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10th Commandment

10th Commandment

July 14, 2024 by Pastor David Hubbard
Passages:Exodus 20:17

Sermon Synopsis

The Ten Commandments, as presented in the King James Version of
the Bible, serve as a moral compass guiding us towards
righteousness and a deeper understanding of God’s expectations.
As we gather here on this final night of our study of the Ten
Commandments, I want to express my gratitude to each one of you
for your commitment and dedication over the past weeks. We have
journeyed together through the scriptures, seeking wisdom and
understanding, and tonight, we culminate our study as we dive into
the Tenth Commandment.
All of these commandments, handed down to Moses on Mount
Sinai, are more than just rules—they are a moral compass, guiding
us towards a life of righteousness and integrity. They are
foundational to our faith and serve as a mirror, reflecting our
relationship with God and with each other.
Tonight, as I said earlier, we will conclude our study with the Tenth
Commandment,
“Thou shall not covet.” This commandment
reminds us to be content with what we have and to find our
satisfaction in God alone. It challenges us to look beyond material
possessions and to value the blessings that we have.
As we explore this commandment tonight, let’s not just view it as
an ancient law, but as a timeless truth that continues to resonate in
our lives today.
As we begin, I want to touch on each of the 9 commandments that
we have studied so far:
1. **”Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”** This
commandment calls us to prioritize our spiritual life and to place
God at the center of our existence.
2. **”Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.”** This
reminds us to worship God in spirit and truth, not through idols or
false representations.
3. **”Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in
vain.”** This teaches us to respect and honor God’s name, using it
with reverence and not in careless or disrespectful ways.
4. **”Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.”** This
commandment emphasizes the importance of rest and spiritual
reflection, setting aside one day a week for worship and rest.
5. **”Honor thy father and thy mother.”** This instills in us the
value of respect and gratitude towards our parents and elders.
6. **”Thou shalt not kill.”** This underscores the sanctity of life,
promoting peace and respect for all human beings.
7. **”Thou shalt not commit adultery.”** This commandment
calls us to faithfulness and integrity in our relationships.
8. **”Thou shalt not steal.”** This promotes honesty and respect
for the property of others.
9. **”Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”**
This encourages truthfulness and integrity in our words and
actions.
10. **”Thou shalt not covet.”** This commandment teaches us to
be content with what we have and not to desire what belongs to
others.
Exodus 20:17
Thou shalt not covet
UNSEEN SIN
“Gangster rap” is a hot item. Rap albums are often crammed with
filthy language and gutter talk. They glorify casual sex, brutal rape,
racial hatred, using drugs, shooting your enemies, and killing cops.
And it sells. Quite a number of gangster rappers have gone
platinum, with over a million albums sold.
There’s a lot we could say about all this. We could talk about the
rappers who’ve been arrested for drugs, rape, and murder; we could
analyze the degrading content of their albums; but instead of going
into all the gory and disgusting details, let’s look at it from another
angle. Let’s ask why these albums are being produced in the first
place.
Sometimes gangster rappers are called artists. They supposedly
express the anger of deprived folks in the inner city. But you know
who buys most of their albums? Rich white kids in suburban malls.
Do you think they buy rap so they’ll be more sensitive to inner city
rage and despair? Dream on! They buy it to inject something
shocking and dangerous into lives that are really rather tame and
boring. So again, what’s the real reason rappers produce this
garbage, and why do agents and record companies spread it
around? Money. It’s that simple. Money.
Lately there’s been an outcry, because rappers who’ve sold millions
of albums get only a small percentage of the profits. They’re so
eager for success that, when they’re first getting started and
someone dangles the keys to a new BMW and waves a few thousand
dollars of instant cash in front of them, they sign long-term
contracts without looking at where most of the profits will go in the
long run.
They sign their lives over to shrewd agents and ruthless record
companies, who then rake in untold millions. In other words, the
rappers are greedy, but the agents and companies are just as
greedy, and they come out with the biggest share of the money.
They’ve been playing the game a lot longer, and they’re a lot better
at it.
Let’s shift gears now, and go from the world of gangster rap to the
world of a high tech business corporation. It’s headed by a man
who, according to all reports, drives himself relentlessly. When he
got married recently, he cut back his workday—from 2 or 3 in the
morning to midnight.
And he expects his employees to have the same driven attitude. As
one of the company’s main men says,
“This company isn’t a job;
it’s a way of life.” The chairman prefers to hire people straight out
of college. Young people are quicker to come up with new ideas, and
they’re also quicker to adapt themselves to company expectations
and put all their time and energy into the company. If you hire
people when they already have families, they might think that
there’s more to life than company success and personal income.
And this approach seems to work. The company dominates its
particular field, and many employees have become millionaires
themselves.
Meanwhile, the chairman keeps looking for ways to beat the
competition, and he keeps looking for new areas his company can
get into and become the major player. A news magazine recently
reported on a typical meeting. Someone brought up an idea that
sounded like a real money-maker, and the chairman could hardly
contain his excitement. “It’s a gold mine,
” he exclaimed, and then,
with profanity he added,
“Get me into that and [blankety blank]
we’ll make so much money!” The man is already worth billions of
dollars, but he still gets excited every time he sees a chance to make
even more.
By now you might wonder where I’m headed with all this. What
does a gangster rapper have in common with a billionaire
businessman? Well, despite some obvious differences, they have at
least one thing in common: Both are symptoms of a system where
greed is considered a virtue and where everything has a price tag,
even the bodies and souls of men.
When it comes to gangster rap, the important thing isn’t
overcoming the evil and horror of inner city life but marketing it.
Sadness and sleaze are saleable. It’s beside the point if an album
corrupts impressionable kids; the only thing that matters is if
they’ll buy it. Profit is uppermost, and the impact on people is
pretty much beside the point.
When it comes to running a business, the important thing isn’t that
people in your company have happy families and meaningful
personal lives, but that they are high-energy, high-speed parts in a
fast-moving corporate machine. The ideal is to keep the employees
thinking and working, keep the customers buying and spending,
and keep the competition from getting to the jackpot before you do.
Profit is uppermost, and the impact on people is pretty much beside
the point.
The Coveting Virus
We’re looking at the last of the Ten Commandments. God says in
the Tenth Commandment,
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s
house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife … or anything that
belongs to your neighbor”. When you’re infected by the coveting
virus, you focus less on God than on stuff. You spend less time
thanking him for what you have, than longing for what you don’t
have. You care about your standard of living, not living by God’s
standards. You relate to other people less in terms of who they are
as persons than in terms of whether they have something you want.
You put price tags on everything, including other people.
Why does a gangster rapper spew all sorts of filth into a
microphone? Because he covets the fame and fancy cars that others
have. Why does the agent rip off the rapper and market the filth to
impressionable kids? Because he covets a fatter bank account. Why
does a billionaire keep working frantically? Why does he get his
thrills beating the competition to where the money is? Because he
covets being the best and having the most. Meanwhile, the rest of
us would do almost anything if only we could make it to the top. If
only we could have the fame and excitement of star entertainers. If
only we could have the wealth and power of the giants of business.
If only… If only… Is there anything that arouses our energies and
shapes our priorities more than coveting?
Just look at the world of advertising. Many commercials have one
simple aim: to arouse desire and make people covet. Why else do
commercials feature shapely women in skimpy bikinis or
bare-chested men rippling with muscles? They’re selling beer or
cars or something else that has nothing to do with bare bodies, but
they show lots of skin anyway. Why? Because advertisers know that
if you can somehow associate sexual lust with desire for a certain
product, sales are going to go up. It’s simple. Once you get the
consumer to covet his neighbor’s wife, he’s more likely to covet his
house, his car, his drink, and whatever else you’d like to sell.
Another advertising strategy is to feature a famous athlete or
entertainer. People will covet what the celebrity has—they’ll wish
they were that rich and famous; they’ll wish they were as successful
and happy as that person appears to be in the commercial—and,
almost without noticing, they’ll also start to covet the product the
celebrity is plugging.
How much advertising is aimed simply at providing accurate
information so the buyer can make an informed choice? Not much.
More often, it’s just a matter of getting people to covet. And let’s
face it: coveting can be very good for economic growth. Coveting is
great fuel for the economic machine.
When having more stuff is at the top of everyone’s agenda, you get
a society where everyone is working and producing and advertising
and buying and selling at a frantic pace. And the result? Almost
everybody does end up having more stuff. Okay, so maybe marriage
and family and friendship and love and kindness are collapsing
under all the immoral entertainment and the obsession with
careers that spring out of coveting, but hey, that’s the price of
prosperity. The economy is growing, money is changing hands, we
have more stuff than previous generations, and that’s what it’s all
about, isn’t it?
Bodies and Souls for Sale
The last book of the Bible, the book of Revelation, talks about the
downfall of a society and economic system which it labels
“Babylon.” Revelation portrays this “Babylon” as a prostitute,
because she will do anything for money. Everything is for sale.
Everybody has a price. If you asked Babylon what matters most,
she’d answer,
“It’s the economy, stupid.” And it seems to work.
Babylon is rich. Her economy is so vibrant that everyone else’s
prosperity is affected by it. However, Babylon the prostitute finally
perishes under God’s judgment. Revelation says:
The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because
no one buys their cargoes any more—cargoes of gold, silver,
precious stones and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth;
every sort of citron wood, and articles of every kind made of ivory,
costly wood, bronze, iron, and marble; cargoes of cinnamon and
spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of
fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and
bodies and souls of men (Revelation 18:11-13).
There’s almost nothing you can’t buy in Babylon. Consumers have
almost unlimited choices. Merchants do very well. The economy
thrives. It sounds almost like heaven on earth. Except that the
covetous values of Babylon destroy your relationship to others and
bring you under the judgment of God.
Babylon sells everything, even the bodies and souls of men. In some
societies, this happens through slavery or prostitution. But as I’ve
been pointing out, our society has other ways of buying and selling
bodies and souls. Pornographers, filmmakers, singers, and
advertisers know that naked body parts are very saleable. They also
know that violence, viciousness, blood, and mutilated body parts
are saleable. There’s money to be made, so there’s a sale on bodies.
Customers will pay good money and even sell their souls to get this
trash.
And then there’s the matter of running a business. What happens
when companies run their business based on coveting? How do they
relate to others? When they think of the Golden Rule, it’s not “Do
unto others as you would have them do unto you.” In relation to
workers, it’s “Do with others whatever makes the most profit for
you.” In relation to competitors, it’s “Do unto others before they do
it unto you.” And in relation to the government, the Golden Rule is
simply,
“The one who has the gold makes the rules.” They finance
the campaigns of politicians who will help their bottom line; they
hire high-powered lobbyists to shape laws in their favor; they seek
the best government money can buy. Sound familiar?
Now, I don’t want to leave the impression that the tenth
commandment is opposed to all business and enterprise. It’s great
when a business tries to make a useful product or provide an
important service; it’s important to encourage creativity and
efficiency; it’s fine to work hard and expect your employees to do
the same, and it’s okay to advertise if you’re doing it in a way that
informs without manipulating. But all too often, we do business
Babylon-style. Coveting takes over, and the uppermost thing
becomes growth and profit, no matter what. Bodies are bought,
souls are sold, and relationships are ruined.
Using People
When we covet, we’re more interested in what our neighbor has
than in who our neighbor is. We feel more love for his stuff than for
him. Instead of loving people and using things, we tend to love
things and use people.
When you covet your neighbor’s wife, the wife is no longer a
person. She’s just an attractive body that could give you great
pleasure. Her husband isn’t a person, either. He’s just a problem
that stands between you and what you want. That’s what happened
with King David. The Bible says that David was out on the rooftop of
his palace, looking over the city, when he saw a beautiful woman
bathing. David lusted for her; he coveted his neighbor’s wife, and he
got the woman, Bathsheba, to go to bed with him.
Then, when he feared her husband, Uriah, might find out, David
told Uriah some lies and tried to cover his tracks. When that didn’t
work out, David arranged to have Uriah killed in a military
campaign. Uriah had been one of David’s most faithful soldiers, but
once David coveted Bathsheba, Uriah’s life and his loyalty meant
nothing to David. Coveting led David into adultery, lying, and
murder.
In another grim story, the Bible tells how King Ahab coveted a
vineyard that belonged to his neighbor, Naboth. As soon as Ahab
began to covet, Naboth was no longer a man to be respected, but a
problem to be solved, and Ahab’s wife Jezebel solved it. She got rid
of Naboth. She arranged for phony witnesses to lie about him, and
then she had him executed. Ahab’s coveting made Naboth a thing.
Coveting led to lying, murder, and stealing. Once you break the
tenth commandment and start coveting, it gets easier to break all
the other commandments. You treat your neighbor as a thing. You
don’t love him or her as a person.
And once you start coveting, it seems that enough is never enough.
Ahab had all sorts of land, but he thought he couldn’t be happy until
he had Naboth’s little plot as well. David had all sorts of women, but
he thought he couldn’t be happy until he had Uriah’s wife as well.
When you covet, you feel like you’d be happy if you could just get
that one more thing that you want. But if you get it, are you
satisfied? Not at all.
You’re already coveting something else. Whether it’s sex or
property or market share or money, no matter how much you get,
you’ve always got to have more. The Bible says,
“Whoever loves
money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never
satisfied with his income” (Ecclesiastes 5:10). You can be worth
billions of dollars and still be obsessed with getting more.
Coveting is like a black hole. When a star collapses in upon itself, it
becomes extremely dense, and its gravity becomes more powerful
than ever. As it pulls more matter into itself, it becomes even
denser; its gravitational pull becomes even more powerful, and on
it goes. The black hole sucks up matter almost endlessly,
swallowing up everything around it, even light itself.
That’s what happens when you covet. You collapse in upon yourself
and base your happiness on having what you want. From that point
on, the more you get, the more powerful your coveting becomes,
until you’re nothing but a deep and utter darkness that swallows up
whatever gets too close to you.
Unless the power of coveting is broken, your final end is the utter
darkness and nothingness which the Bible calls hell. Already on
earth, we get just a taste of hell in a competitive, ruthless,
survival-of-the-fittest society where we’re so busy using each
other that we can’t love each other, where we’re so greedy and
discontented that we can’t enjoy God’s love or love him in return.
Selling Your Own Soul
Once you put price tags on the souls of others, you also (maybe
without even realizing it) put a price tag on your own soul. You sell
out to the prince of darkness, the devil himself, with his insatiable
appetite and his constant urge to devour. Coveting is the attitude of
hell. When you do business with the devil, you may get more of
what you want, but you lose your soul, both now and in eternity.
And as Jesus said,
“What good will it be for a man if he gains the
whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in
exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his
Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person
according to what he has done (Matthew 16:26).
When we stand before the judgment seat of Christ, we’ll discover
what all the things we’ve coveted, all the stuff we’ve accumulated,
is really worth. The Bible says,
“Wealth is worthless in the day of
wrath, but righteousness delivers from death” (Proverbs 11:4).
Righteousness is what counts in God’s eyes, and nothing else. If we
aren’t somehow righteous in God’s eyes, we are doomed forever.
Eternal life isn’t a commodity that can be bought with money. God
doesn’t take bribes. The Bible says in Psalm 49:7-9,
“No man can
redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him—the
ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough—that he
should live on forever and not see decay.”
There’s just one ransom, one price for redeeming a life, one
payment that can save us on the day of judgment: “Christ Jesus,
who gave himself as a ransom for all men” (1 Timothy 2:6). The
Bible says that “it was not with perishable things such as silver or
gold that you were redeemed … but with the precious blood of
Christ” (1 Peter 1:18-19). If you want to focus all your desire on
something, if you want all your happiness to depend on it, if you
want to base your destiny on something that won’t let you down,
then forget about all the stuff you’ve been coveting, and focus all
your desire on Jesus.
Depend on him as your source of happiness. Trust him to be your
life both now and for eternity. Believe that he died to pay the
penalty for all your sins and selfish desires. Believe that he rose
again to bring you into a whole new way of thinking and living.
Jesus is the only one who can give a fresh start to self-centered,
covetous people. So stop selling your soul to Satan, and trust that
Jesus has purchased your soul for God. Repent of your sins. Receive
the salvation Jesus bought for you with his blood.
If you do that, your life will change radically. Once you belong to
Jesus, your highest priority isn’t material but spiritual. Jesus tells
us not to worry about food and drink and clothes,
“for the pagans
run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you
need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and
all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:32-33). In
Christ your obsession with things has to end. As a Christian, your
main preoccupation is to live as a citizen of God’s kingdom and to
find your satisfaction in doing his will.
And what is God’s will? We’ve been focusing on God’s will in the
Ten Commandments. According to Jesus, all the commandments
boil down to this: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and
with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and
greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your
neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:37-38). In Romans 13:8-10, the
apostle Paul echoes Jesus when he says,
The commandments,
“Do not commit adultery,
” “Do not murder,

“Do not steal,
” “Do not covet,
” and whatever other commandment
there may be are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor
as yourself.” Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is
the fulfillment of the law.
Closing
The 10th Commandment,
“You shall not covet,
” serves as a
profound reminder of the importance of inner purity and
contentment. It calls us to resist the human tendency to desire what
belongs to others and instead, cultivate a spirit of gratitude for
what we have. This commandment, unique in its focus on our
thoughts and desires, underscores the truth that our actions are
often a reflection of what lies within our hearts. By adhering to this
commandment, we not only promote harmony in our external
relationships, but also achieve inner peace and satisfaction. Thus,
the 10th Commandment holds a mirror to our inner selves, urging
us to align our desires with the principles of fairness, respect, and
love for our neighbor.
As we draw to a close on our study of the Ten Commandments as
presented in the King James Version of the Bible
1
, we reflect on the
profound wisdom and timeless guidance they offer. These divine
edicts, handed down from God to Moses on Mount Sinai, serve as a
moral compass, guiding us towards a life of righteousness, respect,
and love for our fellow beings
1
.
Each commandment, from “Thou shalt have no other gods before
me” to “Thou shalt not covet”
, has offered us valuable insights into
ethical living and personal growth.
This study has not only been an exploration of historical religious
texts but also a journey of self-discovery and spiritual growth. As
we move forward, let us strive to uphold these principles in our
thoughts, words, and deeds. May the wisdom of the Ten
Commandments continue to illuminate our path, guiding us
towards a life of integrity, compassion, and spiritual fulfillment.
Let this study not be an end, but rather a beginning of a deeper
understanding and application of these commandments in our
lives.

Exodus 20:17

17 “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.”

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