The Evil Secret of Covetousness

Our message today is on the subject of covetousness. This would be a merely theological debate, were it not so serious, serious as death. The Evil Secret of Covetousness is that it is the foundation of sin and is the operative vehicle through which sin is conceived in our hearts. Thus, it is the opposite and alternative to God and righteousness. Yet the existence and force of covetousness is necessary in life as God has ordained it, because God’s system for us is a system of free will and choice and such options, sin and righteousness, are inherent in free will and choice. So covetousness and righteousness and choice are as bound together as, as I call it, the coin of sin/righteousness/judgment of John 16: 8. Indeed the Holy Spirit works in us because of our privilege of choice, otherwise, there would be nothing for the Holy Spirit to do in us – we would be abject, eternal failures in sin, or we would be robotically perfect Christians.

But, we were made in the image of the Trinity, the Godhead, Genesis 1:26, and it was not necessary that we shall have been created, but our Creator chose, in His free will, that we be created, and that element of choice is one of the characteristics of the image of God in which we are made. Choice is indelible in us, but lest God specifically bind our heart as he did Pharaoh, our choice is as open to us as it was to Abraham on God’s call for him to leave all he knew and, merely, go. And so, as that choice was a test for Abraham, our choices are Godly tests for us. To pass the tests, we must understand the secret, the evil secret of covetousness.

So, I believe (maybe altogether in too much vanity), that we are interesting to God, and not just because He loves us, but because it is interesting to Him to see what choices we make and how we make them, even though He knows what we are going to do before we make up our minds as to what we are going to do. In other words, even though He knows us better than we do!

The first recorded choice occurred of course in the Garden of Eden, where God planted a tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and, Genesis 2: 17, and commanded of Adam that he should not eat of that tree, for in that day he would surely die. Adam and Eve became one, Genesis 2: 24, and, Genesis 3:6, both ate of the fruit of that tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Then, death came to the Garden of Eden, Genesis 3: 21, as God made clothes for the naked Adam and Eve from animal skin, and Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden of Eden, Genesis 3:23-24, and we have not found it since on this earth, where, now, on earth, it is appointed unto all men once to die, Hebrews 9: 27. Indeed, I Corinthians 15: 21-22, Paul explains, “For since by man came death, by Man (Jesus) also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.” In other words, there were, and today are, consequences of choices we make, and not just whether we get what we thought we really wanted in our choosing. There are temporal and eternal consequences of our choices!

The Ten Commandments make it clear to us that covetousness, defined as “I want . . . . .”, is the foundation of sin, of unrighteousness, of violation of God’s commandments to mankind, his creation. Exodus: 20: 1-17 expresses those Ten Commandments. There are two categories, the division of 4 and 6, as the first four commandments provide instruction for our relationship with God, and the last six provide instruction for our relationship with other people, but the common denominator is covetousness. Let’s see:, in the first four, we are commanded (1) to have no other God above God; (2) to have no carved image of another god that we worship and not to bow down to or serve any god but God; (3) not to take the name of the Lord God in vain; and (4) to honor God by keeping the Sabbath. Foundationally, if we choose to do anything different from these four things, we are choosing the “I want” pathway, which elevates our choice above God’s choice for us, and that is coveting His position in the authority structure of life, and is sin leading to death.

Now, in our relations with other people, we are commanded: (1) honor our parents; (2) not to murder, (3) not to commit adultery; (4) not to steal; (5) not to lie; and (6) not to covet (even if you don’t actually steal it) someone else’s house, wife, or anything else of his.. Obviously, these six commandments are all based on the “I want” pathway of life, in which we would covet someone else’s property or spouse, or covet the protection of our pride, even in murder, a very explicit “I want” pathway to the exclusion of the life of another. And the parent thing, honor thy father and mother, is the same covetousness, in valuing our “I want” pathway, valuing our traditions, maybe our generational differences from our parents, more than the pathway of Godliness commanded by God.

In the Gospel of Mark, we learn more about this sin in regard to honoring our parents, Mark 7: 9-13, “’He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and mother’, and “he who curses father or mother let him be put to death.’ But you say, ‘If a man says to his father or mother, ‘whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban – that is, a gift to God, then you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother, making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.’”

So, we see that all sin is based on our covetousness in displacing God with our pride and ego, or with the traditions of men in our generation, or in just plain following the path of “I want” instead of the path of righteous obedience and submission to the commandments of God.

If this is so, then how do we develop and learn a sufficient understanding of it that we can overcome it and maintain righteousness in our lives. Here are a few things:

  1. You can’t to it without Christ, to wash away your guilt and your sins, and even to be able to approach God. No man cometh unto the Father except through Jesus. (John 14: 6b)
  2. Understand that the capacity and power of sin is fully vested in you. Mark 7: 14-23, “When he had called all the multitude to Himself, He (Jesus) said to them, “Hear Me, everyone, and understand. There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, these are the things that defile a man. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.’ When He had entered a house away from the crowd, His disciples asked Him concerning the parable. So He said to them, ‘Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?’ And He said, ‘What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.’” Mark is telling us that this capacity for sin resides in us and therefore is capable of being turned into conduct by our choices. Indeed, as Jesus explained that lusting after another is adulterous, Matthew 5: 28, so it was noted in Exodus 20: 17, where the covetousness of a neighbor’s house, wife, property violates God’s Ten Commandments – same thing Jesus was talking about in the New Testament, but often treated as a New Testament expansion of the Ten Commandments, which it was not.
  3. So, if we understand what is in our hearts, that capacity to choose both, or either in a given situation of temptation, that is, righteousness and/or sin, then how do we manage this duality of possibility, of sin and righteousness? The secret of covetousness is unlocked first in knowing what it is, and its universality, and second in knowing how temptation works in us and in how God guards and protects those who love.
  4. How temptation works in us is laid out in James 1: 13- 16, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’, for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived (and that is the critical turning point for sin to occur), it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.
  5. But God guards and protects us I Corinthians 10: 13, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you (the Church—here, in Corinth), to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” God is the guardian and protector, and limitor of the extent of temptation for those in His Church, those are believers in Jesus Christ!
  6. And, when we fail, and failure is universal, we have rescue in I John 1: 9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” And in Romans 8: 28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” So God as guardian and protector is there to protect us and turn our bad into good, if we love Him and are called according to His purposes in life. Although he does admonish us, Romans 6: 1-2, not to continue in sin just because grace is available, but to stop allowing sin to come to conception in our hearts, asap!!


To understand Righteousness, we must also understand Sin. To understand both, we must understand their foundations: The foundation of Righteousness is God and His sinlessness; the foundation of Sin is Covetousness and our sinfulness. So follow this foundational principle, and understand and apply daily in your lives the six points outlined above to understand them Scripturally, so you can be wise, discern the difference between good and evil, and walk before God and Man in spiritual maturity!

God bless you+

The Temptation of Sin

My absolute favorite dessert in the world is ice cream. I could eat a container of ice cream and not even bat an eye…it is incredibly tempting. I see ice cream and I think of the Borg from Star Trek…resistance is futile. But, I have been resisting, I don’t eat ice cream nearly as much as I used to, or as much as I’d like. Anybody want to share a temptation they have?

Temp`ta ́tion (Webster)

n. 1. The act of tempting, or enticing to evil; seduction.
When the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season. – Luke iv. 13.

2. The state of being tempted, or enticed to evil. Lead us not into temptation.
– Luke xi. 4.

3. That which tempts; an inducement; an allurement, especially to something evil. Dare to be great, without a guilty crown;
View it, and lay the bright temptation down.

(Free Dictionary)

1.temptation ‐ something that seduces or has the quality to seduce
2.temptation ‐ the desire to have or do something that you know you should avoid; “he felt the temptation and his will power weakened”
3.temptation ‐ the act of influencing by exciting hope or desire; “his enticements were shameless”

Funny how the definitions are different in both of those dictionaries. Webster defines temptation as something evil, the free dictionary just says that temptations are “seductions, hopes, desires…” wow, what a difference. Unfortunately for the world, I think the free dictionary is what the world believes.

The scripture verse that stands out in my mind about temptation is when Jesus was baptized and fasted for 40 days in the wilderness.

Luke 4:1-14 (King James Version)

1 And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered. And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread. And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: 10 For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: 11 And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. 12 And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. 13 And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season. 14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about.

Being forty days tempted by the devil. And not once did Christ give in to Satan’s temptations. Notice that each time Satan tempted Christ, the things he tempted Christ with changed: Food, Power, Pride. Satan changes his tactics as he runs into resistance, but it’s all the same, he wants us to sin, he wants us to fall short, he wants us to question our faith and our God. He has done this from the beginning.

Genesis 3:1-13

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” 10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” 11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” 12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Satan tempted Adam, and Adam gave way to temptation and chose sin over God. How many times have we done the exact same thing in our lives? How many times have we chosen sin over God? The Israelites did it in the desert, not just once, but over and over again…constantly falling into what the Lord promised in

Judges 2:2-4 (New Living Translation)

For your part, you were not to make any covenants with the people living in this land; instead, you were to destroy their altars. But you disobeyed my command. Why did you do this? So now I declare that I will no longer drive out the people living in your land. They will be thorns in your sides,[a] and their gods will be a constant temptation to you.”

When the angel of the Lord finished speaking to all the Israelites, the people wept loudly.

God told them what was going to happen if they failed to listen to His instructions, just as He tells us what is going to happen if we fail to listen to His instructions.

Christ talks about temptation a number of times

“And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me. But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.

“What sorrow awaits the world, because it tempts people to sin. Temptations are inevitable, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting. So if your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one hand or one foot than to be thrown into eternal fire with both of your hands and feet. And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.

So why, and how are we tempted? And what do we do about it?

12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:

14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

God does not tempt us…Satan tempts us, in fact, he is called the “Temptor” in scripture:

And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

And we tempt ourselves with our own desires as we read in James. We are tempted by our own desires…I keep saying that…hoping it will change, knowing that it’s not going to. We have to endure temptation, and through enduring, become better Christians.

So how do we do that? How do we endure temptations?

When His disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, He taught them a short prayer, it covered everything that Christ knows is important.

In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
13 And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. Other translations say “deliver us from evil” however, I don’t think there is much difference between Evil and Evil one. Satan is evil.

So again, how do we deal with temptation?

1 Corinthians 10:12-16 New King James Version (NKJV)

12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

God gives us a way out, He always does. Do we choose to take it? Do we choose to continue in our sin or do we choose to walk away?

When we walk away, we glorify God, and He recognizes us, and knows that we continue to grow in our relationship with Him.

James 1:12-13 New King James Version (NKJV)

12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.

James 1:2-4 New King James Version (NKJV)

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

Blessed is the man who endures temptation, count it all joy when you fall into various trials. These are the things that build our character, that show God that we can put ourselves second and put Him first.

Let’s pray.