August 22, 2021

"Live by the Spirit: The Tenth Commandment"

Scripture Reading: Matthew 6:24-34
Teaching Lesson: Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 113, 114, 115

The Tenth Commandment comes to us from Exodus 20:17 saying, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or his donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” The principle of this command still resonates in our lives today. To “covet” something is to “desire” something – only with a malicious intent. According to the dictionary definition, to “covet” means “To desire ardently something someone else has.” A spirit of covetousness is a restless spirit because it wants what it cannot or should not have. Here’s something the world as it is today ought to hear: Just because you want something, doesn’t mean you should have it. Sometimes the government needs to say “no” to the desires of citizens just as parents sometimes need to say “no” to the demands of their children. To covet something (as it is understood in the Tenth Commandment) is to desire with malicious intent. It is born out of the wrong motive for the wrong thing.

In what biblical texts have we seen a “spirit of covetousness” at work?
Is it always wrong to want what others have?
In the Sermon on the Mount, what does Jesus say should be our chief desire?

In Matthew 6 we find what is now known as the “Sermon on the Mount”. We’ve looked at parts of this sermon before. It begins in Matthew 5 with the “Beatitudes” saying such things as “Blessed are the poor in spirit … Blessed are those who mourn … Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness … Blessed are the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and the persecuted.” It’s poetic and beautiful but the sermon ends in Matthew 7:28-29 with these words, “When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.” What is often missed when reading the Sermon on the Mount is the careful attention that is given to the location from where this sermon is preached. At the beginning of the sermon it says in Matthew 5:1 that Jesus “went up on a mountainside”. At the end, in Matthew 8:1 it says, “When he came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him.”

What is the significance of Jesus being on a mountain when he brings this sermon?
What is the name of the mountain from which Moses received the law?

The Church of Jesus Christ will never thrive if we lose sight of gospel of the Kingdom. Even as the world changes and new challenges come to the forefront, we need to remember that this world belongs to God. God is the Creator of all things and God is the Redeemer of all things. This is the reason for all hope. The Kingdom of God and its positive perspective on all things is the only foundation that leads to truth, hope, and reconciliation because such things are possible only by grace alone. Jesus Christ came from the Father full of grace and truth. Grace and truth will lead to love and love is made possible wherever the Kingdom of God is the lived- out reality by those who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ. As Christians and as the institutional Church we need to “covet the Kingdom of God”. “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” In our text from Matthew 6:33, Jesus is revealing our “first desire”. Always remember this because without the Kingdom perspective, a congregation will chase after every wind of doctrine and gimmick that comes their way. Kingdom people know themselves in Christ. We know our righteousness doesn’t come from within ourselves and what we do. It all comes from Christ.
See Romans 8:1-2 which reminds us of our salvation.

The Conclusion:
As we now come to the end of this chapter in our ministry together, there is no better Word I can leave with you. In this time together, we have endeavored to be a Christ-centered, gospel- oriented community. In this I hope we have all opened our eyes – just a bit more – to the Kingdom of God. This world is not the waiting room for heaven. We are not waiting around to be rescued or raptured away. We have already been rescued and saved in Jesus Christ by grace through faith in him. Now is the time to live out the reality of our salvation. Now is the time to live in hope that is born out of the grace and truth of Jesus Christ. Now is the time that will not end until the return of our Lord. Stated negatively, the Tenth Commandment says we are not to covet the wrong things. Stated positively we are to seek first the Kingdom of God.