Vol. 19, No. 18 – May 10, 2020
1. Concerning hypocrisy, Luke 12:1-12.
The third mandate of Chapter 12 is:
c. Confess the Son of Man openly, boldly, and freely, vs. 8-10. Vs. 8-9, are paralleled in Mat 10:32-33.
Luke 12:10, “And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him.”
This is paralleled in Mark 3:28-30, “Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; 29but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin, 30because they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit”.”
Here, we have two contrasting denials. The first is the denial of Jesus post-salvation for the loser believer who does not HOMOLOGEO Him. Interestingly, that sin will be forgiven, as Jesus paid for it upon the Cross. The word for “forgiven,” is the Future Passive Indicative of the Verb APHIEMI, ἀφίημι that means, “cancel, pardon, forgive, or abandon.” It means that a debt has been canceled. In this case, the debt owed due to the sin of speaking evil against Jesus Christ. We noted this word in Luke 11:4, regarding the confession of our sins to receive forgiveness experientially, as also used in 1 John 1:9. Therefore, if someone denies Jesus Christ post-salvation by not proclaiming Him and instead speaks badly or falsely about Him, that sin will be forgiven, just as all sins have been forgiven positionally upon the Cross for those who believe in Jesus, and experientially when we apply 1 John 1:9 or Luke 11:4. As such, Jesus died for this sin upon the Cross.
In other words, this sin will not be held against the one performing it regarding their salvation, entrance into the eternal life, or entrance into heaven. In addition, it will not cause them to lose their salvation. As such, they will go to heaven because they had previously believed in Jesus Christ as their Savior, and this action is only another type of sin of the many sins this person commits.
Therefore, the denial of Jesus Christ is a forgivable sin because the context of these passages are related to our post-salvation / post-conversion life. The first half of this verse is not related to our salvation, just as vs. 8, was not.
“Speaking a word against the Son of Man,” means they have denied Him before man in some form after their salvation. That is a sin which was paid for at the Cross. Therefore, they are saved. Yet, they are a loser believer because they are not only not faithful to God, they are antagonistic towards His Son. This is a part of grieving and quenching the Holy Spirit, Eph 4:30; 1 Thes 5:19, yet they do not lose their salvation.
Therefore, Jesus declares that even if someone speaks against the Son of Man, speaks against Him, that person can receive “forgiveness” and does, cf. Mat 12:32a. As we noted above, Peter denied Jesus three times, but God fully forgave him and restored him totally.
This is the context of 2 Tim 2:13, which we noted above, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” In His mercy, Jesus gave Peter an opportunity to repent and to once again confess Him as Lord. This same mercy extends to “whosoever” will come to Him.
The second half of this passage is the denial or rejection of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is called blaspheming the Holy Spirit. As it reads, “But he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him.” Once again, we have the Future, Passive, Indicative of APHIEMI, yet this time it is preceded by the negative Participle OUK meaning, “will not be forgiven.”
This too is very interesting, as we can say a disparaging remark against Jesus, deny Him as our Lord, or even blaspheme against Him after we once believed in Him as our Savior. Yet, we cannot “blaspheme” the Holy Spirit.
“Blaspheme,” is the Verb BLASPHEMEO, βλασφημέω and means, “blaspheme, speak evil of, speak abusively, curse, slander, or treat someone with contempt.” Blasphemy is any manner of speech that disregards or disrespects the value of another. To blaspheme God means, “to treat God disrespectfully through your words or actions, or to speak in a way that shows irreverence for God.” Irreverence towards God means a lack of honor or respect towards Him or rejection of His state of being (i.e., He is not God). This is the first time Luke uses this word, but uses it also in Luke 22:65; 23:39, for those who are unbelievers.
Luke 22:65, “And they were saying many other things against Him, blaspheming.”
This verse links “speaking a word against the Son of Man” with “blaspheming” Him. In that passage, it was regarding unbelievers who were railing insults towards Him. Yet in our passage directed to the believer, we can blaspheme Jesus post-salvation, (although I highly recommend not doing it), and ask for the forgiveness of that sin and receive it. Therefore, the believer can blaspheme Jesus and not lose their salvation, because that sin is forgiven, yet, the unbeliever who blasphemes the Holy Spirit is rejecting the Gospel of Jesus Christ which is an unpardonable sin.
In our passage, the blaspheming is “against the Holy Spirit,” EIS, (into, to, toward, unto, opposed to, against, etc.), HO HAGIOS PNEUMA, (the Holy Spirit). We could say, “toward the Holy Spirit.”
Blaspheming the Holy Spirit means a person has rejected the common grace ministry of God the Holy Spirit, which is teaching and making understandable the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Under His common grace ministry, the Holy Spirit is responsible for teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every member of the human race. In that teaching ministry, He also makes the gospel of Jesus Christ understandable to the unbeliever, because they have no spiritual discernment of their own. Therefore, to blaspheme the Holy Spirit is to reject His common grace ministry, which is tantamount to rejecting the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When someone rejects Jesus as their Savior, it is a sin that is “not forgiven,” OUK APHEIMI. This is the only sin Jesus could not and did not pay for upon the Cross. Therefore, it is an unforgiveable or unpardonable sin.
In the context of this passage, as also seen in Mark 3:30, we go back to Luke 11:15, “But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons”.” Jesus performed His miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit, to demonstrate that Jesus was the Messiah. By calling these miracles by the power of Satan, they were rejecting the common grace ministry of the Holy Spirit to prove Jesus was the Messiah. Therefore, they were rejecting the Gospel, which is an unpardonable sin. Therefore, Jesus was saying in essence, “Hey, you can say anything you want against Me and it will be forgiven you, but you cannot call the common grace ministry of the Holy Spirit as being from Satan because that is blaspheming God and a clear sign that you are rejecting the Messiah / Savior / King.”
Remember that a single act of blasphemy does not doom someone to hell. If that were true, then Paul had no hope of salvation, 1 Tim 1:13.
1 Tim 1:13, “Even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief.”
The blaspheming of the Holy Spirit in our passage is the consistent rejection of the Gospel of Jesus throughout someone’s life, which if not rectified through faith in Jesus Christ, will lead to eternal condemnation.
In Luke 23:39, we have the unrepentant thief upon the Cross, “One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse (BLASPHEMEO) at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!””
William Hendriksen explains this “unpardonable sin,” as he writes: “Their sin is unpardonable because they are unwilling to tread the path that leads to pardon. For a thief, an adulterer, and a murderer there is hope. The message of the gospel may cause him to cry out, “O God be merciful to me, the sinner.” But when a man has become hardened, so that he has made up his mind not to pay any attention to the promptings of the Spirit, not even to listen to his pleading and warning voice, he has placed himself on the road that leads to perdition.” (Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew.)
The ministry of the Holy Spirit is noted in John 16:8-9.
John 16:8-9, “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; 9concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me.”
Here, we see the convicting or common grace ministry of the Holy Spirit. That ministry is to teach and make understandable the gospel of Jesus Christ to the unbeliever. When someone rejects the Gospel of Jesus Christ, they are in essence rejecting the ministry of the Holy Spirit and are therefore blaspheming Him because they are saying that the gospel is not true and that God the Holy Spirit is a liar. They are speaking a falsehood against God the Holy Spirit, cf. Gen 6:3; John 16:7‑11; Heb 10:29.
Heb 10:29, “How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?”
Those who are under the unpardonable sin consider the gospel foolishness, 1 Cor 1:18, 2:14.
1 Cor 2:14, “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.”
This sin has its own reversionism, 2 Peter 2:19‑22, and is characterized by strong delusion, 2 Thes 2:11‑12.
Synonyms for the unpardonable sin include:
- Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, Mat 12:31; Luke 12:10.
- Resistance of the Holy Spirit, Acts 7:51.
Acts 7:51, “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did.”
Mat 12:32, adds at the end, “Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.”
Therefore, this is the unpardonable sin that remains on the account of the holder for all of eternity. If someone does not believe in Jesus Christ through the Gospel presented to them by the Holy Spirit, they will receive eternal condemnation.
Jesus warns that we can be forgiven of blaspheming, or slandering, Him. There is pardon for slandering the Son, but there can be no forgiveness or pardon for blaspheming the Holy Spirit, because that means you are rejecting the Gospel of Jesus Christ for your personal salvation
These words take us back to where we began. Do you remember those who said Jesus cast out demons by Beelzebul? They were slandering the work of God. They were slandering the Holy Spirit. They were hardening their hearts in unbelief. That slander and hardening, ultimately, is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.
But those who truly believe trust the Holy Spirit. Even in times of persecution, they rely on the Holy Spirit’s power, as we will note next in vs. 11-12. Those verses tell us that the Spirit will speak through the believer and in the day of our earthly trial. We do not worry about defending ourselves. The Lord and Spirit will argue our case. So rather than blaspheme the Spirit of God by rejecting His ministry, we trust Him to save us.
To commit the unforgivable / unpardonable sin as noted in Luke 12:10, one must consciously, persistently, deliberately, and maliciously reject the testimony of the Holy Spirit regarding the Deity and saving power of the Lord Jesus Christ. If a person keeps doing that until death, there is no hope of forgiveness and eternal life in heaven. Yet, our God is a compassionate and merciful God. He desires that no one should be lost, but that all should come to salvation through repentance and personal faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord, 2 Peter 3:9; Acts 2:21.
2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”
Acts 2:21, “And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Cf. Joel 2:32.
Zech 13:6, “And one will say to him, ‘What are these wounds between your arms?’ Then he will say, ‘Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends’.”
Isa 53:5, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.”
1 Peter 2:24, “Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness–by whose stripes you were healed.”
The fourth mandate of Chapter 12 is:
d. Do not become distracted about defending yourself; God will stand in your defense and guide you, vs. 11-12.
Luke 12:11-12, “When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say; 12for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” We see this paralleled in Mat 10:16-20; Mark 13:9-11.
Jesus is continuing to deal with the subject of confessing Him before men. The pattern He gives is brought together in this verse. Back in vs. 8-9, Jesus referred to confession or denial of the Christ. Confession leads to great blessings and honor in heaven, but denial leads to being denied blessings and rewards by Christ in time and eternity. Vs. 10, then focused on the power of the Holy Spirit to reveal the Gospel of Jesus Christ and how it can be rejected by the unbeliever. So, vs. 11-12, take these two themes, confession and the Spirit, and unites them in the life of the believer who stands before the world bearing witness to the Lord of Jesus Christ as Savior / King / Messiah.
Interestingly, He does not say “if” but “when (HOTAN) they bring you in before.” As such, we see that it is inevitable that a positive believer will be called to make an account of their faith at some point in their lives.
Using the Verb EISPHERO, εἰσφέρω in the Present, Active, Subjunctive of probability that in its root PHERO and cognate PROSPHERO means, “bring in, bring before, offer, present, or do service.” With the prefix EIS it gives direction. The root and cognates are used for bringing a sacrifice before God, especially in the book of Hebrews, with the added emphasis of accomplishing the sacrifice, (i.e., the completed work), Heb 13:11.
Heb 13:11, “For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy place by the high priest as an offering for sin, are burned outside the camp.” Cf. Lev 4:5; 16:27.
Therefore, when you are interrogated for your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ by men, (religious or secular), it is a form of sacrifice to God; just as Jesus was brought before them who became our great sacrifice.
Another common usage is that of the sick, lame, and demon possessed being brought to Jesus for healing, cf. Luke 5:18-19. When Jesus was healing them all, He was also being accused of being from Satan in Chapter 11. As such, we see the context of false accusations and mockery or blaspheming the Holy Spirit, when He was trying to witness the gospel of Jesus Christ. Therefore, just as Jesus was falsely accused, we too will be falsely accused.
Finally, this word is used in John 16:2, regarding the hypocrisy of the false accusers, which is the underlying theme of these passages, as our Lord states, John 16:2, “They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God.”
There are three groups that Jesus mentions we could be brought before to give an account of our faith. It includes:
1. Synagogues, SUNGAGOGE is used to refer to the church leaders, the religious leaders. Synagogues were the ecclesiastical courts of their day. They were ruling on matters both religious and civil. If someone was excommunicate, it did not merely bar them from coming to the synagogue; it expelled them from all social and commercial contact. A person “cut off” from the people could not buy food or supplies, earn a wage, receive medical attention, or even sell property. That is why the people had much fear for them, which Jesus told them not to have and instead fear God.
2. Rulers, ARCHE is used for human rulers, both religious or secular, and also for angelic authorities, cf. Rom 8:38; 1 Cor 15:24; Eph 1:21; 3:10; 6:12; Col 1:16; 2:10, 15. Therefore, we see the interrogation is by those who have authority inside of Satan’s cosmic system, as part of the Angelic Conflict.
3. Authorities, EXOUSIA is the delegated authority given to men, Luke 23:7, or angels to rule in legal or moral matters. It speaks of secular human authority, and can also include angelic authority.
Whether rulers or authorities, in the human realm, they could send people to their death, flog, imprison, banish or fine them at their whim.
Therefore, these three words cover all the bases regarding those in various authorities that could prosecute and/or persecute someone. Using these terms also tells us that Satan is behind these persecutions; even though man may be carrying them out.
Regardless of who or where the persecution is coming from, our Lord instructs us to be continually trusting in Him, as He notes, “do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say.”
The word for “worry,” is the Verb MERIMNAO that means, “be anxious, care for, or be concerned about.” It is preceded by the Greek negative Particle ME that means, “do not be worried or anxious.” We are to trust in the Holy Spirit entirely.
Then our Lord follows up with three things we are not to worry about: 1-2) “How and what to reply in our defense,” and 3) “What to say.”
Mat 10:19, “But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say.”
Mark 13:11, “When they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit.”
“Speak in your defense,” is the Greek Verb APOLOGEOMAI, ἀπολογέομαι in the Aorist, Middle, Subjunctive. It is first used here in the NT, and then again by our Lord in Luke 21:12-15. This prophecy and instruction came partially to fruition in Paul’s case, in Acts 19:33; 24:10; 25:8; 26:1-2, 24.
This does not mean we do not have to learn God’s Word / Bible Doctrine in our lives, because remember John 16:13, “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” Therefore, we need to learn Bible Doctrine on a consistent basis to provide the Holy Spirit with plenty of ammunition to use for our defense. What we do not do is worry about when, where, why, or how we need to defend ourselves. We do not need to be concerned about persecutions or how we are going to defend against them. We do not have to stay up all night preparing a great speech for our defense. Instead, we faith rest it and trust in God the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us in our defense.
Therefore, our Lord is instructing us to trust and reply upon the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us as to what to say in such times, as noted in vs. 12, “For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”
Mat 10:20, “For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.”
Acts 4:8, “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of the people…”
Acts 13:9, “But Saul, who was also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, fixed his gaze on him.”
The reason a believer can faithfully and confidently confess Jesus as Lord is because the Holy Spirit is faithful to teach the believer for the moment of crisis. While vs. 10, referred to blaspheming the Holy Spirit in relation to Jesus, vs. 11-12, refer to the power of the Holy Spirit in the life of the person who is willing to acknowledge Jesus publicly.
In our passage the Holy Spirit “will teach us,” DIDASKO HUMEIS, “in that very hour,” EN AUTOS HO HORA, “what you ought to say,” HOS DEI EIPON.
Therefore, our Lord is telling us that when we preach the gospel to others, we may be brought before religious and civil authorities, backed by fallen angelic forces, and encounter persecution as Stephen did, who was the first martyr, Acts 7:51-54. Yet, when he was persecuted, it was the Holy Spirit who gave him the information to speak and a vision of the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God to comfort and assure him, Acts 7:55.
As such, we are to trust in God the Holy Spirit, especially in times of trials and tribulation and not worry about defending ourselves, because the Holy Spirit will give us the pertinent information and Bible Doctrine to use and speak that will defend us. So, rather than blaspheming the Holy Spirit as the unbeliever does, we are to trust in Him whole heartedly. And, do not think you have to prepare an eloquent speech or the such, but simply speak from the heart, because the Holy Spirit lives in you, and you will say what needs to be said when you are trusting in Him.
2. Concerning covetousness, Luke 12:13-34.
This is the second major topic of Chapter 12. This discussion and following parable are unique to Luke. They are dominated by the first person pronoun, which shows the selfishness and self-focus of the worldly person who is condemned here, not for being rich but for the selfish way in which his bountiful crop is used. The parable serves as a warning against covetousness and greed.
Luke 12:13, “Someone in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me”.”
“Divide,” is the Verb MERIZO, μερίζω, “divide, separate, share, distribute, or apportion.” It is used by Matthew and Mark and this is the only occurrence of Luke using it. It is in the Aorist, Active, Imperative. That means this man was ordering Jesus what to do. Notice he called Jesus “teacher,” DIDASKOLOS which indicates his lack of full understanding as to who Jesus was. He was not viewing Him as his Lord and Savior.
The thing this man wanted divided by Jesus’ authority was his “inheritance,” which is the Noun KLERONOMIA, κληρονομία that means, “inheritance, possession, or portion.” Although it is used literally here, it is mostly used throughout the Epistles for the inheritance the believers will receive in the eternal state, Gal 3:18; Eph 1:14, 18; 5:5; Col 3:24; Heb 9:15; 11:8; 1 Peter 1:4.
Col 3:24, “Knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.”
Heb 9:15, “For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.”
1 Peter 1:4, “To obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.”
Therefore, we see the contrast and object lesson. This man was coveting / lusting for, concerned, and worrying about his earthly / materialistic inheritance, rather than the eternal inheritance God provides through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Luke 12:14, “But He said to him, “Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?””
“Appointed,” is the Aorist, Active, Indicative of the Verb KATHISTĒMI, καθίστημι that means, “bring or set, appoint, ordain, make, cause, or designate.”
This appointment in question is that Jesus was to be the “judge or arbitrator.” Judge is the Noun KRITES, κριτής that means, “A judge or decider.” This harkens back to the time of Israel being ruled by Judges, not kings. In the Septuagint, KRITES is also used in a special sense referring to the leaders God raised up in the period between Joshua and King Saul, the time of the “judges.” These leaders did act as judges over lawsuits, so “judge” is not an inappropriate title for them, but this was only one of their functions. Yet, even in Jesus’ day the Scribes/Lawyers and religious leaders would act as judges for the people in the cities.
This word is also used of God in many places. An example is in Hebrews where it says “to God the Judge of all,” Heb 12:23.
Heb 12:23, “To the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect.”
Therefore, even though Jesus is the Judge of all as God, this was not His role during His incarnation in the First Advent. Though judges were a major part of Jewish leadership and society, Jesus did not come to judge regarding earthly materials but heavenly ones.
“Arbitrator,” is the noun MERISTES, μεριστής that means, “a divider, arbitrator, or distributor.” It is only used here in the NT. This is a more general term of an officiant in Jesus’ day who could decide these types of matters. Yet, Jesus did not come to deal with earthly things and matters. He came to provide spiritual life with a heaven eternal inheritance.
This discussion allowed Jesus to then expand on the greater principles of greed and covetousness in vs. 15.
Luke 12:15, “And 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”.”
“Beware and be on your guard,” in the Greek is actually, “see and keep yourselves,” HORAO KAI PHULASSO, “guard, defend, watch over, protect, keep safe, guard against, or avoid.” It is in the Present, Middle, Imperative for a command from our Lord.
Our Lord counters this arrogant man’s demand of Him with a command for us all to heed. It is a command to guard “against every form of greed,” using the Noun PLEONEXIA, πλεονεξία that means, “greediness, avarice, or covetousness.” It is an unreasonably strong desire to obtain and keep money. It is a compound word from PLEON, “more,” and ECHO, “to have,” that means “greediness” or even “arrogance” in classical Greek. It indicates an “excess” of any kind. It also means “covetousness” or “grasping ambition.”
In the NT, it is a manifestation of man’s fallen nature, (the Old Sin Nature), and consequently is linked to idolatry, i.e., placing man or the things of man ahead of the Creator. Although covetousness can have many different objects including sexual lusts, here it is used for material things; material lusts. In addition, covetousness was regarded by the Jews as an extremely heinous sin; a characteristic of pagans who were separated from God.
In the Hebrew, “covet” is the Verb CHAMADH that means, “to desire or to take pleasure in.” It was first used in the positive sense in Gen 2:9, for God’s creation of trees for food, including the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It is then used in Gen 3:6, in the negative sense, for the woman’s lusting of the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, when tempted by Satan. In that sense, CHAMAD emphasizes lusting based on the beauty of the object. So, we see that coveting led to the first sin in mankind and human history, and is the basis of all sin and crimes.
The third time it is used in the OT, is for the 10th of the Ten Commandments in Ex 20:17, which is also the same in Deut 5:21. Here, we see the breadth of this sin from lusting after material things to immoral sexuality, i.e., the thought of adultery or fornication.
Ex 20:17, “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.”
Deut 5:21, “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.”
The final commandment in the Decalogue, reemphasizes the individual’s rights of privacy, property, person, and possessions. This is the 6th of the horizontal commandments that primarily deals with man’s relationship with man. But, first and foremost, as all the commandments tell us, they have to do with our relationship with God. The previous commands implicitly forbid all acts that would harm or injure your neighbor; this forbids all inordinate inner desires of having what belongs to your neighbor that would presumably gratify yourself.
Therefore, in the Decalogue, it means, “to lust, to want somebody else’s property, a strong desire to possess something that belongs to somebody else, to yearn to have, and to want to have something very much inordinately, culpably, or without due regard for the rights of others.” Unlike the other commandments, which focus on outward actions, this commandment focuses on thought; the inward mentality of the soul. It is an imperative against setting one’s desire on things that are the property or ownership of someone else.
The NT describes Jesus as interpreting the Ten Commandments as issues of the heart’s desires, rather than merely prohibiting certain outward actions, cf. Mat 5:28.
Mat 5:27-28, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery;’ 28but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
In our passage, this man lusted after his brother’s inheritance. Remember, in Hebrew society, the eldest brother many times received all the inheritance or at least a double portion. Therefore, this supposedly younger brother would have received nothing. And, if he received a less portion, we see his jealousy of his older brother even more so, as he desired to have a greater portion than what he was allotted. Either way, he was sinfully lusting after what his brother rightly possessed.
In the 10th Commandment, there is a list of 7 things that are not to be coveted that belong to your neighbor or brother, with an 8th that is a catchall for any other property or goods belonging to others: 1) house, 2) wife, 3) land, 4) male servant, 5) female servant, 6) ox, 7) donkey, and 8) anything that belongs to him. It shows the breath of what this commandment covers. Nevertheless, this is one commandment with 8 examples of inordinate desire or lust.
Seven is the number of “spiritual perfection” in the Bible. Therefore, if we do not covet what our neighbor owns, we can walk in God’s light and righteousness, cf., Rom 13:9.
Rom 13:9, “For this, “You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”.”
Eight is the number of “superabundance” in the Bible, and here reflects God’s provisions for each individual that should not be coveted by another. Therefore, we are to be content with what we have been given by God and not sinfully desire the things others possess.
Interestingly, in the NT, there are ten instances of the Noun PLEONEXIA, Mark 7:22; Luke 12:15; Rom 1:29; 2 Cor 9:5; Eph 4:19; 5:3; Col 3:5; 1 Thes 2:5; 2 Peter 2:3, 14. Ten is the number of Divine Order. Mark includes PLEONEXIA in Jesus’ list of the unclean proceedings from the heart, cf. Mark 7:22. Luke more explicitly qualifies PLEONEXIA as the desire to accumulate possessions and wealth.
Mark 7:21-22, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness.”
Eph 5:3, “But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.”
Col 3:5, “Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.”
Of the false teachers of false doctrine, Paul states in 2 Peter 2:3, 14, “And in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.”
2 Peter 2:14, “Having eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children.”
Therefore, PLEONEXIA is an outcome of pure selfishness, and easily leads to dishonesty and deceit. The man ruled by PLEONEXIA considers his fellowman to exist solely for his own profit. Also, the heart that is covetous lives for the present moment, whereas in contrast, the Christian lives for the future, and their great inheritance in heaven.
The 10th Commandment makes clear that a relationship with God and man is a matter of the heart, first and foremost. As such, the 1st and 10th Commandments deal with what is in the heart, while the other eight focus on outward actions that begin in the heart. And, as we have seen, covetousness is about the heart. It is about desire.
Desire, coupled with the Old Sin Nature, (OSN), creates a pattern for sinning called the “lust pattern” of the sin nature. When someone has a desire for wealth, the lust pattern of the OSN tempts the soul in various forms of lasciviousness like greed, covetousness, materialism, appetite, and the desire for pleasure.
Regarding the Law, Paul also stated in Rom 7:7, “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”.” Cf. Rom 13:9
Therefore, Jesus states in our verse, Luke 12:15, “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.”
Covetous people will break any and all of God’s commandments in order to satisfy their desires, because at the heart of sin is the sin in the heart, Mat 15:19.
Mat 15:19, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.”
To covet is to feed the inward desires for anything that God says is sinful, and this commandment highlights the twisted desires of mankind under the sin of discontentment. In fact, all crimes and sin can be described generally in terms of the desire that triggered the chain of events. Whatever action it spawns, this illegitimate desire for something that belongs to someone else is the core of the problem and a threat to the community. Any action taken to fulfil such a desire is sin.
As I heard a homicide detective once say, “all crimes are motivated by one of three things, money, sex / relationships, or power.” Coveting is behind them all, as noted in 1 John 2:16; 2 Peter 2:10; 1 Tim 6:10; Heb 13:5; cf. Gal 5:16.
1 John 2:16, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh (appetite) and the lust of the eyes (beauty) and the boastful pride of life (ambitious pride), is not from the Father, but is from the world”
2 Peter 2:10, “And especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority. Daring, self-willed, …”
1 Tim 6:10 “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
Heb 13:5, “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have…”
Gal 5:16, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” Cf. 1 Tim 6:6-10.
And as our Lord stated, “For not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.”
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If you would like more information on this subject, you may watch/listen to lesson:
#20-047, 20-048, 20-049 & 20-050
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A PERSONAL NOTE FOR YOU
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I am here to tell you that Jesus loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His life for you. God the Father also loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His only Son for you by sending Him to the Cross. At the Cross Jesus died in your place. Taking upon Himself all of your sins and all of my sins. He was judged for our sins and paid the price for our sins. Therefore, our sins will never be held against us.
Right where you are, you now have the opportunity to make the greatest decision in your life. To accept the free gift of salvation and eternal life by truly believing that Jesus Christ died for your sins and was raised on the third day as the proof of the promise of eternal life.
So right now, you can pause and reflect on what Christ has done for you and say to the Father:
“Yes Father, I believe that Your Son, Jesus Christ,
died on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins.”
If you have done that, I welcome you to the eternal Family of God!