“Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor’s.” (Exodus 20:17)
The 10th love commandment is God’s final commandment (or word) on love. It is like His summary or conclusion on the matter. In fact, if one considers the complete chronological ordering of the 10LC, one finds they are really a masterful dissertation on the subject of love, from introduction to conclusion. Let’s look into this as we explore the tenth and final commandment, which deals with covetousness.
In His 10LC discourse, God opens cleverly with commandment #1 “Thou shall have no other gods before me” – which, if obeyed, maintains the Creator God (who is love!) will be Lord of one’s life; but if disobeyed, maintains the person themselves will be the god or Lord of their own life. In other words, God immediately pits love against pride! Why? Because God knew ALL loving deeds (or obedience to the 10LC) flow out of a humble heart that willingly puts Him (or love) first, but ALL sin (or disobedience to the 10LC) flow out of a prideful heart that willingly does not put Him (or love) first. So like a well thought out opening statement from a solid dissertation, God’s 1st LC sets the explanatory stage for either “love” or “no love” to manifest in and out of each person’s heart. Humility produces repentance (or obedience to the 10LC) which leads to eternal life, but pride produces rebellion (or disobedience to the 10LC) which leads to eternal death!
Next, God astutely transitions into commandment #2 “Thou shall not worship idols” – which, if obeyed, maintains a person will not worship (or lust for) the materialistic universe; but, if disobeyed, they will. And what makes the difference? It goes right back to the 1st LC!!! Obedience to the 1st commandment pilots obedience to the 2nd commandment; and vice versa, disobedience to the 1st commandment pilots disobedience to the 2nd commandment. Consequently, a humble person who puts God first (or Love first) in their heart will NOT be greedy for dirt possessions (or the money that buys them!) but rather they will long to love the invisible spirit in other people and animals. On the other hand, a prideful person who puts themselves first in their heart WILL be greedy for dirt possessions (and the money that buys them!) because loving and obtaining those seeable things is how they get their “pride fix”. Stay with me, now.
Alright, so God has wisely began His “dissertation on love” by declaring through the first two commandments … humility births love for spirit, which leads to ALL righteousness (or obedience to the 10LC), but pride births love for dirt, which leads to ALL unrighteousness (or disobedience to the 10LC). God then goes on to delve into the main body of His speech with the specifics of seven more love commandments, covering the range of fruits that can be produced from obedience or disobedience to each of them, meaning good & evil, respectively. And then, like a skilled writer who knows how to sum up and conclude a masterful exposition, He carefully and deliberately closes with one last commandment – the 10th love commandment “Thou shall not covet”.
Look at this final commandment closely. What is it saying, really? “Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s house, wife, animals, nor anything that is thy neighbor’s”. In other words, do not LUST for or HOARD what you can see – houses, land, clothing, jewelry, cars, boats, etc. But what is this? Friend, this is just the first two commandments all over again … only spoken in a different way! Do you see? Remember, prideful, greedy people lust for what they see – namely, the material (or dirt) universe. In other words, THEY ARE COVETERS! Truly, anyone disobeying the 1st & 2nd love commandments automatically and simultaneously disobeys the 10th love commandment, and vice versa. The Apostle Paul knew this well and wrote: “For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, WHO IS AN IDOLATER, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God” (Ephesians 5:5). See, a covetous person is an idolater, for they worship what they see!
So understand, an explanation of the 10th love commandment is really the same as an explanation of the 1st & 2nd love commandments. In other words, if you want to understand covetousness, then understand commandments #1 & #2! You will learn the same wicked thoughts roll around in the head of a coveter as they do a prideful, greedy idolater. And these selfish, greedy, covetous thoughts will lead a person to work ALL kinds of evil (or 10LC disobedience) towards their fellow man. Yes, it is a truth … “covetousness” is the root of ALL evil! It will take you down! If you choose that path, it will lead your love-less soul straight to the fires of hell!
Now obviously, Jesus knew these truths well and thus continually warned his listeners: “Take heed, and BEWARE of COVETOUSNESS: for a man’s life (meaning his eternal destiny) consisteth not in the abundance of the things (or the dirt) which he possesses” (Luke 12:15). And again, “Lay NOT up for yourself treasures (or materialistic possessions) here upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But rather lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart (or your love & worship) be also” (Matthew 6:19-21). Make no mistake about it, Jesus knew where ALL sin (or 10LC disobedience) originates – out of the selfish heart of a coveter! Therefore, he knew EXACTLY what to preach in order to lead people to repentance and eternal life, as Peter confirmed, “Lord, to whom shall we go? For thou hast the WORDS of eternal life” (John 6:68).
So how about the positive side (or the “DO” side) of the 10th LC? Do you know how we SHOULD live, instead of being full of covetousness? The Bible says … we should be CONTENT with what we have! Listen to Jesus: “Take no thought for your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” (Matthew 6:25). Paul knew it too: “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for God hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5). And this: “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. So having food and clothing let us be therewith content” (I Timothy 6:6-8). And: “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth … Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and covetousness, WHICH IS idolatry: For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience” (Colossians 3:2-6).
Well, there they are folks – the 10 Love Commandments! Honestly, how beautiful are they, even in their order from introduction to conclusion? They are a masterpiece! God is an oral and literary genius! He spoke His 10LC dissertation on Mount Sinai and then wrote it on two Stone Tables. And He did it all in the most beautiful, all-inclusive, and gifted order possible. They are His ways. They are His law. And they are His love. Abide by them and live, or reject them and perish. The choice is yours!
The 9th love commandment is about the sin of “lying” — written in God’s Word as “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor”. Like most of God’s 10LC, it was given in the negative form Thou shalt NOT, but remember each commandment has its positive side too, which needs to be observed in order for the commandment to be fully obeyed. And the 9th love commandment’s positive notion is “Thou SHALL speak the truth”. With that being said, let’s dig deeper into the meaning behind this love commandment.
First of all, I want to go back to the beginning of time in the Garden of Eden and think about Lucifer again, the original sinner. After he violated God’s first two love commandments by becoming prideful and idolatrous (puffed up over his “abundance of materialism”), what was the next sin (or love-less deed) he manifested in order to continue to feed his pride and idolatry? It was LYING! Remember, he lied to Eve – which led to the death (or murder) of mankind’s souls! Thus, the first disobeyer of God’s 9th love commandment (or the original liar!) was Satan. Jesus confirmed this one day while verbally scolding the Pharisees: “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts (or prideful desires) of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44). Yes, Lucifer lied for his own prideful greedy gain, and he became the God of this world, but only for its 6,000 year age of sin!
Now listen up, LIES are ALWAYS told for the selfish greedy gain (or advantage) of the one telling the lie. Never forget that! Lies are just the evil fruit of pride. It doesn’t matter if it’s a salesman lying to make a lucrative sale, an employee lying about something he’s done wrong so he doesn’t lose his job, a spouse lying so he doesn’t get caught cheating and lose his mate, a person lying about what he knows to feel superior to others, or whatever the lie may be. Do you see? Lies are ALWAYS birthed out of a prideful, selfish heart! Thus, NO LIE exhibits ANY love! Lies are evil. Lies are sin. Lies are told by those who desire to do the devil’s love-less, selfish, greedy will. But be aware, “lying” can take other forms too, besides just the spoken word. For example, cheating, tricking, deceiving, mocking, judging, and gossiping are all forms of “bearing false witness” that can be done in many different ways. Therefore, disobeying the 9th love commandment can involve ACTIONS as well as WORDS.
So what is the positive side of this commandment, or what should we DO instead of lying? We should “speak and do the TRUTH”. “Truth” (whether spoken or done) is always a loving deed! Many times it may even hurt you temporarily, but never eternally! A truth-doer unselfishly reasons, “No matter what the cost to me now, I’m going to speak and do truth!” Thus, the salesman no longer lies to make a sale even though he may lose the sale, the employee comes clean about what he’s done even though he may lose his job, the spouse lays it all on the line about their infidelity even though he may lose his partner forever, a person no longer lies to feel superior to others but humbly admits their shortcomings, or whatever the case may be. Do you see how “speaking & doing truth” is always a SELF-LESS deed? How beautiful. How humble. How loving to others.
Spend some time meditating on the above scenarios, and consider the “love” shown towards one’s neighbor by the truth-teller. For example, the car buyer may now no longer end up in a desperate situation late some night by a piece of junk car that the salesman KNEW had a mechanical problem. Do you see? The salesman showed compassion and concern (or love) for his neighbor by NOT lying to them to make the sale. How about the employer? Now they know the truth of what their employee did wrong, and can rectify the situation, helping the company and its future employees not make the same mistake. Yes, “speaking & doing truth” is ALWAYS a “loving deed”.
Hopefully you now see how obeying God’s 9th love commandment “Thou shalt not lie, but thou shall speak and do truth” is just like God’s other 9 LC in the fact that it describes someone who willingly “denies themselves”, “hates their life”, or “loses their life” in order to love. Remember, these are the VERY THINGS Jesus said a person MUST DO in order to receive eternal life. So let us all diligently heed the Apostle Paul’s loving advice, proving we have crucified our pride: “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another” (Ephesians 4:25).
Lastly, the Great Commission to “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations … Teaching them to obey all things whatsoever I have commanded” (Matthew 28:19-20) also falls under obedience to the 9th LC, for God’s Holy Word and His 10LC ARE the Truth! This is why the Psalmist wisely wrote: “Thy law is the truth … all thy commandments are truth” (Psalms 119:142, 151). Consequently, the “truth” is simply “love”! Therefore, long to be a witness to the Truth (or the 10LC) by living and teaching them every precious chance you get: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (II Timothy 3:16-17).
The 8th love commandment simply states … thou shalt not steal. But these few words carry incredible weight, for there is MUCH MORE behind obeying this commandment than simply not stealing some physical object from someone. And again, as with the other commandments, God sent Jesus with the words to fully expound on this commandment. So let’s investigate.
First of all, a person’s pride and greed for materialism (or disobedience to the first two love commandments) is clearly on display in someone who disobeys the 8th LC. For someone who steals things, obviously does so, for their own selfish gain. And there’s not an ounce of love shown towards your neighbor in this evil act. So understand first, “thievery” or “stealing” is just another manifestation of a person’s pride (or selfishness) in action. And if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousands times … Pride, fueled by greed, is the love-less wide path that leads to hell!
But here’s what most people don’t understand about the 8th Love Commandment; there’s a whole other “positive” side, or DO SIDE to it, that if NOT DONE is exactly the same as stealing from someone! Do you know what it is? It’s to GIVE! We are not to steal, but to give! This truth was confirmed in the following verse, “Will a man rob (or steal from) God? Yet you are robbing me! But you say, “How have we robbed You, God?” In tithes and offering! You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you!” (Malachi 3:8-9). Do you see it? By not GIVING (in this case of tithes and offerings) a person is actually STEALING! Isn’t that amazing! In other words, if you have and don’t give, you are a thief! You disobey the 8th LC!
Now you know why Jesus continually taught people to GIVE. These teachings were all based on obeyng the 8th LC: “Give to him that asketh of thee, and from him that would borrow of thee, turn not thou away” (Matthew 5:42). “Sell that ye have, and give alms” (Luke 12:33); “Sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me” (Mark 10:21). See “giving” is a self-less, loving act. And it’s a huge part of “denying oneself”, “hating one’s life”, and “losing one’s life” in order to obtain eternal life. In other words, a “giving heart” (that wants nothing in return) is evidence of someone who has killed their pride (or selfish desires), taken up the cross, in order to love thy neighbor. How beautiful!
Jesus told many stories and parables with the sobering message that “non-giving” people are really thieves. For instance, the Good Samaritan parable in Luke 10:30-37 is about the 8th LC. In it, a man is stripped and beat by thieves, and left for dead. But a Priest and a Levite walk right on by him, not wanting to help. But then a Samaritan came and bandaged up the man, put him on his own animal, took him to an inn, and paid for his room! Do you see it? The Samaritan GAVE! He gave of his time, his things, and his money to help (or love) his neighbor. He kept the 8th LC. The Priest and the Levite did not! They were thieves! They stole from the poor helpless man! How? Because it was in their power to give, but they did not want too! They were too prideful and selfish! It didn’t matter that they were religious; they were on their way to hell for not living by God’s 10LC! The parable of the “Rich Man & Lazarus” in Luke 16:19-31 is the same message. The rich man would not help the poor beggar Lazarus! He would NOT GIVE of his time, food, clothing, or money! And for that, he was a thief! And he ended up in hell in the story!
Jesus even told a Judgment Day parable, which mentioned ONLY acts of “giving” or “not giving” as the evidence of a righteous person, or an unrighteous person, respectively. Those who “gave” received eternal life, but those who didn’t perished in the lake of fire: “For I was hungry, and ye GAVE me meat: I was thirsty, and ye GAVE me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me” (Matthew 25:35-36). Notice how these people all gave of their time, money, and possessions in loving compassion and concern for others. That’s it, my friend … THAT’S LOVE! That’s the 8th love commandment being obeyed!
“Laziness” is also part of the 8th love commandment, for laziness always leads to the sin of stealing. A lazy worker steals from his boss when he goofs around (or sleeps) on the job, for he is getting paid a certain wage every minute to work. Do you understand? A lazy person steals the time (or life) he’s been given on this planet to work for the Lord. But understand all this evil laziness is once again just evidence of a person’s pride in bloom! A lazy person is saying, “I don’t want to work. I don’t want to help. I’m just here for myself and a free ride in life!” But Jesus taught: “And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him two” (Matthew 5:41). See, that’s love! That’s giving! That’s self-less-ness in action! Lazy people don’t want to DO that, for they are thieves! The Apostle Paul summed up obedience to the 8th LC nicely (including stealing, laziness, & giving) when he wrote: “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth” (Ephesians 4:28).
The 7th love commandment could rightly be nicknamed the “sex commandment” for the Bible reveals every form of sex (even in the mind) is the sin of adultery, except that between a man and a woman who have entered into a marriage covenant. Therefore, pornography, masturbation, fornication, prostitution, rape, homosexuality, lesbianism, beastiality, and adultery are all sexual sins (which means they are non-loving deeds). Now as we investigate this commandment, it will become evident again that it is just a person’s pride (self-indulgence) that fuels all sexual sin. Let’s take a look.
In the Old Testament, God’s Word clearly condemns the following sex sins: homosexuality: “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination” (Leviticus 18:22); bestiality (sex with animals): “Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion” (Leviticus 18:23); prostitution (harlotry or whoredom): “And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot … Her house is the way to hell” (Proverbs 7:1-27); and adultery: “But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul” (Proverbs 6:32).
But then Jesus came along and he said: “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman, to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28). Jesus was confirming here that ALL sexual sin is disobedience to the 7th LC, for ALL sexual sin begins in a person’s heart (spirit), as does ALL disobedience to the 10LC: “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man” (Matthew 15:19-20). But what REALLY is the ROOT CAUSE for all these evil thoughts? It is pride, my friend! Selfish ambition! Self indulgence! It’s ALL to please oneself! And the sexual sins are no different.
But let’s break this down further; think about what you are REALLY doing when you “look upon another human being with sexual lust” … what are you REALLY looking at? Atoms! Dirt! You are looking at a person’s physical body which is made up of the atoms (dirt) of the ground! Do you see? Therefore, “sexual lust” is just the same old thing … it is an inordinate lust for the physical world. It’s idolatry! So it all goes back again to disobedience of the first two love commandments: It’s your own pride (selfish desire) fueled by greed (lust) for dirt (or the money that can buy that dirt), which is why the Apostle Paul said — “For the love of money (or the love of dirt) is the root of ALL evil (non-loving thoughts, words, & deeds)” (I Timothy 6:10). Stunning, isn’t it?
Once you understand all of this, you quickly realize how lame disobedience to the 7th Love Commandment is … it’s just the worshipping of dirt! It’s just your eyes lusting for what it SEES. But it’s all empty. It’s all just self-seeking pleasure. It’s all pride. And there’s no love in ANY of it! Jesus knew it ALL needed to be turned from (or repented of) for a person to obtain eternal life, and thus he said the following shocking words: “And if thy right eye offend thee (cause thee to sin) pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee (cause thee to sin) cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell” (Matthew 5:29-30). Wow, do you think Jesus was serious about a person ceasing willful sin (forsaking their foolish pride by “denying themselves”, “hating their life”, “losing their life”) in order to obtain eternal life? You better know it!
Lastly, the word “fornication” in the New Testament was translated from the Greek word “porneia” meaning: sexual immorality, fornication, marital unfaithfulness, prostitution, adultery, a generic term for sexual sin of ANY kind. Using this word, the Apostle Paul explained why keeping the 7th Love Commandment is so important in our lives: “FLEE FORNICATION. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (I Corinthians 6:18-20).