The Heart of the Law: Conclusion
Exodus 20:17 ESV
“You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's.”
Through the tenth commandment we discover how God desires for us to be CONTENT in all things - in what we have and in who we are. And unlike the other nine commandments which deal with the things we see externally, this tenth commandment is purely a matter of the heart. Covetousness is a sin of the heart. As a matter of fact, covetousness is considered to be the “mother of all sins.”
What is covetousness? It is a strong desire to have that which belongs to another.
It is considered to be a very serious sin in Scripture. We don’t hear about it much today, in part because we live in a nation where it is very rampant. GREED, MATERIALISM, and the like, have all been glamorized by Hollywood and entertainment rather than condemned. Yet, the tenth commandment forbids coveting anything that belongs to a neighbor, including his house, his wife, his servants, or anything that belongs to him.
Look at Mark 7:22:
“And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
Notice here Jesus listed covetousness or greed along with adultery, theft, and murder. He said all these evils come from within. Paul in Ephesians 5:3 reminded the Ephesians that greed or covetousness is connected with immorality and impurity, so that these must be put away:
“But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.”
In verse 5, Paul goes on to say that a covetous or greedy person is guilty of the sin of idolatry:
“For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” - Ephesians 5:5 ESV
James 4:2-3 warns us that people kill and covet because they cannot have what they want: “You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” Can you see here how covetousness lies at the root of all these other sins? Be it murder, adultery, stealing, and lying.
Covetousness is a root sin exposing the depth of our depravity. The tenth commandment reveals just how “low” we are willing to go to satisfy the cravings of our flesh. Throwing caution to the wind, the sin nature will spend until in debt, lust until left wanting – leaving you never satisfied.
In Joshua 7:20-21, we read the account of Achan, an Israelite who fought the battle of Jericho, who had admitted to coveting a robe, silver, and gold. His sin of covetousness resulted in him stealing the items.
20 And Achan answered Joshua, “Truly I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and this is what I did: 21 when I saw among the spoil a beautiful cloak from Shinar, and 200 shekels of silver, and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels, then I coveted them and took them. And see, they are hidden in the earth inside my tent, with the silver underneath.”
The servant of Elisha, in 2Kings 5:20-27 desired the possessions of Naaman, who was the commander of the army of Syria. He coveted these things so much that he lied to Naaman to get what he wanted. As a result, he was struck with leprosy.
Notice the progression of his sin: he coveted, he lied then he stole:
20Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, “See, my master has spared this Naaman the Syrian, in not accepting from his hand what he brought. As the LORD lives, I will run after him and get something from him.” 21 So Gehazi followed Naaman. And when Naaman saw someone running after him, he got down from the chariot to meet him and said, “Is all well?” 22 And he said, “All is well. My master has sent me to say, ‘There have just now come to me from the hill country of Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets. Please give them a talent of silver and two changes of clothing.’” 23 And Naaman said, “Be pleased to accept two talents.” And he urged him and tied up two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of clothing, and laid them on two of his servants. And they carried them before Gehazi. 24 And when he came to the hill, he took them from their hand and put them in the house, and he sent the men away, and they departed. 25 He went in and stood before his master, and Elisha said to him, “Where have you been, Gehazi?” And he said, “Your servant went nowhere.” 26 But he said to him, “Did not my heart go when the man turned from his chariot to meet you? Was it a time to accept money and garments, olive orchards and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male servants and female servants? 27Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and to your descendants forever.” So he went out from his presence a leper, like snow.”
The sin of covetousness knows no bounds. It causes you to regress in your pursuit of godliness. Growing in godliness is an on-going progressive pursuit of true Christianity. You do not merely stop growing in godliness when continually yielding to covetousness – you will actually go backwards. Proverbs 15:27 warns that a covetous person brings trouble to his family
Jesus shows us in Matthew 22:34-40 what obedience to the Law in the New Covenant looks like:
34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
In these verses Jesus sums up for us the Heart of the Law and the Character of the Law-Giver. It is our Father’s heart to save us in the way that only He can and that is through His Son, Jesus Christ.
In our own strength none of us could keep this law perfectly. The Law doesn’t have the power to save us. Its task is to point us to our need for salvation. It is only through faith in the ONE who is PERFECT that we can find HOPE. Jesus came as the perfect sacrifice that brought us the ONLY means of salvation GOD honors.
"Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name given under heaven by which we must be saved." – Acts 4:12 ESV
I encourage you today to put your hope in Christ as the only way to salvation. Confess your sins to Him and surrender your heart to His Lordship.
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