Ecclesiastes 7:29 – 8:9
29 Behold, I have found only this, that God made men upright, but they have sought out many devices.” 8 Who is like the wise man and who knows the interpretation of a matter? A man’s wisdom illumines him and causes his stern face to beam. 2 I say, “Keep the command of the king because of the oath before God. 3 Do not be in a hurry to leave him. Do not join in an evil matter, for he will do whatever he pleases.” 4 Since the word of the king is authoritative, who will say to him, “What are you doing?” 5 He who keeps a royal command experiences no trouble, for a wise heart knows the proper time and procedure.6 For there is a proper time and procedure for every delight, though a man’s trouble is heavy upon him. 7 If no one knows what will happen, who can tell him when it will happen? 8 No man has authority to restrain the wind with the wind, or authority over the day of death; and there is no discharge in the time of war, and evil will not deliver those who practice it. 9 All this I have seen and applied my mind to every deed that has been done under the sun wherein a man has exercised authority over another man to his hurt.
“Man is a beast when left to his own devices.” This is a reality that I continue to witness even in my personal life when I stray from the teachings and directives of God. To be a disciple is to be obedient. We learn this best when we realize we have fallen away from The Way and have gone our own. It is only with the power of the Holy Spirit that we are able to actually follow what God has decreed and has said how we should live. Our Godly purpose is to worship Him in the way He designed us to and to be obedient; not because He wants us to listen but because He knows what is good for us. Our rebellious nature entices us to find out for ourselves and our spiritual enemy helps convince us to do so. Making the choice to be obedient is what we call spiritual warfare. We must recognize we are at war at all times with this enemy. As Solomon reminds us, there is no discharge in times of war. We are at war and we cannot escape it whether we’d like to or not.
God created us perfectly. Some argue that God “screwed up” because man sinned yet who is to say God was the one to make a mistake? That seems like a prideful attempt to disassociate from our own responsibility. We want credit and responsibility for all the things that we didn’t do but never want to take responsibility for the worst thing we did do: sin. I discussed this in the purpose of sinfulness, where we looked at the dynamic of man’s sin apart from God’s perfection. Here, Solomon is highlighting that our obedience to “the king” is wise because only the king knows what should be done and what shouldn’t. He who keeps a royal command experiences no trouble. Why is this? Because evil will not deliver those who practice it. Paul would say we become slaves to sin.
Jesus has freed us from this slavery. We are no longer enslaved to sinfulness unless we remain there. We have to choose to be obedient instead of indulging in sinfulness. Part of what helps us in this choice is recognizing the vanity of sin in the first place. The other part is that we must understand that it is the power of God’s Spirit in us that helps us to remain obedient. This is another way of explaining the Fruit of the Spirit. Will you keep the royal commands of God? First you have to know the King to know and understand what He is commanding. Do you know Him?