Afternoon Sermon: What Is The Tenth Commandment, And What Does It Require And Forbid?, Baptist Catechism 84 – 86, Leviticus 19:9–18

Baptist Catechism 84 – 86

Q. 84. Which is the tenth commandment?

A. The tenth commandment is, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his man servant, nor his maid servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor’s.” (Exodus 20:17)

Q. 85. What is required in the tenth commandment?

A. The tenth commandment requireth full contentment with our own condition, with a right and charitable frame of spirit towards our neighbor, and all that is his. (Heb. 13:5;1 Tim. 6:6; Rom. 12:15; 1 Cor. 13:4-7; Lev. 19:18)

Q. 86. What is forbidden in the tenth commandment?

A. The tenth commandment forbiddeth all discontentment with our own estate, envying or grieving at the good of our neighbor, and all inordinate motions and affections to anything that is his. (1 Cor. 10:10; James 5:9; Gal. 5:26; Col. 3:5)

Scripture Reading: Leviticus 19:9–18

“When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God. You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another. You shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God: I am the LORD. You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired worker shall not remain with you all night until the morning. You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God: I am the LORD. You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor. You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor: I am the LORD. You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:9–18, ESV)


Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.


I would like to begin this afternoon by making some general observations about the tenth commandment in relation to the other nine, for the tenth commandment, which is “Thou shalt not covet”, is somewhat unique. 

For one, this commandment is only kept in the heart and in the mind. The other commandments are to be kept in the heart and mind too, but they may also be broken or kept with words and with actions. But covetousness is a sin of the heart. It is an invisible sin. There is no way to covet with one’s lips or to covet in action. 

Now, covetousness in the heart will inevitably produce sinful words and sinful deeds, but those sinful words and deeds will be something other than covetousness. In fact, the one who is wise will see that violations of the other nine commandments do often (if not always) spring up from a covetous heart. Some connections are obvious. Men and women often steal because they are discontent in the heart. They wish to have more than what they have. They wish to possess what others possess, and so they steal. Men and women will lie for the same reason. Adultery also proceeds from the sin of covetousness. In fact, covetousness in the heart will also drive violations of the first table of the law, which has to do with the proper worship of God. Think of Adam’s sin of eating the forbidden fruit. That sin was really about worship. Adam was to have God as God. But instead, Adam listened to the voice of the another. And why did he do it? Why did he violate the first commandment, which was written on his heart?  He listened to the words of the serpent who convinced him that there was more to be had, that God was holding out on him somehow. So, in a sense, it was covetousness that drove Adam to rebel against his Maker and to worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator. 

So then, though it is true that covetous is a sin of the heart, that does not mean that it is any less serious than the other sins. No, an argument could be made that it is a most serious offense, for it does produce all other violations of God’s law.   

I would urge you to reflect carefully upon this, and if you do I think you will agree that covetousness (or discontentment) in the heart is like a polluted spring that bubbles up producing many vile and unpleasant things.

James speaks to this in James 4, where he asks, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.” (James 4:1–2, ESV)

Did you hear what James said? Where does murder come from? It starts with covetousness in the heart. Where do unjust wars come from? Covetousness in the heart. Where do our quarrels and fights come from? Often they spring forth from the covetousness that resides with our hearts.

Let me be very specific. How many times have you been cranky and short-tempered with others because… things aren’t going the way that you want them to go. Things are this way, but you want them to be that way, and from that discontent heart, all manner of evil does flow.

Now, think bigger. Think beyond the disappointing day and consider the course of one’s life. Immagine the evil and destruction that will flow from a heart that is discontent with life! 

The point is this: do not mess around with covetousness, brothers and sisters. Stated positively: pursue contentment in life, for “godliness with contentment is great gain…” (1 Timothy 6:6, ESV).

And what is the remedy to discontentment? The remedy is love. Love for God, and love for your fellow man. 

Love for God, and assurance of his love for us, will help to guard our hearts against discontentment regarding his will for us. 

The writer of Ecclesiastes speaks to this when he says, “Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God. For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart.” (Ecclesiastes 5:18–20, ESV)

Are you content with your lot in life, brothers and sisters? Are you content with God’s will for you? 

Think of it, it was God’s will for you to be born at a particular time, in a particular place, to particular parents. It was God’s will that you were born a certain gender, with a certain color of skin, not to mention many other physical features that are unique to you. And it was God’s will for you to have particular gifts, resources, and even experience. Are you content with these? Are you grateful to God? Or has your heart been overrun with discontentment before him. 

To love God is to be grateful towards him. And this is why I have said that love for God is a remedy to covetousness. 

But some will respond saying, but what about the hardships that I have endured? What about the suffering? The scriptures do speak to this, don’t they? They command the child of God to rejoice even in the trials and tribulations of life knowing that God works through them for good. This requires faith. This is a perspective that must be maintained. To be content we must love God, and we also must be assured of his love for us. 

Pursue contentment, brothers and sisters. It is great gain. But sometimes it is hard to get and maintain. It is especially hard to get and maintain during times of suffering. By no means am I denying that. But pursue it in Christ Jesus nonetheless. 

It seems to me that covetousness and discontentment is running rampant in our society today. Men and women are discontent with just about everything it seems. And this all begins with their hostility with God. They have no love for God, and they are thoroughly dissatisfied with God’s will for them, and so they war against it continuously by seeking to be god’s themselves. They decide for themselves what is right and wrong, and they even seek to overrule who it is that God made them to be. 

And such were some of you, but you have been washed in the blood of the lamb, and renewed by the Holy Spirit. Of all people, we should be content before God. 

Love for God is a remedy against discontentment, and so too is love for our fellow man. Instead of coveting what others have, if we love them we will rejoice with them concerning their prosperity. Are you poor? Do not look at your brother who is rich, covet his wealth, and complain against God that you do not have what he has. Rather, be grateful to God and rejoice in your brother’s prosperity with love in your heart for him. The very same thing may be said regarding the sick in relation to the healthy, the single in relation to the married, the childless in relation to those with children, etc. These are difficult issues to work through, brethren. By no means am I denying that they are difficult. But we must work through them with love in our hearts — love for God and love for neighbor. 


Leviticus 19:9–18

Perhaps you noticed that that is how the Leviticus 19:9–18 passage that I read earlier concluded. That passage commanded all kinds of things in regard to our relationship with our neighbor. We are to care for the “poor and for the sojourner”. We must “not steal” or “deal falsely”. We must not “lie to one another”. Neither shall we “oppress”  or withhold from our neighbor, etc. In that passage sins of the heart are also forbidden — hatred and grudge-bearing. But it is all summed up with this command — “you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.” (see Leviticus 19:9–18, ESV)



Love is the remedy to covetousness, brothers and sisters. Love your neighbor as yourself. But love God above all. That is the key. We need to find our satisfaction in him and to be content with his will for us, for God is good, all the time. 

Comments are closed.

"Him we proclaim,
warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom,
that we may present everyone mature in Christ."
(Colossians 1:28, ESV)

© 2011-2022 Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church