Simply teaching the Bible, simply

Do not steal

This study was taught at our Sunday evening service by Sim Forder, one of our pastors, on the 21st June 2020. You can listen to the audio on this web page or save it for later listening.

This is the ninth in a series of studies on the Ten Commandments (you can find the introduction here). At the start of the study we reviewed some foundations that are important when trying to understand the purpose of each law:

  • The heart of the matter, is the matter of the heart
  • The law exposes our sin
  • The law leads us to Jesus
  • We are saved by grace, not by works
  • Having been saved, we should show our faith by our works
  • If you love Jesus, keep His commandments
  • God has given us His commandments for our benefit

This study focussed on the eighth commandment that God gave to Moses on Sinai:

You shall not steal

Exodus 20:15

The legal definition of theft is:

The dishonest appropriation of property belonging to another with the intention to permanently deprive the other of it. - Theft Act, 1968, Section 1(1)

However, there are many ways that we can take that which is not ours – some by what our country’s law considers theft, and some that is punishable by other laws (such as where force is involved). But whatever the legal terms, as Christians we should not participate in any of the following;

  • Robbery
  • Burglary
  • Mugging
  • Shoplifting
  • Looting
  • Stealing something from another’s house
  • Stealing a vehicle, or something from it
  • Handling stolen goods
  • Printing fake money
  • Keeping something you’re not entitled to (such as overpaid salary)
  • Using money given to us for a specific purpose, on something else
  • Identity theft
  • Accepting charity when we don’t need it
  • Not paying your employees a fair wage
  • Taking on debts you have no prospect of paying
  • Evading repayment of debts
  • Taking lightbulbs from a hotel room
  • Lying about your age to get a lower price
  • Not paying for services you have had (such as a repair on your car)
  • Taking what is not yours (e.g. your siblings chocolate, your mum’s money or your colleagues lunch)
  • Exploiting others (to receive a gift)
  • Buying personal items on company expenses
  • Taking office equipment home without permission, with no intention of returning it
  • Stealing intellectual property (copyright, patents, code, trade secrets, product plans)
  • Stealing time from your employer (if you are paid for 40 hours a week – work them!)

We also considered how we can steal from God as noted in the Bible;

Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings.

Malachi 3:8

The problem is our heart;

The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.

Jeremiah 17:9-10

However, as Christians we are to live differently to how we did before we knew Jesus;

Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Romans 13:8-10

The problem is, we know how to treat others – but we don’t. And our actions, start with our thoughts, and specifically with our desires. When it comes to theft, we would do well to check our motives;

  • Greed (we always needs more)
  • Thrill (the risk, the chase)
  • Addictions (drugs, gambling, drinking etc)
  • For show (to impress, earn reputation)
  • Need (stealing to feed your family)
  • Our contrary (sinful) nature (we want to do the opposite of what we are told)

So, if our desires, are the problem, let’s consider what we read in Psalm 37;

Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday.

Psalm 37:3-6

How much are you delighting yourself in the Lord? How much time are you really spending with Him? During lockdown there are the extremes of having no routine at all, and that’s dangerous, and the other is having so much to do – perhaps more than usual – and that’s dangerous too.

Let’s consider how much we’re really delighting ourselves in the Bible…

How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.

Psalm 119:9-11

As with all God’s commandments, there is a blessing in keeping them. And with both this and the other commandments, if we follow them, we will be much more likely to have a close relationship with the Lord, and more likely to have good relationships with our fellow man.

We need both those things.

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