How Can I Stop Coveting or Lusting? Answers From the Bible

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

It’s so easy for us to covet other people’s things or spouses, and from lusting in our hearts, so how can we stop coveting and lusting?

What is Coveting?

It’s so easy for us to covet other people’s things or spouses, and from lusting in our hearts, so how can we stop coveting and lusting? The command to not covet is nothing new. When God called and brought Israel out of Egypt, He taught them the Ten Commandments, among them, the Tenth; “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” (Ex 20:17). God says we can covet many things in our hearts; our neighbor’s house, spouse, transportation or anything else that we wished we had.

Guard Your Heart

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

The Deceitful Heart

Coveting is the only commandments that is often unseen by people because it takes place in the heart where only God can see. Breaking the other commandments are more easily seen by physical evidence, but this sin (coveting) hides deep within the human heart, where even the person may not know about it. Jeremiah the Prophet tells us just how deceitful our hearts are in putting it as a rhetorical question with the obvious answer being “no one.” Jeremiah wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it” (Jer 17:9)? Who can understand the human heart? It can deceive us. Only God can see into our hearts and only when God reveals our hearts to ourselves by His Spirit can we have a sense of what’s in our hearts. Otherwise, we’ve got blind spots…every one of us.

What is Lusting?

Jesus warned us about sexual immorality, even going into the inner-most parts of the human heart. He said we can sin even without committing the act of sexual immorality by lusting after someone in our heart. Speaking about lusting in the heart, Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’” (Matt 5:27), but Jesus takes this commandment to where the sin of adultery is born; in the human heart; in our thoughts and intents and desires of the flesh. Our Lord went on to “say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt 5:28). Now, not only is the physical act of adultery is called sin (and of course the physical act is far worse than lusting in the heart), Jesus says it is the same as adultery…calling it adultery of the heart. So lusting after someone who is not your spouse is considered adultery in the heart. That’s what lusting leads to. When it starts in the heart it’s easier to do in the flesh. It is lusting after flesh that is not yours and it can end up being actual adultery, but it begins in the very heart and yet, Jesus says it is still sin. That lusting in the heart leads to “desire [and] when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” (James 1:15).


Many of might not think of lust as idolatry, but that’s what the Word of God says. The Apostle Paul commands us to “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Col 3:5). Here’s why covetousness is considered idolatry. It’s because we put ourselves and our passions and lusts at the center of our universe.  But it’s something we must make an effort doing as he says “Put to death.” Paul is abundantly clear when he said, “you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (Eph 5:5). Besides, “sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints” (Eph 5:3).


I love how the Apostle Paul nailed it in writing that “the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Rom 13:9). We cannot love our neighbor by lusting after their things or their spouse. That is not what loving our neighbor is. Even if they don’t know you’re lusting after their spouse or things, God knows it and that’s a serious sin. And it shows we’re not contented with what we have now and want more. We might act like God hasn’t’ given us all we want, but think about this; He has given us all we need! Wants and needs are not the same thing at all.Is the love of money the root of all evil


it is natural for the lost world to covet after things. The world outside of the church sees nothing wrong with coveting, but the Word of God groups lusting and coveting with some very heinous sins. Paul looks at the lost world and sees that they “were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips” (Rom 1:29. Those who lust in their hearts are grouped with those who are “slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents” (Rom 1:30). Before I end, I must ask you who are reading this; have you trusted in Jesus Christ yet? Has God brought you to repentance and faith (Mark 1:15)? I pray that you’ve already trusted in Jesus Christ, for He says to you and He says to all, “unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:5). Repent today and trust in Christ or face God’s judgment after death (Heb 9:27) or at Christ’s appearance (Rev 20:12-15), whichever comes first.

Here is some related reading for you: You Shall Not Covet – Bible Lesson and Life Application

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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