CovetousnessBro. David Chancellor
2/15/2009 6:00 PM
And God spake all these words, saying, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.
These are the 10 commandments. We don’t often look at these because we believe we’ve found something greater in Jesus. These begin with our relationship with God. God is God alone and he won’t be second to anyone. It presents to our minds the idea of a just God. He’s a God of mercy as well. He’s merciful to those that love him. We need to view God respectfully. The 7th day was a day for everyone to take a break and represents sanctification. There is a blessing in having time for rest and respite. It allows us time to focus on spiritual things. It’s better not to work seven days a week. You need some time for your soul. Honoring your parents will help you encounter things in life. They taught you something. These are the fundamentals of a civil society. This doesn’t outline the punishment for breaking these. God was trying to give them a framework for their society. The first nine commandments are focused on outward behaviors, but the last one gets down to the heart of man. All the others are caused by things within. To covet is to fix your desire upon something/someone, usually in a way that brings out the worst in you.
1 Kings 21:1-16
And it came to pass after these things, that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard, which was in Jezreel, hard by the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. And Ahab spake unto Naboth, saying, Give me thy vineyard, that I may have it for a garden of herbs, because it is near unto my house: and I will give thee for it a better vineyard than it; or, if it seem good to thee, I will give thee the worth of it in money. And Naboth said to Ahab, The Lord forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee. And Ahab came into his house heavy and displeased because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him: for he had said, I will not give thee the inheritance of my fathers. And he laid him down upon his bed, and turned his face, and would eat no bread.
But Jezebel his wife came to him, and said unto him, Why is thy spirit so sad, that thou eatest no bread? And he said unto her, Because I spake unto Naboth the Jezreelite, and said unto him, Give me thy vineyard for money; or else, if it please thee, I will give thee another vineyard for it: and he answered, I will not give thee my vineyard. And Jezebel his wife said unto him, Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel? arise, and eat bread, and let thine heart be merry: I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite. So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, and sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters unto the elders and to the nobles that were in his city, dwelling with Naboth. And she wrote in the letters, saying, Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people: And set two men, sons of Belial, before him, to bear witness against him, saying, Thou didst blaspheme God and the king. And then carry him out, and stone him, that he may die. And the men of his city, even the elders and the nobles who were the inhabitants in his city, did as Jezebel had sent unto them, and as it was written in the letters which she had sent unto them. They proclaimed a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people. And there came in two men, children of Belial, and sat before him: and the men of Belial witnessed against him, even against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, Naboth did blaspheme God and the king. Then they carried him forth out of the city, and stoned him with stones, that he died. Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, Naboth is stoned, and is dead.
And it came to pass, when Jezebel heard that Naboth was stoned, and was dead, that Jezebel said to Ahab, Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give thee for money: for Naboth is not alive, but dead. And it came to pass, when Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, that Ahab rose up to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.
This is a picture of what covetousness does. Many other bad things begin with covetousness. They committed murder because they didn’t think they could get it any other way. They convinced people to bear false witness and killed him by the law. His property was stolen. It was all because of what was in the heart.
God pointed out where the problem was at. He laid a foundation for the coming of Christ. Too often it is the desire of the heart that gets people in trouble. The result was that all of Ahab’s family would be wiped off the face of the earth. Because Ahab humbled himself, it was put off for a while, until he was gone. There was a price to pay for what was done.
Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter. What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me. Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.
Paul was trying to help them see the new covenant. It was in the 10th commandment that Paul realized the serious problem within him. You could have kept many other commandments and have been upstanding, but that last one will catch you. There are desires that will get you in trouble. That old nature covets. We need God to make a change in that nature.
The emphasis of the law wasn’t punishment. It was given for their good. It brought death because it couldn’t take the sin on the inside out. God sent Jesus that by his death he could accomplish what the law couldn’t. It brought a change to the heart. You need your heart changed so that the desires within are addressed. When you become aware of sin, the blood of Jesus becomes an urgent need. It is needed for both forgiveness and cleansing.
Sin is an inward condition as well as an outward one. Both the guilt and the cause need to be cleansed. You can’t solve an inward condition by an outward regulation. Sin separates from God because the desire is fixed on something that is unacceptable to God.
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
Be content. Contentment is found in Christ. Real spiritual gain is found in aligning your desires with God’s. Get your desires purified to line up with the will of God. That’s where spiritual success is found. Fix your desires on the things of God. If we keep our eyes on God and working for him, he’ll take care of us. God expects us to put forth some effort. He will provide what we need.
1 Corinthians 12:28-31
And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healing, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.
It’s fine to desire to be used of God. We should want to use our talents and abilities to promote God’s cause, as long as that’s our focus. We shouldn’t be out to promote ourselves. The best desire is to be filled with the love of God. We need God to purge us and fill us with his Holy Spirit.