Ill – Gotten Gains

You may have heard of the saying “Possession is nine tenths of the law”. It has been glibly bandied around by people who think they are justifying themselves. The nine tenths which they refer to are of course the ten commandments which are listed in the old testament of the bible in the book of Exodus chapter 20. The reason why they don’t give the full 10 out of 10 is because they break the 8th commandment says “You shall not steal”.

But is there more to this than meets the eye? Are we sure that this is the only law we are breaking if we take something that doesn’t belong to us? It doesn’t matter whether it’s a biscuit, pencil, priceless art collection or a Ferrari – theft is theft, which must be punished and it doesn’t matter what age you were when you committed the offence. God is holy and just. He can’t allow anyone in who has rebelled against him in this manner into heaven. It’s worth noting here that if you break one law, you may as well have broken the whole lot of them, and are guilty of all of them because he who wrote do not steal also wrote do not murder and do not lie. He is not going to turn a blind eye to the one you have broken for the sake of the rest you may have kept.

Contrary to popular opinion, when we take things that don’t belong to us, there is more than one law broken. As part of the Ten Commandments, God included these:

  • 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. (When we steal, we are Rebelling against God.)
  • You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. (When we steal, we say to God that what I am taking means more to me now than being right with you, and we make an idol out of it.)
  • You shall not murder. (When you kill someone, either in cold blood or accidentally – whether born or the unborn, you take a life which you can never be given back. You don’t have to carry out the actual act itself to break this law, if you angry with someone without a valid reason then it’s as bad as committing the act itself.)
    You shall not steal. (Taking something which doesn’t belong to us.)
    You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbour’s. (Before we steal – carry out the act, an insatiable desire or lust wells up in us which says “I would love to have that” or “Think of all I could do with this”. If you look at the account of David and Bathsheba, you will notice how David first saw her, lusted after her and then sent servants to bring her to him, so it is with us.)

If you take into consideration all of the above, you notice that it may only be half that you are actually keeping and you begin to notice how you are on very shaky ground.