No to Extremism and Moderation
The verses we will be dealing today are hard verses because it’s about extremism and moderation. I pray and hope that you will not be offended. Most of us including the Jews believe that being good will result in prosperity and long life. God told Israel that the obedient would have long life (Ex. 20:12; Deut. 4:40) and the evil and disobedient would perish (Deut. 4:25-26; Ps 55:23). But does this apply to us New Testament Christians? The sad reality now is the opposite. We see evil men living longer and extremely rich while the good and the obedient man is living in poverty and die young.God did promise to bless Israel in their land if they obeyed His law, but He has not given those same promises to New Testament believers. Someone has said that “Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament; adversity is the blessing of the New.” I agree with him. Christ’s words in the Sermon on the Mount were not “Blessed are the rich and wealthy” but “Blessed are the poor in spirit” (Matt. 5:3, Lk. 6:20).
I. Life Experiences (Eccl. 7:15).
A. The life of Solomon which he considers as vanity or futile did not really last long.
B. His disobedience and backsliding caused him to die young. He reigned for 40 years and died at the age of 60
C. In his brief life here on earth, he saw the righteous die young and the unrighteous live longer. This made him really think. What does being righteous mean?
D. Righteousness is the opposite of lawlessness or sin 1 Jn. 3:4-7. It is living the right way. We can only see outwardly how a man lives so this righteousness is limited to actions and words. Only Christ can see and know who we really are.
E. What is being taught here is that righteous living is not a guarantee of having a long life or wicked living a guarantee for a short life.
F. We ask the question why? It is because God is sovereign. He decides how long a man lives. He decides who will live longer or shorter.
Illustration: We Are Made Righteous
Righteousness is an attribute of moral purity belonging to God alone (John 17:25). It is He alone who is truly righteous. No one in the world is righteous in the eyes of the Lord, that is, except the Christian. We are counted righteous in the eyes of God when we receive Jesus by faith (Phil. 3:9). Our righteousness is based on what Jesus did on the cross. The righteousness that was Christ’s is counted to us. We, then, are seen as righteous in the eyes of God. Though we are actually worthy of damnation, we are made righteous (Is. 61:10) by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. As a result, will spend eternity in the presence of the holy, pure, loving, kind, gentle, and righteous God. Our righteousness.
II. Avoid extremism (Eccl. 7:16)
A. Be not righteous over much
1. The righteousness that is being mentioned here is self-righteousness which
causes spiritual and mental harm.
2. Self-righteousness is an outward form of righteousness which elevates a man and looks down at others. This righteousness causes a man to be proud and arrogant. (Lk. 18:10-14)
3. A classic Biblical example are the pharisees and the scribes. (Mt. 23:1-33). They regarded themselves as righteous and looked with contempt on “sinners.” The Lord calls them hypocrites.
4. A hypocrite is a pretender; a false professor. The Greek word hypokrites means a play actor who wore a mask to represent an identity other than his own.
5. Self-righteousness is dangerous and is condemned by the Lord Jesus Christ. (Lk.18:10-14, and Mt. 23).
6. Self-righteous people trusts in their own good works to go to heaven thereby rejecting the redemptive work of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
7. There are so many self-righteous religious group and churches existing today, churches which teaches that outside their church, there is no salvation.
B. Be not over wise (Eccl. 7:16b)
1. The wisdom mentioned here is the wisdom of this world. (1 Cor. 3:18-20).
2. This wisdom causes pride and produces false foundation upon which to build a life.
3. Intellectual achievement makes one proud. Highly educated persons think they are “smart” enough and they look down to people who doesn’t have the
educational attainment that they have.
4. I would call this “false wisdom”
Spiritual requirements for gaining wisdom: Reverence (Prov. 9:10) Humility (Prov. 11:2, 15:33) Teachableness (Prov. 9:9, 15:31, 19:20) Diligence (Prov. 8:17, 2:4–5) Uprightness (Prov. 2:7) Faith (James 1:5–8).
C. Be not over wicked and over foolish. (Eccl. 7:17).
1. It’s a universal principle that over wickedness can result in early or premature death.
2. Solomon is teaching us not to play the role of a fool through excessive
3. Death or the end of our lives are in the hand of God.
4. Because of backsliding, the life of Solomon was cut short. He died at the age of 60, despite of God’s promise of long life to him (1 Kings 3:14, Ps. 90:10).
5. At present, people who are involved in wickedness dies early. Drugs, alcohol, venereal diseases, AIDS, extreme violence, etc., are the main reason for early death.
6. If there is a sin now that drastically shortened people’s life, it is homosexuality. Homosexuals die young.
III. No to Moderation (Eccl. 7:16-18)
A. Lots of people thinks that Solomon is teaching moderation here. His advice “be not righteous over much neither make thyself over wise. Be not over much wicked, be thou foolish” is their basis.
B. As we seen, self-righteousness, false wisdom, over wickedness and foolishness are the ones Solomon is talking here. But, he is not teaching moderation.
C. I honestly think that Christians cannot drink in moderation, gamble in moderation, gossip in moderation, backbite in moderation, or do anything he wants as long as he is moderate in it.
D. We cannot be half obedient and half disobedient. We cannot be half saved or half lost.
E. Moderation for me is being lukewarm. Christ doesn’t like it as it is written in Rev.3:16.
F. Solomon made it clear in verse 20 that there are no righteous people, so he cannot be referring to true righteousness. (Rom. 3:10)
G. He was condemning the self-righteousness of the hypocrite and the false wisdom of the proud, and he warned that these sins led to destruction and death.
H. The term “why shouldest thou destroy thyself?” means to be amazed, be astonied, or be surprised. The explanation is, we can never impress Christ with our righteousness and our wisdom.
I. Our righteousness and our wisdom are just foolishness to Him and can never
change the sovereign will of Christ as to how long or how short we are going to live.
J. We must also realize that righteousness is not immediately rewarded. Neither does God’s judgment fall suddenly on the wicked or evil men. He doesn’t want man also to act foolishly.
K. God’s delay on the punishment of the wicked does not indicate God’s approval to sin, but His mercy and patience in giving evil men chance to repent and come to Him for salvation.
L. As far as I can see, there is no such thing as excessiveness in true righteousness. Christ is our model and His righteousness is imputed to us after we have repented from our sins and receive Him as our personal Saviour.
M. There are no limitations which God places upon us in respect to true wisdom. Christ is the source of true wisdom
Extremism and moderation for me are both wrong and should be avoided by all means. You cannot be lukewarm. We cannot impress Christ by our righteousness and wisdom. Repent from your sin and receive Christ as you personal Saviour. He will make you righteous and give you true wisdom.