The Bare Soul
April 22, 2012
Ephesians 5:5 - For 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.
Most of us who have raised children or who have been around nieces and nephews know how children can get rather possessive of what they believe is theirs. I went through it with my children and now experience this with my grandson who is nearly four years old at the time of this writing. If it is something he doesn't care about that much, he generally has no problem giving it up if I ask. However, say I have given him a soft, chewy chocolate chip cookie. "Can grandpa have a bite?" Usually, the answer is "No, it's mine!" In all fairness, however, sometimes he does decide to share even if it is something he really wants.
We learn so much about ourselves from children. They are honest looks at ourselves, both the good and the bad. The example of the cookie can be an exaggerated expression of how we react all day long to various situations. I once heard a good definition for lust which is I want it and I want it now! Likewise, covetousness can be defined as I want what YOU have and I want it now, or something I possess and I refuse to give up! Children are upfront and usually honest about their feelings in this regard. Sometimes as adults we dress up our wrong desires by other names. In Luke 12:15, Jesus warns his disciples and us stating: "Then He said to them, 'Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.'” The King James Version uses the word "covetousness" in the place of "greed." Either are appropriate, for the root of both are wanting something someone else has at their expense. The Lords warning to be on guard against "every form" should give one pause. Of course, we know we should not covet according to the Ten Commandments. Some of us may refer back to the Mosaic Law when we hear the rather archaic word "to covet." However, it is important for us to know what coveting is and to seek forgiveness for it if it is part of our lives. Paul tells us in our lead verse it is imperative if we seek entrance to God's kingdom. So, what does the commandment command? Exodus 20:17 states: “You shall not covet your 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.” At this point, it is important to determine what "belongs" to my neighbor.
First of all, the Scripture reveals the nature of coveting from another of Paul's writings in the book of Romans. We are told how Paul became so acutely aware of the law that it revealed in him coveting of all types. He confesses his plight in the following: "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) Like Paul, when we seek to please God in all we do, the law becomes alive in us and condemns us for falling so short. In addition, there is the desire within that proceeds from our old nature to actually WANT to sin. I call it the "wet paint principle." When we see a sign that tells us "wet paint" on a park bench, our desire is to touch the bench to see if it is really wet! It's the same thing with the law of God, which none of us can keep except for Jesus. When we become more and more aware of God's desire for us to walk by his commandments, we see how miserably we fall short concerning the ability to do so. The more we see of the excellence of God's law, the more we see we cannot keep it. We must cry out as Paul did in Romans 7:24-25: "Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! ..." Only then can we find true freedom from the law. The knowledge of our failure to keep it is our redemption if we run to Jesus!
We might say to ourselves, "I don't desire what my neighbor owns. I am free from coveting." I challenge you to pray to God that He would reveal to you the truth. How about in traffic? Do you covet your lane and refuse to give place to anyone else? Do you covet your place in a grocery store line, not giving place to someone with a crying child? Have you considered how we covet that last piece of pie? Or, how about how we covet our time when all someone needs is another person to listen? Remember, covetousness is something I have which I refuse to give up or something someone else has that I desire. In our lead verse, Paul equates it to idolatry, the act of worshipping and deferring to something or someone in our lives which is not God.
If you still believe yourself to be free from covetousness and idolatry, here is a test which will prove the legitimacy to your claim. Pray daily for a month, sincerely, that God would reveal His law to you and to help you love it. Then, see what He shows you regarding your desires. Beloved, I have been doing this for some time and the Lord continues to show me areas which I need to repent of and bring to the light. That is the point. If we refuse to own our covetous hearts and ask Him to reveal them, then we are no longer responsible for them once we repent. Just as Christ cleansed us positionally through His blood when we accepted Him into our hearts, now he is sanctifying us through our confession and turning us into the image of His Son while still mortals. The time has come for the Body of Christ, His Church, to rise up and call sin what it is. However, we need revelation to do it. May we all love His law and our inability to achieve it so He might empower us to walk as Christ both now and forever.
Heavenly Father, we desire to love in all respects. Show us how we often covet our own ways above Yours in our daily lives. However, with that knowledge, help us to lean upon Jesus who already fulfilled the law for us and set us free from coveting. Help us to draw from His strength, for that is our only hope to conformed to Your Son's image while in our mortal flesh. We ask all this in Christ's Name and for His glory, Amen.
Your Barefoot Servant,
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