Q79: Which is the tenth commandment?
A: The tenth commandment is, Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.
Q80: What is required in the tenth commandment?
A: The tenth commandment requireth full contentment with our own condition (Heb. 13:5), with a right and charitable frame of spirit towards our neighbor, and all that is his (Rom. 12:15; 1 Cor. 13:4-6).
Q81: What is forbidden in the tenth commandment?
A: The tenth commandment forbiddeth all discontentment with our own estate (1 Cor. 10:10), envying or grieving at the good of our neighbor (Ga. 5:26), and all inordinate motions and affections to any thing that is his (Col. 3:5).
I. General comments
A. “Covet” defined: to crave or yearn for something that belongs to somebody else.
1. “A consuming desire to possess in a wrong way something belonging to another” (John Mackay).
2. “ An insatiable desire of getting the world” (Thomas Watson).
B. The scope of this commandment is to strike at the root and first risings of sin in the heart.
1. In it are the act and the object.
a. The act is that you shall not covet, or lust, as it is termed in Romans 7:7 (KJV), which implies an inordinate desire. This results in a dissatisfaction with one’s present condition (Heb. 13:5).
b. The objects are held forth both particularly (for example), and universally.
II. Required in this commandment is contentment in our own lot, and a charitable spirit towards our neighbor and all that is his. This duty is examined as it respects ourselves, our neighbor, and the root of sin.
A. Ourselves: this duty is twofold. We shall not covet after what we have and what we don’t have.
1. We must be weaned and indifferent from too eagerly desiring those things that we have: this is called a “hating” of them (Lk. 14:26).
a. The desire becomes inordinate when man seeks his rest and satisfaction in things instead of God.
b. A man may have a sinful lust for food, though it is good for his body (Matt. 24:38); and a lust in the using of it (1 Sam. 14:32).
2. We must be fully content with our own condition.
a. Renounce our will (Matt. 26:39; cf. Ps. 78:29-31), being content with food and clothing (1 Tim. 6:8; Phil. 4:11-12), as it is God who has chosen our inheritance (Ps. 47:4).
b. Resign and submit to His will (Matt. 16:24). His preceptive will is the rule of our duty and His providential will, must with our consent, be the rule of our condition.
(1). “It is the Lord: let him do what seemeth him good” (1 Sam. 3:18).
c. Whatever is lacking in our condition, if we would be content we will: submit without complaining (Lam. 3:27-29); have no anxiety (Phil. 4:6, 12); be satisfied (Hab. 3:17-18).
3. Reasons why we should be fully content: He that made the world also guides it (Matt. 20:15); infinite wisdom has provided (Matt. 10:30); all our good is undeserved (Lam. 3:22; Job 2:10); all our evil is deserved (Lam. 3:39; Mic. 7:9).
B. Our neighbor: love to his person (Rom. 13:8); respect for what is his (Deut. 22:1); rejoice in his welfare or we covet (Rom. 12:15).
C. Root of sin: this command carries the matter of holiness to the utmost point, as it forbids the very first risings of corruption in the heart.
III. Forbidden in this commandment is discontentment with our own lot, and envying and grudging against our neighbor, as it flows from the corruption of our nature. Two branches running from the corrupt fount, one towards ourselves and the other towards our neighbor.
A. Ourselves: discontentment.
1. Its evil nature, the blackest scum of the heart that boils up: rebellion against the will of God (Hos. 4:16), as the discontented heart cannot submit, but sets its foot against divine dispensation; sorrow of heart under the divine dispensation because it is not according to their mind (1 Ki. 21:4); anger and wrath against their lot (Jude 16); heart-blasphemy in it (Mal. 3:13-15).
a. Discontent accuses God of: folly, as if He were not wise enough to govern the world; injustice, as if He were wrong.
2. Its rise, from: a blinded judgment (Gen. 42:36; cf. Rom. 8:28); a proud heart, as Haman’s pride discontented him because he did not receive homage from Mordecai (Est. 3:5); unmortified affection to the creature (1 Tim. 6:9-10; Jon. 4:6; cf. v. 9); spirit of unbelief, as the lack of faith marred the acceptance of Cain’s sacrifice and opened the sluice of discontentment in him (Heb. 11:4; cf. Gen. 4:5).
3. Its fruit: mars communion with God (Isa. 1:15); torments (1 Ki. 21:4); brings domestic troubles (Prov. 15:27); womb of other sins.
a. Murder: Ahab’s discontent caused Naboth’s death (1 Ki. 21:4, 13); Haman was poised to kill a nation over one man (Est. 3:6); Cain killed Abel (Gen. 4:5, 8).
b. Dealing with the Devil: Saul went to the witch at Endor (1 Sam. 28).
B. Our neighbor: envying and grudging.
1. Its evil nature: opposite to love (1 Cor. 13:4); anger at other’s good (Ps. 37:1).
2. Its rise: pride and selfishness (Ga. 5:26; Phil. 2:4).
3. Its fruit: strikes against God as it quarrels with the government of His world (Matt. 20:15); strikes against neighbor for failure to love (Rom. 13:8); strikes against ourselves (Job 5:2; Prov. 19:37).
IV. How the corruption of our nature lusts after what is our own and what is our neighbor’s, and the common qualities of lust.
A. Our own: inordinate affection (Col. 3:5), as the heart is so glued that it cannot part (1 Cor. 6:12); desiring them for ends other than what God has appointed (Ja. 4:3-4); using them without regard to God’s honor (1 Cor. 10:31).
B. Our neighbors: when having them is unlawful (Matt. 14:4); desired for unlawful ends, or when the desire sets people to unlawful means to procure.
1. All desiring of our neighbor’s goods is not banned, otherwise there would be no buying, selling, or trading.
C. Qualities common to all lusts: ungodly (Jude 18); hellish (Jn. 8:44); war (Ja. 4:1) against the Spirit (Ga. 5:17), the soul (1 Pet. 2:11); deceitful (Eph. 4:22); hurtful (1 Tim. 6:9); worldly (Tit. 2:12).
A. Use, of knowledge.
1. Coveting includes envy, as unholy desires quickly turn into deadly desires (1 Tim. 6:9; cf. Ja. 1:14-15; Eph. 5:5). Eve coveted being like God before eating, and essentially plunged humanity into ruin.
B. Use, of testing.
1. Do we desire what we have above its place?
2. Do we have that twinge of disappointment whenever someone else gets what we want (cf. Ja. 4:1-2), or advances beyond our ability (Ga. 5:26; Ja. 3:14, 16)?
3. Ask yourself: “What does my heart desire, and where will that desire lead me in the end?”
C. Use, of exhortation: sinners and saints.
1. Sinners. God has put eternity into all of our hearts, which only He can fill (Ecc. 3:11); coveters will be judged (Mk. 7:21; 1 Cor. 6:9-10).
a. Here is the way of contentment: Jesus Christ in whom all the fullness of the Godhead dwells offers Himself to you. Accept Him by faith, and you will be like the merchant who sells all that he has and is content with that Pearl of great price.
2. Saints. Take your contentment that God is your God in Christ (Gen. 15:1), and having Him as such all our crosses are changed from curses into blessings. The remedy against this sin is to take and cleave to God as our portion (Matt. 6:21).
a. As long as we base our contentment on this world we will be miserable. We must keep our eyes on heaven (Col. 3:1-3), and not fall into the sin of “if only” (cf. “died in Egypt” [Ex. 16:3a]; “had meat” [Num. 11:4, 18]).
(1). “Though I have not outward comforts and worldly conveniences to supply my necessities, yet I have a sufficient portion between Christ and my soul abundantly to satisfy me in every condition” (Jeremiah Burroughs, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment).
(2). Be content with whatever God has or has not provided.