The Tenth Commandment
Jun 03, 2010
In a way, the Tenth Commandment functions as a summary of all the commandments. There are two ways of expressing such a summary. The positive expression is, "You SHALL love the Lord your God with all your heart." The negative expression is, "You SHALL NOT covet."
In Colossians 3:5, Paul speaks of "covetousness, which is idolatry." To covet something means to desire something that is not yours or something that is not true. An idol is a false god, which men desire. An idol is a god made in the image of man. An idol is a god that man desires to worship. It is man's perception of God (i.e., His character), rather than who He really is or what His will is.
When men covet the possessions of others, they run counter to:
The First Commandment, because they desire what is not theirs more than the one true God, who commands us not to covet;
The Second Commandment, because they have formed an image (perception) of God that is not correct;
The Third Commandment, because they imply that God approves of their actions;
The Fourth Commandment, because they have not ceased from doing their own works or speaking their own words;
The Fifth Commandment, because they dishonor their heavenly Father as well as their earthly parents;
The Sixth Commandment, because their lack of love toward their neighbor shows hatred for them, which is murder;
The Seventh Commandment, because they commit adultery with false gods;
The Eighth Commandment, because in their hearts they are already stealing what is not theirs;
The Ninth Commandment, because they are testifying falsely about the character of God as well as denying their neighbor's right to own the desired property;
The Tenth Commandment directly.
In the beginning, Eve was tempted by the statement in Gen. 3:5, "that in the day you eat from it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." Eve coveted something that was not hers. Verse 6 says that she thought the "fruit" of the tree would make her "wise," but such wisdom was not to be obtained in that manner. James 1:5 says,
"But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him."
If Eve wanted wisdom, she ought to have asked God, who certainly would not have denied her request. But she coveted, being convinced by Nachash that God would deny her this wisdom. Even today, the occult mindset often claims to pursue wisdom, teaching their disciples that God is a meanie who denies men the wisdom that they claim to possess. The irony is that these same people form "mystery religions," by which they hide their supposed wisdom and deny it to anyone unless they pay money and rise up in various "degrees" to the top.
In other words, they do what they claim God did in the Garden. In fact, they simply attribute to God the darkened character of their own leaders, "the enlightened ones."
The Hebrew word for "covet" is khamad. It is the same word translated "desirable" in Gen. 3:6 (NASB), "and that the tree was desirable to make one wise."
In other words, to covet is to desire something. The word itself is neutral, being neither good nor bad. Paul tells us to "covet earnestly the best gifts" (1 Cor. 12:31) and also to "covet to prophesy" (1 Cor. 14:39). The word has to do with strong desire, which can be either good or bad. If we desire the things of God, it is good. If not, it is evil. So the NASB translates these passages "desire earnestly," which gives us a better sense of the word.
I have often shown that heart idolatry is a strong desire which is not in accordance with the mind, will, and character of God. Our hearts deceive us in many ways when our desires are not identical to the desires of God. Such discrepancies cause us to misinterpret the Word of God. We interpret the Word according to the desires of our own hearts, or according to our own darkened perspective. Such heart idols must be corrected, and when they fall, great earthquakes shake our lives. I know this from personal experience.
Heart idolatry caused many religious leaders in Jesus' day to put away the law in favor of the "traditions of men" (Mark 7:8). One big tradition was the idea that being "chosen" gave them immunity to divine judgment for sin. And so, when Jerusalem was destroyed in the days of Jeremiah and again in 70 A.D., many blamed God for being unjust. Jewish leaders thought they had done right in rejecting Jeremiah, but God still brought them into a Babylonian captivity. Later, Jewish leaders thought they had done right in rejecting Jesus as the Messiah, and so Jerusalem was again destroyed. Today we see the same scenario emerging for a third and final destruction (Jer. 19:11).
Today, the Christian Zionists have the same impression that God must bless the Jews whether or not they repent and accept Christ. Jews are given a free pass to sin at will, to think of themselves as better than "gentiles," to think that they are allowed to steal or kill "gentiles" if it benefits them as a nation, and to make slaves of all mankind. This is another warped "tradition of men" that runs counter to the mind, will, and character of God.
Many other Christians have put away God's law and replaced it with Church Law, based upon their own rules of righteousness. And so they put away God's laws regarding restitution and support man's prison system. They put away God's laws forbidding usury, and many wealthy evangelists even own banks. Christian mortgage houses loan money at interest to build churches, and they even think that they are doing a good service to God.
All of this is because Christians have been taught for a long time that Jesus or Paul put away the law. That is the foundational doctrine that causes Christians to fill the vacuum with the traditions of men. When Christians cease to study the law (or any other part of the Inspired Word), they soon lose knowledge of the mind and will of God. Their perception of God, then, becomes a graven image--God is created in the image of man. Men worship the work of their own hands, and soon their warped image of God causes them to mistreat others and to oppress anyone who is not one of their group.
In so doing, they miss the most basic feature of God's laws--that the law is to applied equally and with equal justice to all, rich or poor, Israelite or alien, king or peon, Christian or non-Christian. While we may expect men of other religions to engage in such injustice, there is little excuse for Christians to have such opinions. Understood correctly, our Bible stands in opposition to such injustice and oppression, particularly under the New Covenant.
And so our study of the Word, seasoned with prayer so that we are taught by the Holy Spirit, is designed to change our khamad ("desire") from fleshly to spiritual, from earthly to heavenly, from selfish desire to the agape love of God. As we "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ," (2 Pet. 3:18), we take on the mind of Christ. As we come more and more into agreement with Him, we are less likely to covet.
Dr. Stephen Jones