Dt 5:21[18 Heb]; Ex 20:17 [14 Heb] Thou shalt not covet anything that is someone else’s
Col 3:5; 1Tim 6:6-10 covetousness is idolatry; with godliness, be content with what you have
Mt 19:16-23 covetousness and the deceitfulness of riches makes it hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven
1Cor 12:31 covet earnestly the greater gifts
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Why would we want to be rich after hearing Jesus tell us that it is hard for the rich to enter the Kingdom?
We’ve been speaking about “k’ilu”, “as IF”, between true and false obedience to the Word and Spirit of God. We have seen that it is an issue of the heart, of the inner man. Outwardly, all may seem okay, but inwardly, there is unbelief, insincerity, hypocrisy, self-righteousness, all manner of evil thoughts and intentions.
Have we seen HIM – the Son of God – whom we have pierced? Are we sensitive to the sin within us, still too much of our character and personality? The New Covenant promise is that God has forgiven us of our sins, which Jesus took away through His sacrificial death for us on the cross, and we have been born again through our faith in Him. God has given us a new heart and a new Spirit within us. Obviously, the original ones were sick and dead regarding God and His Kingdom. He has not just fixed or healed or even revived the old, but rather has given us new ones! This truth alone tells us that it is not true evangelization to tell a sinner to “just ask or receive Jesus into your heart and be saved and born again”. God does not want to enter our old heart, but wants us to realize that we need a new one.
Yet we still find ourselves struggling in this body and in the flesh against the Spirit of God within us, who is working to conform us to the image of God’s Son. The fear of YHVH, who is our Judge and always with us wherever we may go, is KEY to our sensitivity to the great difference between God’s holiness and our version of it in our own lives!
Let’s look at the 10th commandment: Thou shalt not covet. . . .What does this mean in our daily life? It forbids us to envy or to regret the prosperity of our neighbor (read, fellowman), nor are we to want anything improper from him/her. It also requires that we are satisfied with our own material possessions or status when good things come to our fellowman.
The commandment, “Do not covet anything that belongs to our neighbor”, does not bother us so much if we think and feel that things are going well with us, and something of ‘lesser’ value comes into our neighbor’s life. But this commandment applies at all times. If our ‘neighbor’ gets a job and you don’t, are you happy for him or her? If your neighbor gets a new car, and you can’t even sell your old one, do you envy them? If your husband or wife has a bad temper, and your friend’s wife or husband is kind, do you feel bitter? Do you remember the story of wicked King Ahab and Queen Jezebel regarding the vineyard of Naboth their neighbor? Because Naboth would neither trade his vineyard for a ‘better’ one nor sell it, since it was his family inheritance (1Kg 21), Jezebel had him murdered and Ahab took the vineyard for himself. Covetousness led Ahab to depression and to accept murder of an innocent man, and he still took the vineyard!
Are you feeling a bit like Paul did when the commandment came to him, and caused him all kinds of evil desire once he knew from the Law what covetousness was? (Rom 7:7-12)
The 10th commandment gets to the heart of the matter: sin dwells within us, within the core of our being, and without knowing and living the truth of that, we will try to ‘save ourselves’; we will try all kinds of ways to ‘just do better, try harder’. The remedy is not in ourselves, but in Jesus, who died on the cross, and with Him, so did we. Our old man is crucified with Messiah. In the present battle, we must “guard our heart, for it is the wellspring of our life.” (Prov 4:23)
It is Christ alone who can solve our heart problems. Covetousness is a heart problem. If Jesus were truly our all-in-all; if we were truly content with what we have from God; if we truly believed in Jesus’s sovereignty and of God’s perfect love for us as our Father; if we truly loved our neighbor as ourself, then we would overcome the sin in us to covet what another person, or even another nation, has.
Remember that the general call in our lives as believers is to be conformed to the image of God’s Son. Unless we recognize and confess our own deep sinfulness, we will not be asking the Lord or others for forgiveness or for God’s righteousness in our lives. Without the fear of the Lord we will not obey God from the heart with thanksgiving. If we as children and young men and women do not honor our mother and father even when we are not with them, then we are not living in the fear of God. When we do not believe that there is a higher authority over us for GOOD, our hearts will act evilly: what is the standard for morality?; who sets that standard?; who says so!? Everyone will do what is right in his own eyes under the circumstances, and much evil will occur. Jesus asks if He will find the faith on the Earth when He returns. He asks if He will find people still praying and crying out to God for His righteous judgments and for His salvation and deliverance. He tells us that, except that He does return, no one would be left alive on the Earth. Such is the deceit and evil of our hearts!
Only Christ can cure the new heart which we have received when we were born again. We must learn each day to deny ourselves, pick up our cross, and follow Jesus. As we keep our heart and focus on Him, and know Him in the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His suffering, our lustful desires will lose their power in our lives. Our treasure will be in Heaven, and so will our heart.