1 Peter 1:15-16: “But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”
The positive calling of the tenth commandment is set forth in I Pet 1:15-16, where the inspired apostle repeats the Word of God as set forth in the Old Testament in the last part of Leviticus 11. The apostle sets forth the call to holiness in contrast to that way of life which characterizes us by nature. In contrast to that lust which is the expression of covetousness, we are to be holy, as God is holy.
As we consider the tenth commandment, we must understand that the law does not merely forbid us from wanting things that we do not have. That, in itself, is not necessarily wrong. We are commanded by Scripture in I Cor12:31, e.g., to “covet earnestly the best gifts”. There are proper desires, virtuous desires, as well as the natural, in-created desires for food and drink.
What the tenth commandment forbids is unlawful desiring, that is, wanting anything apart from God, or contrary to His will. That is why Exo 20:17 speaks of those things that God has given to the neighbour, and not to us. That is the perspective as well in I Tim 6:8 and following, where we are called to contentment, having food and raiment.
Covetousness is essentially idolatry. Thus the tenth commandment ties us back to the first. We have gone full circle! Whoso violates even the least of these commandments, violates them all (Jam 2:10)! The first commandment, forbidding idolatry, is directed first to our outward life of worship and confession, and only then reaches into the idolatry of the heart. But the tenth commandment touches especially our hearts’ desires in relation to the world and the things of this world. Covetousness, therefore, is principally the same as idolatry of the heart. In fact, Scripture sometimes identifies the two together (Eph 5:5, Col 3:5). Positively, our obedience to God must be obedience from the heart. We are to be holy through and through! In accordance with Christ’s command in Matt 5:48, we are called by the tenth commandment to be perfect, even as our Father in heaven is perfect!
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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