Commandment 10 do not covet

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

This is the only commandment that deals directly with a person’s interior world. To covet is to desire to possess that which does not belong to you. It is a state of the heart. To covet is to express discontentment with what you have been given. It is a posture of ingratitude that begets misery and bitterness. Left unchecked, it can drive us to violent actions. Like all wickedness, it is easiest to deal with covetousness when it is still a matter of the heart. Do not let it get any bigger than that. Do not let it leave your heart and manifest itself in words and actions that cannot be taken back. Kill it in your heart so that it does not kill you.

The antidote to covetousness is twofold: gratitude and contentment. To battle with a desire of the heart we must raise up a new and godly posture of the heart. This battle will only be won in your interior world, where your thoughts and desires have their home. Fight against the desire to possess what does not belong to you by being grateful for, and content with, what you already have.

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“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.”

Lying is wrong, and it is especially evil when done in a court of law. This is what is prohibited by this commandment – the specific act of giving false testimony against someone in matters of justice. There can be no justice if the courts are corrupt and all the witnesses lie. False testimony erodes the bedrock upon which a society is built. No one is safe when false accusations and false testimony are allowed into a judicial system. Neighbor will turn against neighbor. Chaos will ensue and the social fabric will be torn apart.

In our society, where people are so often tried in the court of public opinion, it is essential that we have an honest and trustworthy media. Obviously, we do not. All of our media is unabashedly biased toward their own political ends and financial bottom lines that they can no longer be trusted to tell us the truth about anything important. They no longer inform; they only reassure. And what is the result of all of this deception and disinformation? The division and hatred of the people. In a culture of lies our only disposition toward our neighbor can be one of suspicion and hatred. It takes the truth to build a culture of love, and to fulfill the second greatest commandment: Love your neighbor as yourself.

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Commandment 8 do not steal

“You shall not steal.”

Once again, we come to a simple command: Don’t steal. Don’t take what doesn’t belong to you. You do not have a right to other people’s property. When the commandment to not steal was issued, the average person’s livelihood depended upon their animals, land, and equipment. In those days most of what a person owned was used to keep their family clothed and fed – in other words, to stay alive. The theft of a pot, scythe, or a blanket could have dire consequences. The prohibition against theft not only maintains a well-ordered society, but also protects the lives of the poor, who rarely had the resources to simply replace a stolen item.

The concept of private property comes under fire from time to time. We live in such a time, as our elites are touting The Great Reset, assuring us, “You will own nothing, and you will be happy.” This belief dates back to Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who wrote that private property is the root of all evil. Karl Marx, his ideological heir, famously took this idea to its logical conclusion, birthing communism to disastrous effect. It is astounding that this idea is still en vogue after its implementation has slaughtered so many millions, but real-world outcomes have never deterred our academics from embracing radical ideas, so long as they themselves never have to face the consequences.

Do not give to those who take but do give to those in need.

God neither honors nor condemns the idea of private property; he simply assumes it. We cannot yet say if private property will be a part of God’s new creation, but it is a part of this one. It seems to me that, in a fallen world, we need to own certain things that we have an exclusive claim to – food, shelter, and clothing to be specific. This commandment protects these things, while other commands tell us to be generous, especially with those in need. God’s answer to the problem raised by Rousseau and Marx (if they even have a point to begin with, which, given the projection and hypocrisy of those scoundrels, I doubt) is twofold: prohibit theft and demand generosity. Do not give to those who take but do give to those in need. What is yours is yours, but all that we own is to be held with open hands.

Commandment 7 Do not commit adultery

“You shall not commit adultery.”

G.K. Chesterton said, “If men will not be governed by the Ten Commandments, they shall be governed by the ten thousand commandments.” The point is that in the brevity of these commandments, both in number and in the words used, God is acting toward us in mercy. He could have easily overwhelmed us with commands, exceptions, and rules upon rules (which is what the Pharisees did), but he did not do this. He gave us ten simple commands like this one: Don’t commit adultery. Its brevity is its mercy; its universality is its severity.

Scripture presents God’s ideal of sexual union between husband and wife as an exclusive relationship. Neither the man nor the woman may be sexually active with anyone else, for the marriage bed is to be honored and kept holy. While other societies allowed for married men (but not women) to sleep around with other people (who were themselves unmarried), the God of Israel nowhere makes such allowances. The people of God, both men and women, are prohibited from all manner of sexual license. Sex is the union of a man and his wife. Everything else is considered sin.

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“You shall not murder.”

Most of us are more familiar with the King James phrasing of this verse, “Thou shalt not kill.” Using the word “kill” instead of “murder,” however, can be a bit misleading, and cause us to misunderstand the meaning of this commandment. This verse prohibits the intentional, unjustifiable killing of a human being. The Hebrew term used here specifically refers to homicide, not to killing in general. Scripture does not prohibit all killing, whether of animals or even of humans. Many animal sacrifices are prescribed in the Mosaic Law, and several commands call for the death penalty if broken.

Taken in its broader Scriptural context, this commandment tells us that we cannot act as judge, jury, and executioner. While it does not prohibit the death penalty, neither does it necessarily encourage pacifism or vegetarianism. To put it bluntly, we can kill animals for food and even kill other humans, so long as that killing meets certain justifications. (Some examples would be the demands of justice, a just war, or self-defense.) Murder, however, is never justified.

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