Faith in God, Love for People

God’s Tenth Commandment Covetousness, the Sin of the Heart.

Exodus 20 verse 17 says, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.”
This is the tenth of the commandments written in stone by the finger of God on Mt. Sinai. It is rightly placed last, as it underscores, further explains, and expands the previous nine. It shows to us, as we have previously noted, that the Law of God forbids not only the external acts of sin, but also the first motions of our hearts. As the inspired apostle tells us, it is through this law God reveals to us the principle of sin in our hearts by saying, “…for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” Rom. 7:7
Indeed the Bible gives examples or clear statements that connect the breaking of this tenth commandment with the violation of the other nine. The New Testament plainly says, “covetousness, which is idolatry.” Col. 3:5 This connects it with the first and the second commandments. The sad story of David’s sin with Bathsheba clearly illustrates that the sin of adultery begins with the lust in the heart. (See 2 Sam. 11) Several Bible stories reveal to us the connection between “Thou shalt not covet” and “Thou shalt not steal.” How many have been forced to lie because of covetous desires in their heart? The Lord Jesus taught that the Religious leaders of His day were guilty of violating the fifth commandment, regarding the honoring of father and mother, because of their covetousness. Their lust for money caused them to hide funds that should have been used for the benefit of their aging parents. (See Mark 7:9-13) Thus we find that lust in our hearts may cause us to break one or more of the other nine. It is this lust in our hearts that moves us to sin. This is what theologians call “the motions sin,” or “the principle of sin.” They further elaborate by saying, “…it instigates and prompts men to sin; it cherishes it in them; it leads them and impels them to the commission of it, and therefore must be the cause of sin;” (John Gill) Dr. Gill further states that since it causes us to sin it is then sin.
My Friend, this tenth commandment should make all of us stop and acknowledge the sinfulness in our hearts. Do you realize that the very motions of the heart are toward sin? One man of God said, “More than any other, perhaps, does this Commandment reveal to us what we are, the hidden depths of evil within. It is natural to desire things, even though they belong to others. True; and that only shows the fallen and depraved state of our nature.” (A. W. Pink) Have you or I ever said, “I wish I had…”? This command reveals to us that the motions of our heart are both the fruits of our sinful nature and the cause of our sinful acts. We are sinners to the deepest recesses of our being. This is why we need a Saviour. This explains why the Scriptures say, “there is none that seeketh after God.” Rom. 3:11 Left to ourselves and our sinful natures, not one of us would ever seek God or His righteousness.
The command, “Thou shalt not covet” like all of the others, is given not to give us life everlasting, for the only way anyone could ever gain eternal life through God’s Law is by perfect obedience. And I trust that the Spirit of God has revealed to you, that this is a complete impossibility. Neither you nor I have perfectly kept the Law of God for even one whole day in our actions, words, thoughts, and the desires of our heart. As the Scriptures plainly declare, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” Rom. 3:23 And, “There is none righteous, no, not one:” Rom. 3:10 Indeed God’s Word describes those who hope to please God by means of keeping the Law of God as being under the curse. “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” Gal. 3:10
Why then did God give to us His holy Law, if He knows that none of us have any hope of keeping it? God has given us His holy Law for two primary reasons. One is to reveal to us Himself and His holy nature. A law reflects the lawgiver. It is a reflection of His character and nature. Because our nation was founded by men who believed in the Bible, our laws reflect this moral code. When we see the Law of God, embodied in the Ten Commandments, we see God’s holy nature revealed to us. Secondly, God gave to men His Law to reveal to us our sinfulness and drive us to Himself for mercy and deliverance. He then sends us to His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, Who did live a perfect sinless life as a man, but gave Himself to be a sacrifice for sinners. For all that come to God through Him, He takes away their guilt and sin and gives to them His own perfect righteousness. This the Bible calls “justification” and “reconciliation.” Your sins and mine make us enemies of God and His holy Law. But Christ came to reconcile us to God by the sacrifice of Himself.
But what is covetousness? God commands us, “Thou shalt not covet!” The word “covet” literally means to desire. Certainly all desire is not evil. By the working of God’s Spirit in us we may indeed at times “desire” those things that please God. What then is covetousness? What desires are evil? Certainly any desire that would lead to any sinful actions, is sin. It might be easier to see what desires are sinful by looking at what Biblically is the opposite of covetousness. In two different Bible texts, the same virtue is placed opposite to covetousness, namely, contentment. Hebrews thirteen verse five says, “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” The word “conversation” means more than the things we say. It involves our whole manner of life, what we say, what we do, and what we think. The other passage is in the first inspired epistle to Timothy. Here the Holy Spirit says, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” 1 Tim. 6:6-8 This passage then hastens to warn of the evils that follow the sin of covetousness.
We learn therefore that if we are not content with what God’s providence provides us we are covetous. The inspired apostle goes on to warn of the practical dangers and evils we bring upon ourselves by covetousness. “They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition… [and they have] pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” Verses 9-10. Covetousness is the evil behind all gambling. Whether it is BINGO in the Church basement, poker, anything in the Casinos, or state sponsored lottery, all gambling is based upon covetousness. I hope that every time you are tempted to buy a lottery ticket or go to waste your time and money at the Casino you will remember the command of God, “Thou shalt not covet!” Indeed this evil has brought many into “a snare.” Those deceived by this evil are indeed, overwhelmed in sorrows and will fall “into many foolish and hurtful lusts.” Their souls will be in danger of being carried away into perdition. Gambling has become one of the great blights upon our society
bringing God’s displeasure upon our once great nation.
Covetousness or the lack of contentment is also partly to blame for the money problems of millions of families in our society. The lust for a bigger house, a new car, boats, expensive toys [for adults and kids], the newest gadget or gizmo has caused many to spend money they do not have and now cannot pay. This leads to another immorality that is prevalent in our society, bankruptcy. The idea that we can buy houses, cars, or goods and then not be responsible to pay for them is nothing short of stealing. It is only one of the many evil results of covetousness. These money problems also cause marriages to suffer and add to the high divorce rates. Oh, the miseries we bring upon ourselves by the sin of covetousness!
To further help you to understand just how evil the sin of covetousness is, allow me to show you one more verse of holy Scripture. As we have already said above, the New Testament reminds us, “covetousness, which is idolatry.” Idolatry! This is what God says about the lust in our hearts, because it places a created being or object above God in our hearts. We ought just to trust upon God and His providence as Timothy says, “And having
food and raiment let us be therewith content.”
Is your heart right with God? Not if it is filled with the lust of covetousness! This sin of the inner depths of our hearts is often not obvious to ourselves. I pray that the Spirit of God would use His Word to open your eyes to see your sinfulness before God. For it is only when we see ourselves as sinners without any hope of making ourselves righteous before God, that we can be saved. For Jesus Himself said, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Mark 2:17 The apostle said, “that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners;” 1 Tim. 1:15 What a glorious truth that Jesus was called “the Friend of sinners.” And this beautiful text, “…while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Rom. 5:8
On Jesus Christ, the Son of God, were placed all the sins of all of God’s elect. He paid the full ransom by shedding His precious blood and by giving His sinless life. He rose again from the dead because the price was accepted making perfect all that come to God by Him. He now pleads on their behalf at the Father’s right hand and gives unto them eternal life, which none can lose.
Right now, Sinner Friend, turn from your sin and trust upon the Lord Jesus Christ. He will save all that come to Him in faith. Not one sinner has been turned away. “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:” 1 Peter 3:18 Trust Him now!
Please call or write us if we can help you to know the peace of God found only in Jesus Christ.

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