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Bible verses about Tenth Commandment
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Exodus 20:17

Even when coveting falls short of directly breaking another commandment, it can damage both persons and principles. When a person covets what is another's, even though he may not actually lift a hand to take it, he robs virtue of its real meaning and makes obedience a hollow, mechanical activity. Any wife who has caught her husband gazing lustfully on another woman knows what this means. It kills trust in the relationship. At such a point, lust is already destroying.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Tenth Commandment (1998)


 

Exodus 20:17

Covetousness is an insatiable desire for worldly gain and lies at the heart of where most sin originates. Of all the commandments, the tenth especially emphasizes man's relationship to man, which is readily seen in the repeated phrase "your neighbor's." It protects the interests of others in seven major areas listed individually within the commandment.

Martin G. Collins
The Tenth Commandment


 

Exodus 20:17

We are not helpless against the evil desires of our human nature. We can do several things:

1. Recognize that human beings have an unstable, insatiable nature. Ecclesiastes 1:8 says, "All things are full of labor; man cannot express it. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing." Being aware of this biblical truth can give us a better grasp of what we are dealing with. Do not be deceived; happiness is a fruit of true spirituality. God has not put the power into anything material to satisfy man's spiritual needs.

2. Seek God first. Our Savior advises in Luke 12:15, 31: "Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses. . . . But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you." Paul adds in Colossians 3:1-2: "If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth."

We must purposely and deliberately study, pray, fast, and meditate. Further, we must consciously practice God's way of life. This takes sacrifice and discipline, but it fills the mind with the kind of thoughts that will eventually make it impossible to sin.

3. Hate covetousness, not things. Proverbs 28:15-16 states, "Like a roaring lion and a charging bear is a wicked ruler over poor people. A ruler who lacks understanding is a great oppressor, but he who hates covetousness will prolong his days."

It is very helpful to observe what covetousness produces. Some sins are clearly understood, but covetousness is generally less easily observed, requiring careful attention to comprehend the very beginning of many sins. Making such observations is helpful in evaluating the self. We need to remember that coveting violates the basic principle of God's way of outgoing concern. It also keeps us from listening to God, so we must be attuned to detect its presence.

4. Learn to be cheerfully generous. Luke records Paul saying in Acts 20:35, "I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" The apostle adds to this thought in II Corinthians 9:6-7: "But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver."

We need to keep in mind that we have such an abundance of self-concern mixed with a natural fear that, if we give things away, we will not have enough. God intends that we overcome these fears. Self-centeredness must be excised from our character. Working on it is an excellent discipline.

5. Learn thoroughly what grace teaches. Titus 2:11-14 tells us what this is:

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

Isaiah 1:16-17 adds, "Cease to do evil, learn to do good."

Jesus Christ has redeemed us from the power that motivates us to sin. He gives His power to those who strive to overcome the remnants of their old nature. Certainly, it is a tough and in many cases a long process, but with God's help, if we make the efforts, we can overcome it.

The dynamic of this new life is the coming of Jesus Christ first to us by His Spirit and then to this earth to rule it. When royalty is coming, everything is made spit-and-polish clean and decorated for the royal eyes to see. That is what we are doing: The Christian is one who is steadfastly making himself ready for the arrival of his King.

To this end, let us strive consistently and mightily to think the right thoughts that produce right conduct.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Tenth Commandment


 

Deuteronomy 5:21

Covet means "to desire" or "to take delight in beyond God's acceptable bounds." It indicates "to long after a property that belongs to another in order to enjoy it." It is covetousness to allow oneself to indulge in thoughts that lead to actions named in the other nine commandments. They are grasping thoughts that lead to grasping deeds.

Coveting normally arises from two sources. It often begins with a perception of beauty in a thing desirable to possess. It also arises from a persistent inclination for something more abstract like a desire for power. The first is generally stimulated from without, the second generally from within. Both are equally bad.

One commentator stated that he believed all public crime would cease if just this one law were kept. Another said that every sin against one's neighbor, whether of word or deed, springs from the breaking of this commandment. James 1:14-15 seems to agree: "But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death."

In the Exodus 20:17 version of the commandment, the word "house" implies household. Subsequently, six other items are listed so that we clearly understand that "household" is meant. In Deuteronomy 5, "wife" is moved to first position as the very crown of one's possessions, and "field" is inserted because earlier, when God gave the Exodus version, fields were of no concern to pilgrims who possessed no land. Thus, between the two wordings God provides a seven-fold safeguard of other people's interests, revealing the underlying concept of outgoing concern.

In this commandment, we step from the outer world of word and deed into the secret place where all good and evil begins: the heart. The inner life actually determines a person's destiny, as the desires of a person's life are held and nurtured there.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Tenth Commandment


 

Joshua 7:20-21

Covetousness produces only negative results like theft, lying, murder, harmful lusts, and apostasy. Only sorrow comes from covetousness—and eventually death, if it is allowed to dominate a person's mind.

Martin G. Collins
The Tenth Commandment


 

2 Samuel 13:1-15

Here we have the story of the lust-driven affair of Amnon, one of David's sons, and Tamar, one of David's daughters, a half-sister of Amnon. Amnon was sick with love for Tamar, but the fruit of the relationship shows it was not love but lust. He greatly desired to take her to bed, so much so that he deceitfully conspired with his cousin Jonadab to arrange matters. He then compounded that sin by lying to his father to be alone with her and raping her when he finally was. The fruit of his shameful deed was further defiled when his feelings for her reversed to a hatred against her that was greater than his former "love." Two years later Amnon was dead at the hand of Absalom, Tamar's full brother.

What piling of sin on sin coveting produced! It destroyed Tamar's virginity and possibly a future marriage. It destroyed the cohesiveness of David's family. It produced burning hatred, and everyone felt great sorrow. All of this blossomed from an uncontrolled desire in the mind of one person. Its effects impacted on David's family for many generations.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Tenth Commandment (1998)


 

2 Samuel 13:1-2

He did not love her; he was lusting after her. Notice the initial fruit—distress! The story continues, eventually revealing that his lust produced rape. It did not end there but produced more evil fruit: "Then Amnon hated her exceedingly, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. And Amnon said to her, 'Arise, be gone!'" (verse 15). So much for lust producing good fruit! How many teen and/or young adult lives have been severely damaged by unwed pregnancy resulting from coveting?

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Tenth Commandment


 

Proverbs 30:15-16

Each of these illustrates what greed does to the life of a person suffering from impossible-to-be-fulfilled desires. The ache and the yearning never cease, and the restless pursuit goes on, resulting in unhappiness.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Tenth Commandment (1998)


 

Isaiah 56:10-12

Does this nation not sound like America? In verse 9, God calls for the nations to devour His people. Its leaders are blind to the nation's real needs because they are thinking of their lusts instead of speaking out and acting on issues of morality. They blindly plunge on, proclaiming that it will be better tomorrow!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Tenth Commandment


 

Habakkuk 2:9-11

Second Woe: Coveting and plotting to gain. This obviously breaks the tenth commandment, "You shall not covet." It is becoming clear that the Chaldeans had a avaricious streak a mile wide!

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Habakkuk


 

Matthew 5:27-28

The person condemned by Jesus here deliberately uses his eyes to awaken and stimulate his lust. It is difficult enough to avoid lusting after natural things, but many things in this world are deliberately designed to awaken wrong desires. If certain books, pictures, magazines, movies, places, activities, or people tempt us to lust, we must avoid them, regardless of the cost. Not sinning is that important!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Tenth Commandment (1998)


 

Matthew 5:27-30

The Greek word translated as "looks" implies intent or special contemplation. The word underneath "lust" means "to set one's heart upon" or "to long for." Taken together, they make Jesus' instruction obvious.

Evidence from other portions of God's Word shows that it is not wrong to desire a husband or wife lawfully, but it is most definitely wrong when the one desired is legitimately beyond the reach of the admirer. How often does such admiration merge into a desire to possess and thus break the commandment? Considering the national statistics on divorce, this must happen frequently.

The Jews of Jesus' time perceived adultery as a kind of theft. This is not entirely wrong, but in this context, Jesus' emphasis is on moral purity: Ruin awaits those who are unchaste, even in thought.

Perhaps nowhere in Scripture is the inwardness of Christ's teaching as evident as with this commandment—inward in the sense that within is where sin begins and also where change must take place. It identifies where the problem resides. Christ carries impurity back beyond the lustful act to the first touch of the hands to the look of the eyes—and beyond these, to the first inception of desire. The Christian must "amputate" the desire so that the sin never becomes an act. We will remain pure and so will the object of our desire.

God gave us the wonderful gift of imagination, but if fed dirt by the eye, the imagination will be filthy. Sin begins with our allowing the imagination to dwell on what it should not. What feeds the imagination is so very important to moral purity and thinking and therefore to sin. Philippians 4:8 provides excellent insight:

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

The advice is clear: We must stop feeding our imagination dirt. We have to deal radically with sin! The purpose of this discipline is enrichment of life. The person who is condemned here is the one who deliberately uses his eyes and mind to awaken his lust so that desire is stimulated.

It is hard enough to avoid lusting after natural things, but this world deliberately designs many things to spark wrong desires in us. If certain books, pictures, magazines, places, activities, or people cause temptation, they must be avoided regardless of the cost. Avoiding sin is that important!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Tenth Commandment


 

Mark 7:20-23

Jesus, in Mark 7:20-23, provides clear insight as to the location of the generator of man's drive to possess. Notice especially what He lists first, as it is the generator that leads to the other sins. His instruction thus also points out where the other sins can be stopped. A person's evil thoughts do not exist because of brainlessness, but because of confusion of values and lack of concern for godly, spiritual truth, leading to careless, shoddy moral choices.

Paul adds in Romans 7:7: "What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, 'You shall not covet.'" Some of God's laws are self-evident even to the natural mind, but only God can tell us that it is absolutely wrong to lust. By contrast, a major theme of the modern culture is "You can have whatever you want, if you only make the effort."

The tenth commandment deals with attitude and motivation. Even if an individual secretly rejects God's standard and way in his heart and lusts after something he cannot or will not lawfully possess or do, then eventually, this mental rebellion will break out in sin. Action will manifest what the mind has been doing all along.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Tenth Commandment


 

Luke 12:15

The apostle Paul tells Timothy that "godliness with contentment is great gain" and that, instead of possessions, we should be pursuing righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. Paul learned to be content in whatever state he was in (Philippians 4:11). Jesus Christ set our primary goal as seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). The inevitable result of doing this will be wonderful blessings and eternal life.

Martin G. Collins
The Tenth Commandment


 

Luke 12:15

Marketers have thoroughly studied human nature's desire to conform so that they will be considered to be at the same level as everyone else in a social status they admire. This desire is stimulated by constant urgings from marketers to buy what everybody else—obviously—already has, so that one does not seem "backward," unsophisticated, a nerd in their peers' eyes. In the face of this societal pressure, not to compete for the same material things the neighbor already has makes a person appear to be unambitious and odd.

Sometimes it seems to be a paradox, a contradiction, that God says He wishes above all things that we prosper and be in good health (III John 1:2), and that many of God's servants, especially in the Old Testament, have been wealthy; yet He also tells us that it is better to give than to receive (Acts 20:35) and that the accumulation of things is not to be a major goal (Matthew 6:19).

Overall, God teaches that the things prosperity makes it possible for a person to have are a means to an end and not the end in themselves. He instructs us that "one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses" (Luke 12:15). Others may make it life's goal to have them, but we must not.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Tenth Commandment


 

Ephesians 5:5

Covetousness is a strong desire for and a seeking after material things that become objects of our worship if we hold them as more important than God. Someone else's house or car can be an idol if we covet them. This attitude is identified with idolatry because it replaces God with self-interest and visible things.

Martin G. Collins
The Second Commandment


 

Colossians 3:1-2

A vital step to overcoming covetousness is to study, pray, fast, meditate, and obey. Consciously practice God's way of life. This takes sacrifice and discipline, but it fills the mind with God's thoughts. This will eventually make sin foreign to us because we simply will not think to do it!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Tenth Commandment (1998)


 

Colossians 3:5

If we seek something contrary to God's will, we covet. If we lust after something, it can become an idol to us, and we will serve it (Romans 6:16). The Bible associates lust with pride and vanity (I John 2:16-17). When a man amasses possessions, he feels a false sense of security because they make him feel he is superior to others. He deceives himself into thinking that calamity will not touch him, yet covetousness is never satisfied and brings on many sorrows.

Martin G. Collins
The Tenth Commandment


 

Colossians 3:5

The Greek word underlying "covetousness" is pleonexia, which means "the desire to have more." This is among the ugliest of sins because it involves idolatry as well as its effects on others. The Greeks defined it as "the insatiable desire to have what rightfully belongs to others." It is further described as "ruthless self-seeking," the kind of attitude that the arrogant and callous person has, assuming that others and their things exist for his own benefit.

The desire for more money can lead to theft; the desire for more prestige, to evil ambition; the desire for more power, to tyranny; the desire for a person's body, to fornication and adultery. Paul identifies covetousness as idolatry because, in the place of God, it puts self-interest for illicit things. A man sets up an idol in his heart because he desires to get something from it. So he serves it to get that something rather than to obey God's commandment. That, very simply put, is idolatry.

The essence of idolatry is to get for the self in defiance of God. However, we have to give ourselves to God if we want to overcome illicit desires. Paul says to "mortify" (KJV) or "put to death" (NKJV) whatever is sinful. That does not mean to practice ascetic self-discipline—it means to kill. The Christian must kill self-centeredness. In his life, he must make a radical transformation, a shift of the center of his life. It is the same principle as described by Matthew 5:29. Everything that keeps a person from fully obeying God and surrendering to Jesus Christ must be surgically excised from his conduct.

The tenth commandment, then, has a function similar to the first. They both act as governors, controlling whether we keep the others.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Tenth Commandment


 

1 Timothy 6:6-10

These verses show how we can know—if we are honest with ourselves—when we are coveting: by the fruit produced! Lust "drown[s] men in destruction and perdition" and "pierces one through with many sorrows." When we want something so badly we are not happy without it, we are coveting. Coveting's emotional effect is sorrow, pain, remorse, guilt, restlessness, and dissatisfaction.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Tenth Commandment (1998)


 

1 Timothy 6:10

How can a person identify whether he is lusting? By the fruit he is producing through his desire. A fruit of coveting is a hungering unhappiness in not possessing what is desired. The puppy-love syndrome, which exhibits the "I can't live without him/her/it" reaction is a form of this longing. In more serious circumstances, coveting will cause far more severe consequences, the fruits of intense sorrow, pain, and remorse.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Tenth Commandment


 

James 1:13-15

This pattern of producing sin began in the Garden of Eden when Satan tempted Adam and Eve by stimulating their desire for the forbidden fruit. From that small beginning, sin entered and blossomed. It is easily seen that every problem produced by immorality, whether individual or national, is caused by allowing temptation to develop into sin. Sin is illicit desire brought to fruition, and everybody from peasant to king is subject to wrong desires.

From the beginning of time, it seems to have been a human instinct to blame others for our sins, just as Adam and Eve did in the Garden. James sternly rebukes that view. God does not cause sin and neither do things. Sin would be helpless if there were nothing in man to which it could appeal. Sin's appeal is to human nature's self-centeredness, which then builds through our desires. If a man desires long enough and intensely enough, the consequence—action—is inevitable.

It is because we desire our own way that we dishonor our parents and murder; because we desire a thing, we steal; because we desire being well thought of, we lie. Illicit desire can be nourished, stifled, or by the grace of God, eliminated. If one gives himself to Christ by submitting entirely to God, there is little or no time or place left for evil desire.

The tenth commandment pierces through surface Christianity, truly revealing whether a person has surrendered his will to God or not. The spiritual requirements for keeping this commandment are in some ways more rigid than any other because they pierce right through to the thoughts.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Tenth Commandment


 

James 2:8-10

James presents a tall order for God's people to live up to—and one impossible to do that unless one has the Holy Spirit.

James speaks of the "royal law," meaning the Ten Commandments, since he cites the specific requirement, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." In this, he parallels Christ and Paul, finding in love of neighbor the sum of the law and its true fulfillment. James confirms that respect of persons is a breach of this "royal law" and leads to those indulging in it being convicted by the law of transgression.

Then, he affirms the solidarity of the law: that a breach of a specific commandment is a breach of the whole, making the transgressor guilty of all. This is a far-reaching principle that Paul also suggests by quoting Deuteronomy 27:26 in Galatians 3:10: "Cursed is everyone who continues not in all things that are written in the book of the law, to do them." Paul also indicates it in Romans 7, where he explains that the conviction that he had broken the tenth commandment made him realize that he had broken the whole law.

Martin G. Collins
The Law's Purpose and Intent


 

James 4:1-3

War is not a happy situation, but one that produces sorrow. God, in this brief context, ties war directly to lust. War produces terror, pain, destruction, and heartache, not peace. Divorce follows war in the family, most assuredly a very sorrowful situation. Even in the narrow confines of a family war, lust and its resulting anguish and despondency are tied directly to the motivations for the family breakup.

Conversely, Proverbs 10:22 provides us with a succinct reminder and promise: "The blessing of the LORD makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it."

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Tenth Commandment


 

 




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