Exodus 20:17 THE SIN NOBODY WILL ADMIT TO
Intro: Tonight, we come to the last of the 10 Commandments. In these
Laws of God governing life on earth we have seen that God has a high standard of holiness
that He expects His people to strive for. I trust that as we have moved along through
these verses, you have seen some area in your life where you recognized the need for some
correction and have made the efforts necessary to change to come in line with God's Word.
As we look at this 10th Commandment, the first characteristic
I notice is that this Commandment represents a move away from actions into the realm of
attitude. While breaking all the rest of the Commandments has its origin in the heart and
mind of man, they all find their ultimate expression in some type of physical activity.
This Commandment is different! While there is evidence of lying, stealing, adultery,
murder, disobedience to parents, taking God's Name in vain, making graven images and
having other gods before God, there is usually little or no evidence of covetousness. As a
result, this is a sin that is rarely, if ever confessed and owned up to. In truth, we are
all guilty, we just won't admit it to ourselves, others or the Lord. Of all the
Commandments listed, this is probably the one most often broken and the one that will most
readily cause you to break the other nine. We will see as we look at The Sin Nobody Will
Admit, that covetousness is a serious sin and that it needs to be confessed and forsaken
by every child of God.
Ill. Once, Abraham Lincoln was seen walking with his 2 sons and both the
boys were crying. As passerby asked the President what was wrong with his boys.
"Exactly what's wrong with the whole world," said Lincoln, "I have three
walnuts and each boy wants two."
Ill. Dr. Ken Trivette shares the following story. "On the night of
November 16, 1930, Mrs. Henrietta Garret, a lonely 81 year old widow died in her home in
Philadelphia, and, unwillingly, started the most fantastic case of inheritance litigation
in history. She had failed to leave a will, or no will was found to her $17,000,000
estate; a mystery still unsolved. She had expertly handled her financial affairs since her
husbands death in 1895 and therefore many felt that she must have realized that without an
will, her fortune would become involved in legal battles.
Although, Mrs. Garret, at the time of her death, had only one known
relative, a second cousin, and less than a dozen friends; attempts to prove relationship
to her and claim a part of her estate was made by more than 26,000 persons from 47 states
and 29 foreign countries, represented by more than 3,000 lawyers. In their efforts to
obtain her estate, there were those that committed perjury, faked family records, changed
their own names, altered data in Family Bibles and concocted absurd tales of illegitimacy.
As result, 12 were confined, 10 received jail sentences, 2 committed suicide, and 3 were
murdered. I wonder how many would have admitted they were guilty of covetousness?"
There are many, who if they were honest, would have to admit that they
possessed a covetous heart! One cannot read the Bible without finding incidence after
incidence where men wanted that which wasn't their's. In the Garden of Eden, Eve coveted
the forbidden fruit and brought sin and death into the world. At Ai, Achen coveted some
gold, silver and expensive garments and brought defeat to a nation and death to himself
and his family. Ahab coveted Naboth's vineyard and committed murder in his attempt to grab
what belonged to another. David coveted Bathsheba, Uriah's wife, and as a result brought
the sword of God into his household for generations. Judas was motivated by a covetous
heart. Annanias and Sapphira lied to the Holy Ghost because they were covetous. Even the
great Apostle Paul was plagued by thought covetousness - Rom. 7:7. Covetousness had been a
problem as long as man has been in this world. Even in these last days, men still want
that which isn't theirs. Notice, 2 Tim. 3:1-2; Luke 12:15. Tonight, let's look a little
more closely at this Commandment as we consider this thought, The Sin Nobody Will Admit.
I. COVETOUSNESS DISEASES ALL OF LIFE
A. It Makes Us Greedy Of Gain - When we are
possessed of a covetous heat, we are never satisfied with that which we have! There will
always be a powerful urge for more. It is interesting to note that the word
"covet" means "To desire greatly." It usually has reference to an
object. When we are guilty of covetousness, we are guilty of having a heart for things
instead of a heart for the Lord. When we come to the place where we are never satisfied
with God's blessings and we are always looking for a way to increase our possessions, then
we should face the fact that we are just plain greedy!
(Ill. Many are like the man who was tired of his friends owning nicer
homes that his. He always felt inferior to them and decided to even things out a bit. He
went to see a realtor and put his home on the market and began to search for a new one.
One day as he was reading the paper, he came across a listing for a home that seemed to be
just what he was looking for. So, he called the realtor and said that he would like to see
this home, that he was interested in purchasing it. The realtor replied, "Sir, that
is your house! That is the house we are trying to sell for you." Sounds like us
doesn't it? We always think the grass is a little greener just down the road. If I can get
this thing, or that job, or this much money in the bank, then I will be happy. It will
never happen! The more we have, the more we want! Humans by nature are greedy and
self-centered, always trying to grab more than they can hold. This attitude poisons life
and creates a sourness of heart and a bitterness of disposition. The covetous person is
never contented, but they are always reaching out for more.)
B. It Makes Us Grab Another's Wealth - According
to this verse, a covetous heart may cause you to go after things that are not yours to go
after. This verse says that men can covet property, people and possessions. When we come
to the place where we are willing to do anything to have that which belong to another,
then we have crossed the line and are guilty of sin before the Lord.
It is wrong to covet:
1. Property - This verse refers to a neighbor's
house. In oriental cultures, it is not considered wrong to take things that are found to
be abandoned. However, if we know that something belongs to another person, we are to
leave it alone. In fact, we are to protect their interest in it as if it were ours. It
isn't wrong for me to like my neighbor's home and to use legal means to purchase it from
him, but when I resort to illegal, unethical tactics to obtain his property then I am
guilty of covetousness and theft.
2. People - This verse mentions my neighbor's
wife. To desire another man's wife, our another woman's husband, is sinful in many ways.
If I think another man's wife is pretty, I have committed no sin, but when I begin to have
a lustful desire to possess her, then I am guilty of adultery and of covetousness. (Ill.
David resorted to lying and murder to possess Bathsheba - 2 Sam. 11)
3. Possessions - Among the items listed here are
servants, animals and anything that belongs to my neighbor. When you possess something
that I am determined to possess at any cost, then I am guilty of covetousness. It is
alright to like the same things, to possess the same things, but when we want that which
is the property of another, then we have crossed the line and are guilty of a covetous
heart before the Lord.
C. When we are possessed of a covetous heart, we have ceased to trust
the Lord to meet our needs and instead are looking to acquire that which belongs to
another. This kind of attitude will ruin your life.
(Ill. When archeologists were unearthing the ancient city
of Pompeii, where 20,000 died during the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, they uncovered the
bodies of many of the dead. Among them, they found the well preserved bodies of people who
were caught totally off guard by the explosion of this powerful volcano. People were found
sitting at their dinner tables, their food still on their plates. Others were found in
their beds sleeping. One woman, however, stands out from among all the victims of Pompeii.
When the scientists uncovered her body, they found clutched in her hands 10's of thousands
of dollars worth of precious stones. It seems that as death rained down from the mountain
above, she risked her life trying to save a couple of handfuls of her wealth. Now, 2,000
years later, those things she tried so vainly to hold onto, are the property of another!)
So it is with the covetous person in our day! In the end, those things we deemed so
valuable, will be absolutely worthless. Don't allow a covetous spirit to dominate your
I. Covetousness Diseases All Of Life, and
II. COVETOUSNESS DISREGARDS GOD'S LAW
A. Covetousness may be the greatest among the sins listed here in these
verses. Covetousness has the power to lead men to break the other Commandments.
B. Let's just stroll through the first 9 Commandments and see how a
covetous heart can lead us to break them.
1. V. 3 - How many have placed money and possessions ahead of God?
2. V. 4-6 - How many have bowed at the altars of materialism and greed
while refusing to bow at the altar of the Lord?
3. V. 7 - Many have blasphemed the Lord's Name in their efforts to
acquire things. You do not have to speak to blaspheme the Lord! A life that is lived in a
manner inconsistent with the clear teachings of Scripture is blasphemy.
4. V. 9-11 - Many have desecrated the Lord's Day in an effort to make
money! Many who work on the Lord's Day do not out of necessity, but out of greed for gain.
5. V. 12 - Many parents are treated poorly and cast aside because they
are too great a financial burden on their children. The child feels that he/she may have
to give up something they think they need. As a result, they neglect their parents. What
if mom and dad had done that to them when they were helpless?
6. V. 13 - Many are dead tonight because someone wanted that which
belonged to another.
7. V. 14 - Many marriages are in shambles because people have been so
caught up in earning heir salt, that they have neglected their sugar! Others have had
their head turned by another man or woman and they have allowed a covetous heart to
destroy their home.
8. V. 15 - It goes without saying that stealing is the end result of a
covetous spirit that has gone too far.
9. V. 16 - Often, people will lie about another and spread gossip that
can destroy their lives because they are envious and covetous of that person's life,
lifestyle, position or walk with the Lord. Many people have had their lives totally ruined
by the covetous heart of another.
C. It seems plain to me that a covetous spirit is wicked and sinful
before the Lord! Perhaps this is why the Lord gave such clear warnings against it and its
influence in our lives - (Luke 12:15; Psa. 10:3; Mark 7:21-22)
I. Covetousness Diseases All Of Life
II. Covetousness Disregards God's Law and
III. COVETOUSNESS DENIES THE LORD
A. It Demonstrates A Lack Of Faith - When we are
constantly going after that which we do not have, we are simply saying that the Lord
cannot be trusted to take care of His children. He has promised us in His Word that He
will give us those things that we are in need of - Phil. 4:19. However, when we refuse to
be content with that which we already have, then we are guilty in the eyes of the Lord. We
are saying that He hasn't done enough and that we can't trust God to meet our need! God
help us to always look to the Lord for the things we have need of and to always remember
that we are to practice contentment with what we already possess - Heb. 13:6; 1 Tim.
6:6-8. God's plan for us in regard to obtaining things is found in Mat. 6:25-34. When we
forget that He is the provider and begin to think that getting relies on us, then we have
passed from faith into covetousness and we are guilty of sin!
(Ill. An ancient Persian legend tells of a wealthy man by
the name of Al Haffed who owned a large farm. One evening a visitor related to him tales
of fabulous amounts of diamonds that could be found in other parts of the world, and of
the great riches they could bring him. The vision of all this wealth made him feel poor by
comparison. So instead of caring for his own prosperous farm, he sold it and set out to
find these treasures. But the search proved to be fruitless. Finally, penniless and in
despair, he committed suicide by jumping into the sea.
Meanwhile, the man who had purchased his farm noticed one
day the glint of an unusual stone in a shallow stream on the property. He reached into the
water, and to his amazement he pulled out a huge diamond. Later, when working in his
garden, he uncovered many more valuable gems. Poor Al Haffed had spent his life traveling
to distant lands seeking jewels when on the farm he had left behind were all the precious
stones his heart could have ever desired.)
In our greed for more, we often lose that
which we already have!
B. It Demonstrates A Lack Of Faithfulness
- When we alow a covetous heart to dominate our lives, we will become slaves to the things
we want. When this happens, we will be guilty of placing the Lord in second place in our
lives. There is nothing wrong in possessing things, but we fall into sin when things begin
to possess us! When we allow things to supercede God in our lives, then we are guilty of
(Ill. An article from the Reader's Digest tells of a
zoologist who designed an experiment in which an ape was introduced to the profit motive.
To accomplish this, the specialist first taught the animal to draw and paint, and he found
him to be capable of some rather admirable accomplishments. Then he started rewarding him
by giving him peanuts for his work. Soon the ape was doing "any old scrawl" just
to get the peanuts. The experimenter wryly observed, "I had introduced commercialism
into the ape's world and ruined him as an artist."
We too forfeit something worthwhile whenever we become
preoccupied with material returns. This doesn't mean we shouldn't seek enjoyment out of
life. The Scriptures do not say that the profit motive is wrong in itself. But the problem
is obvious. Living only for a bigger and better salary, home, car, or vacation doesn't
satisfy the deepest needs of our hearts. It may seem as if happiness and satisfaction will
increase as we gain more and more possessions, but it doesn't work that way. When we are
guilty of possessing a covetous heart, we can be sure that the level of our devotion to
Jesus Christ will suffer.)
(Ill. According to zookeepers, two reptiles
will sometimes grab different ends of the same piece of food. Sooner or later their
struggle for that last bite brings them nose to nose. But then comes the surprise. The
snake with the widest bite will keep right on going and actually swallow the other.
Man may think that he can control his covetous urges, but
he will quickly find that they will swallow him alive and will destroy his usefulness for
C. We can never be faithful to the Lord as long as we are
consumed by other things in life. Jesus must fill our vision! Until He does, everything
else in life will be out of balance!
Conc: When it comes to possessing things, many of us are like the maid
of a certain wealthy men. One day as he descended the stairs, he overheard the girl say,
"Oh if I just had 5 dollars, I would be so contented." Wondering what would
happen, he pulled a 5 from his wallet and as he passed by he handed it to her. She
stammered a thank you and the man walked out of the room. Just before he passed our of
earshot he heard her mutter in disgust, "Now, why didn't I ask for 10?"
You've probably heard of the court battle over the million dollar Pepsi
cap. It seems that one woman left a Pepsi bottle behind when she left her job for the day.
Apparently, she didn't want it and just forgot to discard it. A coworker, however, was
always looking at Pepsi caps trying to win free drinks. When she saw this Pepsi sitting
there and inquired about it, she found that no one knew who's it was and she was told to
throw it away. Before she did though she looked at the cap and discovered that it was a
winning cap worth one million dollars.
Now it seems that the first lady, the one who left the drink behind for
another to throw away, is suing the second lady for all the money. It didn't mean a thing
to here until she found out it was worth something. Sounds a touch greedy to me.
Our problem is not that we have too little, nor is it that we possess
too much. Our problem is that we want more than we need. Epicurus has written, "If
you want to make a man happy, add not to his possessions, but take away from his
desires." How true! We need to search our hearts this evening and see what motivates
us. Are we always talking about money? Are we always feeling jealous because someone has
something we think we need? Are we guilty of going after things instead of the Lord? Do
you need to come to this altar and confess to the Lord that you are guilty of the sin
nobody will admit to? If you have a covetous heart, it will be your downfall, unless you
make it right with God. Will you come to Him and allow Him to get real big in your vision
while other things are allowed to shrink? Let's just be honest with Jesus tonight.
Sermon By Alan Carr