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The dangers of vain glory and why we must avoid it

Apostle Don Meares

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.”  – Philippians 2:3

What is vain glory, and why is it such a dangerous sin for every believer?

Vain glory is another dimension of the pride of life, but it’s just not some small area of the pride of life. Vain glory just happens to be the apex – the highest level of the pride of life. Vain glory is when you reach literally the maximum height that you can reach in the pride of life and when you reach that point, you finally get to the one thing that you’re proud of, that one thing that you’ve been seeking after most of your life,  and then you find out that it’s nothing but empty. Vain glory is nothing but empty glory.

Jesus said the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10), and one of the things that the enemy wants to do greater than anything else is to steal your enjoyment of life. The devil wants to steal that peace that God meant for you to have, that assurance of knowing how to celebrate yourself. When was the last time you celebrated you? When was the last time you were comfortable with who you are and what you are and where you are? 

In Philippians 2:3, Paul insists that we do not ever seek anything that puts us in an environment of vain glory and strife. So, how do we identify such environments?


When our goals have us, instead of us having our goals in our life, that is vain glory. When our goals have been set, not by what God’s purpose for our lives is, but by what we have seen from someone else, and we just want God to do the same for us, that is vain glory. We can look at other people’s lives and make their goals our goals.  

Sometimes, we allow what God did in somebody else’s life to become the compass that drives and guides our decisions rather than finding out, “God, why am I here? What is my purpose? What am I supposed to do?” Instead of taking someone else’s purpose, we have to learn to aspire and to reach that goal freely without allowing other people’s opinions to get in the way. 

Did you know that the very first commandment that God gives to man was to be fruitful? ( Genesis 1:28 And to be fruitful is simply to produce what God has put inside of us.  God did not ask us to produce what He put in somebody else. God asked us to produce what He put in us.

There is something inside of us – talents, gifts, abilities, vision, purpose, that God has put in us and God wants us to bring it out and fulfill it during our lifetime.  But, we will never get that done if we’re trying to fulfill somebody else’s purpose instead of the purpose God has given us. 

If our goal is to prove to somebody else that we have arrived and have reached their standard of success, we will always frustrate the grace of God in our own lives. Worse still, we will never recognize who we truly are in the sight of God and who we are in the kingdom of God. We will become old people with a lifetime of regret wishing we could do it all over again because we wasted our time trying to prove to somebody else that we’ve reached their standards – and that is vain glory.


If we look back to the history of Lucifer, he was an angel in heaven, but he had arrogance in him. He began to exalt himself. This is the spirit of self-exaltation, and this is vain glory. We must understand that what caused Lucifer to fall from Heaven was pride, and there is no sin worse than the pride of life.  

Do you know of people who every time they talk they’ve got to tell you who they run with and who they know? These people have a strong need to exalt themselves, and that can be identified as vain glory.

Out of all the sins that God hates, the thing that He hates the most is pride. And, if He hates pride greater than any other sin, then how do you think God feels about vain glory, which is the highest level of pride? God says a proud look the Lord despises. (Proverbs 6:16-19) Pride comes before a fall. God doesn’t even want us to have a proud look on our faces. He despises people who are proud, and this is why we must avoid pride and vain glory.  We must never promote and exalt ourselves. Self-promotion is striving and living to achieve success in other people’s eyes, not God’s.

The pride of life is Satan’s killer well weapon. It is always the strongest spirit, and it is the most dangerous spirit because it is not easily recognized by a believer. It hides like cancer, even in the most spiritual people. And yet, while it is the most lethal spirit, it seldom preached. Pride can hide in the nicest of people. These people do something good but they do it for the wrong reason, and that is vain glory.


 We must always understand that Satan will never be an equal opposite to God. We cannot compare his puny power to the all-powerful God. We cannot compare his having to be in one place at one time to a God who can be everywhere at the same time. There is no and should never be any comparison, and yet the church often makes this terrible mistake. But, if you begin to really grasp who you are and what your purpose is and what your destiny is, then you will live a very victorious and abundant life. It’s important to have the right purpose, attitude, and motivation so as to avoid living in vain glory.

Going back to our text, Philippians 2:1-3, “If therefore be any consolation in Christ, if there is any comfort in love, if there’s any fellowship of the spirit,  if there’s any affection and mercy, if we’re going to get any consolation or comfort out of being a Christian if we’re going to get any comfort in our loving if there’s going to be any fellowship of the spirit,  if there’s going to be any affection and deep mercy existing in us, if you’re going to be like-minded being in one accord of one mind,  Paul says, “then do nothing through strife or vain glory.” 

If we move into the environment or to the area of strife and vain glory, our Christianity will never have peace.  That means we don’t even get consolation out of being a Christian. If we’re motivated by vain glory, we fall prey to the tactics of the enemy.

Galatians 5:26 tells us again, Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.” 

Let us not be desirous of vain glory. Allowing vain glory in our lives causes us to provoke and envy people. Remember, out of the treasure chest of what is in our hearts, our mouth speaks. So, if we are constantly provoking and having strife with people, then there’s no doubt about it, we are full of pride and we’re at the highest level of pride. We do not want to be people who participate and get controlled by vain glory, do we?

God never wanted us to want what someone else has. God wants us to celebrate what He put in us. God doesn’t want us to celebrate what He did for somebody else. Well, of course, we can rejoice and be glad for them, but God wants us to celebrate what He has put in us.  

God is never a duplicator. God is a creator. Satan cannot create,  so therefore Satan can only imitate.  God is a Creator and He’s given us the power to create. We need to understand this for us to have the right motivation and purpose. When God made us, He broke the mold.  We need to be comfortable with the truth that there is no one else like us. That’s how God created us. 

Accept that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. God created us the way we are so we can fulfill the purpose and calling that He’s called us to. Once we stop comparing our lives with others, vain glory will no longer be our motivation and we will find total success in life by doing the Lord’s will. Vain glory destroys relationships, but acknowledging our true identity and power in Christ allows us to move in authority and build relationships.

Today, let’s ask God to forgive us of all our pride and vain glory. Ask God to show us His unique purpose and design for our lives and let’s make it our motivation. 

Watch the full message “Vainglory” here

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