Ligon Duncan on Battling Covetousness, May 2002

From a sermon in late May, 2002:

“How does a believer combat this sin [of covetousness]? Answer: By grace, with faith, love, prayer, self-examination and contentment. To elaborate, we need:

1) self-awareness and self-examination. Am I covetous? What am I coveting? Why am I coveting?

2) a realization that society cultivates covetousness. Consumer/materialist culture is not a friend to contentment;

3) some godly reflection about: [1] the relative poverty of earthly blessings, [2] God’s blessing on those who long for heavenly reward, [3] the examples of those who have despised the world and loved the Lord;

4) to make a conscious effort to limit occasions of coveting and to check evil desires;

5) the cultivation of contentment (determining to be happy in every circumstance, and to be content with what you have) by [1] believing that the best condition is that which providence has given you, and [2] remembering that the more we have, the more we will give account for;

6) to fix our desires on wholesome and lawful objects (Paul says “covet the gifts,” see I Cor. 12:31;

7) to trust God’s providence, we need to battle coveting with faith, because the root of covetousness is distrust of/unbelief in God’s providence, and so faith is the cure of care;

8) to pray for God’s grace. Prayer for a heavenly mind: asking the Lord to give us the grace to want the “first things;”

9) to cultivate our desire for God (Ps. 63). Longing for God and the things of God; cultivation of “religious affections” for grace, heaven, and God;

10) to cultivate love – which is in so many ways the opposite of covetousness. Love is seeking the best interests of another, as opposed to coveting, which is desiring to take from our neighbor to serve our own interests.

 

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