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What does the Bible mean by 'thou shall not covet thy neighbor's wife'?

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Exodus 20:17
New testament

"Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's."
To covet is to have the strong desire for the possession of others' specific personal properties or relationships, going beyond simply admiring someone Else's possessions or thinking "I'd like to have one of those." Coveting includes envy - resenting the fact that others have what you don't. So if your neighbor has a beautiful wife and you begin thinking " I'd like to have her for my own," you are therefor coveting.




Another answer:

Your "neighbor," as I've seen it defined, is "anyone who is not you."


Coveting is "lusting"... an inward, selfish desire for self-gratification... in whatever category you care to name; whether it's sex, stuffing one's belly with food, or whatever.


Of the Tenth Commandment, Matthew Henry says:


"...The tenth commandment strikes at the root. Thou shalt not covet. The others forbid desire of doing what will be an injury to our neighbor; this forbids WRONG DESIRE OF HAVING WHAT WILL GRATIFY OURSELVES. This law, which is so extensive that we cannot measure it, will be the RULE OF THE FUTURE JUDGMENT OF GOD, as it is for the present conduct of man. If tried by this rule, we shall find our lives have been passed in transgressions. And with this Holy Law and an awful Judgment before us, who can despise the gospel of Christ? And the knowledge of the Law shows our need of repentance. In every believer's heart sin is dethroned and crucified, the Law of God is written, and the image of God renewed. The Holy Spirit teaches him to hate sin and flee from it, to Love and Keep this Law in Sincerity and Truth; nor will he cease to repent." (Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary: Exodus 20:17-21)


"COVETING"... LUSTING... is at the root of WHY THE WORLD IS THE WAY IT IS TODAY: at war, diseased, starving, polluted, miserable, suffering -- dying.


"What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Isn't it the whole army of evil desires at war within you? You want what you don't have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous for what others have, and you can't possess it, so you fight and quarrel to take it away from them. And yet the reason you don't have what you want is that you don't ask God for it.


"And even when you do ask, you don't get it because YOUR WHOLE MOTIVE IS WRONG - YOU WANT ONLY WHAT WILL GIVE YOU PLEASURE." (James 4:1-3 NLT New Living Translation)


And it's the "coveting of thy neighbour's wife"... sexual lust... that's one of [if not THE] biggest motivators throughout the generations of man, and contributors to the breaking of the other nine Commandments:


"YOU ADULTERERS! Don't you realize that friendship with this world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again, that if your aim is to enjoy this world, you can't be a friend of God." (verse 4)


Jesus Christ came into the world to shed Light on the Ten Commandments. He reveals to us that they are SPIRITUAL LAWS... not material ones.


Murder is the "physical manifestation" of the "spirit of anger and hatred."


Adultery, lying, stealing, etc., is the manifestation of LUSTING... WHICH IS A SPIRITUAL ACT.


It's the "guarding of the mind and heart" that man needs to learn from the Laws of God through His Holy Spirit.


"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. If you do this, you will experience God's Peace, which is far more wonderful that the human mind can understand. His Peace will guard your hearts and minds as you Live in Christ Jesus." (Philip.4:6-7 NLT)


Lusting after one's neighbor's wife is just one of the ten things man needs to guard his heart and mind against in his struggle to be born into the future Immortal Family of God.


The first birth we all experienced, we didn't ask for... and indeed, were not even aware of it. The Second Birth into the Family of God, is by choice. Like our first birth, it's still a struggle... but only through Faith in and Obedience to our Creator can we arm ourselves to overcome the enemy [mostly our selfish nature], and the god of this world, who fans the flames of our lusts.


"What do you think the Scriptures mean when they say that the Holy Spirit, that God has placed within us, jealously longs for us to be Faithful? He gives us more and more strength to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say, 'God sets Himself against the proud, but He shows favor to the humble.' So humble yourselves before God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you." (James 4:5-7 NLT)
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