I. COMMANDED NOT TO COVET
You shall not covet you neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor (Exodus 20:17).
You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, and you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field or his male servant or his female servant, his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor (Deuteronomy 5:21).
. . . you shall not covet the silver or the gold that is on them [graven images], nor take it for yourselves, lest you be snared by it, for it is an abomination to the Lord your God (Deuteronomy 7:25).
A. PUNISHMENT THREATENED FOR COVETING
. . . only keep yourselves from the things under the ban, lest you covet them and take some of the things under the ban, so you would make the camp of Israel accursed and bring trouble on it (Joshua 6:18).
Woe to those who scheme iniquity, who…covet fields and then seize them, and houses, and take them away. They rob a man and his house, a man and his inheritance. Therefore, thus says the Lord, “Behold, I am planning against this family a calamity from which you cannot remove your necks; and you will not walk haughtily, for it will be an evil time.” (Micah 2:1-3).
1. Example of punishment for coveting
Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. And they have even taken some of the things under the ban . . . Therefore the sons of Israel cannot stand before their enemies; they turn their backs before their enemies, for they have become accursed…it shall be that the one who is taken with the things under the ban shall be burned with fire, he and all that belongs to him . . . Achan answered Joshua and said, “Truly, I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel, and this is what I did: when I saw among the spoil a beautiful mantle from Shinar and two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold fifty shekels in weight, then I coveted them and took them . . . Then Joshua and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, the silver, the mantle, the bar of gold, his sons, his daughters, his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent and all that belonged to him; and they brought them up to the valley of Achor. And Joshua said, “Why have you troubled us? The Lord will trouble you this day.” And all Israel stoned them with stones; and they burned them with fire . . . (Joshua 7:11-25).
2. Examples of coveting given to instruct us
Now these things [Lord’s discipline of Israel in wilderness] happened as examples for us, that we should not crave evil things, as they also craved (1 Corinthians 10:6).
B. THE COVETOUS SHALL NOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD
. . . Do not be deceived; neither fornicators . . . nor the covetous . . . shall inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).
1. Covetous person is an idolater
But do not let immorality or any impurity or greed even be named among you, as is proper among saints . . . this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God (Ephesians 5:3, 5).
C. DO NOT ASSOCIATE WITH A COVETOUS BELIEVER
I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters; for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he should be an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater . . . not even to eat with such a one (1 Corinthians 5:9-11).
D. EXAMPLE OF GODLY PERSON NOT COVETING
I [Paul] have coveted no one’s silver or gold or clothes . . . (Acts 20:33).
II. GOD CAN CONTROL COVETING
Three times a year all your males are to appear before the Lord God, the God of Israel. For I will drive out nations before you and enlarge your borders, and no man shall covet your land when you go up three times a year to appear before the Lord your God (Exodus 34:23-24).
III. COVETING USED AS ILLUSTRATION OF THE FUNCTION OF THE LAW
What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead (Romans 7:7-8).