The Ninth and Tenth Commandments
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, and his manservant, and his maidservant, and his ox, and his donkey, and anything that is thy neighbor’s.
TCR 326. These two commandments have relation to all the preceding ones and teach and enjoin not only that evils must not be done, but also that they must not be lusted after. Consequently they teach that evils pertain not only to the external man but also to the internal, since he who refrains from doing evils and yet lusts to do them still does them. For the Lord says:
If anyone lusts after another’s wife, he has committed adultery with her already in his heart (Matt. 5:27, 28).
And the external man becomes internal, or acts as one with the internal, only when lusts have been removed. This also the Lord teaches, saying:
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees; for you cleanse the outside of the cup and of the platter, but inside they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup and platter, that the outside may be clean also (Matt. 23:25, 26).
And the same is taught throughout that chapter. The internals that are Pharisaical are lusts after the things that are forbidden to be done in the first, second, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth commandments.
It is known that when the Lord was in the world, He taught the internal things of the church, and these internal things are not to lust after evils; and He so taught in order that the internal and external man may make one. This is the being born anew, of which the Lord spoke to Nicodemus in the third chapter of John. And no man can be born anew or be regenerated, and consequently become internal, except from the Lord.
So that these two commandments may have relation to all the preceding ones, since the things forbidden in them are not to be lusted after, the house is mentioned first, afterwards the wife, then the manservant, maidservant, ox, and donkey, and lastly everything that is the neighbor’s. For the house involves all that follows, since it includes the husband, wife, manservant, maidservant, ox and donkey. Again, the wife, who is next mentioned, involves all that follows; for she is the mistress as the husband is the master in the house. The manservant and maidservant are beneath these, the ox and the donkey beneath them, and last of all come all things that are below or outside, which is the meaning of “everything that is the neighbor’s.” Evidently therefore, in these two commandments all the preceding, both in general and in particular, are regarded, both in a broad and a restricted sense.
TCR 327. In the spiritual sense, these two commandments forbid all lusts that are contrary to the spirit, thus all that are contrary to the spiritual things of the church, which relate chiefly to faith and charity; for unless lusts are subdued, the flesh let loose would rush into every wickedness. For it is known from Paul,
That the flesh lusts against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh (Gal. 5:17).
And from James:
Each man is tempted by his own lust when he is enticed; then the lust, when it has conceived, bears sin; and sin, when it is completed, brings forth death (James 1:14, 15).
Again from Peter,
That the Lord reserves the unjust unto the day of judgment, to be punished; but chiefly those who walk after the flesh in lust (2 Peter 2:9, 10).
In short, these two commandments understood in the spiritual sense relate to all things that have been presented before in the spiritual sense, that they must not be lusted after. So likewise they relate to all that has been before presented in the celestial sense. But to repeat all these things is unnecessary.
Questions and Thoughts for Reflection
- Have you ever heard someone maintain that it is not necessary to keep the Ten Commandments for the sake of salvation, but only to have faith? Or that the Ten Commandments are only for children? (See Life 63.)
- Criminal law takes into account a jury’s or judge’s best guess as to the extent of a person’s deliberate intent in committing a crime. There is a recognition that it is not just the act that matters.
- Which is worse, to rage at someone but then recover one’s temper, or to harbor hatred and bear grudges but not say much?
- 1 John 2:15–17 says, “Do not love the world, neither the things that are in the world.... For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world; and the world passes away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”
- TCR 327 says that the flesh let loose would rush into every wickedness. Does this statement make sense to you? Is restraining the flesh a manageable job?
- In the Christmas story it says, “there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7). A question is whether there is room for the Lord in our hearts, or whether love of the world and love of self is filling all the spaces.