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 anything that is thy neighbour's."
(Exodus 20:17)




        Human nature is vanity, jealousy, lust and greed. Human nature is egocentric, self-centered and solely concerned with pleasing the self.

        As sensory human beings, we are creatures endowed with five senses. Each one of those senses, whether sight, hearing, taste, smell or the ability to feel, is completely physical.

        It is only through the channels of those five senses that knowledge enters our brain.

        By inducting information into the brain through the senses, we accumulate what we call "knowledge" and "experience."

        However, all of this "knowledge" is carnal knowledge.

        That is, it is knowledge which is obtained through human sensory perceptions, and is utterly devoid of spiritual quality.

        God says "the heart [the human mind] is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked [sick]; who can know it?

        "I the Eternal search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings" (Jeremiah 17:9,10).

        Most of us do not like to admit the real truth about human nature!

        Mankind tries to see "good" in human nature. Philosophers, sociologists and clergymen speak of the "goodness" of humankind.

        But the Word of God makes it very clear that, while man wants to appear "good," and he wants to BE "good," he does not want to do good!

        "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be" (Romans 8:7).

        What? What does this mean? Why does God say "neither indeed can be"? This scripture tells us that man cannot be truly subject to the laws and commandments of God on his own.

        Human nature wants to "appear" right - wants to put the best foot forward and act as if it is good; God's Word says it is evil, "desperately wicked," and cannot be subject to the laws of God!

        It is only through repentance (Acts 2:38) and the process of conversion (Acts 3:19, Romans 12:1, 2) that one can truly become subject to the laws of God.

        The Tenth Commandment is the commandment against human nature, as it were. Since one of the very attributes of human nature is coveting - an incoming, ego-centric, self-seeking desire to have - the Tenth Commandment strikes directly at the very heart of human carnality!

        Notice again how detailed Almighty God makes this command against coveting.

        He lists such things as our neighbors' homes, wives, servants (or employees), cattle - or any other possessions!

        God's Word makes it dear that "thy neighbor" is not restricted to the individual living next door, or just across the street. "Thy neighbor" means any other fellow human being on the face of the whole earth.

        What are the motives which drive most human beings?

        They are the motives of success, importance, money, fame and a desire to have.

        Coveting comes as naturally to human beings as breathing. The profiteering, competitive motive of "keeping up with the Joneses," or "getting ahead," is what drives humankind. No single word better describes our sin-sick modern space-age world than the word "materialism." While the disparity between "have" and "have-not" nations is wide and growing wider, it is nevertheless true that, in our Western societies, millions of human beings have never had it so good. Millions live amidst an outpouring of manufactured goods and commodities such as has never been seen from creation until now.

        The status symbols of success are beautiful homes, expensive clothing, personal jewelry, exotic travel, expensive automobiles, exclusive club membership, and the possession of things.

        Millions exhaust themselves, often sacrificing peace of mind, successful marriages, good physical health and a wholesome life on the altar of covetousness; striving frantically to achieve the status they crave in this world's society! That "status" is based largely on what other human beings think. Craving the approbation and approval of people is one of the most important motivating forces which drive men and women to "success." Ego, vanity, a desperate desire to be "well thought of" is the real driving force behind many a "successful" person. Oftentimes, such egocentric drives are the direct result of deep-seated feelings of inferiority. Many "successful" men have felt, in their heart of hearts. totally inadequate. deeply inferior failures! Fear of ridicule, fear of failure, has been a driving force which has catapulted any number to the "success" they coveted.

        The Tenth Commandment brings the laws of God full circle. for the Tenth Commandment directly overlaps the first! Notice! "Mortify [put to death] therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, WHICH IS IDOLATRY"! (Colossians 3:5).

        The all-encompassing lust for things, for material success, or for fame, becomes a god! Anything which comes between you and the true God is an idol. That idol can be beautiful homes, double ovens, sleek automobiles, fine clothing, fabulous vacations arid exotic trips, or, in short, anything of a material nature which demands your attention, absorbs your interest and occupies your mind!

        You live in a wholly materialistic society. The pursuit of materialistic values is idolatry! Men have placed "things" above God!

        Thus, it is not only petty cheats, crooks and thieves who lust longingly for the possessions of their neighbors who break the Tenth Commandment, but all of society which is continually breaking this law, for human nature tends toward covetousness!

        Is there anything "wrong" with this commandment? Is there anything illegal, "ceremonial" or "Mosaic" about such a law? Jesus Christ magnified this final commandment when He said, "Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

        And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much more clothe you, 0 ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof" (Matthew 6:25-34).

        Notice Jesus says our first goal should be the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and then all these "things" shall be added!

        And what would the world be like if the Tenth Commandment were observed? Without coveting, there could be no stealing. There would be no such thing as adultery, for "coveting thy neighbor's wife" would necessarily precede adultery. The entirety of society would be changed. The entire economic structure of the world would be different. The profit motive, self-seeking, struggling to "succeed," striving for advantage, trying to "get ahead," would no longer be the all-consuming, driving force which fuels "ambition" in millions of minds.

        Rather, the avaricious cunning, swelling desire, lustful greed and covetousness of the human heart would be replaced with an outgoing feeling of concern for others; a desire to serve, give, share, help; an outgoing motive of love!

Can We Earn Salvation?

        Think about what you have read. The Ten Commandments were in full force and effect long prior to Moses. They were written with the very finger of God; the member of the God family who became Jesus Christ of Nazareth (John 1; Hebrews 1), and they were most certainly not "nailed to the cross."

        Jesus said if you will enter into life "keep the commandments"! (Matthew 19:17). The apostle Paul wrote, "Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good"! (Romans 7:12). John wrote, "And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments"!

        "He that saith, I know Him and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not him him" (I John 2:3,4).

        "And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight" (I John 3:22).

        "And he that keepeth His commandments dwelleth in Him, and He in him. And hereby we know that He abideth in us, by the Spirit which He has given us" (I John 3:24).

        "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments.

        "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous"! (I John 5:2, 3).

        From Genesis to Revelation, Almighty God enjoins His commandments upon mankind (see Genesis 26:5, Revelation 22:14).

        The end-time church - the remnant of God's own people still doing the work of God right up until the time of the second coming of Jesus Christ - are described, in the book of Revelation, as ". . . the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ"! (Revelation 12:17).

        In the very last chapter of the Bible, God says, "Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city" (Revelation 22:14).

        Remember, sin is the transgression of the law (the Ten Commandments)! (I John 3:4). All have sinned, meaning all, including you and me, have broken the Ten Commandments!

        When we repent of sin (Luke 13:3, 5; Acts 2:38, Acts 3:19), we are deeply broken up and sorry over having broken God's law!

        With the heart, we render contrition and sorrow before God, and with the mind, we determine never to sin (break the Ten Commandments) any more!

        Can keeping the Ten Commandments of God "earn" salvation?

        No! A thousand times no! Keeping the Ten Commandments perfectly (which you cannot do) for 100 lifetimes of 100 years each could never "earn" salvation!

        Salvation is the free, loving gift of God! It is because 'we have sinned that Christ died!

        "But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners [breakers of the Ten Commandments!] Christ died for us."

        After we accept the blood of Jesus Christ on behalf of our sins (infractions against God's Ten Commandments), we are "justified"! Justification has to do with the removal of past guilt. It means we are "made right" in God's sight; "brought back," "redeemed" from sin!

        Notice! "Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him"! (Romans 5:8, 9).

        The blood of Jesus Christ forgives our past transgressions! Now we are not to sin any more. meaning we are no longer to break the Ten Commandments!

        "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life"! (Romans 5:10).

        The keeping of God's righteous, holy, sacred law is required of all mankind. It is the starting place.

        While we might experience the automatic blessings that come with obedience, we can never, in any number of lifetimes of any number of years, "earn" salvation. But God's free, loving grace; His forgiveness for past sins, does not remove from us the obligation to quit sinning - meaning quit breaking the Ten Commandments, and start keeping them!

        Usually, churches of this world have no special quarrel with any of the Ten Commandments except the fourth! They bridle in anger, argue, write endless articles and books, preach endless sermons and struggle frantically to find any excuse to keep from observing God's holy Sabbath day!

        Just as in the case of ancient Israel, the Sabbath day is God's great TEST commandment! It is not all that "difficult" for most Christians to avoid stealing, lying and bearing false witness, or bowing down before an idol. It is very difficult for those having jobs (such as in private companies, civil service jobs, or working for government agencies) which require them to work on "Saturday," which is God's Sabbath.

        You have read the words. You are now responsible for what you have read. You have read the very words of God, from your own Bible! You have seen proved, with your own eyes, that the Ten Commandments of God are to be kept!

        Are you - yes, You - now willing to keepp them?