Randall Caselman

Bella Vista Church of Christ

05/12/2019 A.M.

 

Written In Stone

“Thou Shall Not Covet”

Exodus 20.17

 

Well... Today... We come to the end of our study in the Ten Commandments...

Sinai Principles still applicable today...

Principles that were so important to God that He personally wrote them in stone.

Eternal Principles that help us have a right relationship with God and with one another.

 

Today...Verse 17... Thou Shall Not Covet... You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

 

Coveting is different from the other commands which focus on our outward behavior...

• Coveting is a heart condition...

• Coveting is an invisible sin because it’s about what we think...

• It’s about our desires.

 

Jesus spoke of this sin in the Sermon On the Mount... You’ve heard it said... Thou shall not commit adultery... I tell you...He who looks on the opposite sex to lust after her has committed adultery with her in his heart... Coveting.

 

Jesus said…Covetousness is an evil desire Or... An excessive desire... that starts in the heart... For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts,sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.’

 

Church... This commandment tells us that sin has it’S beginning in our thoughts.

 

It is a sin to...

• Think evil thoughts...

• To lust...

• To dwell on evil desires... angeR… HATE… ENVY… JEALOUSY… REVENGE…

• To promote and fondle evil fantasies.

 

It was James who wrote... We are drawn away by our own lust... By our own evil desires and enticed.

 

Webster defines coveting as the uncontrolled desire to acquire.

 

Notice that it is not the uncontrollable desire... But the uncontrolled desire... We have control over our coveting... Over evil desires!...

• What if Eve had controlled her desire for the forbidden fruit?...

• What if Cain had controlled his hate for his brother?...

• If Lot had controlled his desire for the best pastureland?...

• What if David had controlled his burning desire for Bathsheba?...

• What if Ananias & Sapphira had controlled their desire for position and praise in the early church?

 

Indeed... Covetousness is a sin in thought that leads to sin in behavior.

 

The idea from God this morning is this... Control our thinking and we control our relationship with God and with one another.

 

Come... Let’s see what we can learn about this sin of covetousness...

 

First... We note what this command prohibits...

Six ways that we break this command to not covet...

 

First… It prohibits our love of... money!...Things!... Stuff!

Proverbs 23 warns... Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle. (Proverbs 23:4-5)

 

Jesus said... Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also... No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. (Matthew 6:19-21,24)

 

Greed breaks this command.

Luke tells us about someone who came to Jesus saying... Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me. Jesus replied... Who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you? Then he said to them... Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.  (Luke 12:13-15)

 

Wow... Our thinking... Our heart is set... Upon just the opposite of Jesus’ teaching.

 

We believe that... A man’s worth... A man’s life does consist in the abundance of his possessions... He who dies with the most toys wins... Life consists of stuff... Obtaining more and more and more... It’s called greed!!

 

G.K. Chesterton made an interesting observation... There’re two ways to get enough... One is to continue to accumulate more and more... The other is to desire less.

 

This command forbids Envying others.

The Psalmist writes... As for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. (Psalm 73:1-3) We’ve all been there… Haven’t we… Slipped into coveting when we saw the riches of the wicked?... It was Solomon who wrote... Envy rots the bones.

 

Listen to Ecclesiastes... And I saw that all labor and all achievement spring from man’s envy of his neighbor. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind... Better one handful with Tranquility... Peace... Contentment... Than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind. (Ecclesiastes 4:4-6)

 

Indeed!...Envying others is just another way of coveting what they have.

 

Then there’s the lustful desires that break this commandment...

When we lust after another man’s wife... Another wife’s husband... We are breaking the Tenth Commandment... You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.

 

Proverbs says...Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes. (Proverbs 6.25).

 

Jesus insisted that any time we entertain sexual thoughts about a person who is not our spouse... We are desiring something that does not belong to us... We’re coveting... That’s Matthew 5.28.

 

Selfishness breaks this command.

Sometimes our desire for having more shows itself... Not so much in taking from others... But in selfishly keeping for ourselves.

 

Jesus told a parable about a rich farmer... The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.

 

But God called him a fool... This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God. (Luke 12:16-21)

 

When Paul gave his farewell to the Ephesian Elders... He said... I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help theweak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:33-35)

 

Pride is another way we violate the tenth commandment.

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:15-17)

 

Coveting comes down to loving the world more than loving God.  How do we demonstrate a love of this world?...

1) By craving its sinful ways...

2) By lusting after what we see...

3) By boasting about what we have...What we’ve accomplished... Our Possessions & Position.

 

Next... We examine the Character of the Covetous Person...

What are they like?...

 

First of all... A covetous individual is constantly craving more.

No matter how much they have... It is never enough.

Ecclesiastes 5:10 describes them this way... Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.

Does this verse describe me or you?.... Are we covetous?

 

Secondly... A covetous person is always dissatisfied with life.

A covetous person is seldom to never happy.

I mean... How can one be happy if they’re always wanting more... And more... And more?

 

Ecclesiastes 4 says... I saw something meaningless under the sun... There was a man all alone... There was no end to his toil... Yet his eyes were not content with his wealth... This too is meaningless—a miserable business! (Ecclesiastes 4:7-8)

 

Coveting does its evil work within... It bores its way into our soul... Eating away at our happiness... Leaving us Empty... Frustrated... Angry.

 

Question this morning... Are we constantly unhappy... Always complaining... Is it because we are covetous... Always wanting more than we have?

 

A covetous person will eventually act out their wrong desires.

Truthis... We can’t hide who we are on the inside... Eventually our thoughts will become a behavior.

 

Three examples from Scripture.

 

In the Book of Joshua... Achan who stole spoils from that which was devoted to the Lord. Achan’s covetousness caught up with him... His lust proved what kind of person he really was.... And it cost him his life and the life of his family.

 

Are we ready to lose our life?... Ruin the life of our children… By desiring the wrong things?

 

Another example... Ahab saw a vineyard that belonged to a man named Naboth and decided he wanted it for himself… But Naboth didn’t want to sell his family’s land.

Scripture tells us that Ahab lay on his bed sulking and refused to eat.

 

Can you get this picture?… Here’s the king of Israel with amazing wealth and power sulking on his bed and refusing to eat because he wanted another man’s vineyard... Coveting makes a fool of us!!  This heartache went on to the point that he and Jezebel eventually murdered Naboth.

 

How about Ananias & Sapphira... They seemed like outstanding church members... But deep down... They were coveting a vain glory that destroyed them.

 

Indeed... A coveting person will eventually reveal his heart by acting out his secret desires… His secret sins.

 

Listen to this uncomfortable truth... Coveting INHIBITS our prayer life.

It was James who ask in rhetoric... What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures… You ask in covetousness. (James 4:1-3).

 

Some of us here this morning need to examine our hearts... Because our prayers are not being answered... Is it because we are coveting...Sobering question... Amen?

 

OK...We end our lesson by noting the antidote for covetousness.

I believe the antidote is genuine contentment...

Let me quickly share five things that will help us be content...

 

First... Be content with the Lord.

We need to be able to say with the Psalmist... Whom have I in Heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail... But God... You are the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm73:25-26

 

Church...Let God be enough... And we will not have to worry about coveting.

 

Be content with His righteousness.

Don’t be envious of the wicked... Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong... For like the grass they will soon wither... Like green plants they will soon die away. Trust in the Lord and do good... Dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:1-4)

 

Be content with our possessions... What we have.

Psalm 37.16 reads... Better the little that the righteous have than the wealth of the wicked.

 

Church... This should be our prayer from Proverbs 30... Lord, don’t give me too much or I might forget you. And don’t give me too little or I might steal and dishonor you. Just give me my daily bread, so I can praise and honor you with my life

 

Be content with our position.

This is hard isn’t it?... But Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 7.20-21... Each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him. Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom... Do so.

 

Ha...Some of us are envious of other people’s positions in life... And we need to learn to be content with where God has placed us.

 

Paul says... If you don’t like it... Change it if you can... But here’s the DON’T...Don’t envy other people… Do not covet.

 

Be content with God’s good gift of life.

James reminds us that... Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1.17).

 

Jesus tells us that He came to give us the abundant life... Life above the ordinary... Life at its best... (John 10.10)

 

Indeed... God has given us so much to be thankful for each and every day... So why covet... Why not just enjoy what He has already given us?

 

Be content with God’s gift of the good life.

 

Well... We’ve ended our journey through the Ten Commandments... I do hope you’ve enjoyed the trip... And that we’ve learned something we can use to improve our relationship with God and others.

 

Remember this... The Decalogue was not given as an entrance exam to Heaven.

 

Paul says… The Law… The Ten… Were given to remind us that…

One…We all sin…violate God’s commands… Over and over and over again...

Two…Because of our sin... We need a Savior... And indeed He has provided JESUS!

 

So...

• Ours is to Believe in God...

• Repent of our sins...

• Confess Jesus for who He is...

• Be born again in water baptism...

•And strive to daily walk in the light of His truth... While enjoying his continual forgiveness.

 

This is our challenge... This is God’s invitation… As we stand and sing together.