The word "vain" in the Bible usually means "empty." The writer of Eccl. used the word "vanity" 33 times meaning "emptiness." The Christian life is the only life that is not empty. Many Christians live in the energy of the flesh instead of the energy of the Holy Spirit. Their lives are filled with labor, burdens, conflict and confusion. (Keep in mind that a person can do a good thing in a good way and not be fulfilled.)
Paul wanted to finish
his course with joy in Acts 20:24. Heb. 12:1 tells us to "Lay aside
every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run
with patience the race that is set before us." Some people
never get into the race (do not get saved) and some get in the
race (saved) and yet, the sins and weight of worldly things either slow
or stop them. There are some things that result in an empty life:
1. Religion without Redemption leads to an empty life. James 1:26 states, "If any man seemeth to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain." 1 Pet.1:13 speaks of our "vain conversation" which we were redeemed from.
2. Talent without the touch of God leads to an empty life. 1 Cor. 3:20, "And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain." The entertainment industry is filled with talented, empty people. When God-given talents are perverted, the result is emptiness. The only thing these people have to look forward to is fame and fortune, both fading in time. The same talents used to honor God will yield joys forevermore.
3. Service without Spirit leads to an empty life. See Gal. 3:3-4 , and notice "Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain?" Col. 3:23 states, "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men." Service for the Lord is empty when it is done to please men.
4. Prayer without power leads to an empty life. In Matt. 6:7, Jesus condemns vain repetitions. James states, "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." Ps.66:18 tells us, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the LORD will not hear me."
5. Worship without works leads to an empty life. Matt. 15:9, "But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." In John 4:14 those who are saved through Christ have in them "a well of water springing up into everlasting life." In Ps.23:5 David said, "My cup runneth over." In Eph. 3:19 Christians are "Filled with all the fullness of God." In Phil. 1:11 we are "Filled with the fruits of righteousness." In Col. 1:9 we are "filled with the knowledge of His will." In Rom. 15:13 Paul said, "Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost."