the old.
The reason that the new does not agree with the old is not because God has in any way changed His mind. What it does mean however is that to see and understand that the new simply reveals the truth that was missed by the people of old one must view them in a new light.
Our Lord said that His words are spirit, that they are life, and that He is the Light of the world. He also said that He came only for the lost sheep of the house of Israel. What does all of this mean?
It means that albeit the chosen people of God were given the word of truth, by the Word of God, they were still in darkness.
(Mat 23:23) Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
(Mat 23:24) Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.
He also said:
(Joh 5:37) And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.
(Joh 5:38) And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.
(Joh 5:39) Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
(Joh 5:40) And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.
(Joh 5:41) I receive not honour from men.
Who was Jesus speaking to?
You see the people of God had within them that same spirit of vainglory that Solomon had within him. They were so impressed by their own understanding of the word of God that they never even considered that they could be wrong in their interpretation of what God said unto them, so much so that they rejected the prophets of God and killed them just as they put our Lord God to death by the hands of the Romans.
(Hos 4:6) My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.
(Hos 4:7) As they were increased, so they sinned against me: therefore will I change their glory into shame.
God has surely turned the wisdom of man into foolishness and has changed the glory given unto His people into the vainglory of Solomon, and this not because they simply did not understand rather because they rejected the word of truth, they rejected Godly knowledge, revealed unto them by the prophets, by our Lord Christ Jesus, and today by His indwelling Holy Spirit.
(Php 2:1) If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,
(Php 2:2) Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
(Php 2:3) Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
We need to not think of ourselves as anything but God's vessels here on Earth. We must esteem each other as God esteems us, that is as being equal in His eyes. We must always keep our ears open to hear the word of God in a spirit of humility, not thinking more highly of ourselves than we aught.
Every word that we speak and every action that we take MUST be born of God for the glory of the Father and the Son, not born of ourselves for our vainglory.
(Ecc 12:8) Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity.
(Ecc 12:9) And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs.
(Ecc 12:10) The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth.
(Ecc 12:11) The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd.
(Ecc 12:12) And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
(Ecc 12:13) Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
(Ecc 12:14) For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.