The Tenth Commandment – Gospel in Life

The Tenth Commandment

Tim Keller |  August 26, 2007

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  • The Ten Commandments
  • Sin
Deuteronomy 5:1-6, 21
RS 196-16


We’ve been looking at the Ten Commandments. We’ve said the Ten Commandments are without doubt the single most influential set of ethical directives in the history of the world. We now come to the tenth commandment, and it is perhaps the key, in some ways, to understanding all the rest.

This commandment expresses one of the most important principles to believing and practicing the Christian life that I know of. This theme is something that is part and parcel of what we talk about at Redeemer a lot. When we take a look at this text, notice verse 21: “You shall not covet …” If we meditate on it, we’ll see three things: what we need, why we need it, and how to get it.

Deuteronomy 5:1–6, 21

The tenth commandment is like a map that helps us understand all the other commandments. It’s super important for Christians, whether you’re new to faith or have been a believer for years. When you really think about this commandment, it can help you figure out what you need in life, why you need it, and how to get it.

1. What we need

The tenth commandment is “You shall not covet,” which basically means don’t want what other people have. It shows us that we can’t save ourselves by just changing what we do. Wanting too much of something is like treating it as more important than God, which is a kind of idolatry. It shows that we need a new heart that loves God more than anything else and finds hope, happiness, and security in Him.

2. Why we need it

Saint Augustine, a famous Christian, explained that sin is not just about breaking rules. It’s about loving things more than we should, like power or comfort, and making them the most important thing in our lives. When we do this, we sometimes break rules to protect these things. This shows that sin is about making good things more important than they should be. That’s why we need a new heart that loves things in the right order.

3. How to get it

The Ten Commandments, including the one that tells us to put God first, are important but can be hard to live up to. The story of Moses getting the law on a mountain is different from the story of Jesus dying on a cross. Jesus is the one who connects us with God. If we focus on Jesus, thank Him for what He’s done, and try to understand his story, we can become people who are honest, generous, fair, and loving.



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