Category Archives: The Ten Commandments

Commandment #10 – Do not covet

Opening Question

Name 3 things that you already have and are thankful for.

Exodus 20:17

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

In the beginning (5 mins)

Once again we turn our minds to Genesis 1-3 and consider what is there that speaks to covetousness. What do we see is our focus in life?

Genesis 1:31-2:1 – God made everything very good. It was complete and full of life.

Genesis 2:7-9, 15-18 – God continued to bring everything into being. He made man from the earth and gave him everything to enjoy. He was not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The big idea here is that mankind did not create, establish or struggle for existence and plenty. God created and gave generously.

Genesis 3:6 – they took and ate after they looked and considered how good it looked. They wanted what was not theirs to take and what they did not need.

*God created all things to be dependent on him and to live in harmony with his order and will. Life is not defined by objects but by relationships, especially to God and his will

The command to Israel (5 mins)

What is listed as things to potentially covet in the 10th commandment?

House, wife (or husband), slave (or Jim’s lawnmowing service), ox or donkey (or VW Tiguan), or anything that belongs to your neighbour.

Israel’s history (10 mins)

Read Psalm 49. What is the conviction of this Psalmist? See also Ecclesiastes 2:1-11.

Wealth may look appealing but it will not defeat the grave. Note verse 16 tells us not to be in awe of the rich and verse 18 warns us against being seen by others as successful. You can’t take it with you. What is most valuable, according to this Psalm is understanding.

The Gospel (10 mins)

Jesus warned against giving our hearts to riches on earth that are stolen and fade in Matthew 6. He did so also in Luke 12. Read the following and discuss how easy it is to be living like the rich fool (12:20) and pagans (12:30)!

  • Luke 12:13-21
  • Luke 12:22-34

The command is to not covet. What is the cause of coveting according to Verse 32? 

Fear. Jesus said, ‘do not worry’ in the Matthew 6 account. 

What do we replace coveting (or fear) with according to Luke 12:28,31,32?

God has already given us the kingdom. We already have everything we will ever need. For today, we will need to exercise our faith and trust him. In this life, we may see others with more and apparently easier lives (a lie) but our hope is not for heaven right now. We have a Father who loves us, a Lord who gave his life for us and a kingdom prepared for us and promised. 

Christian Living (15 mins)

We know that God created life and everything in it. We know that turning to Christ is about receiving a kingdom that can never perish spoil or fade. And we know that our greatest test is to put our trust in God (faith) and live for the kingdom. 

The New Testament throws reason after reason to stop hoping that this world will deliver and turn our hearts to God who has promised us everything we need. Either read through the following three passages and turn them to prayer or focus on 1 Timothy 6:6-12a.

Ephesians 1:3-10 lists out how much we have received in Christ!

1 Peter 1:3-9 reminds us that we have been given new life into a living hope through the resurrection. The time of struggling is only or this world and is there to mature us as we learn to lean on God and love him more and more.

Read 1 Timothy 6:6-12a and turn it into prayer. Being the final week on the 10 commandments, it might be appropriate to consider how we need to repent and turn back to God and live our lives for him.

But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 

11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life.

Commandment #9 – Do Not Lie

Opening Question

What are some ways that we can break the 9th commandment?

This question deliberately gets to the application because, in some ways, it is not hard to read this commandment and brainstorm ways of lying – we are very good at it! The study takes us from the lies of the Serpent in the garden to the lies of the religious leaders at the courtroom on Good Friday. We need to confront the idea that deception is the key ingredient of sin. The study ends being directed to confess that we are sinners that need saving. Having this question at the start of the study enables things like gossiping and cheating to be laid out on the table straight up.

Exodus 20:16

“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour.”

In the beginning (5 mins)

Compare Genesis 2:16 with Genesis 3:1-4. What can you make of the first interrogation recorded in the bible? See also John 8:44.

The serpent twists the emphasis of God’s message: from “eat freely except one tree” – to – “you cannot eat freely!”

Eve adds to God’s message by saying that they cannot even touch it.

Both are giving a false account of what was said by God. A twist and an addition or alteration. The differences are subtle but made a huge impact on the future of mankind!

The command to Israel (5 mins)

The command has been summarised in the heading as “do not lie” but this may cloud the importance of this order. Read and discuss the following references. What is at stake when this law is ignored?

Exodus 20:16

Exodus 23:1-8

The wellbeing of others, especially the weak, are at stake. Unlawful suffering and injustice is at the heart of this command. Cheating, self gain, gossip, injustice and stealing through lies are all in view here. Who wants to live in a world where we cannot trust one another? Well, this is our reality.

NB: your group may pick up where our study is headed when seeing this passage. If the injustice to Jesus comes up, let it flow. Better to allow your group to see things for themselves than to squash inspiration for the sake of the leader’s agenda!

Israel’s history (10 mins)

Jeremiah laments and weeps over his country because their lying tongues have turned them away from God. Read Jeremiah 8:4-12 and Jeremiah 9:1-9. How much like our own society does this sound? Where does it challenge us?

  • Jeremiah 8:4-12
    • The attack here is a national one. Israel are charging away from God and ‘they cling to deceit.’ They are lying to themselves as if they are doing what is right. God wants repentance. They do not call the people to repent but declare that all is well. Their lying means no salvation.
  • Jeremiah 9:1-9
    • The attention here is at the ground level. No one in the land can be trusted. Each of them speaks deceit. Israel is the land of deception. In their deceit they refuse to acknowledge Yahweh. Sound like home?

The Gospel (10 mins)

Read through these references in John’s gospel to hear the gospel account through the theme of truth.

  • John 1:14,17; 4:23-24; 7:18; 8:32, 44-46; 14:6, 17; 16:13; 17:17; 18:37-38; 19:35

We can also look at three accounts in Mark’s gospel to see how much people will embrace a lie and reject the truth.

  • Mark 7:14-23
    • The problem of this world is not the things that we do but why we do them. The problem is our hearts that are deceived and live for ourselves rather than for God. Deception is fundamental to sin because we deceive ourselves about what makes us right.
  • Mark 12:13-17
    • The scheme of the Pharisees and Herodians was to ‘catch [Jesus] in his words. They identified that Jesus is a man of integrity and is not swayed by people. Jesus sees that their flattery is a trick – they come to him showing respect but they hide their intentions. “But Jesus knew their hypocrisy”. Jesus’ response was effectively to be transparent and give to whomever is owed. Don’t appear to live for God but really be living for yourself.
  • Mark 14:53-65
    • The people loved lies greater than truth. The truth offended them. They accepted anything as true as long as they got what they wanted: Jesus crucified.

Christian Living (15 mins)

Commandment number 9 is simple: do not lie. But the truth of the matter is that this world loves to lie – to live the lie and even kill for the lie. The epistles challenge us to stop lying to one another. We can focus on the symptoms of a lying attitude such as cheating, stealing, gossip and slander, hypocrisy and such. Or we could read 1 John 1:5-10 and be encouraged to put off all falsehood at its core and live as saved sinners.

1 John 1:5-10

5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 

8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

Commandment #8 – Do not steal

Opening Question

What motivates stealing?

Exodus 20:15

You shall not steal.

In the beginning (5 mins)

Read Genesis 2:8-17 (esp. 16-17). Discuss what is written there in the context of not stealing.

The huge positive in this section is the generosity of God to give to mankind a) an established garden and b) freedom to eat from anything in that garden. God has provided generously. The only thing forbidden is the one thing that they will desire enough to rebel. See Genesis 3:6.

The command to Israel (5 mins and optional)

The command in Exodus 20:15 is to not steal. As an exercise in getting to know the commandments, where does it fit in the order and is there a logic to it?

The following are ways of seeing the commandments. A guided discussion may allow people to observe things for themselves and there is no need to exhaust this for the sake of this study.

Commandments 1-4 can be characterised as Israel’s identity. They are monotheistic nation, unified in their worship of Yahweh and no other; strange in their refusal to worship him through images and monuments; charged with the sacredness of using his name carefully and demonstrating their national confidence in Yahweh by resting and celebrating the rest because He is the God who provides. Deut 6:5.

Commandment 5 provides the framework by which each generation will sustain their knowledge and commitment to the covenant with the LORD. Future generations will learn that the LORD is one and to be devoted to him only (Deut 6).

Commandments 6-10 are concerned with character and holiness – the horizontal relationships. Leviticus 19:18.

6 is fundamental that we would love one another. 7 is to keep and preserve the marriage covenant. 8 is to protect the property of others. 9 is to love the truth. 10 is to watch over your own heart.

So, 5, 6 and 7 will maintain a harmonious society from the family unit outward. 8, 9, and 10 will maintain our integrity and boundaries.

All of the commandments test our trust in God.

Israel’s history (10 mins)

Exodus 22 contains various scenarios of stealing plus more criminal acts. Scan over the chapter to compare how stealing, in Verses 1-15, compares to other crimes from Verse 16 on.

You may scan the chapter as one group or divide the chapter into chunks and discuss. The aim here is simply to absorb how the nation of Israel were to regard stealing compared with adultery or witchcraft. Other Ancient Near Eastern cultures would have removed a hand for stealing.

Read Deuteronomy 6:10-12. What does it say about stealing and what motivation do Israel have to not steal from one another.

God is promising Israel to take ownership of land that was not theirs but now is. The world is the LORDS and all that is in it. He chose to bless Israel and curse the Canaanites in this way. But there is no point in Israel stealing from one another because the LORD has provided all this for them. It was not theirs to begin with.

NB: the land gets divided proportionately between the 12 tribes of Israel with rules on how to lease land and every 50 years for the land to be returned to the original clan. The law included a maintainable equity system for ongoing generations. See Leviticus 25:8ff

The Gospel (10 mins)

Read Matthew 22:15-22. What does this have to say about stealing?

In one brief account, Jesus is able to testify that we must give to people what is rightfully theirs and also that we are capable of stealing from God.

Matthew 6 has much to say here about our desire to be for the kingdom of heaven and not for treasure on earth. We shall return to this passage perhaps for Commandment#10. Time permitted, read Matthew 6:25-34 (esp 33).

Christian Living (15 mins)

As generous as God was to Adam and Eve in the garden he has continued to show generosity to Israel and even more so to all who trust in the LORD for salvation. For Adam and Israel everything was provided for them. For us, we are given the kingdom of God and that is where our hope and love lies. We do not work for treasure that spoils or fades but for the kingdom of God which is freely given to us.

Read Ephesians 4:17-32 and discuss the areas of life listed there which match with various commandments.