The Ninth and Tenth Commandments
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.
What does this mean?
We should fear and love God that we do not sinfully desire to get our neighbor’s inheritance or house by a trick or in a way that appears to be right ; but we should do everything we can to help him keep what is his.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his workers, nor his animals, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.
What does this mean?
We should fear and love God that we not sinfully desire to use tricks or force, or do anything that might cause our neighbor to lose his wife, workers, or animals; but we should urge them to stay and do their duty.
David killed a man to cover up the adultery he had committed with his wife. Ahab had Naboth executed on false charges in order to get his vineyard. Eve bit the forbidden fruit, along with Adam, damning the human race. And all these, like every sin you have ever committed share something in common, they started in the heart. David lusted, Ahab coveted, Eve desired what she should not have. This is what the ninth and tenth commandments address, the attitude of the heart which is behind every other sin against the neighbor and is the result of the lack of the proper attitude towards God.
Every sin starts in the heart, in wanting something that we cannot or should not have. And that desire, in itself, is sin. Many people like to pretend this isn’t the case. I talked to a Mormon once who told me that something was only a sin if you did it. I believe that’s a pretty common view. As long as I don’t follow through on some desire, then it’s not sin right? Wrong. You shall not covet. Discontentment, lust, jealousy, anger, these are all sins whether you follow through with the actions they lead to or not. And that’s really bad news for you and me. Because that’s really damning isn’t it? Because none of us have wholly holy desires. We covet, we become so easily discontent with what we have and throw a fit if we don’t get what we want.
Breaking this commandment is a direct result of breaking the first. It is because we do not fear, love, and trust in God that we are discontent. If we loved God, then what else should we need? If we trusted God, then how could ever be discontent? Won’t He provide?
The good news is that despite our sinful hearts, Christ lived a perfect life. He never coveted, never lusted. He was never discontent with the lot His Father gave to Him. Even hungering in the wilderness, even on the cross, in the most unimaginable pains, when Jesus cried out, “Why?” He still trusted His Father to care and provide. He did that for you. And He died for you in order to cleanse you from all sins of thought, word, and deed and in order to call you to faith in Him, to calm your constant discontentment and teach you to be content in only this – you are His child, your sins are forgiven, heaven is yours. What more do you need?