Lesson 15 - Coveting


The Tenth Commandment is thou shall not covet. Since many people do not understand what coveting is, this lesson will explain what it means. Since examples are a great way to learn, I have included at the end of this lesson examples of how people covet. Let's look to the Word of God to learn about the Tenth Commandment. It is written:

Exodus 20:17 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. [Deuteronomy 5:21.]

Deuteronomy 5:21 Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbour's wife, neither shalt thou covet thy neighbour's house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his ass, or any thing that is thy neighbour's.

These verses are stating the 10th Commandment, which is "thou shalt not covet." We learn from these verses that people should not covet anything that belongs to their neighbor. Most people have the wrong idea about what the word coveting means. There are some people that think that coveting means to simply want something. If coveting simply meant wanting, then no person could keep the Tenth Commandment. Every human being wants something. Furthermore, the main reason for praying is to get from God something you want. So, if wanting something was the meaning of coveting, then it would be a sin to pray. There are some people that will claim that the Tenth Commandment means that you should not want something that your neighbor has. Most store sales are made because a person saw something their neighbor has and wanted it. So, if simply wanting something that your neighbor has were the meaning of the Tenth Commandment, no one could keep that Commandment. The truth is that there is no sin in simply wanting something that your neighbor has. So far commonsense lets us know what coveting is not. Yet, we have not found out what coveting is. Perhaps finding out the meaning of the word coveting will help. According to the Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon the Hebrew word that was translated as "covet" in Exodus 20:17 and as "desire" in Deuteronomy 5:21 means, "inordinate, ungoverned, selfish desire." That lets us know that the type of person that covets is the type that selfishly wants to get something from someone and will not follow the laws of God in order to get what he or she wants. Well, that helps a little bit but not enough. So, let's look further into the Word of God to find out what the Tenth Commandment means. It is written:

Mark 10:19 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill [murder], Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother. [1st Thessalonians 4:6.]

In this verse, Jesus is stating Commandments 5 to 10, which are: Honor thy father and thy mother, thou shall not murder, thou shall not commit adultery, thou shall not steal, thou shall not bear false witness, and thou shall not covet. As should be easy to see, Jesus stated the 10th Commandment by saying, "Defraud not." That is because "coveting" is when a person uses defrauding means to get what he or she wants. It is written:

Romans 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.

The Greek word that was translated "lust" means, "A longing (especially for what is forbidden), desire, lust after." The Greek word that was translated "covet" means, "to set your heart upon." In other words, the person becomes so fixated on getting something that the person is willing to do defrauding things in order to get it. So, what Paul is saying means, "I would never have known that it was wrong to do defrauding things to get what I want, if God had not said that people should not covet." So, to lust is the same as to covet.

Does that mean that every time the word "lust" appears in the Bible that it means "to use defrauding means to get what one wants"? No. Sometimes the word that was translated "lust" should have been translated as "desire" or "yearn." An example is Deuteronomy 14:26, which declares that a person can buy the food that the person lusteth after. That verse does not mean that a person can buy the food that the person uses defrauding means to get. It means that the person can buy the food that the person desires to eat. Therefore, the correct translation of the Hebrew word should have been yearns or desires rather than lusteth. Unfortunately, the original translators of the King James Version of the Bible often translated the original Hebrew or Greek words by using the word "lust." The way to know the correct meaning is by looking at the subject the verse is declaring.

Examples of Coveting

The most common example to show the meaning of coveting is when a man wants to have premarital sex with a woman. That type of man will often agree with whatever the woman says, even if he truly does not agree with her, and he will say whatever he thinks that woman wants to hear just so that he can trick her into having intercourse with him without him having to marry her. That type of man is using defrauding means to get what he wants from that woman. In other words, that man is breaking the Commandments by coveting that woman.

Another example is when a woman portrays herself to be different than she really is in order to get a man to marry her. Let's say that Perry is a handsome, well educated, and out going man who is attracted to very shapely women. Let's also say that Marla wants Perry to be her husband. However, Marla is completely flat-chested. Therefore, Marla stuffs her bra in order to appear to be a big breasted woman, so that she can deceive Perry into dating her. Marla is breaking the Commandment by coveting Perry. Some people will cover up the evil that Marla's type does by claiming that she used deception to get married because she loved the man. They are wrong. Deceiving a person into marriage is the same as saying, "I know that I am not what you want and that you would never marry me, if you knew the truth. But I do not care that you never get what you want. All I care about is getting what I want from you. That is why I am willing to do things to deceive you into marrying me." That is not love. That is hate. Marla's type often defends their deceiving ways by saying, "All's fair in love and war." That saying is of the devil. Whenever a woman portrays her character or physical features differently than they are in order to get something from a man or even something else from another person, she is breaking the Commandments by coveting.

It is also the same if a man lies about himself in order to get a woman to marry him. There are men who borrow a lot of money to spend on dates in order to pretend to be rich, so that they can attract and trap a particular woman into marriage. Once that woman marries that type of man, then he expects her to live like a pauper by knit picking about every penny she wants to spend. When the woman claims that he deceived her and that she wants out of the marriage, she is often told that there is nothing she can do because she agreed to accept him for richer or for poorer. Those people are wrong. There is a big difference between a poor man deceiving a woman into marriage by making her think that he is rich and a woman knowing before marriage that a man is poor and agreeing to accept him. If the woman had known the truth about the man being poor before she married him, she might not have married him. There is also a big difference between being deceived into marriage to a poor man and marrying a man that after marriage becomes poor because something bad happens. Deception is a legitimate reason for divorce. So, if a man lies to a woman to get her to marry him, he is guilty of using defrauding means to get her to marry him. Therefore, that man is guilty of breaking the Tenth Commandment by coveting that woman. Whenever a man portrays himself differently than he is in order to get something from a woman or even something from another person, he is breaking the Commandments by coveting.

While listening to a radio program, a woman caller said, "I believe that all I must do in order to obey God is to keep the Ten Commandments. So, there is nothing wrong with my engaging in premarital sex." She is wrong. People who engage in premarital sex are breaking the Commandments by coveting. The women who engage in premarital sex do so in order to get something from the man. It could be that she wants the man to marry her, or to hire her in his company, or to give her a promotion. The reason could also be that she wants to seduce a man into giving her information or she wants to get him to help her, such as getting him to help her murder someone. A woman, who engages in premarital sex, rarely, if ever, deals honestly with a man about her aim for engaging in premarital sex with him. That type usually will either say or give him a look that says that she is willing to let him have sex with her and there will be no strings attached. It is usually after the man accepts her so-called free offer that she tries to get from him what she slept with him to get. Therefore, she is using defrauding ways to get what she wants from him. In other words, a woman that engages in premarital sex is breaking the Commandments by coveting.

It is the same when a man engages in premarital sex. The main reason a man engages in premarital sex is that he wants to prove that he is not a homosexual. Therefore, he is looking for a woman whose body he can use. However, that type never declares to the woman that he is simply out to use her body. Instead, he will lie to her by claiming that he loves her. Another reason a man engages in premarital sex is that he wants to build up his ego by bragging to his friends about his sex life. That type also does not deal honestly with the women he meets. Instead, he will lie to a woman by acting and talking as if he loves the woman. Afterwards, that type of man will leave her and go to find another woman to deceive. Some men might be saying, "I am always honest with the women I have premarital sex with." That is doubtful. That type would have to outwardly tell the woman that he does not love her but simply wants to use her body to please his own. Most, if not all, women would never agree to have premarital sex with that type of man. Some men might be saying, "Before I married my wife we had sex because we loved each other and could not wait until marriage." That type of man is only saying that because he wants to delude himself and others into thinking that he is a nice guy. If that type of man truly loved the woman, he would have shown respect to her by marrying her first instead of degrading her by making her his whore. Also, did he nag her to marry him the day after they had sex? I doubt it. Rarely, if ever, does that type of man start nagging the woman as to when they are going to get married. That type of man usually only marries the woman after the woman has nagged him for months and months about marrying her. So, he did not have premarital sex with her because he loved her so much that he could not wait until marriage. He simply gave her a line, so that he could have sex with her without having to be married to her. Then, after she kept nagging him to keep his word to marry her, he married her because he felt obligated and shamed into keeping his word. That is not love. Whenever a man engages in premarital sex he is breaking the Commandments by coveting.

Since breaking the Tenth Commandment does not only pertain to sex, let's look at two different examples of coveting. (1) Sara works for Harry. Phyllis wants Sara's job. So, every chance Phyllis can get she says to Sara things like, "Oh, Sara, I do not know how you can stand working for Harry. He is the worse boss to work for in this company. Harry is so demanding. Can't you find a better boss to work for?" Finally, after months and months of hearing Phyllis complain about Harry, Sara becomes disillusioned with her job and quits. Phyllis quickly applies for the job and gets it. Phyllis is guilty of using defrauding means to get Sara's job. Therefore, Phyllis is guilty of breaking the Tenth Commandment by coveting Sara's job. Furthermore, by Phyllis lying about Harry, Phyllis is also guilty of breaking the Ninth Commandment by bearing false witness against Harry. (2) Lou wants to get his sister's money. So, Lou says to his sister, "Sis, I need $10,000 or my life will be ruined. I will lose everything. Please loan me the money. I promise I will pay you the money back. Please, sis, please." After his sister loans him the money, Lou never repays the money. To borrow something and not return the item is an underhanded way of stealing the item. Therefore, Lou is guilty of using defrauding means to steal his sister's money, which means that Lou is guilty of breaking the Tenth Commandment and the Eighth Commandment. The Word of God declares that if you break one Commandment, you have broken all Ten Commandments. So, Phyllis and Lou are heading for serious punishments on Judgment Day, if they do not repent.

The bottom line to the Tenth Commandment is that if a person uses defrauding means to get anything that belongs to someone else, the person is breaking the Commandments by coveting. Therefore, if a person uses defrauding means to get another person's job, money, house, spouse, child, car, or anything else that belongs to another person, the person is coveting.

The law about not coveting is a fabulous law because it promotes honesty. God wants people to deal in an honest way with each other. Only the people who deal with people in an honest way can keep that Commandment. Therefore, if a person wants to keep the Ten Commandments, the person must cultivate an honest character. Furthermore, only a person who keeps the Ten Commandments can be a follower of the Lord. A person who breaks the Ten Commandments can neither be a follower of the Lord nor saved.