But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen.
2 Peter 3:18
THE TENTH COMMANDMENT
“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.” (Exodus 20:17)
“But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28)
Our Lord Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, applied some of the Ten Commandments to the heart. The Law makes demands, not only on our actions, but also on our hearts (our thoughts and desires).
God is totally Sovereign. He has given us a total Law. To hate our brother, or to look at a woman with lust, are offenses that God will judge. Man can judge only when those thoughts issue in actions. But God sees the heart.
“... for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
The thought is father to the deed. This is why the writer of Proverbs tells us to guard our heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life. And who can find a more perfect code of morality than the Ten Commandments?
The first four Commandments tell us how to love God. The last six Commandments tell us how to love our neighbor. The Tenth Commandment is particularly searching. The word neighbor appears three times in it.
Covet means "to want, to desire, to lust after." We are not to covet ANYTHING that is our neighbor's. Here we again see God's approval and protection of private property.
We saw it first in “thou shalt not commit adultery” and, perhaps more clearly in “thou shalt not steal.” In evil covetousness, man takes a lawless course and redefines it as justifiable one. Men are great at justifying their every act.
The Apostle Paul calls unlawful coveting idolatry in Ephesians 5:5. Thus we see that violating the Tenth Commandment means also violating the First.
In fact, the Ten Commandments are so interwoven that to break any Commandment is to break them all. “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” (James 2:10)
RESULTS OF UNLAWFUL COVETING
Samson lost his eyesight, his freedom, and eventually his life for his unlawful coveting of a beautiful, strange woman named Delilah. David's coveting another's man wife (Bathsheba) led to his murder of her godly husband.
It also resulted in the death of four of David's sons, and the rape of a number of his women, including his daughter Tamar. It brought him great shame, grief and humiliation (as when his own son hunted for his life and his kingdom).
Homosexual coveting of perverse sex with children has often led them to murder those boys if they refuse the homosexual's advances. Their perverse lust has given us AIDS which now has claimed 22 million lives worldwide.
Unlawful coveting of the property of others often leads to war. God asks us:
“From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?
Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.
Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” (James 4:1-3)
We may covet (desire) the conversion of others to Christ. We may also lawfully covet the prayers of others in our behalf. Not all coveting is wrong. But coveting what belongs to another is wrong.
God knows our evil hearts. He very wisely capped off the Law by warning us not to covet (want, desire, lust after) “anything that is thy neighbor’s.”
George Theiss is a combat veteran of Vietnam who now follows the Lamb of God. He and his wife, Christy, have been married 42 years (in 2019). They have 8 grown children. You can contact George at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2002 through 2019 by George Theiss