Recently Phil Robertson, the perceived patriarch of the popular TV reality show Duck Dynasty, caused nationwide uproar when he commented on the deadly effect of specific sins listed in Scripture.
Robertson specifically alluded to Paul’s initial letter to the Church at Corinth.
“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?” 1 Corinthians 6:9
Then Paul lists ten specific sins, or prevailing lifestyles, that one is unwilling to abandon, to define the term ‘unrighteous’. The list is not intended to be all inclusive, rather representative.
Inasmuch as the ten sins are listed together they must be equally repulsive in the eyes of God.
One of the ten listed is covetousness.
The term ‘covet’ in the Greek means in essence to want or lust after something that someone else has, or basically wanting more than one already has.
The principle is found early in Genesis.
The sin of Adam and Eve had its roots in desiring something that God hadn’t provided or sanctioned. Satan offered Eve something outside the will of God.
“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her…” Genesis 3:6
The Hebrew meaning for the word ‘desirable’ in the above is synonymous with the word covet which means in the Hebrew to long for, or selfish desire.
The concept is so significant that it is the basis of one of the original Ten Commandments.
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house…nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” Exodus 20:17
By man’s logic, the sin of coveting is perhaps not nearly as serious as the other nine sins Paul listed in his writings to the Corinthians; however, Paul addressed that very issue in his letter to the church in Rome.
“…I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, ‘You shall not covet.’” Romans 7:7
Paul was confirming what Jesus Himself taught during His original earthly ministry.
“…Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” Luke 12:15
Therefore, the sin of covetousness has been defined and warned against. The next logical question is how such a sin is to be handled in the church.
Paul also addressed that aspect of coveting.
“But…covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints…for this you know, that no…covetous man…has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them.” Ephesians 5:3-7
Paul warns the ‘church’ not to partake of such sins as covetousness. He further instructs the church not to fellowship with partakers and then offers instruction on how to handle those in the church that do participate in such a sin.
“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.” Ephesians 5:11
The Greek base for ‘expose’ means to repudiate, rebuke, reprove.
Recall that covetousness is just one of the ten sins listed in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. Phil Robertson highlighted several others while this column is focused on covetousness. They both carry equal weight according to God’s standard of righteousness and justice.
The Apostle Paul stated that the church is to rebuke those who claim membership in the Christian Brotherhood but participate in any of the sins mentioned as well as not to ‘fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness…’
There was a tremendous outcry of bigotry against Phil Robertson’s statements.
Logically then this column will also be deluged with cries of ‘covet-phobia’ unless of course coveting is considered a natural and acceptable minor deviation from God’s standard.
The conclusion of the matter is that sin is sin and it is absolute folly to attempt to rank sin according to man’s standards or attempt to justify ungodly lifestyles such as covetousness.