This week we will complete our review of the Ten Commandments with the Tenth Commandment. Failure to obey this commandment has probably led to more world conflict than any other commandment, although failure to obey any of them has contributed to deterioration of the quality of life here on earth. So, what does this Tenth Commandment tell us to do to have peace on earth…keep in mind, this is not a recommendation?
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass (donkey), nor anything that is your neighbors.”
This commandment covers numerous sins that man seem to be born with and exhibits from an early age. Satan knows how to get to man and bring out the worst in him/her. Without God to conduct us through life, this sin of greed can destroy a person. So, what are some of the sins prohibited by the Tenth Commandment?
> Being discontent with the state in which God has us. (1 Cor. 10:10)
> Envy and Jealousy. (Gal. 5:26; Jam. 3:14, 16)
> Being grieved or angry at the good or well-being of others. (Ps. 112:9-10)
> Greed and evil desires. (Col. 3:5)
Then also there are some duties required in the Tenth Commandment:
> Be content with what you have. (Heb. 13:5; 1 Tim. 6:6)
> Be concerned for the interest of others, as well as yourself. (Phil. 2:4)
> Empathize with others. (Rom. 12:15)
> Have a clear conscience toward God and others. (1 Tim. 1:5)
The law not only has a requirement of the actions of men but also the hearts of men. Jesus addressed this in the Sermon on the Mount, teaching that we are to not hate our brother or lust after a woman. That is internal as well as external obedience to God’s commandments. The Scripture says we are to “covet earnestly the best gifts.” To desire earnestly the things of God is what we are called to do. Evil covetousness or gain is condemned. Honest gain and Godly covetousness are not. King David certainly broke the Tenth Commandment…he coveted his neighbor’s wife, while also violating the Sixth Commandment, by being guilty of murder through conspiracy to kill.
‘Defraud’ means to take or hold back property, rights, etc. by deceit, trickery, cheating, etc. It includes any attempt to gain something to oneself illegally that belongs to our neighbor. Civil leaders throughout history have often defrauded citizens of their property and rights, and hence, violated the Tenth Commandment. They have done this in many ways, including: enacting laws restricting property rights…both external and internal property, unjust taxes…graduated income taxes, inheritance taxes, property taxes, and by over regulation of property and business, seizure of property under unjust claims, and inflationary monetary policies.
Leaders of tyrannical nations like North Korea and Iran attempt to control the beliefs of others. Islam has historically used force or coercion to promote ‘correct’ belief. In recent years many nations have experienced radical homosexuals using the force of law to attempt to make everyone accept their ideas. Examples include: forcing bakers to bake cakes for homosexual weddings with threats of fines or shutting the business or fining a photographer who refused to take pictures for a homosexual wedding. The City of San Antinio passed a law to fine anyone who speaks against homosexuality and prohibiting anyone to serve in city government who opposes sodomy.
Some may think that the commandments constantly tell us what we can’t do, but in reality, they tell us what we can and should do.
> We have the right of freedom of conscience, this includes the principle of contentment in our estates.
> We are to show charity and love to our neighbor. (Luke 10:27; Matt. 25:35-36)
> We are to take care of the sick, elderly, orphan, and widow. (1 Tim. 5:3-16; Deut. 15:7-8; 14:28-29)
> Help those in need by the road. (Deut. 22:4; 23:5)
> Find the owner of lost possessions, including those of your enemy. (Deut. 22:1-3; 23:4)
> Do not wrong or oppress a stranger. (Ex. 22:21; 23:9)
> Do not afflict a widow or orphan. (Ex. 22:22-24)
Likewise, we are to uphold Biblical social justice.
> Treat the poor and rich equally. (Ex. 23,6; Lev. 19:15)
> Uphold the rights of women. (Num. 27:1-8)
> Exercise the principle of building safe buildings, where the owner is liable for injury from his neglect. (Deut. 22:8)
We can also bless our neighbors and community by upholding Biblical ‘poor’ laws which include:
> Allow the hungry to labor and eat to alleviate their immediate needs. (Dt. 23:24-25)
> No interest loans to poor brothers and sisters. (Ex.22:25-27)
> Do not afflict a widow or orphan. (Ex. 22:22-24)
> We are to care for the poor, orphans, and widows in the way God prescribes in His Word. (Deut. 15:7-8, 11)
> How does the Bible define a widow? (1 Tim. 5:3-16) Widows must demonstrate their piety at home, including taking care of any children, grandchildren, or parents. Widows must live a pious life, not be given to sinful things, be of at the age 60 or above, have lived a monogamous life, have a reputation of good works, and not have a family who can care for them.
In closing commentary about the Ten Commandments, they are to be used as a mirror that serves as a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. They serve as the set of rules by which we should govern our lives and grow in maturity. From the civil standpoint, they are to be used as a curb against sinful action in society. There is no man who does not sin (although there are some politicians and political officials who believe that they are sin free). We all stumble in many ways. Every man deserves the curse and wrath of God and to spend eternity separated from Him, which is spiritual death. To escape the wrath of God and eternal death, God requires us to repent of our sins, have faith in Christ’s redeeming work, and use the outward means that Christ communicated the benefits of His mediation (the Word, the sacraments, and prayer). We are to teach God’s commandments and Word to others (not use force to enforce them), both Christian and non-Christian, and uphold it as a blueprint for all of life. Life and blessings come to men and nations to the extent that they live according to His Law-Word. Knowledge of and obedience to His Word is the means of transforming our lives and our nations.
Next week we will look at the involvement the Ten Commandments had in American law and government. We will be able to see that the very founding of this nation used Biblical principles in its organization. Today we see many politicians who believe they know better than these principles in governing a nation. In the process we can see how Satan has taken advantage of this nation to the point that democracy is almost unworkable. Of course, that is what Satan wants, along with the liberal/ communist element that has been ‘elected’ to represent the people.
Personal perspective on life: Before we can find external peace, we must find internal peace. That internal peace comes from God. Once we have attained that internal peace, man can say or dictate whatever he wants, and it will not matter. If my actions are pleasing to God, then pleasing man by following man’s dictates is irrelevant. Today man is passing laws and policies that are counter to God. One day they will be held accountable. As Christians we must be willing to take a stand.