With Janet Mefferd On What Scripture Says About Private Property

The eighth and tenth commandments, “You shall not steal” (Ex 20:15) and “You shall not covet” (Ex 20:17) are basic to biblical ethics. They are part of the natural law that God revealed to Adam in the garden, known by image bearers (believers and unbelievers) in the conscience (Rom 2:14). Christians have always called the Ten Commandments “the moral law,” to distinguish it from the Old Testament ceremonial (religious) laws and the civil (judicial) laws. The ceremonial and civil laws expired with the death of Christ but the moral law does not. It reflects God’s character and his moral will for his image bearers in all times and places. Thus, the New Testament appeals repeatedly to both commandments as part of the moral law (Matt 19:18; Rom 2:21; 7:7; 13:9; Eph 4:28; James 4:2). Each of the commandments assumes certain things. For example, the prohibition against idolatry assumes that Yahweh is God and everything else that people call gods are not. The prohibition against adultery presumes marriage between a man and woman. The prohibition against theft assumes private property. By definition theft is taking something that belongs to someone else. Likewise, the prohibition against coveting also assumes that what is coveted belongs to someone else. Our Lord Jesus assumed and articulated the justice of private property (see resources below). Janet Mefferd and I discussed these issues yesterday on her radio program.

Janet Mefferd Today airs more than 150 great radio stations across the USA. Find your station here and the podcast here.

Here’s the HB media library.


  1. Theft, Envy, and Private Property
  2. Ananias, Sapphira, and Private Property
  3. Heidelcast 89: God’s Holy Law—The Eighth Commandment
  4. Heidelberg 110-111: 8th Commandment—You Shall Not Steal
  5. Christianity Is Not Private But A Bakery Is
  6. Heidelcast 91: The 10th Commandment—You Shall Not Covet
  7. Heidelberg 113: Being Content (10th Commandment)
  8. Private Property, Public Accommodation, and Religious Liberty

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One comment

  1. Great discussion. The social gospel is a way of legitimizing disobedience to the law of God. Like the first commandment to Adam that forbade the use of what God had not given to him, the ten commandments forbid the coveting and theft of what has not been given to us by his ordained means, such as lawful purchase or marriage.
    Adam disregarded God’s law because he thought he would have a better life by disobeying God. He thought human expediency was the way to a glorified life. Then he tried to hide from God, in a vain attempt to deny Him.
    It is interesting that Marxism also denies the existence and authority of God. In doing so it denies that humans are created in the image of God, and that gives it license to treat them as expendable for the cause of the “greater good,” if they are considered an obstacle to the Marxist cause.
    It is very troubling to see that not only Liberals, but ostensibly conservative evangelicals are adopting the cause of social gospel, without regard for how this ignores God’s law.

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