The Tenth Commandment: My neighbors right to security




We close this series today with the Tenth Commandment!


Exodus 20:17 (KJV)

17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.


Reviewing the Word ‘Neighbor’

·        If you remember, we spent a bit of time on the word ‘neighbor’

·        We saw in commandment 9 ‘you shall not bear false witness against your neighbor’, the admonition to protect a ‘neighbor’ from being falsely accused and entrapped by the legal system

o   Here in this last commandment as in commandment nine, many people quote this commandment as ‘Thou shalt not covet’ but that that is not what how the commandment reads.

o   Important words are tacked to the end of that which are…’thy neighbor’s wife etc.’

·        Remember how we answered the question ‘who is my neighbor’

o   We found out that ‘neighbor’ in the Old Testament did not mean, ‘The person who happened to live next door to you’

o   We understood this by applying proper rules of Bible Interpretation.

·        But ‘neighbor’ is not the only term of this sort in the Bible that works this way. The word ‘friend’ also has deep implications.


Proverbs 18:24 (ESV)

24 A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.


o   The word friend in the Bible is not the same as we use the term in America in the 21st century, where literally everybody is your friend.

o   I used to get a kick out of our children, each of them always had 35 best friends at the same time!

o   Ask yourself this question…

§  What kind of friend is that that sticks closer than a brother?

§  In the Bible the friend that sticks closer than a brother is a blood covenant friend! A person that has entered into Blood Covenant relationship with you.

·        Now, this is also a New Testament idea!


James 1:1 (ESV)

1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings.


o   James considered himself a servant or slave of Jesus even though he was physically his half-brother! Implying that the spiritual relationship of being born-again and partners with the New Covenant indicates a higher level of relationship than physical family ties.

o   If your physical family member is not born-again than the connection that you have to the stranger that sits next to you in church is a higher connection than your own family member.

§  Listen to Jesus here on this matter…


John 15:15 (ESV)

15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.


·        The word ‘servants’ in this verse is in the Old Testament sense not the New Testament sense.

·        ‘Friends’ is in the New Testament Covenant sense


Another ‘Neighbor’ Commandment

·        Exodus 20:17 is another ‘neighbor’ commandment except this one deals with coveting.

·        After identifying who you should not covet from, your neighbor’, the commandment gives lists of examples of things you should not covet

o   Neighbors wife

o   Manservant and maidservant

o   Ox, ass, or anything


·        DEFINITION: covet – to desire or to crave

·        Ask yourself the question, ‘Why did God give this list here’?

o   Coveting in and of itself is ‘strong desire’

o   One of the problems with ‘strong desire’ is that it happens to lead to other actions.

o   So, some of the actions that particularly concern the Lord are the ones that He lists here.


Life is What You Look At

·        People have a tendency to act on what they look at constantly

·        It taps into spiritual law

o   With looking and seeking comes speaking – and when your words or your tongue get involved, all kinds of things take place

·        The spiritual law people tap into with the idea of desire can be phrased like this:

o   “Speak what you seek until you see what you’ve said”

o   The problem comes when you are speaking the wrong thing, because you are looking at the wrong thing.

o   This 10th commandment gives you a list of some things you should not be desiring; things you should not be looking at; things you should not be speaking

o   Rather, we are encouraged in many places in scripture to look at the Word of God instead,

§  To speak what we have sought out in scripture and we keep speaking the Word until we see what God has said

§  We are to keep the Word of God ever before us.


Joshua 1:8 (ESV)

8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.


Psalm 119:5–6 (ESV)

5 Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes! 6 Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.


·        Fixing your eyes on the Word of God instead of your neighbor’s possessions keeps you from potentially hurting your neighbor


Breaking the 10th Commandment Leads to the Breaking of the Other Commandments As Well

·        Understand when an Israelite reached out and coveted his neighbor’s wife, like David did with Bathsheba, that Israelite then had to break some of the other Ten Commandments in order to acquire it.

o   In Davids’ case, he coveted Bathsheba, and…

§  lied – breaking the principle of the 9th commandment

§  committed adultery – breaking the 7th commandment

§  murdered Bathsheba’s husband – breaking the sixth commandment in order to acquire what he coveted.

o   So, the problem with coveting, and why this is addressed last is because breaking this one leads to the breaking of some of the previous ones.

o   Let us drill down into this idea of coveting a bit deeper

o   Can we say this…


A Souped Up Definition of Coveting?

·        DEFINITION: Coveting is desiring…

o   But it is not just simple desire.


o   It is desiring…

§  the wrong thing

§  the wrong way

§  at the wrong time

§  for the wrong reason


·        Coveting is…

o   It is not simply desiring something that we don’t have; it’s desiring something that someone else has.

o   Coveting is allowing your vision for life to be dictated by someone else’s vision or calling for their life


A World Full of Stuff

Matthew 16:26 (ESV)

26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?


·        A ‘whole world’ full of stuff should not be your vision for life

·        Ask yourself some of these questions

o   What would your vision for life be if you did not watch TV?

§  Remember, what you see on TV is a glimpse of what other people have or their vision for life

o   What would you do if you had unlimited resources and unlimited time?

§  At the bare minimum, the answer should be…

·        The stuff you have should be the stuff you need to fulfill the vision God gave you for your life.

·        You have to have the vision before you get the stuff.

·        Sometimes you purchased things because you coveted them and you know from experience that you never end up using that stuff like you thought you would.

·        Why? It doesn’t meet the vision for your life.


·        Another question to ask is…

o   What is prosperity for me?

§  God promised us prosperity. But, is it all the same level? What is prosperity for you?

§  Is prosperity a fancy car like a Rolls Royce? Therefore, does that mean that we are all supposed to have one?

§  What if we do not have one, what does that mean? Does it mean that there is something wrong with us or with our faith?

o   The answer to these questions is a resounding no!!!

o   Consider for example, a missionary that is ministering in the jungles of some remote area trying to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to those people.

§  What is prosperity for this missionary?

§  What would a missionary do with a Rolls Royce in the middle of the jungle?

§  That is not prosperity for that person.

§  Prosperity for that missionary would be 4 wheel drive truck so he could get where he needs to go to do what God called him to do.

§  Our idea of godly prosperity is often tainted by American capitalism and what we are gazing at.


o   Stuff should be according to the vision. And it should not be a ‘world full of stuff’.

o   Ask yourself ‘What do you need to do what God called you to do?’

o   That is what you should ultimately desire.




·        In the New Testament environment covetousness is reprehensible to a God who has already communicated to you that He would supply all your need according to His riches in glory.

o   God’s message is simply

§  “You do not have to covet and be envious over your neighbor’s possessions. What they have I can supply for you.”

o   Our position on possessions should rather be to rejoice at your neighbor being blessed.

§  But not just to rejoice because your neighbor has stuff but rejoice because you know your turn is coming!!!

§  We do not have to be envious or covetousness where blessings are concerned because God is an equal opportunity God!

§  Your turn is coming!