The Eighth Commandment
"Thou shalt not steal." - Exodus 20:15
Text: EXODUS 20:1-17
1. We have now come to the eighth commandment (Ex. 20:15).
2. I did some research in preparation for this message and what I read was very disturbing: insurance fraud, bank fraud, shoplifting, looting, car-jacking, people taking things home from work, etc.
3. There is a big problem these days with people stealing towels and televisions from hotel rooms. People even steal Bibles from hotel rooms!
4. I will not bother you with the shocking statistics – suffice to say they are rather depressing.
5. Chances are some of you stole at one time or another. If you are saved I trust you have repented and made restitution (cf. Luke 19:1-10).
6. Ephesians 4:28 says, “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.”
7. Notice, the Bible says not only that it is wrong to steal, but also that we should work with our hands so that we may be able to give to those in need (Eph. 4:28).
8. D.L. Moody told a story about one of the students at his Bible institute who rode the streetcar to school, but got there without paying his fare. After thinking it over he said to himself: “That’s not right. I should have paid the conductor my fare.” Later on he went to the depot and paid the conductor. The conductor said: “You’re a fool, you should have kept your money.” “No,” the young man said, “I am not a fool. I got the ride, and I should pay for it.” The conductor said: “You probably go that Bible institute.” D.L. Moody said: “I have heard few things said of the Institute that pleased me so much as that one thing. Not long after that the conductor came to the Institute and asked to speak to the student. A Bible study was started in his house, and not only himself but a number of others around there were converted as a result of that one act.”
I. THE BASIS FOR THE COMMANDMENT (PRIVATE OWNERSHIP)
II. VARIOUS WAYS PEOPLE STEAL
III. GOD’S REMEDY FOR STEALING: BIBLICAL STEWARDSHIP
I. THE BASIS FOR THE COMMANDMENT
1. Stealing is taking that which is not rightfully yours. Unless things can be owned by people, the word “stealing” is meaningless and the eighth commandment is unnecessary.
2. But all the commandments were handed down by God and are very necessary. And the right to own property is inherent in the eighth commandment, for if it is wrong to steal another’s property then it is right to own property.
3. Many people today are confused about this because they have been brainwashed by communists, socialists, and other left-wing ideologues. Their philosophy is: “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine” and “Share the wealth” and “Soak the rich,” and so on.
4. Karl Marx wrote an influential book called the Communist Manifesto. In it he wrote these words: “In one word, you reproach us with intending to do away with your property. Precisely so, that is just what we intend.”
5. So we can see from Karl Marx himself that communism is just another word for stealing (cf. John 12:1-6).
6. In Bible times property owners placed “landmarks” to show the line of demarcation between their property and their neighbor’s (cf. Deut. 19:14; 27:17).
7. God has compassion on the poor and hungry, and allowed them to eat their neighbor’s food (Deut. 23:24, 25). However, let me say that I do not recommend walking into a grocery store and eating the food without paying for it! The USA is not OT Israel.
8. Also, notice that the Israelites were not allowed to put any grapes in their vessel, nor were they to allowed to use a sickle to get corn. To take more than they needed was considered stealing.
II. VARIOUS WAYS PEOPLE STEAL
1. Robbery (Lev. 19:13) – what a shame people need alarms in their cars, bars on their windows, two or three locks on their doors, and so on! Stealing never brings happiness, only misery. A thief once stole one of Queen Victoria’s diamonds, valued at $600,000 (over 100 years ago). A few months later a wretched man died a miserable death in a run-down boarding house. In his pocket they found the missing diamond with a letter explaining that he was scared to sell it lest he be discovered and imprisoned (cf. Jer. 17:9-11).
2. Overcharging for goods or services is another form of stealing. Some unscrupulous businessmen try and justify this practice but Christians ought to know better. Remember God is watching.
3. False weights and measures – this is similar to overcharging (cf. Deut. 25:13-16; Pro. 11:1).
4. Usury is to lend money at an exorbitant rate of interest. What soon develops is the borrower is in bondage to the lender.
5. Receiving stolen goods is just as bad as doing the actual stealing yourself. If something looks “too good to be true,” it probably is. Purchasing “hot” goods gives incentive to the thief. If he were unable to unload his stolen merchandise, he would not steal.
6. Proverbs 29:24 says, “Whoso is partner with a thief hateth his own soul.” When you buy stolen goods you are in partnership with thieves.
7. Employers steal from their employees by not paying them fair wages. This is prevalent today with so many illegal immigrants working at sub-minimum wages. Employers are taking advantage of them, and this is tantamount to stealing (cf. James 5:1-6; Malachi 3:5).
8. But it is not just the bosses that are crooked; there are a lot of lazy workers too. For some employees, every time they pick up their paycheck they are stealing because they did not truly earn it.
9. Many workers goof off on the job, thereby stealing from the boss. We must give a full day’s work for a full day’s pay.
10. A man was asked, “How many people do you have working for you?” He replied, “Oh, about half of them.”
11. Pilfering is another common form of stealing. I am talking about people taking home pens and pencils and other office supplies, and so on. Unless you have permission, you are stealing.
12. How about borrowing things and then failing to return them? We used to have a church video library, and this was a big problem.
13. I don’t like to lend out my books because oftentimes people would not return them.
14. The man who does not pay his debts is nothing but a thief. I have a friend who used to be a salesman for a Christian radio station. He said many preachers did not pay their bills. They are thieves.
15. On the other hand, I know a printer who is a RC. While talking about a certain church, he said, “I like them. They always pay their bills on time.” That is a good testimony.
16. Plagiarism is another form of stealing. A few years ago a liberal Democrat Senator from Delaware was running in the presidential primaries. But he was forced to drop out of the race when it was discovered that he was stealing a British politician’s speeches. Furthermore, it was also alleged that he had plagiarized while in law school.
17. Many respectable, church-goers become thieves when they fill out their income-tax returns. I hate taxes as much as anyone, but our Lord said: “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s” (Luke 20:25).
18. Probably the worst form of stealing is robbing God. Stealing from one’s fellow man is bad enough, but robbing God is far worse (Mal. 3:8-10).
19. This brings us to my third point.
III. GOD’S REMEDY FOR STEALING: BIBLICAL STEWARDSHIP
1. The Lord Jesus Christ said the remedy for stealing is laying up treasures in heaven (Matt. 6:19-21, 24).
2. If your treasures are laid up in heaven, you do not have to worry about thieves getting a hold of it (Matt. 6:19-21).
3. The other night we were driving to prayer meeting and one of our members mentioned that people always say they are “blessed” when what they really mean is they are financially well-off.
4. They are mistaking materialism for God’s blessing (cf. Rev. 3:14-17). This rebuke to the church of Laodicea could be directed at many churches today. Materialism is killing our churches.
5. The true blessings of God are promised to those who are faithful with their tithes and offerings (Mal. 3:10).
6. Many Christians can quote Phil. 4:19, “But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” But many fail to realize that this promise is contingent upon giving (cf. Phil. 4:15-17). Claiming this promise without being faithful with your tithes and offerings is like trying to cash a check that does not belong to you!
7. God’s remedy for stealing is Biblical stewardship. If you have not been tithing, today would be a good day to start. “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him is sin” (James 4:17).
1. I have tried to look at all aspects of stealing and to approach the eighth commandment, like all of the ten commandments, from a practical perspective.
2. However, there is one thief we have not looked at yet (cf. John 10:1). The Lord Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven. He is “the door,” the only door (John 10:7-9). All others are “thieves and robbers” (10:1, 8).
3. Don’t be misled into thinking you can get to heaven some other way. Repent of your sin and turn to Christ now. Tomorrow could be too late.