Ecclesiastes 9.18b



1.   My text for this morning is Ecclesiastes 9.18b.  When you find that portion of God’s Word, please stand:  “one sinner destroyeth much good.”

2.   No theology this morning.  No difficult to comprehend doctrine this morning.  No manipulative devices of any kind this morning (not that I do that anyway).

3.   Today is PayCheck Sunday, so I think it would be good for each and every one of you to hear an extremely simple sermon related to how very important you are; each of you.

4.   Turn to Proverbs 6.6-8:

6      Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:

7      Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,

8        Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.


5.   Is it not interesting that in God’s Word, written 3,000 years ago, worker ants were correctly identified as females?  Yet another evidence of the inspiration of scripture, the infallibility of God’s Word.

6.   Now turn to Proverbs 30.24-25:

24     There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise:

25     The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer;


7.   If there are lessons to be learned from ants (and there are), then we should learn from the weakness of the ants, the work of the ants, and the wisdom of the ants.[1]

8.   The lesson we learn from the weakness of the ants is the need to cooperate.  “The ants are a people not strong.”  God’s plan is for individuals to work with others to accomplish certain goals, something that is most necessary if you are not strong.  And how strong are we, really?

9.   A man and a woman marry to form a family and to have and to raise children.  A person gets saved and becomes a church member through baptism so he can acquire a pastor for spiritual guidance, so he can cooperate with other church members to fulfill the Great Commission, and so he can earn spiritual rewards that will be given to him at the judgment seat of Christ.

10. So, you can see the benefit of cooperating with others to overcome the drawbacks of our inherent weaknesses.  This is what citizens in a nation do.  This is what workers in a businesses do.  This is what Christians in a church do.

11. Next, after learning from the weakness of ants, we learn from the work of ants.  Did you know that ants are almost completely given over to reproduction?  I do not mean by that that every married couple should strive to have 18 children.

12. But I do mean by that that more effort should be made to have and raise children properly than is typically the case with most couples.  And I do mean by that that our church should be given over to spiritual reproduction, which is evangelism.  It is the reason we exist, to carry out the Great Commission.

13. The weakness of the ants, the work of the ants, and now the wisdom of the ants.  They prepare.  Solomon wrote about them that “they prepare their meat in the summer.”  This is because ants cannot function in cool or cold weather.  So, they have to prepare in the summer for the coming of winter.

14. The lessons of the ants are important lessons for a church like ours to learn, especially when it comes to evangelism, and when it comes to a day like today, PayCheck Sunday.  Real evangelism is a total church effort.  And PayCheck Sunday will be a complete flop unless we all work together to ensure success.

15. But on a day like today it is easy to overlook the importance of the individual, something I want to make sure does not happen.  Yes, we are supposed to work together as the body of Christ.  Yes, we are to make sure we do not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is. 

16. But our text tells us that “one sinner destroyeth much good.”  Examples from the Bible illustrate this simple statement in powerful ways.

17. Adam was one man, but he sinned against God and plunged the entire human race into the depths of spiritual depravity that overwhelm us thousands of years later.  First Corinthians 15.22 tells us, “in Adam all die.”  Romans 5.12 declares, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.”  To be sure, “one sinner destroyeth much good.”

18. Nimrod was one man, but he rebelled against God’s command and gathered men into a city and into an empire rather than going forth to replenish the earth.  Though he was but one sinner, he brought into existence the idolatry that has plagued mankind from that day to this.  To be sure, “one sinner destroyeth much good.”

19. Balaam was one man, but he sold his prophetical gifts for money and devised a plot whereby Moabite women seduced Israelite men into intermarriage.  The result was the blasphemous union of Israel with fornication and idolatrous feasts.[2]

20. Korah was one man, but his rebellion against Moses brought about the deaths of 250 other conspirators, as God opened up the ground beneath them and they went alive into the pit.  But that was not the end of it, for when the people murmured about it the next day God sent a plague that killed 14,700 more people.[3]  Thus, “one sinner destroyeth much good.”  One man’s ego, and pride, and venal ambition, resulted in the deaths of almost 15,000 people.

21. Achan was but one man.  Yet when the children of Israel attacked the city of Jericho, Achan’s sin of taking forbidden booty for himself resulted in the deaths of 36 men in battle against the city of Ai.  And then when his sin was found out his own death, the death of his wife, and the deaths of his children resulted.[4]  It was wonderful that the Israelites destroyed the wicked city of Jericho, but “one sinner destroyeth much good.”

22. What damage was caused by the sin of Jezebel, who slew the prophets of the LORD and who had such a bad influence on her weak and contemptible husband, Ahab?[5]  What damage was caused by Athaliah, who took the lives of her own grandchildren to solidify her possession of the throne of the kingdom of Judah?[6]  What damage was caused by the Judean king, Manasseh, whose sins provoked God to send his people into the Babylonian captivity?[7]

23. I could go on and on and on through the Bible, showing how the sins of a single individual affects the lives of so many people.  But instead, let me further illustrate the principle that I have illustrated by means of what is called the butterfly effect.

24. One of the most difficult problems facing mathematicians is trying to predict the weather.  There are so many variables, with the effects of different factors not really understood, that the world’s fastest super computers are overwhelmed by the immensity of the equations they are called upon to solve.

25. The “Butterfly Effect” is often ascribed to a mathematician named Lorenz.  In a paper in 1963 given to the New York Academy of Sciences he remarked:  “One meteorologist remarked that if the theory were correct, one flap of a seagull’s wings would be enough to alter the course of the weather forever.  By the time of his talk at the December 1972 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C. the sea gull had evolved into the more poetic butterfly - the title of his talk was:  Predictability:  Does the Flap of a Butterfly’s Wings in Brazil set off a Tornado in Texas?”

26. The essence of the butterfly effect is that one event, the flapping of a butterfly’s wings, can cause something else quite unpredictable to happen, which causes some other unforeseen event to happen, which causes something else to happen, which eventually sets off a tornado half way around the world.

27. But what mathematicians cannot predict, how one event can affect another event, and then another, and then another, God predicts with absolute certainty.  In our text we read, “one sinner destroyeth much good.” 

28. One sinner can destroy his own soul by his sins, and the souls of others by the advice he gives, by the examples he sets for others, by the behavior he exhibits in front of others, which has the effect of corrupting those around him.

29. I wonder how many guests would pay close attention to the preaching of God’s Word, but for the body language of the church kid.  I wonder how many more people would come to our church, but for the lack of enthusiasm displayed by this church member or that church member?

30. In this way one sinner can destroy a family, a neighborhood, and a town.  Imagine what happens when one person teaches error to children, or when one preacher preaches false doctrine to a congregation.  What happens when one father fails to set a good example for his children, fails to properly train his kids, fails to live up to his responsibilities as a father, a teacher, and a guide.

31. When I went to Sunday school one time, there was one kid in that class from my elementary school.  There was one kid in that Sunday school class that I knew.  Did he befriend me?  Did he encourage me?  Did he smile at me?  Did he approach me at school and say, “I’m glad you came to Sunday school class.  I hope you come back”?  No.

32. It was good for my parents to take my brother and me to Sunday school.  It was good for me to be exposed to church in that way.  Had that one boy said something or done something to offset the terrible example of the other boys in that Sunday school classroom I might have gone back.  But that was not to be.  “one sinner destroyeth much good.”  So, imagine how much good was destroyed with a whole class room full of sinners.

33. What lessons can we learn from this verse, “one sinner destroyeth much good,” and the many illustrations that accompany it?

34. Three lessons:



1B.    My friend, you are extremely important.  You may not think you are important.  People may not acknowledge by the way they treat you that you are important.  But make no mistake about it.  You are important.

2B.      There are times in this high tech, pressure packed, society that we live in that we rush past people, that we look past people, that we do not listen as carefully as we should to those who speak to us.  But that does not mean you are not important.  You are important.

3B.      You are important because God says you are important.  You are important because you bear the very image of God, made in His image and likeness.  And you are important because God’s plan for reaching the lost for Jesus Christ is a plan to reach one person at a time; making you very important to God, to this church, and to me.



1B.      This is where our text really comes to bear in a significant way:  “one sinner destroyeth much good.”  To be sure, it is possible for an individual to be of benefit to mankind, to improve the lot of men everywhere.  But because our race is a race of sinners, and because our tendencies are toward sin, one sinner can do a great deal of damage, can destroy much that is good.

2B.      One person might have ruined our skits last night.  I am thankful they were as well performed and as well received as they were.  One person can destroy a church, can wipe out a family, can obliterate my ministry.  It is only by God’s grace that a church or a family is not destroyed by one person.

3B.      Albert Einstein was a brilliant theoretician, but Adolph Hitler did more damage than Einstein did good.  Winston Churchill was a brilliant statesman, but consider the carnage left in the wake of Josef Stalin’s life.

4B.      From time to time God raises up a towering figure to advance His cause, but mostly He makes use of congregations working together.  For every Luther and Calvin and Jonathan Edwards there are multiplied thousands of Christians in many congregations who are faithfully, but without recognition, serving God.

5B.    My point being, most of the time the individual acts as an individual damage is done, much good is destroyed.  When good is done, when the gospel is advanced, it is usually the result of individuals not acting individually, but cooperating with each other in unison and in harmony in their local churches.

6B.    To clarify further, the impact of the individual is usually detrimental:  “one sinner destroyeth much good.”  The Lone Ranger usually does far more harm than good.  You acting alone usually do harm.  But you, acting in concert with other church members, are far more likely to do good.



1B.      You are very, very important.  You are not only important because you are valued by God as worth the shed blood of Christ to cleanse your sins away.  You are also important because of the great harm you can cause if you are not careful, if you are not faithful, if you are not spiritual, if you do not do God’s will.

2B.    Do you realize that someone has to count the offering after each service?  What happens to that person who thinks of you, who cares about you, who loves you, who prays for you, but who never sees you (the professing Christian) represented by an offering envelope?  I am not saying you should give to impress other people.  I am only pointing out that “one sinner destroyeth much good.”

3B.    To be sure, we have in the gospels the little boy who gave his five loaves and two fishes to the Lord Jesus Christ, Who then multiplied the loaves and fishes so much that 5,000 men were fed, with twelve baskets of food left over after they had eaten.[8]  That is a wonderful example of the great impact of one person’s all placed in the hands of the Savior.

4B.    But we are not asking God to give us much from the sacrifice of one person.  We are asking God to give us much from the sacrifice of many.  And we are asking Him to spare us the harm that is done when “one sinner destroyeth much good.”

5B.      One plow horse can pull a thousand pounds.  Two plow horses can each pull one thousand pounds.  But when those two horses are harnessed together they can pull three thousand pounds, a full thousand pounds more together than acting individually.  Imagine, then, the harm that is done by that horse that refuses to get in harness with the other horse.  Imagine the harm that is done by that one church member who does not, for one reason or another, pull with the rest of us, because “one sinner destroyeth much good.”



1.   If you are a guest here today, I would urge you to understand that this special offering we are about to take up is something we have planned for a year, something we have prayed about for a long time.  It would be entirely inappropriate for you to feel any obligation or responsibility to participate.  This is for us.

2.   A person comes into this world alone.  A person lives his life in this world pretty much alone.  Even with a family it is common for sinners to feel so terribly lonely.  This is because God is a jealous God, and He will not bless anyone’s relationships with other people so long as there is no genuine relationship with Him.

3.   But when a sinner comes to Christ and his sins are washed away in the blood of Christ, when he is adopted into the family of God and then becomes a member of Christ’s church, God gives him a belonging such as he has never before experienced.

4.   It is in the context of this belonging that we here at Calvary Road Baptist Church live our lives.  Are we weak and dependent?  Of course we are, like the ants in so many ways.  That is why we, though important and valuable as individuals, choose to cooperate with others in this church to maximize our effectiveness in service to Christ.

5.   That is why we come to church so often.  That is why we bring others to church.  That is why we choose church services over work schedules.  We know that “one sinner destroyeth much good.”  So, we band together to do right.  We want to do good, not destroy good.  So, you need to be here . . . with us.

[1] Thanks to Dr. Bill Monroe, Florence Baptist Temple, Florence, SC for this insight.

[2] See footnote for Revelation 2.14 from John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997), page 1995.

[3] Numbers 16

[4] Joshua 7

[5] 1 Kings 18 & 21

[6] 2 Kings 11

[7] 2 Kings 23.26

[8] Matthew 14.17-21

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