This perspective is the main thought behind my book series on the Ten Commandments. The commandment not to desire our neighbor’s house, for example, doesn’t put a ban on human desires; it gives us the opportunity to steer our desires in another direction. Therefore, as in the other books in this series, I am never focusing on the negative command (don’t do this) but on the positive urging of God’s Spirit, who will always guide us in what we can do and should be doing.
In the Today’s English Version (more commonly known as the Good News Bible) that I often use, the word covet is replaced with “desire.” The Tenth Commandment, as described in Exodus 20:17, simply says, Do not desire another man’s house; do not desire his wife, his slaves, his cattle, his donkeys, or anything else that he owns. At first sight this commandment looks like an easy one to understand. Just keep your thoughts and hands off of other people’s belongings, and you will be fine. When, however, we seriously think about such a moral code, a thought arises. If we are not allowed to desire stuff that belongs to someone else, we certainly must be allowed to desire certain things that don’t belong to anyone necessarily, which tells me there are right and wrong desires.
That makes sense, doesn’t it? If the Bible tells us not to do the wrong things, it will surely teach us how to do the right things. Restrictions indicate opportunities. My mother knows this as no other. Disabled people often understand this best because they learned the hard way. Certainly we can learn something here as well...
In my latest release My Neighbor's House, as well as in my previous books, I want to offer a helping hand in reading and interpreting the commandments (which we often see as restrictions) in relation to what the Holy Spirit is saying (which is often very liberating). Hopefully this will enable us to look beyond the commandments. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 3:6, The written law brings death, but the Spirit gives life. He knew this like no other. A written law can be kept or broken; a spiritual law will teach us something. In case of the Tenth Commandment, the Holy Spirit will show us what is behind that law and will make us understand the purpose. The Holy Spirit will teach us a valuable principle about desires.
Please don’t just look at God’s commandments as a written law but as a spiritual law that will bring us to a higher and healthier level of living. I pray that as individuals, as a church AND as a nation we will grasp this!