"You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's." Exodus 20:17; cf. Deuteronomy 5:21
This commandment of the LORD teaches us that God requires not only outward holiness but inward holiness, as well. Not only are our actions to be pure, but our thoughts and desires.
Thus, we learn that we not only sin when we commit adultery or take our neighbor's property or goods; we sin when we desire what belongs to our neighbor and is not rightfully ours.
As the commandment says, we are not to covet or desire our neighbor's house, his wife, his servants or employees, his stock, or any of his property. Rather, we are to trust in the LORD God and be satisfied in Him and in that which He has given us.
The Bible teaches us that "each man is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lust and enticed. Then, when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin; and when sin is finished, it brings forth death" (James 1:14-15).
We may not realize it, but our hearts, as they are by our fallen nature, are filled with evil thoughts and desires. When we entertain these thoughts and desires, they grow and often lead to sinful words and actions.
Jesus said, "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual immorality, thefts, false witness, and blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man" (Matt. 15:19-20).
This is why God warns against the sin of covetousness; it is contrary to God's will and desire for us, and it often leads to acts of disobedience and rebellion. The Bible is filled with examples. David lusted after Bathsheba and took her, even murdering Uriah to cover up his sin of adultery. King Ahab coveted Naboth's vineyard and murdered to get it. Judas desired money and betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.
Rather than coveting, which leads to death, the LORD God would have us trust in Him and be satisfied with what He gives us. The Bible tells us: "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths" (Prov. 3:5-6; cf. Psalm 37:3ff).
From this commandment, we are taught that God commands and desires that we be truly holy as He is holy -- in our thoughts, desires, words, and deeds (cf. Lev. 19:2; Matt. 5:48).
Though we have miserably failed to keep God's holy commandments, Jesus Christ, God's only-begotten Son made man, has fulfilled them for us by living a holy life in thought, word, and deed. And, He also went to the cross and suffered there the full punishment for our sins and the sins of the entire world that we might have God's pardon and forgiveness, and life everlasting in heaven through faith in His name (cf. 1 John 1:5 -- 2:2).
God would have us repent of our sinful desires and thoughts, as well as our sinful words and deeds, and look in faith to Jesus and His perfect sacrifice on the cross for pardon, forgiveness, and life everlasting (cf. Acts 3:19-21; John 3:14-18).
O dearest Jesus, forgive me for my evil thoughts and desires as well as for my sinful words and actions. Cleanse my heart and give me a genuine desire to live for You. I ask this for the sake of your holy and precious blood, shed for me upon the cross. Amen.
[Scripture is quoted from The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House. Devotion is by Randy Moll. He may be contacted at [email protected]. More of Moll's devotional writings reflecting the teaching of the Bible may be freely read at https://goodshepherdonline.org. Opinions expressed are those of the author.]