Put it to Death

Colossians 3:5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

Perhaps the most misunderstood of the Ten Commandments is this one: “Do not covet your neighbor’s house. Do not covet your neighbor’s wife, his male or female slave, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:17).

Coveting isn’t simply desiring something we don’t have. If you see something that you admire, it isn’t necessarily coveting. That simply could be appreciating something.

Coveting is when you become devoured by your desire for something. Many times it is something that isn’t yours to have, ever. Notice this commandment talks about your neighbor’s wife. It is not just wanting a wife; it is wanting your neighbor’s wife. It is wanting something that you are not intended to have.

From the original language the word covet is also translated “to pant after something,” sort of like a wolf that has gotten a taste for blood and is pursuing his prey. That wolf will not rest until he gets that prey. That is what coveting is. You become obsessed with something. You must have it.

How does coveting work? First the eyes look at an object, the mind admires it, the will goes over to it, and then the body moves in to possess it.

We sometimes think that only people who are poor have a problem with coveting. Rich people have everything they want so they have no reason to covet. But that is not right. Coveting is something that touches every life on every social rung of the ladder. No matter how much you have or achieve there is always more to acquire.

Some people covet throughout their life. They become obsessed with certain things, and they will make any sacrifice to get what they want. It may be a person. It may be an object. It may be a position. Whatever it takes, they are determined to get it. And that drive can destroy their lives.

So, Paul says we need to put those desires to death, consider them as dead because they are idolatry.


David Ball