Proverbs on Coveting

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Pastor Scott L. Harris

Grace Bible Church, NY

January 6, 2012

Proverbs on Covetousness

Selected Scriptures


I appreciated David preaching last week from Mark 7 on What Defiles a Man.  Current American culture including a large portion of the Christian subculture has bought into the philosophical lie that man’s evil actions are due to various environmental factors. Certainly factors such as friendships and social culture will influence the way a man behaves for people tend to behave and take on the views of those with whom they spend their time. Psalm 1gives strong warning about whom you allow to be your friends and counselors. Proverbs 22:24-25 warns, “Do not associate with a man given to anger; Or go with a hot-tempered man, Or you will learn his ways And find a snare for yourself.” Proverbs 13:20 gives both an encouragement and a warning, “He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will suffer harm.” Whom you choose as friends and counselors will affect your life. (See: Proverbs on Friendship, Part 1, Part 2,Part 3, Part 4)

The hunger of those in poverty can be a factor in them stealing in order to eat as indicated in Proverbs 6:30 and 30:9, but those same Scriptures also warn of the severe penalty for doing so and that it profanes the name of God. Hunger is a motivator to work (Proverbs 16:26), and if there is no work, then humility will seek out charity. It is envy, coveting and pride, which are all internal qualities, that are the sources for committing theft.

David’s sermon brought out Jesus’ point in Mark 7:20-23 that a man is defiled by the evil things within his heart – “evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”

This truth is very relevant to our continuing study in Proverbs concerning the moral faults and failings of various vices. Most people tend to judge what is a vice by the standards of the society in which they live. There is some truth in that when it comes to things such as proper manners. For example, in Western societies it is generally considered rude and crude to belch at the table, but in other societies giving a good belch at the end of the meal is considered to be a compliment to the host or hostess. However, God, not man, is the final authority of what is and what is not a moral failing. He is even the source of good manners because the foundation for them is in His command in Philippians 2:3 & 4 and other passages to be of humble mind and treat others as more important than yourself and looking out for their interests instead of just your own. Good manners are generated from an internal disposition toward others. This morning I will be examining the internal vice of covetousness.

The Command

The tenth commandment is “You shall not covet (chamad) your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet (chamad) 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” (Exodus 20:17). The basic idea of the word for covet here, ??? / chamad, is to desire. As delineated in the tenth commandment, this is in particular the desire for the material possessions that belong to another. Coveting is a sin of the mind for when it takes outward action it results in theft. The wickedness in this is seen in the contrast given in Proverbs 12:12, “The wicked man desires (chamad) the booty of evil men, But the root of the righteous yields fruit.” Booty refers to stolen goods.

The theft can be of animate or inanimate objects or intangible rights. The house and “anything that belongs to your neighbor” are inanimate while the servants and animals are living, however, they are also property that could be stolen themselves or what they produce, their labor, could be stolen. The specific decree that “you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife” is a higher level of theft. It is a violation of the marriage relationship and a sin against both the husband and wife. Proverbs 6:25 warns about the evil woman and the adulteress, “Do not desire (chamad) her beauty in your heart, Nor let her capture you with her eyelids.” We will talk more about the dangers of sexual sin in a couple of weeks, for now, just understand that fornication and adultery start with coveting. At its root is a selfish discontentment that rejects God’s provision and commands to pursue the desire to have what belongs to another.

The level of evil in coveting rises with the willingness to sin in order to gain the object desired – deceive, lie, cheat, steal, murder. Since God looks at the heart and weighs the motives (1 Chronicles 28:9; Proverbs 16:2; Luke 16:15), the sin has already taken place before Him before the action confirms it. Jesus made this point in Matthew 5:27-28. To look upon a woman to lust after her is to commit adultery in your heart. Coveting and lust have the same root meaning of strong desire. James 4:1-4 makes a similar point regarding other desires even pointing out that their prayers had the wrong motives of a desire to spend what was being asked for on their personal pleasures. Such prayers demonstrate friendship with the world which is hostility toward God.

Desires: Good & Bad

There are things that are good and should be desired. Proverbs 3:15 and 8:11 both use the word  ??? / h?pes to describe the strong desire that should exist to gain wisdom. This word does not have the connotation of envy that exists in chamad which is more often translated as covet. Proverbs 3:15 states of wisdom, “She is more precious than jewels; And nothing you desire ( h?pes) compares with her.” Proverbs 8:11 adds, “For wisdom is better than jewels; And all desirable (h?pes ) things cannot compare with her.” There is no coveting in the strong intention to gain wisdom for to do so benefits everyone without taking anything away from anyone else.

Proverbs 19:22 uses another word for desire, ???? / ta’?w”, to points out another quality that is good that should be wanted. “What is desirable (ta’?w”) in a man is his kindness, And it is better to be a poor man than a liar.” The character of the man will direct him toward the kinds of things he will want. The inverse is
also true, what is desired will reveal something about the character of the person. Proverbs 11:23, “The desire (ta’?w”) of the righteous is only good, But the expectation of the wicked is wrath.” Proverbs 10:24 gives another contrast, “What the wicked fears will come upon him, But the desire (ta’?w”) of the righteous will be granted.” The righteous yearn for what is good while the wicked wish for what is evil. Proverbs 18:1 warns, “He who separates himself seeks his own desire (ta’?w”), He quarrels against all sound wisdom.” In this case, the selfishness of the person’s desire results in them becoming increasingly isolated which leads to even more foolishness.

Another related word, ??? / ‘?·w?, can be translated as want, desire or crave depending on its intensity in its context. Proverbs uses this word in its many warnings about what is desired. Sometimes it is the context, not the thing itself, that determines whether what is wanted is good or bad. For example, Proverbs 31:4, “It is not for kings, O Lemuel, It is not for kings to drink wine, Or for rulers to desire (‘?·w?) strong drink,” Why is this a wrong desire? Verse 5 explains –“For they will drink and forget what is decreed, And pervert the rights of all the afflicted.” What is acceptable in one context can be wrong for another person or in a different context.

Proverbs 23:1-8 makes the same point concerning food. “When you sit down to dine with a ruler, Consider carefully what is before you, And put a knife to your throat If you are a man of great appetite. Do not desire (‘?·w?) his delicacies, For it is deceptive food. Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, Cease from your consideration of it. When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. For wealth certainly makes itself wings Like an eagle that flies toward the heavens.” While it is acceptable to enjoy the expensive foods of the rich, do not develop an appetite for what you cannot afford lest you get caught in the trap of pursing wealth – an endless pursuit of what quickly flees away.

Proverbs 23:6-8 gives a related warning. “Do not eat the bread of a selfish man, Or desire (‘?·w?) his delicacies; For as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, “Eat and drink!” But his heart is not with you. You will vomit up the morsel you have eaten, And waste your compliments.” This is a warning about letting someone manipulate you through your fleshly desires. When a selfish man feeds you well, be sure that it is a set up to get something more valuable out of you. It is an old ploy that is still used very effectively against the naive.

The warnings in Proverbs 21:10 and 24:1-2 are much stronger. Proverbs 21:10, “The soul of the wicked desires (‘?·w?) evil; His neighbor finds no favor in his eyes.” Proverbs 24:1-2 warns, “Do not be envious of evil men, Nor desire (‘?·w?) to be with them;” Why? “For their minds devise violence, And their lips talk of trouble.” Because the minds of the wicked are perverted, what they want will be perverted as well. They are dangerous to others. They are even dangerous to their friends for they will lead them astray into the same evils they practice and they may even turn on their friends to exploit and victimize them. Yet another warning about being careful about friendships and who you allow to influence you.

This same word, ‘?·w?, can also be translated with greater intensity as “craving” such as in the warnings to sluggards in Proverbs 13:4 & 21:25-26. “The soul of the sluggard craves (‘?·w?) and gets nothing, But the soul of the diligent is made fat.” In this case, what is desired may be fine and good, but it is not gained because the person is lazy instead of diligent and so cannot attain it. Proverbs 21:25-26 is more direct and revealing –“The desire (ta’?w”) of the sluggard puts him to death, For his hands refuse to work; All day long he is craving (‘?·w?), While the righteous gives and does not hold back.” Notice the contrast in this passage. The desire of the sluggard to be lazy and not work puts him to death because it is stronger than the cravings he has for the things of life. Proverbs 20:4 explains, “The sluggard does not plow after the autumn, So he begs during the harvest and has nothing.” An even worse sluggard is described in Proverbs 26:15, “The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; He is weary of bringing it to his mouth again.” Laziness is a vice with dire consequences, and it is very difficult to deal with such a person for as Proverbs 26:16 states, “The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes Than seven men who can give a discreet answer.”

Greed & Craving

The desires of the wicked can escalate beyond coveting to craving and greed. Craving describes an intense appetite for the object desired which drives the person on to gain it, and greed is the selfish and excessive desire to have more than is needed. This is not just the envy of wanting what others may have, but wanting to have more than that. Proverbs uses the word  ????/ haww”  in describing this desire and gives strong warning.

Proverbs 10:3, “The Lord will not allow the righteous to hunger, But He will reject the craving (haww”) of the wicked.” God makes no promise to provide for the wicked. That He does is a demonstration of His longsuffering mercy, patience and kindness or what is sometimes referred to as His common grace to man. It is the Lord that provides rain, grass and food for the animals (Psalm 147:8-9). Psalm 136:25 states that it is the Lord that “gives food to all flesh For His lovingkindness is everlasting.” Paul says in Romans 2:4 that these things should lead a person to repentance. Sadly, as Paul points out in the next verse, the stubborn unrepentant hearts of people reject this and instead store up for themselves wrath on the day of judgment.

As the Proverb points out, the Lord does promise to provide for the righteous. Jesus describes this in the Sermon on the Mount stating in Matthew 6 that you are not to worry about your life and what you should eat, drink or wear. Instead, you are to “seek first His kingdom and righteousness; and all these things will be added to you.” That should be the priority desire of the Christian for in seeking to fulfill it God will meet all your real needs.

Proverbs 11:6 gives a stronger contrast – “The righteousness of the upright will deliver them, But the treacherous will be caught by their own greed (haww”).” Righteousness is a protection, but greed brings its own negative consequence in both the present and the eternal. Greedy people will alienate their friends because in their selfishness t
hey will exploit others, and lacking true loyalty, that will also eventually include those to whom they are currently friendly. As already been pointed out, you must be wary of even the food of the selfish man for it is only a means by which he will later try to exploit you (Proverbs 23:6-8). In Luke 12 Jesus told the story of the greedy man who was busy preparing to build bigger barns to store up treasures for himself, “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?'”


The final word in Proverbs translated as desire is ???/ q?n?’. It is used when the desire is accompanied by a very strong emotion. Depending on the context, it can be translated as zealous, jealous or envy. To be zealous is to have a consuming desire focused on the one that is loved. Jesus had this for His Father’s house, the Temple (John 2:14-17, cf. Psalm 69:9). This is motivation of the proper jealousy of a husband in protecting his wife such as in Proverbs 6:34, “For jealousy (q?n?’) enrages a man, And he will not spare in the day of vengeance.” This is the jealousy of God for the objects of His love and results in His wrath upon the wicked as explained in previous sermons (See: Proverbs on Anger, Part 1 & Part 2). When this word is used in reference to improper desires, it describes the envy that exits within coveting.

Proverbs 23:17 warns, “Do not let your heart envy (q?n?’) sinners, But live in the fear of the Lord always.” Envy of sinners and the fear of the Lord are in stark contrast to each other and lead to very different ends. Proverbs 14:30, “A sound heart is life to the body, But envy (q?n?’) is rottenness to the bones” (NKJV). In this context the foolishness of having envy of sinners is apparent and should be enough to stop people, especially Christians, of allowing envy to exist within them. However, the enticements to envy are powerful.

In Psalm 73, Asaph describes how his own feet came close to stumbling as he observed the easy life of sinners compared with the difficulties of his own life. A strong enticement to envy is the fact that sin usually gains a reward very quickly. A lie keeps you out of immediate trouble. Deception allows you to gain a present advantage over others. Stealing quickly brings the objects into your possession and control. Violence brings about a fear that either puts others under your control or keeps them away. Adultery gains immediate gratification. Blasphemy gives the illusion of autonomy – you are in control instead of God. Asaph observed the prosperity of the wicked, the fatness of their bodies, their relative easy of life (vs. 3-5), and began to envy them. This was compounded by the contrast that the rewards for living a righteous life are often not immediate and the full reward does come until after this life is over. It would appear from the view of the present that the wicked are better off than the righteous. That is the reason the steps of Asaph almost slipped due to envy, but then he did remember the eternal perspective (vs. 17-28). The wicked would receive their just judgment. The righteous would be received by God into glory. It is still the same for us. The righteous must live in the present with eternity in view.

Solomon also commented on this strong desire filled with envy in Ecclesiastes 4:4, “Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man’s envy (q?n?’) of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind” (ESV). Solomon states that everyone has such envy for all men have a natural bent to covet. As I pointed out earlier, though coveting is an internal sin, it will lead to other sins that are expressed outwardly – theft, lying, hatred, adultery, dishonoring parents, murder, blasphemy, idolatry, etc. Coveting is simply a symptom of man’s big problem of being born as sinners and so having wicked minds and hearts. You claim that your heart is not wicked? Examine it for the things you desire and then see if you can make the same claim.

Wicked Hearts

Examining the deception of Eve in Genesis 3 quickly reveals how perverted our own hearts can be for we also quickly buy into Satan’s lies because they match our desires. Satan begins in verse 1 by questioning God’s command. He then escalates in verse 4 by claiming God is lying and that disobeying God will not result in her death. In verse 5 He slanders God saying that He is holding out on Eve and preventing her from being like God in knowing good and evil. Eve believes the deceptions and takes action when she sees that the fruit of the tree was good for food, a delight to the eyes and desirable to make one wise. Eve is led by Satan into coveting the fruit. She wanted what did not rightfully belong to her which resulted in the actions of taking the forbidden fruit and eating it. James 1:14-15 describes the process of such sin taking place. “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”

Satan still uses the same strategy and deceptions because they work. The command in 1 John 2:15-17 is to prevent you from stumbling due to these deceptions – “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” Lust simply means strong desire, and the when the desire for what the world offers is a greater enticement than obedience to God’s commands, then sin will surely follow. What does the world offer?

Lust of the Flesh. The desire to please the physical body in which you are housed is strong. The quest to bring pleasure to the senses of taste, smell, touch and even hearing drives people to do all sorts of things that in the end are sinful. The sin is not in that the senses experience pleasure. God designed your body to experience pleasure through your physical senses, so that is not evil. Such pleasure is good when it is experienced according to God’s design and in keeping with His commands. However, it is sinful when it is pursued contrary to God’s design and commands. Eve’s problem was not that she desired food and ate the fruit. Her problem was that though she had in the garden every fruit that was good for food available to her (Genesis 2:9), her desire became perverted to want the one fruit she was not allowed to eat. She coveted.

Think about it. In Genesis 1 God gave to man “every green plant for food” with the one restriction being the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but man no longer has access to it. There is no danger of violating that command. In Genesis 9 God said to Noah, “every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant. Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.” Later, the Mosaic law restricted certain types of animals from the diets of Jews in order to set them apart from the other nations (see Leviticus 11), but even those restrictions have been removed since the time of the early church (see Acts 10). Paul is explicit in 1 Timothy 4:1-5 that teaching abs
tinence from foods is a doctrine of demons for God has created them to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth, for everything created by God is good and nothing it to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer. Since there are no restrictions on what man can eat, man is free to create whatever culinary concoction he can dream up to suit his palate. (Though wisdom would dictate that you avoid those things which have become poisonous due to the curse on creation or to which your body has an allergic reaction, another consequence of the curse). When then does eating become a sinful lust of the flesh? Whenever the quest to fill the stomach or satisfy the taste-buds is done by any means contrary to God’s commands or as a substitute for seeking satisfaction in God. An indicator that this has become a problem is when there is a lack of gratitude to God for what has been provided or an unwillingness to gratefully share what God has provided with others.

Hebrews 4:15 states that Jesus was “tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” Matthew 4 records Satan’s efforts to tempt Jesus in the same way that He had successfully tempted Eve. Jesus overcame every temptation. How did He do it? Matthew 4:1-2 records that Jesus had been in the wilderness fasting for 40 days and nights and was hungry when “the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” This seems logical. Jesus is hungry and it would not be sinful for Him to eat. Jesus is the Son of God and it was not sinful for Him to perform miracles and multiply food as He would do later in feeding the 5,000 and the 4,000. What then would be the problem of doing as the devil suggested and satisfying His hunger? Several things. First, there is the issue of the devil’s subtle slanders. First, Satan questions Jesus’ identity, but he already knows Jesus is the Son of God, so there is no need for Jesus to prove it to the devil. Second, Isaiah 33:16 says of the righteous that ” His bread will be given him; his water will be sure.” The slanderer is questioning God’s provision for Jesus and challenging him to take charge and provide for Himself. The temptation is to satisfy the desires of the body though His own means and methods rather than relying upon God to provide.

The same temptation is commonly given to men. Will you seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness and then trust the Lord to provide, or will your priority be on providing for yourself first and then give God what is left over? It is obvious to most people that stealing even to satisfy your hunger is sin. It may even still be obvious to a lot of people that using unethical business practices to provide for yourself is sin. It is not so obvious any more even to professing Christians that failure to walk in righteousness and placing the priority on worshiping and serving the Lord is sin. Professing Christians commonly compromise the Biblical moral standards in order to keep their job secure. And since I am not a Sunday Sabbatarian, I am not going to say it is sinful to work on Sunday – I work every Sunday – but I am going to say it is sinful to place a priority on work over worship of God and meeting with other saints for mutual fellowship and edification. That is not seeking first His kingdom and righteousness and God’s promise to provide for your needs is conditioned upon that.

Related to this is the idea that satisfaction in life can be achieved through food or some other physical pleasure. This is the source of gluttony. People are mistaken when they equate gluttony with being fat. Certainly there is often a direct correlation for many gluttons are fat, even morbidly obese, but there are also many gluttons that are thin. In addition, Scripture generally equates being fat with the blessings of prosperity. Gluttony is primarily a problem of the heart. Food has become the substitute for satisfaction in God. Food has become the quest of life. It is the difference from eating to live and living to eat. This is the danger to both the gourmand who loves lots of good food and the gourmet who is finicky about his taste buds.

The same problem is seen in other areas of physical temptation. Living in a sex saturated society, the majority of singles now seek sexual pleasure before they are married. Adultery is epidemic because people are not satisfied with their spouse. God designed sex, but life is not about sex. 1 Thessalonians 4:3, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality.”

The hedonism of our society focuses on physical comfort, pleasure and an easy life. Two primary indicators of this are a lack of gratitude and the amount of complaining. The buildings we live and work in usually have heating and air conditioning, yet a common complaint is that is either too hot or too cold. Harnessing electricity is still a relatively recent historical development, but when the power goes out, some people are so accustomed to the comfort and convenience it brings, they feel as if life itself was in jeopardy. God uses the troubles, trials and pains of life to mature us (James 1:2-4). Life is not about your comfort, pleasure and ease. Alcoholism and drug addiction are just perverted forms of hedonism. Their pleasure is seeking to minimize pain.

What would be the reaction of most people today if they had to live as Jesus did. He said Himself that he had no home (Matthew 8:20). He lived simply based on the charity of others (Luke 8:3). He walked from place to place and had to endure whatever the weather happened to be. He worked until He was weary and then kept going because of compassion on the people. When He was crucified, all He owned were the clothes on His back. Jesus’ answer to the devil in Matthew 4:4 gives the reason why Jesus was able to overcome temptations to His physical flesh. “But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’ “ Jesus came to do the Father’s will even saying in John 4:34 that ” My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work.” Jesus puts his body in subjection to God and in complete trust to wait for God to provide in a righteous manner. Until then, Jesus would endure whatever physical discomforts that came upon Him. His goal was God’s glory, not His own physical comfort and pleasure. Jesus dealt with the next two temptations in a similar manner.

Pride of Life. Matthew 4:5-6 “Then the devil took Him into the holy city; and he had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple.”6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God throw Yourself down; for it is written, ‘he will give his angels charge concerning you’; (Ps 91:11) and ‘on their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'” (Ps 91:12)

This is a temptation to pride. The challenge once again is that Jesus would prove His identity to everyone that saw including the Pharisees that wanted a miraculous sign from Jesus – which is why the pinnacle of the temple was the location and not a remote mountain peak. The devil, the master of Scripture twisting, quotes from Psalm 91:11 & 12 to give weight to his challenge. The temptation is for Jesus to prove Himself and gain the following of the people by His own means and methods. In this case, a sensational miraculous act.

In verse 7, Jesus again goes back to the Scriptures, “Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘you shall not put the lord your god to the test.'” (Dt 6:16) Jesus subjects His pride to God and will wait for God to do things in His way and timing. He knows that to put God to the test only demonstrates a lack of trust in God and that is sin.

When Eve was tempted in the area of pride, her problem wa
s not that she wanted to be wise, for as we have seen throughout Proverbs, God wants to be wise. Her problem was not even so much that she wanted to be like God, for man is made in the image of God and is supposed to bring Him glory by reflecting His character. Eve’s problem was that she wanted to become wise by her own means instead of God’s, and she wanted to be like God for her only glory instead of His. She coveted.

We face the same type of temptations. We have to be humble and committed to doing things God’s way and for His glory and not our own. This is especially true in a time when Charismatic influence is so widespread with their expectations of current miracles. Our faith is neither proven by nor strengthened by putting God to the test by such things. Such practice always demands greater miracles and greater sensational acts to keep the natural, carnal heart satisfied.

Lust of the Eyes. Satan, who is the prince of this world” and the ” god of this age” tries a third time in Matthew 4:8-9. “Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory; and he said to Him, ” All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” This is a temptation to the lust of the eyes. Satan’s slander is that God the Father has not come through for Jesus, but if Jesus would do what Satan says, then Satan would give Him the Kingdoms of the world. Besides, it would be a lot easier to just give homage to Satan instead of having to endure the pain and agony of the Cross. The temptation is for Jesus to gain the world through His own means and methods instead of God’s plan for the cross.

Jesus again goes back to the Scriptures for the truth and rebuke of Satan. 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Begone, Satan! For it is written, ‘you shall worship the lord your god, and serve him only.'” (Dt 6:13) Jesus subjected Himself to the Father’s will even knowing that it would take Him to the cross.

Eve fell to the lust of the eyes because the fruit was delightful to her eyes. This is a temptation to mental pleasure. She was already free to look at and enjoy the beauty of the fruit, but she coveted it desiring to possess what did not belong to her. It is understandable that people want to surround themselves with things they consider beautiful, but at what cost and by what means? Again, you either do things God’s way or your way. You either seek God’s glory or your own glory. You either seek to please God or please yourself.


Satan’s slander is that God is not good because He is not giving you what you think you need, so go get it for yourself. This extends to any area of temptation. Because the temptations match man’s natural desires, they will always seem to be reasonable things to pursue and gain for oneself. However, they are contrary to God’s commands. The only way for this to change is for your desires to change, and the only way for those desires to change is for the Holy Spirit to convict you of sin so that you repent and turn in faith to the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ to redeem you and forgive you of those sins. You must be converted and become a new creation in Christ who is adopted into God’s family. The Holy Spirit then begins to conform you into the image of Christ as He enlightens you to the truth of God’s word and empowers you to live according to it.

Coveting and all its related evil and sin is due to man’s selfish desires. Man’s heart is set on this world because that is where he has laid up his treasure (Matthew 6:19-21). Coveting and susceptibility to its temptations diminish when you “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2). The change of desire to please God rather than self results in a changed manner of life. Immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, greed along with anger, wrath , malice, slander and abusive speech are replaced with righteousness, purity, compassion, kindness, generosity, humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance and forgiveness.

Do your current desires reveal righteousness or wickedness? What would you like them to reveal in the future? Place your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and commit yourself to seeking His honor and glory in serving Him. Let the first part of Proverbs 11:23 be true of you instead of its ending, “The desire of the righteous is only good, But the expectation of the wicked is wrath.”


Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children Do one or more of the following: 1) Count how many times the word “desire” is said. 2) Discuss with your parents what kinds of things you should desire.


Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. What influence do other people have on what you believe and how you live? How might you economic situation influence your behavior? Why is the source of defilement internal rather than external? What does it mean to covet? What is its relationship to the other commands in the Decalogue? What is the relationship to desire and sin according to James 4:1-4? What are some good things you should desire? What do your desires reveal about your character? Why does the sluggard crave and yet have nothing? What does God’s provision for the wicked reveal about the character of God? What are the conditions of God’s promise to provide? What is envy? What is its relationship to coveting? What can lead a righteous man to envy of the unrighteous? What corrects that error? How was the devil able to manipulate Eve’s desires to entice her to sin? Describe the process of temptation resulting in sin according to James 1:14-15. What is the “lust of the flesh?” How did Satan tempt Jesus in this area? How did Jesus overcome the temptation? How did the devil temp Jesus in the area of pride? How did Jesus overcome it? How did the slanderer tempt Jesus with the “lust of the eyes?” How did Jesus overcome the temptation? What is Satan’s basic slander against God? How does he combine that with our desires to tempt us to sin? How can a man resist such temptation? What do your current desires reveal about your righteousness? What would you like to see changed about them?

Sermon Notes – 1/6/2013

Proverbs on Covetousness



Your friends and counselors will _____________ your beliefs and behaviors

Hunger can be a _____________ to work, in humility seek charity, or steal

What defiles a man are the evil things ___________his heat – Mark 7:20-23

The Command – Exodus 20:17 (covet = ??? / chamad)

Coveting is a sin of the ___________for when it takes outward action it results in theft (Proverbs 12:12)

Coveting (and theft) can be of animate or inanimate objects or the rights that belong to ____________

Coveting is sin before God because He looks at the ______& motives. Later actions only confirm the sin

Desires: Good & Bad

??? / h?pes – strong desire. Used in Proverbs 3:15 &
8:11 for the desire to gain ____________

???? / ta’?w” – __________desires – Proverbs 19:22, 11:23; 10:24. Foolish desire – Proverbs 18:1

??? / ‘?·w? = want, desire, or ___________.

______________ determines whether something desired is good or bad – Proverbs 31:4

Do not desire the delicacies of a ruler (the rich) (Proverbs 23:1-8) or a _________man (Proverbs 23:6-8)

The wicked desire _____________ – Proverbs 21:10 & 24:1-2

Sluggards crave, but do not have because they ________work – Proverbs 13:4; 21:25-26; 20:4; 26:15-16

Greed & Craving????/ haww”

Prov. 10:3. God provides for the wicked only out of His common _______- Ps. 147:8-9; 136:25; Rom. 2:4)

God provides for the righteous – Prov. 10:3 – who __________His kingdom and righteousness – Mt. 6:33

Righteousness is a ___________, but greed has temporal and eternal negative consequences – Prov. 11:6

Envy???/ q?n?’

Zeal is a consuming desire focused on the one that is _____________- John 2:14-17; Psalm 69:9

Proper jealousy __________what is loved – husband for wife (Proverbs 6:24), God for His honor, people

______of sinners is in stark contrast to the fear of the Lord with an opposite end – Proverbs 23:17; 14:30

Psalm 73 – the power and enticement of envy in the _____________- until the eternal end is considered

Ecclesiastes 4:4 – Everyone has envy because the ____________ bent of man is to covet

Wicked Hearts

Genesis 3 – Satan deceived Eve because he manipulated her according to her ___________

James 1:14-15 – The ____________ by which desire leads to sin

1 John 2:15-17 – Love of the ____________ leads to stumbling into sin

Lust of the Flesh – The quest to ____________ the senses of taste, smell, touch and even hearing

Pleasure is sinful when it is pursued ____________ to God’s design and commands

Eve’s desire for good food was perverted to want the one forbidden fruit – she ______________

1 Timothy 4:1-5 – God no longer has any food __________________in place

Eating is sinful when it is gained by a sinful means or is a ________________for satisfaction in God

Jesus was tempted in all things, yet _____________ sin (Hebrews 4:15)

Matt. 4:1-2. The devil _________God & tempted Jesus to satisfy His hunger apart from God’s provision

Satan tempts men to provide for themselves instead of __________first God’s kingdom & righteousness

Satan tempts believers to __________Biblical morality or put priority on work over God and fellowship

Gluttony is founded on finding satisfaction in life through _________instead of in God -, i.e., live to eat

Sexual immorality and hedonism are both based in sinful _______pursuit of physical pleasure & comfort

Matt. 4:4; John 4:34 – Jesus _____by God’s word & to serve the Father – He would trust Him to provide

Pride of Life – Matthew 4:5-6

The temptation for Jesus was to gain glory by His ___________means instead of waiting on God’s plan

Jesus subjects His ____________to God and will wait for God to do things in His way and timing

Eve wanted to become wise by her ____________and become like God for her only glory – she coveted

We have to be __________and committed to doing things God’s way and for His glory and not our own

Lust of the Eyes – Matthew 4:8-9.

The temptation is for Jesus to gain the world through His own means instead of _________ for the cross

Jesus ________________Himself to the Father’s will even knowing that it would take Him to the cross.

Eve was free to enjoy the beauty of the fruit – but she coveted it & desired to ________what was not hers


Satan’s slander against God and enticements to sin work because they match man’s selfish ___________

The ______________of desire to please God rather than self results in a changed manner of life

What are your current ____________? What would you like them to be?

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