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.”
By this commandment the law reaches into our inmost lives, to touch the very thoughts and intents of the heart. As we have seen, each of the Ten Commandments addresses a much broader area than is initially indicated in the words expressed.
That is why the Heidelberg Catechism, in expounding the law, does not pay attention to the narrow meaning of each commandment, but opens it up in its broadest application. It also applies that law very personally. “What doth the tenth commandment require of us?”
By this approach the Catechism accomplishes three things. First, it examines the tenth commandment itself, calling attention to the spiritual character of the law. Secondly, it compares us with that law and teaches us to understand the reality of our imperfection. Finally, the Catechism speaks of the importance of the law for our spiritual nurture, as it is preached to us and applied to us by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The tenth commandment, as the culmination of the law, demands perfection before the holy God. It requires of us “that even the smallest inclination or thought contrary to any of God’s commandments never rise in our hearts; but that at all times we hate all sin with our whole heart, and delight in all righteousness.” Obedience to God is fundamentally a matter of the heart, and not merely a matter of outward conformity to His precepts. It is exactly for that reason that Paul wrote in Rom 7:7, “I had not known sin...except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” Until Paul came to a spiritual understanding of the tenth commandment, and saw that the law of God reaches into the deepest recesses of the heart, will and nature, he thought as a Pharisee, namely, that his own outward observance of the precepts of the law marked him as obedient. However, when he saw himself as God sees him, he saw his sin in all those small inclinations or thoughts that arose in his mind and heart, then he understood the bondage to sin and the corruption of his own flesh, and the true nature of the law in the light of God’s perfect holiness.
Steven R. Key (Wife: Nancy)
Ordained: September 1986
Pastorates: Southeast, Grand Rapids, MI - 1986; Randolph, WI - 1991; Hull, IA - 2000; Loveland, CO - March 2010Website: https://sites.google.com/site/lovelandprctest1/home
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