The Ninth and Tenth Commandments
Matthew 15:11, 17–19
Not that which enters into the mouth defiles the man; but that which comes forth out of the mouth, this defiles the man. Whatever enters into the mouth goes into the belly, and is cast out into the latrine. But the things that come forth out of the mouth come forth out of the heart, and these defile the man. For out of the heart come forth evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.
TCR 328. The lusts [or covetings] of the flesh, the eye, and the other senses, separated from the lusts—that is, from the affections, the desires, and the delights of the spirit—are wholly like the lusts of beasts, and consequently are in themselves beastlike. But the affections of the spirit are such as angels have, and therefore are to be called truly human. For this reason, so far as anyone indulges the lusts of the flesh, he is a beast and a wild beast; but so far as one satisfies the desires of the spirit, he is a man and an angel. The lusts of the flesh may be compared to shriveled and dried up grapes and to wild grapes; but the affections of the spirit to juicy and delicious grapes, and also to the taste of the wine that is pressed from them. The lusts of the flesh may be compared... in general, as dross and gold, as limestone and silver, as coral and rubies, and so on. Lust and the deed are connected like blood and flesh, or like flame and oil; for lust is within the deed, as air from the lungs is in breathing or in speaking, or as wind in the sail when the vessel is in motion, or as water on the wheel that gives motion and action to machinery.
AC 8910. This [commandment] means that one must beware of the love of self and of the world, and thus lest the evils which are contained in the preceding commandments become of the will and so come forth. This is evident from the meaning of “coveting,”* as being to will from an evil love. That “coveting” has this meaning is because all coveting belongs to some love, for nothing is coveted unless it is loved. Therefore “coveting” is a continuation of a love, in this case of the love of self or of the world, and it is as it were the life of its breath. For that which an evil love breathes is called “coveting,” but that which a good love breathes is called “desire.” Love itself belongs to the one part of the mind that is called the will, for whatever a man loves he wills. But coveting belongs to both the will and the understanding, though it properly belongs to the will in the understanding....
AC 8910:2. It is believed in the world that the thought is the man. But there are two things which constitute the life of man, the understanding and the will. Thought belongs to the understanding, and the affection that is of love belongs to the will. Thought, without affection that is of love, does not make anything of life with man, but thought from affection... thus understanding from will, does [make the man].
That these two are distinct from each other is plain to everyone who reflects, from the fact that a man can understand and perceive that something which he wills is evil, and that something is good which he either wills or does not will. From this it is clear that the will is the man himself, but not the thought, except so far as something from the will passes into the thought.
Hence it is that the things which enter the thought of man, and not through the thought into the will, do not defile him, but [only] the things which enter through the thought into the will. These things defile him because they are then appropriated to him and become his; for the will... is the man himself. The things which become of the will are said to enter into his heart and to come forth from it, while the things which are only of the thought are said to enter into the mouth, but to go out through the belly into the latrine, according to the Lord’s words in Matthew [quoted above].
AC 8911. From what has been said so far it can be seen how the case is with man and his life, namely, that man is such as his will is, and that he remains such after death, because death is not the end of life, but its continuation. As therefore man is such as his will is... therefore “to be judged according to his deeds” means to be judged according to his will....
* Latin is concupiscere.
Questions and Thoughts for Reflection
- TCR 328: What might be some examples of “affections, desires and delights of the spirit”? Can spiritual affections be present within lusts of the flesh, or are they always opposite to each other?
- Do you have a feeling for the difference between your thought and your will? The middle paragraph on page 8 gives one way we can see the distinction. Do you have further examples of the distinction?
- The Lord’s teaching in Matthew 15 (at the top of Day Two, explained in the fourth paragraph on page 8) is very helpful. It shows that we are not to blame for the bad thoughts that come into our minds— “what enters into the mouth.” Our job is to not dwell on evil thoughts and fantasize about them, and also not to act on them, but rather to turn our minds away from bad thoughts and hold our noses against them.