“Wisdom is better than weapons of war:
but one sinner destroyeth much good.”
~ Ecclesiastes 9:18
Solomon has highly esteemed wisdom in the book of Proverbs as well as in the book of Ecclesiastes. He has deemed it the choicest of treasures, more worthy to be diligently sought after than gold and silver hidden in a field. Solomon states, “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding” (Proverbs 4:7). Of all pursuits to consume our time, wisdom is by far the greatest. We should strive to acquire wisdom above all else.
Wisdom can accomplish much good. It is “an ornament of grace” to them that possess it. The preacher says in our text, “Wisdom is better than weapons of war.” The greatness and safety of a city does not lie only in their machinery of defense. “There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength. An horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength” (Psalm 33:16-17). He tells us that the race is not always won by the fastest, nor is it always the strongest that prevail in battle. Wisdom far excels all these carnal things. However, in our text, Solomon contrasts the good of wisdom with the destruction of sin for “one sinner destroyeth much good.” Let us consider briefly some of the destructions of sin.
Firstly, a sinner destroys himself. Countless millions live lives of sin, “Whose end is destruction.” They have never repented. They have never believed in Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins,” and “he that believeth not is condemned already.” In some cases, they have gained the whole world and lost their own souls.
A life of sin is a wasted life that ultimately destroys itself. Do you realize the ruinous power of sin? Whatever good may be done is destroyed by the sin in your life. Outside of Christ, you cannot do any good works, no matter what your intentions might be. The Bible says, “So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:8). The Word tells us “without faith it is impossible to please him” and “whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” You may be kind to your family and neighbors. You may be benevolent toward the downcast. You may volunteer your time to help the sick and needy. You may attend church and even give offerings. With all your good works, you may think that you are building up a good account, but you are going to find that “But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds” (Romans 2:5-6). All your works that seemed good are destroyed.
Secondly, a sinner destroys others. There may be much good intended and attempted by many of the righteous, “but one sinner destroyeth much good.” “A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends. A violent man enticeth his neighbour, and leadeth him into the way that is not good” (Proverbs 16:28-29). A sinner in the congregation destroys and hinders the good efforts of all. A sinner in the church will sew discord, tale-bear, and lead many astray. They are an ungodly example with their fleshly lives. They are always causing divisions and thwart the good desires of God’s people. They bring reproach on the body and her head, Christ. They are much like Achan of old who brought wrath on all Israel. “Did not Achan the son of Zerah commit a trespass in the accursed thing, and wrath fell on all the congregation of Israel? and that man perished not alone in his iniquity” (Joshua 22:20).
The church is required to cleanse itself of iniquity by purging out the old leaven. “But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person” (I Corinthians 5:13). The Lord’s church must practice discipline and exclusion if necessary. The carnal Christians that are only interested in “nickels and noses” will shy away from such doctrine. Carnal reasoning says, “This one puts much money into the church. This one has the largest family. This one has a lot of influence in the community. Can we not just tolerate them and not rock the boat?” The answer is, “No!”
The truth is, the church cannot afford to keep such a one in the body for “one sinner destroyeth much good.” Do not suffer Jezebel to teach others to sin. Put her out. One sinner in the body will destroy the good name of the Church and erode your good influence by their bad example. The church cannot be just like the world. How much sin is in the world? “And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness” (I John 5:19). We cannot run with the world and hope to influence them for good for “one sinner destroyeth much good.” We must follow the Word, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate” (II Corinthians 6:17). The world needs to see a holy church with holy Christians that are dedicated to give Christ glory with their lives. “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (Ephesians 3:21).