MC Sunnyvale and Forney
Sunday Morning

July 3 – Tenth Commandment / SC Qs 79-81
Q. 79. Which is the tenth commandment?
A. The tenth commandment is, You shall not covet your neighbour’s house, you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is your neighbour’s (Exod 20:17Deut 5:21).
Q. 80. What is required in the tenth commandment?
A. The tenth commandment requires full contentment with our own condition (Ps 34:1Phil 4:111 Tim 6:6Heb 13:5), with a right and charitable frame of spirit toward our neighbor, and all that is his (Job 31:29Luke 15:6, 9, 11-32Rom 12:151 Cor 13:4-7Phil 2:41 Tim 1:5).
Q. 81. What is forbidden in the tenth commandment?
A. The tenth commandment forbids all discontentment with our own estate (1 Kgs 21:4Esth 5:131 Cor 10:10), envying or grieving at the good of our neighbor (Gal 5:26Jas 3:14, 16), and all inordinate motions and affections to anything that is his (Rom 7:7-8; 13:9Deut 5:21Gal 5:26Col 3:5).


An Inward Desire for More

Whereas all the other nine commandments are concerned with both outward actions and inward desires, the tenth commandment speaks only of an inward state of the heart. No doubt this is the reason why Paul the apostle said: “I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, ‘Thou shalt not covet” (Rom. 7:7). As a Pharisee, Paul kept the commandments outwardly to such an extent that he was, “touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless” (Phil. 3:6). That is, in the eyes and estimation of men, he was not guilty of adultery, murder, stealing, etc. But here was the one commandment that spoke of inward desire only. And this led the apostle to see his own sinfulness within. For, as someone has said, this commandment “takes us down to the fountains of desire, and touches the most secret sources of unholy actions, words, and thoughts. It would not be inaccurate to say that coveting is the root of all other sin.”

G. I. Williamson. Westminster Shorter Catechism: For Study Classes (Kindle Locations 3027-3033). Kindle Edition.

To Covet is to Idolize

Covetousness is not just about desiring more stuff and things, it is about desiring more power, less competition, different image.

The first expression of man’s covetousness in the story of the Bible is found in Adam and Eve at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (The serpent was also covetous, envious, and jealous of man.) Eve desired something that did not rightly belong to her and that desire moved to take actions that led to her downfall (Genesis 3). Later, her son Cain murdered his own brother because he was envious of him (Gen 4; 1 John 3). And many other stories of covetousness could be added: Achan taking the devoted things from the Lord (Joshua 7). David coveting Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11). Judas selling Jesus out for thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26-27). Ananias and Sapphire stealing gifts from the church (Acts 5).

Covetousness is idolatry, a breaking of the first and second commandments (Col 3:5). To covet someone or something is to idolize them in your heart.

When the serpent tempted Jesus in the wilderness, he appealed to Jesus’s desires — for his hunger, mission, and knowledge of God (Matt 4). Yet Jesus resisted the tempter. He was not seduced by appeals to his desires; he did not take short cuts to satisfy his desires because he desired something more than immediate relief, power, or fame. He desired to do his Father’s will and to please him by worshiping and serving him only. Not only was Jesus not covetousness, he was the most content and grateful man who ever lived.

The Cure for Covetousness?

The cure for covetous is cross-bearing in the form of Gratitude and Contentment.

On Gratitude

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanksto God the Father through him. (Col 3:17)

See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:15-18 ESV)

On Contentment

Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God. (Proverbs 30:7-9 ESV)

But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. (1 Timothy 6:6-10 ESV)