Question 12: What does God require in the ninth and tenth commandments? - Exodus 20:16-17

Note: Each of the following categories (Old Self, New Self, and World) will have one question for each commandment. Depending on group interest, time, or strategy, you might only use the ninth commandment questions, the tenth commandment questions, or both! 

QUESTION:  What does God require in the ninth and tenth commandments?

ANSWER: Ninth, that we do not lie or deceive, but speak truth in love. Tenth, that we are not content, not envying anyone or resenting what God has given to them or us.

Coveting is defined as desiring something that is not ours or belongs to someone else.  Bearing false witness can mean not sharing the truth in a legal sense (telling the truth), but can also mean misrepresenting facts about ourselves, someone else, or particular events.

In our current culture, it is almost expected that we covet. It’s also normal that we gossip, inflate the truth, or misrepresent ourselves. What are some common examples where you have seen this at work, in the city, in politics, family dynamics, or broader culture?
  • These two commandments are rooted in the way that we treat and live with our neighbors. 
  • A life consistent with these two commandments should create a new orientation to the people around us. 
  • To not bear false witness speaks to the way that we talk and share truth but also in regards to the way that humans tend to intentionally misrepresent the truth or themselves. 
  • Not coveting is a counter-cultural commandment to be content with that God has provided for us and not desire what is not ours. 
  • We don’t primarily address these prohibitions with our own willpower, but instead, we draw from the source of Christ. The new heart given to us by Christ can drive our desires in a correct manner.
Exodus 20: 16-17
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”
Often times our culture will present their opponent's position in a negative light and then show why they disagree with it (called a "straw man" argument). The sermon mentions the concept of “Gospel Polemics" - doing the hard work of stating your opponent's argument in a positive light before interacting with it.
  • Can you name some examples, either in your own life or in our culture, in which the "straw man" technique is used? How might you flip the script on this argument and reframe it using Gospel Polemics?
  • Why do you think we tend to do this? What are the hidden consequences?
  • Followup: Can you think of any instances we tend to become a different person depending on the situation (work vs. home vs. friends)?

Why has the idea of “coveting” become a normal and almost expected action in our current culture?

The sermon mentioned some different justifications (“I need” or “It’s good for the economy”) that we use both in our culture to justify our actions when we covet. What are some other justifications that you notice in the culture or within yourself?

Can you think of a time when you did not engage in Gospel Polemics well? Speak to the benefit that could have been present in that situation if you were able to accurately represent the views you disagreed with.

Followup: Revisiting the question about living two types of lives:  Can you think of a time when you did not live consistently?  If you were able to start living consistently, what is the benefit it brought? If you haven’t been able to start that consistency quite yet, what benefit might it bring?

The way that we can fight against unhealthy desire is to practice contentment.  What does contentment actually look like?
  • Can you think of any examples of this being done well in certain areas by yourself or anyone you know?
  • How might you balance the “need” for things with “coveting” for things?

The new way that we live can either come down to a self-powered will or by leaning into the new nature that we have in Christ.  Remember that as we draw on the power of Christ and his example we have a special power (a new heart) to support us in these changes.

Pay attention this week to where your insight is sparked when listening to arguments you may not agree with.  
  • Do you sense that you accurately represent them before engaging?  
  • Followup:  Try an audit on your life.  Do you live a certain way in any situation that isn’t in line with how you live in another area in your life?  What might that change look like for you?

Take notice of new ways that you might sense you are not content with the world around you. Share this next week in your Fellowship Group.

Lord of All Truth, help us to reflect your goodness in word and deed. You know all things. Nothing is hidden from you. You give good gifts and withhold no good thing from your children. May your truth be on our lips and contentment be in our hearts. Amen.