Mark Horne

The Path to Personal Integrity from First Command to Tenth

If we trust God, then we can be confident that our problems are tests meant for us and that God is providing what we need. We can serve Him and help others without being distracted by perceived inequality. God establishes our place and allows us to develop personal integrity. Ultimately, the prohibition on covetousness means we get to regard ourselves as blessed and destined for glory. We have too much to worry about what others possess.

It may seem strange to follow up a post on the First “Commandment” of the Decalogue with one on the Tenth. But I think it may help demonstrate to you how all Ten are a unified message, not simply a list. Consider what happens if he go straight from One to Ten. I submit that this sounds quite natural and logical:
I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me… 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.
Exodus 20:2, 2, 17 ESV
Something similar happens if we mash up the Sixth Word with the Tenth:
You shall not murder… 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.
Exodus 20:13, 17 ESV
This works especially well when we remember that the first murder in history was motivated by resentment and envy (Genesis 4:1-8).
The close affinity between the First and Tenth words is bolstered, almost as an aside, by Paul in his letter to the Colossians:
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, enthroned at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Regard as dead, therefore, what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
Colossians 3:1–6
Read More
Related Posts:

The Key to Romans: God Wanted & Needed More Sin in Order to Save Us from It

Jesus both provoked the world to the ultimate sin and then stepped in the path of that wrath. He came at the right time just when the priestly people who had been given the covenant law had become the worst offenders. He literally came on Judgment Day. And the only reason there is a world of human beings today is because that judgment fell on him instead of the ones who deserved it. 
Paul writes to the Romans in what may seem almost an off-hand comment: “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6 ESV; emphasis added).
This verse starkly shows that Paul, at times, can refer to the flow of human history as a collective pronoun. “We” were weak in the beginning of the first century, and then Christ died for us. Many Christians have conversion stories whereby they learned what Jesus did for them, repented and entrusted themselves to Him, and were empowered by the Holy Spirit to walk in newness of life. That is a fruitful analogy, but Paul obviously isn’t talking about what happened in all Christian biographies. He is talking about what God and Jesus Christ did in human history at the crucifixion.
And this passage tells us not only that Christ died in human history but that he did so “at the right time” in human history.
What was it about what we now know as the First Century AD (which is also the common era, but that designation remain dependent on the work of Our Lord) that made it appropriate for Christ to be born, live, die, rise, ascend to the throne, and pour out the Holy Spirit?
Paul repeatedly makes this claim about the timing of redemption is Christ:

“In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:3-5 ESV).
“…making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Ephesians 1:9–10 ESV).
“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time” (1 Timothy 2:5–6 ESV).
“Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior” (Titus 1:1–3 ESV).

So there are many reasons to ask the question: What was so important about the timing of Jesus’ mission? What made that point in human history “the fullness of time” and “the proper time”?
Perhaps it might help us to answer that question if we developed curiosity about another question. Maybe the real question should be: What delayed Jesus so long in human history? Maybe we ought to expect that there must have been something proper about the time of the incarnation and the work of Christ. Or rather, that there must have been some good reason for the delay. Without an explanation for the thousands of years between Genesis 3 and the Gospels, John 3:16 becomes rather confusing. “For God so loved the world, that” thousands of years later “he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Why the wait?
Consider the synoptic Gospels.
Jesus declared that the sins of Israel were reaching a climax in his own death. In the parable of the tenants and the vineyard (Matthew 21:33–46; Mark 12:1–12; Luke 20:9–19), Jesus described his impending murder as the final climactic sin in Israel’s history, the one that will mean “the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits” (Matthew 21:41). Of course, this death is, in fact, the action that will provide for a New Covenant that involves forgiveness of many, as Jesus signified in the establishment of the Lord’s supper (Matthew 26:28). So this murder, while bringing wrath on those who remain in unbelief, also provides the salvation for all who believe.
Again, this isn’t presented as a simple one-time sin. It is presented in the parable as the climactic sin that builds on a repeated history. In Matthew 23, the point is a bit more obscure because Jesus includes the persecution of his followers along with his own suffering at the hands of the unbelieving rulers in Jerusalem. But nevertheless, Jesus is again warning them that they are culminating a historic pattern of sin.
Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation (Matthew 23:32–36 ESV).
The plain reading of these texts is that the rejection of Christ (and his followers) was not an isolated incident. It was a climactic sin that fulfilled a practice that Israel had long engage in. And this sin was serious not only because of who Jesus was, but because it showed they were doubling down on their worst behavior. “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.’ But when the tenants saw him, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Let us kill him, so that the inheritance may be ours’” (Luke 20:13–14 ESV). They were presuming on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness was meant to lead them to repentance. Because of their hard and impenitent heart they were storing up wrath for themselves on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment would be revealed.
God Meant It for Good
This might be a good place to briefly consider the mystery of predestination. God was repeatedly merciful to Israel. Though he slew the Exodus generation in the wilderness, that was a mere chastisement. When he was really angry he wiped out entire family lines. In this case, he saved all their children.
He constantly forgave Israel in the time of the Judges. When the sins of Eli and his sons caused the ark to be taken into captivity, damaging Tabernacle worship beyond repair, He gave them a new place of worship and a new system of government (Temple and the Monarchy).
And when they sinned to the point that the Temple was destroyed and God sent them into exile, seventy years later God brought them back to their land in a greater way. They had a new Temple and new international influence as a people both in the Promised Land and throughout the empires. Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.
But when Jesus began his ministry, Israel, having sinned against the grace of restoration from exile, was now more debauched than ever. The prophet Zachariah was shown a vision of Israel being cleansed of demonic possession at the return from exile in a kind of inversion of Ezekiel’s glory cloud (Ezekiel 1) involving an anti-ark of the Covenant:
Then the angel who talked with me came forward and said to me, “Lift your eyes and see what this is that is going out.” And I said, “What is it?” He said, “This is the basket that is going out.” And he said, “This is their iniquity in all the land.” And behold, the leaden cover was lifted, and there was a woman sitting in the basket! And he said, “This is Wickedness.” And he thrust her back into the basket, and thrust down the leaden weight on its opening. Then I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, two women coming forward! The wind was in their wings. They had wings like the wings of a stork, and they lifted up the basket between earth and heaven. Then I said to the angel who talked with me, “Where are they taking the basket?” He said to me, “To the land of Shinar, to build a house for it. And when this is prepared, they will set the basket down there on its base.”Zechariah 5:5–11 ESV
Read More

Scroll to top