Monthly Archives: May 2018

The Tenth Commandment – A Christian Science Perspective

“Thou shalt not covet” 


Has anyone ever coveted or been envious of another because they had lots of number twos to use in their math applications?  Or the number five?  Or any number?  Probably not.  Why is that?  It is because numbers are not objects or images on a page of homework; they are ideas, ideas available to anyone at anytime at any place.  No one needs to feel deprived of numbers.  There is no reason to desire or covet them.  They are within consciousness, mental ideas.  This is a hint as to what Christian Science teaches about the ever-availability of spiritual ideas, the true objects and creation of the divine Mind, God.  More on that later.

As explained in my book for teaching children (First Lessons in Christian Science, Volume One: The Ten Commandments) found elsewhere on this site, this Tenth Commandment is unique because it forbids a certain way of thinking, rather than a certain way of acting.  This prepares us to learn that our thinking determines our experience.

Basically, what does “covet” mean?  It means to have an extremely strong desire, or wish, to possess something.  Most likely it is something owned by another person.  Covet is similar in meaning to other words, such as envy, desire, lust, and crave.  We will take a look at what the Bible and the writings of Mary Baker Eddy say about each of those terms as we go along.


The full text of the Tenth Commandment found in Exodus 20 (King James’ Version) reads:

“The shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbours.”

We find a helpful explanation in The Interpreter’s Bible:

“The Tenth Commandment – The word translated house really means ‘household,’ and the rest of the commandment is an explication of the scope of that word. . . . In the early days when the first Greek translation of the Hebrew text was made, the scholars used a word in Greek which clearly means ‘to set one’s heart upon a thing,’ and Deuteronomy uses another Hebrew word which makes it doubly sure that the intention here is to prohibit grasping thoughts that lead to grasping deeds.” (The Interpreter’s Bible: Volume One, p. 988)

One early Bible character that illustrates the negative consequences and shame of “grasping deeds” is David.  David is known as the courageous shepherd boy who challenged Goliath and was a devoted friend, among other good qualities.  He loved God.  He was made King.  But when he became besotted by Bathsheba, who was already married to Uriah, he forgot the Tenth Commandment and behaved horribly, against his better nature, and arranged for Uriah to go to the front of a battle, where he was killed.  David then took Bathsheba as his own.  But when the prophet Nathan confronted him about his deed, David was ashamed.  He and Bathsheba lost their first child, though later were blessed by the son Solomon, who became a wise king.  See this full story in chapters 11 and 12 of II Samuel.

Another “grasper” who coveted was Ahab, who wanted the vineyard of a neighbor, Naboth.  He tried to buy the vineyard from him, but Naboth explained that the vineyard had been an inheritance from his fathers and could not part with it.  Ahab’s evil wife, Jezebel, took matters into her own hands.  She arranged for Naboth to be wrongfully accused of blasphemy, for which he was stoned to death.  Afterward, Ahab, at Jezebel’s insistence, took possession of the vineyard he coveted.  This time God sent another prophet, Elijah, to Ahab.  The punishment was quite severed for both Ahab and Jezebel.  See I King, chapter 21 for the full story.

Covetousness can often be the motive behind greed, which is a quality of being extremely grasping.  The book of Proverbs warns of greed:

“He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house.” (Proverb 15:27)

“The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour.  He coveteth greedily all the day long; but the righteous giveth and spareth not.” (Proverb 21:25, 26)

Why be greedy, when God tells us He will supply what we really need.  We just have to learn to trust Him, as the Israelites were taught:

“Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.  Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass.”  (Psalm 37:4, 5)

The Interpreter’s Bible further explains the uniqueness of the Tenth Commandment and what it would have meant for the Hebrews of Old Testament times:

“The commandment is one of the early insights into the fact that the inner life of man determines destiny.  Here we step from the outer world of act and word, of crime and punishment, into the secret place where all good and evil begin, the heart of man.

“The inwardness of the last words of the Decalogue make them the very threshold of the New Testament.  There is no doubt that Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, had the Ten Commandments in mind.”  (The Interpreter’s Bible: Volume One, p. 988)


Jesus was very clear in his Sermon on the Mount that God should come not only come first in our hearts, but should be the one and only God we worship:

“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.  Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6:24)

“Mammon” refers to wealth or riches.  We are not to make idols of wealth nor do we want to become slaves to it.  But does this mean we cannot have wealth?  God certainly would want His children to share in the abundance of His riches.  Jesus doesn’t preclude abundance, but he tells us what our priorities should be:

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)

However, Jesus explicitly denounced the sin of covetousness.  In Luke 12, we read that Jesus was approached by a man who said unto him “Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me.”  Jesus replied:  Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?”  Then he laid out this warning:

“Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of things which he possesseth.” (Luke 12:15)

In the Gospel of Mark, we see “covetousness” included in a list of evil things:

“Out of the heart of men . . . proceed evil thoughts . . . covetousness . . . these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” (Mark 7:21-23)

Again, we see the idea that while the motive of covetousness may be unseen by others, it is nevertheless harmful to man.

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in her textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures:

“Jesus declared that to look with desire on forbidden objects was to break a moral precept.  He laid great stress on the action of the human mind, unseen to the senses.” (Science and Health, p. 234)

It is not just material objects (or wives, or cattle, or houses!) that can stir up covetousness, but self-centered ambition for position or honors or attention can, as well.  For instance, the mother of two disciples of Jesus (James and John) appealed to Jesus for her sons to sit on his right and left sides “in thy kingdom” (see Matthew 20:20-28). Another account of the episode indicates James and John approached Jesus on their own (see Mark 10:35-45).  Jesus rightly refused to bestow this honor and the request stirred up resentment among the other disciples.

We also read in the New Testament what the Apostle Paul wrote in his Epistle to the Hebrews:

“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have.” (Hebrews 13:5)


[NOTE:  For those unfamiliar with the religion of Christian Science, which is NOT
the same as Scientology!) you can read about it on the Questions and Answers page.]

In the first creation story at the beginning of Genesis, we read:

“And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31)

“Very good.”  In Christian Science, we learn this means that God’s man is complete, lacking nothing.  He is, as the first chapter of Genesis tells us, made in the “image and likeness” of God.  If this is true, how can this “reflection” be, or have, anything less than what God imparts to all?  God is Spirit, as the Bible also tells us.  Therefore, man is His spiritual idea, perfect as the Mind that made him and cares for him.

While mortals may feel lack and covet what others may seem to have, we each have a spiritual identity that includes all we need, especially qualities and talents uniquely expressed by each one.

In Christian Science, it is necessary to rid our thought of negative qualities that would hinder our spiritual growth, just as we would pull out weeds in a garden.  Covetousness is certainly a weed we would not want in our garden of thoughts.  Mary Baker Eddy writes:

“Envy, evil thinking, evil speaking, covetousness, lust, hatred, malice, are always wrong, and will break the rule of Christian Science and prevent its demonstration.” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 19)

It is important in the practice of Christian Science that we obey the Ten Commandments and learn to discipline our thoughts so that our actions conform to these laws. In his book “The Decalogue; Its Spiritual Significance,” the author Ames Nowell writes on the Tenth Commandment:

“As long as one believes that there is something ‘out there’ apart from God, good, and one is coveting it, this Commandment is being broken . . . the allness of God is actually being denied.”

Mary Baker Eddy also writes:

“Self-ignorance, self-will, self-righteousness, lust, covetousness, envy, revenge, are foes to grace, peace, and progress; they must be met manfully and overcome, or they will uproot all happiness.” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 118)

There are specific sins which can contribute to covetousness and are just as important to overcome.  These are greed, envy and jealousy, lust, and wrong desires.  We will take a closer look at these terms below:


Envy, like covetousness, is simply wanting what someone else has, but it often includes some resentment, or even hate, toward the person who owns what we would like to have.

From my book on the Ten Commandments, we also learn about jealousy:  “It is often confused with envy.  Jealousy is the fear that another person might take away something we believe belongs only to us (such as our best friend!).  Even though it is different from envy, it is still a negative emotion that we should cast out.  Shakespeare called these feelings ‘the green-eyed monster.’  It can sure seem that way!”  (“First Lessons in Christian Science, Volume One: The Ten Commandments,” p. 60)

“Pride, envy, or jealousy seems on most occasions to be the master of ceremonies, ruling out primitive Christianity.” (Science and Health, p. 64)

You might think, if envy and jealousy are only in my thoughts and I’m not hurting anyone, why are they wrong? Because we do hurt ourselves by indulging these sins.  And God needs you, His cherished child, to be pure of heart to be fit for service to mankind! Mary Baker Eddy lays it out:

Envy is the atmosphere of hell.” (Message of 1901, p. 3)

“Envy, the great red dragon of this hour, would obscure the light of Science.” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 254)

“A moral question may hinder the recovery of the sick.  Lurking error, lust, envy, revenge, malice, or hate will perpetuate or even create the belief in disease.” (Science and Health, p. 419)

Fortunately for mankind, the teachings of Christian Science give us the tools we need to lessen and destroy these sinful thoughts.

“You must give much time to self-examination and correction; you must control appetite, passion, pride, envy, evil-speaking, resentment.” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 137)

“The anatomy of Christian Science teaches when and how to probe the self-inflicted wounds of selfishness, malice, envy, and hate.” (Science and Health, p. 462)

“Man’s enslavement to the most relentless masters – passion, selfishness, envy, hatred, and revenge – is conquered only by a mighty struggle. Every hour of delay makes the struggle more severe. If man is not victorious over the passions, they crush out happiness, health, and manhood.  Here Christian Science is the sovereign panacea, giving strength to the weakness of mortal mind, — strength from the immortal and omnipotent Mind, — and lifting humanity above itself into purer desires, even into spiritual power and good-will to man.” (Science and Health, p. 407)

“Are we clearing the gardens of thought by uprooting the noxious weeks of passion, malice, envy, and strife?” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 343)

There is that idea of weeding our “garden” of thoughts again.  Most everyone understands the need to keep weeds out of a beloved garden.  It is an on-going project, not something to do once and forget about it!  Daily prayer is where we tend to our thoughts in our communion with our Father-Mother God. One way to push out the weeds of envy is with an “attitude of gratitude”!

A grateful heart a garden is,
Where there is always room
For every lovely, Godlike grace
To come to perfect bloom.
— (Hymn 3, Christian Science Hymnal)


Already touched upon in the Biblical Background section, greed is similar to covetousness.  In First Lessons in Christian Science, Volume One: The Ten Commandments, I wrote:

“Covetousness is often the motive behind greed, which is a quality of being extremely grasping – taking, eating, or buying way too much, certainly beyond what anyone would normally need.  Greed, of course, is not a quality a Christian would want to express.”

We need to learn to trust God to give us what we need. Mary Baker Eddy offers this guidance:

God gives you His spiritual ideas, and in turn, they give you daily supplies. Never ask for to-morrow: it is enough that divine Love is an ever-present help; and if you wait, never doubting, you will have all you need every moment. What a glorious inheritance is given to us through the understanding of omnipresent Love! More we cannot ask: more we do not want: more we cannot have. This sweet assurance is the “Peace, be still” to all human fears, to suffering of every sort. (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 307)

 “At this immortal hour, all human hate, pride, greed, lust should bow and declare Christ’s power, and the reign of Truth and Life divine should make man’s being pure and blest.” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 257)


Lust is an intense desire, or longing, for physical pleasure.  Our senses demand to be entertained!  We can become addicted to things we lust for, leaving us little time to think of anything else. Certainly this is something we need to master.  Mary Baker Eddy writes:

“The Scriptures say: ‘Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.’ That which we desire and for which we ask, it is not always best for us to receive.  In this case infinite Love will not grant the request.” (Science and Health, p. 10)

 “Lust, dishonesty, sin, disable the student; they preclude the practice or efficient teaching of Christian Science, the truth of man’s being.” (First Church of Christ, Scientist and Miscellany, p. 4)

 “The lust of the flesh and the pride of physical life must be quenched in the divine essence.” (Unity of Good, p. 39)

 “HELL. Mortal belief; error; lust.”  (Science and Health, p. 588)

 The Apostle Paul gave this advice:

 “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16)

 As we “walk with Spirit,” which is God, we are protected from the myriad suggestions that would lead us into temptation of lustful practices.  But it takes moment-by-moment alertness and a desire to be obedient.


 There is nothing wrong with having desires, but they need to be right and worthy.  Our desires may not start off that way; they may be based on materialism.  It’s humanly natural.  But Christian Science teaches, as does Jesus, that we need a spiritual approach by turning to God first.

“Desire is prayer; and no loss can occur from trusting God with out desires, that they may be moulded and exalted before they take form in words and in deeds.” (Science and Health, p. 1)

 “Jesus declared that to look with desire on forbidden objects was to break a moral precept.  He laid great stress on the action of the human mind, unseen to the senses.” (Science and Health, p. 234)

 Sometimes the answer to our prayers is that we do not get what we desire.  We must humbly accept this.  Perhaps it is a matter of not being the right time. We must trust God.

“That which we desire and for which we ask, it is not always best for us to receive.  In this case infinite Love will not grant the request.” (Science and Health, p. 10)

 “Let the slave of wrong desire learn the lessons of Christian Science, and he will get the better of that desire, and ascend a degree in the scale of health, happiness, and existence.” (Science and Health, p. 407)

What, then, would be the right kind of desires to yearn for and pray for?  Mrs. Eddy tells us in the first chapter of Science and Health, “Prayer”:

“What we most need is the prayer of fervent desire for growth in grace, expressed in patience, meekness, love, and good deeds.” (Science and Health, p. 4)

 Elsewhere she writes:

“Prayer begets an awakened desire to be and do good.” (No and Yes, p. 39)

 “Soul is the infinite source of bliss: only high and holy joy can satisfy immortal cravings.” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 287)

 “Happiness consists in being and in doing good; only what God gives, and what we give ourselves and others through His tenure, confers happiness.”  (Message of 1902, p. 17)

 In her autobiography, Mary Baker Eddy shares how her early desires guided her life:

“From my very childhood I was impelled, by a hunger and thirst after divine things, — a desire for something higher and better than matter, and apart from it, — to seek diligently for the knowledge of God as the one great and ever-present relief from human woe. The first spontaneous motion of Truth and Love, acting through Christian Science on my roused consciousness, banished at once and forever the fundamental error of faith in things material; for this trust is the unseen sin, the unknown foe, — the heart’s untamed desire which breaketh the divine commandments. As says St. James: “Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” (Retrospection and Introspection, p. 31)


Prayer to our Father-Mother God will help guide us in our journey on earth,and prove that we do not need to covet whatever our brothers and sisters may seem to have that we think should be ours as well.  In one sense, it is right to claim our mutual heritage as God’s children, each having all the grace and blessings that God bestows on His creation. As God’s image and likeness, we reflect all that God is and has, seen and felt in the spiritual ideas within consciousness.  There we find peace.

“The sublime summary of an honest life satisfies the mind craving a higher good, and bathes it in the cool waters of peace on earth.”  (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 227

*   *   *
Copyright Vicki Jones Cole 2018

An essay on Teaching Children the Tenth Commandment will be coming in the future.  In the meantime, you can read the daily lessons on the Tenth Commandment for young people found in the book “First Lessons in Christian Science” on this site.  Go to the Ten Commandments page and scroll down to the Tenth Commandment section.  To learn more about this book, see the About page.

The Tenth Commandment – For Young Children  (from the book)

The books on the “First Lessons in Christian Science,” found on this site, provide daily
lessons for teaching children and teens at home or in Sunday School:

Volume One:  The Ten Commandments
Volume Two:  The Beatitudes
Volume Three:  The Lord’s Prayer

For a list of all essays and articles on this site, go to the Essays page.
Below is a sample of some of the essays useful for teaching young people.

Teaching Children about the Golden Rule
Introducing Children to the Concept of God 
Teaching Children about Angels
The 23rd Psalm – Commentaries
Teaching the Ten Commandments
Introduction to Teaching the Beatitudes to Children

Questions and Answers on Christian Science
About this blog and the Welcome page

The First Commandment – A Christian Science Perspective – [includes Christian Science is Monotheistic; Basic Definition of ‘Other Gods’; Who is ‘Me’?; ‘Other gods’ and How They Affect Us; Disobedience to the First Commandment; Obeying the First Commandment]

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Teaching Children the Eighth Commandment

“Thou shalt not steal.”

While the Eighth Commandment seems very direct and clear – “Thou shalt not steal” – the definition of stealing appears to be a rather murky one for some. Young people who would be shocked at hearing that an acquaintance robbed a bank, or took money from a friend’s wallet, may see no problem with shoplifting from a store, cheating on an important test (because everyone else is doing it), or manipulating someone into destructive behavior, such as drinking or drugs, that goes against their better instincts.

This is one commandment that depends a great deal upon the example set for children by their family members or adults they observe on a regular basis. If a parent uses manipulation to get what he or she wants from a spouse, or a sibling bullies and uses other violent tactics to successfully intimidate others, then a young child may grow up to use these same methods.

You may be wondering what that kind of behavior has to do with “stealing.” If you have come directly to this page, you might wish to read the full essay on the Eighth Commandment for background. Each of the Ten Commandments addresses more than the literal, obvious meaning, and the Eighth Commandment is no different. If we think of stealing as merely the attempt to rob another of some object, it is time to take a deeper look at its meaning, if you wish to live the spirit of this rule of God.

Most children are taught not to steal as one of their very early lessons. This usually consists in learning that it is wrong to take things that do not belong to them without permission. And if this lesson takes hold that is a major victory! But as they mature, children could benefit from learning what other actions might be considered stealing, so they can protect themselves and others from breaking the spirit of the Eighth Commandment.

In addition to some of the points made in the earlier essay on this Commandment, here are a few ideas suitable for discussion with individual children or Sunday School classes.


1. Simply ask your young pupils if it is right to take a toy from someone without permission. They will probably repeat what their parents have taught them. Ask them why it would be wrong. If they do not understand, do some role-playing. Give them the  words to use to ask to use or borrow something belonging to a classmate or sibling. Then, ask them how they would feel if someone took something special that belonged to them and refused to return it, and so on. Remind them of the Golden Rule, if they have already learned about it.

2. Explain to them that God has a big rule: “Thou shalt not steal.” It is found in Exodus 20 and is one of the Ten Commandments. Ask if they might know why this would be an important rule.

3. Explain difference between stealing on purpose and accidentally taking something thoughtlessly. Remind them that if they get permission from the rightful owner first, then that is not stealing.

4. Discuss ways that young children often try to get things that they want: by nagging, or sweet talking insincerely, bullying, trickery, or taking something secretly and hoping no one will notice. All of these actions are unloving, and break the Eighth Commandment.

5. Turn their thought to the positive side of this Commandment – to WHY we do not need to steal. Show them Genesis 1:31 in the Bible: “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” God has only good planned for each of His children and no one is left out. We may have different things and different opportunities come our way. We can turn to God in prayer if we have a need, and learn to trust Him with our lives.

6. No one can steal from us what God gives. He gives spiritual ideas and qualities, and no one can take those from us. Ask if anyone can steal our “sense of humor,” for example. Why not? Does a playmate seem to be having a lot of fun playing with a certain toy that belongs to him? Would we be happy if we secretly stole that toy and took it home? No. Why not? Would we steal the playmate’s happiness if we took the toy, or does that quality come from God? Yes, we might make them sad, and we do not want to do that, but if they knew how to turn to God, they would see that God gives all spiritual good, and it cannot be taken from them. We can know that for ourselves, too, so that we would not be tempted to steal from another.


Older children and Sunday School pupils should be able to understand the ideas given in the essay on The Eighth Commandment. But there are certain situations that may be of greater temptation for those entering their teen years that should be discussed. For example:

Shoplifting and “borrowing” clothes: While most kids understand that shoplifting is wrong, there is a feeling that taking items from a store or company without paying does no harm to individuals, and therefore is not so bad. But they need to understand how this ends up costing them and consumers more money because of the losses to the store and the costs of insurance, which are passed along to shoppers. Therefore, it is stealing from the wallets of innocent, hard-working people. Also, there is a habit, not just with teens, of buying fancy clothes (often Prom or Homecoming dresses), wearing them once for the big occasion, and then returning them to the store. Explain that this, too, is stealing, because the dress then becomes “used,” and everyone loses money on it. Bring in the Golden Rule. Perhaps one day they will be shop owners, and would they want others stealing from them in this way? These store losses can affect the profits which are needed to raise families, and so on. The honest thing to do is to buy only what you can afford, and take responsibility for what is purchased, returning only what is truly defective. Explain that shoplifting is not a harmless game. It can land them in jail.

Cheating on Tests: Yes, this is stealing. By cheating on tests, students steal from others, their teachers, their school, and themselves. They deprive everyone of an honest assessment of whether or not the subject has been successfully taught and successfully learned. In some situations, students can be robbed of their rightful spot near the top of the class, by others who have cheated. Competition for college admissions does create a lot of stress for high school students, and there is a great temptation for them to do whatever is necessary to make good grades, but if they do not earn those high grades through honest methods, then they have certainly broken the Eighth Commandment. There are spiritual consequences to this that may not concern them now, but for those who love God and want see the benefits of obeying Him, there is a sense of peace for those who have honestly earned their grades.

Addictive behavior: Indulging in destructive habits such as smoking, drinking, drugs, or overeating is a form of stealing. These appetites can rob both mind and body of good health and proper development – spiritually and physically. Though Christian Science teaches that matter is only a false concept of the substance of Spirit, as long as we are human we do need to respect our bodies by taking common-sense care of them. Why give the poor body more than it can handle naturally? It breaks the Eighth Commandment when we steal this good health from ourselves, or encourage our friends to indulge with us.

Stealing friends: At a certain age, young people get very possessive about their friends. There can be a lot of manipulation among groups of friends to get best buddies or to exclude others from the clique. While friends cannot really be stolen, in the usual sense of that word, attempts to alienate the affections of one friend for another could be considered a form of stealing. True friendship and love is not personally possessive, and inspires confidence that friends can congregate and relate naturally, with no need to control others. Learning this discipline while young can prevent much heartache when romantic companionship become the coveted prize.

Stealing good reputations: It is also a form of stealing when one attempts to rob others of their good reputation by spreading gossip and falsehoods for whatever reason. This kind of character assassination is strongly rebuked in the Bible. And young people should know that in the adult world, slander is against the law, and there are serious consequences for spreading falsehoods about another. As always, the Golden Rule should be considered when tempted to control others through gossip or intimidation. This will be discussed again under the Ninth Commandment: “Thou shalt not bear false witness.” But malicious gossip can also be seen as a form of stealing.

Those are just a few of the areas of possible discussion with your children or Sunday School class. When other Commandments are broken, there may not be a social consequence. But many forms of stealing are against the law, and young people need to develop the discipline and instincts that will protect them from making destructive choices in the face of temptation.

For additional ideas for daily lessons, see the page for The Ten Commandments.  This will take you to the pages for First Lessons in Christian Science, Volume 1: The Ten Commandments.  Scroll down through the links to the lessons on the Eighth Commandment.

Copyright 2009 Vicki Jones Cole

The Eighth Commandment – For Young Children (from the book)

The Eighth Commandment – a Christian Science Perspective
[Background material useful for teaching older Sunday School students.  Sections include:  Biblical Background; Jesus and the Eighth Commandment; Christian Science and the Eighth Commandment]

Questions and Answers on Christian Science
About this blog and book plus a Welcome
Teaching Children the Ten Commandments

A good foundation for teaching all these lessons to your children or Sunday School pupils is to start with the essay on Teaching Children the First Commandment.  It contains ideas for helping children understand its deeper meaning and how to live “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” in daily life. See also the First Commandment daily lessons in Volume One: The Ten Commandments.

For a list of daily lessons useful for teaching children at home or in Sunday School,
from the book “First Lessons in Christian Science” go to the following:

Volume One:  The Ten Commandments
Volume Two:  The Beatitudes
Volume Three:  The Lord’s Prayer

For a list of all the articles and essays on this site go to the Essays page.

Here are a few essays useful for teaching children of all ages:

Introducing Children to the Concept of God
Teaching Children about the Golden Rule
Teaching Children about Angels
Introduction to Teaching the Beatitudes to Children
The Beatitudes for Children
Teaching Children the 23rd Psalm
Becoming a Living Monument to the Ten Commandments
What Mary Baker Eddy Writes about Teaching Children

The Ninth Commandment – a Christian Science Perspective
[Until the essay on Teaching Children the Ninth Commandment is finished, you can find background material useful for teaching older Sunday School students in this essay.  Sections include:  Biblical Background; The Ninth Commandment and the New Testament; Christian Science and the Ninth Commandment]

The Tenth Commandment – a Christian Science Perspective
[Until essay on Teaching Children the Tenth Commandment is finished, you can find background material useful for teaching older Sunday School students in this essay.  Sections include:  Biblical Background; Jesus and the New Testament; Christian Science and the Tenth Commandment; Envy; Greed; Lust; Wrong Desires]

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The Ninth Commandment – A Christian Science Perspective

“Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.”


There is something naturally appealing about truth.  Haven’t there been times when you hear a person speak forthrightly and you think, “It’s so refreshing to hear the truth”?  While not everyone would agree that the unvarnished truth is pleasant to hear all the time, those moments of plain speaking, free from “spin,” exaggeration, or withholding, can positively touch our hearts and minds.

Why is that?  Speaking from a spiritual perspective, it is because God is Truth and expressions of truth, sincerely given, connect us to our true selves and to divinity.  Truth is our natural habitat, the light that surrounds us, leads us, and helps us to see spiritual reality clearly.

Each of the Ten Commandments reveal, to some extent, an aspect of God’s nature.  The Ninth Commandment, ‘Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour,” is a first lesson given the Hebrews towards the goal of learning that God is Truth, His Word is all-powerful Truth, and His children, made in His image and likeness, walk in the light of truth, and are pure, upright, free from evil or errors.

The Bible shows in its evolving history of man’s progressive understanding of God that obedience to the Commandments offered protection and guidance until the Hebrews were taught by Jesus in New Testament times, to live love. The same is true for us today: humble obedience to the Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount is a saving grace, especially when done with love and selflessness.


Bible scholars tell us that the Ninth Commandment was about perjury rather than being a prohibition against lying in general.  Perjury, as defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary, is “the voluntary violation of an oath or vow either by swearing to what is untrue or by omission to do what has been promised under oath; false swearing.”

Today, many courtrooms around the world require witnesses in trials to swear an oath.  In American courtrooms, the oath is basically: “Do you solemnly swear that you will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?”  If it is discovered that a witness has committed perjury, he or she may be punished with a fine or jail time.

This crime of bearing false witness under oath was considered to be so serious to the early Israelites that anyone caught lying about another under judgment would be given the same punishment normally given to one actually guilty of that particular crime.

“. . . and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother; then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother; so shalt thou put the evil away from you.”  (Deuteronomy 19:18-19)

In the story of Daniel in the lion’s den (see Daniel, chapter 6), we learn that after Daniel made it safely out of the lion’s den through his innocence and God’s protection, the false accusers were subsequently thrown into the lion’s den, along with their wives and children!   A lesson to ponder:  how often do our loved ones suffer for the consequences brought about by lying and false accusations by family members.

“Thou shalt not raise a false report: put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness.”  (Exodus 23:1)

While the interpretation of the Ninth Commandment in its original language may have indicated it referred only to false witness under oath, the above citation gives a slight indication that any kind of false reporting is wrong.  It also seems clear through the rest of the Old Testament that God condemned lying – especially gossip and slander.  Obviously, the fear of punishment did not stop God’s people from falsehoods, or there would not have been so many warnings against it.  Here are some of the main ones:

“A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape.”  (Proverbs 19:5)

“Let the lying lips be put to silence; which speak grievous things proudly and contemptuously against the righteous.”  (Psalm 31:18)

“For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie.”  (Isaiah 63:8)

“Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off.”  (Psalm 101:5)

“A poor man is better than a liar.”  (Proverbs 19:22)

“He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool”  (Proverb 10:18)

So often we read in the Bible about certain vices or sins being “abominations” to God or hated by Him, as we learn from these verses:

“Lying lips are abomination to the Lord: but they that deal truly are his delight.” (Proverbs 12:22)

“These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:  a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief.  A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.”  (Proverbs 6:16-19)

God’s command against gossip and slander is made very clear in Leviticus: “Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people.”  (Lev. 19:1)

By New Testament times, the Hebrews had so loaded down God’s laws with unmerciful punishment among themselves that practicing them became burdensome.  But Jesus inaugurated a new reign of love and mercy.

“For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”  (John 1:17)


One difference between the Old Testament and New Testament is that fear and warnings of dreadful consequences were used in the early days to keep the children of Israel in line, while the New Testament writings show that Jesus, his disciples, and the Apostle Paul exhorted their followers to treat others through the motives of love, truth, and mercy.

A thorough reading of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) shows what Jesus thought of hypocritical behavior – in our thoughts, speech, and action.  Hypocrisy is a form of lying and being a false witness – but with ourselves as a living lie.

Jesus spoke only indirectly of the Ninth Commandment’s warning about what we swear to, or say. But in doing so he stressed an even broader meaning: that we should limit what we say to such absolute truth that our words would be examples of refreshing brevity:

“Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, “Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths:  But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.  Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.  But let your communication be, Yea, Yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.”  (Matt. 5:33-37)

Jesus, of course, was the target of false accusers, many of whom knew the holy scriptures thoroughly.  Yet their fear and jealousy of this Christly son of God blinded them to their duty to uphold God’s commandment.  It is possible they must have endured mental or physical suffering after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.

In the letters of Paul to the early Christians, he urged everyone to keep to the faith by living and speaking the truth only:

“Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds.” (Colossians 3:9)

“Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.” (Ephesians 4:25)

“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”  (Ephesians 4:29)

“Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:10)

“Charity . . . rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth.”  (I Cor. 13:6)


[NOTE:  For those unfamiliar with the religion of Christian Science (which is NOT the same
as Scientology!) you can read about it on the Questions and Answers page on this site.]

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, was raised in an early Nineteenth Century New England family that was devoted to the Bible.  She grew up with a deep love of its teachings and naturally adhered to its moral lessons.  She loved Jesus and did her best to follow his example.

However, good morals and simple honesty did not protect her from a life of ill-health and frailness.  It took the experience of a profound spiritual healing of a serious injury, after turning to her beloved Bible when at the seeming threshold of death, to open her eyes to a revelation that would change the course of her life and bring health and happiness to others.

Mary Baker Eddy spent the next few years searching the Bible for answers and for the confirmation of what she had seen in that burst of light and healing.  She describes it this way in her textbook Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures:

“When apparently near the confines of mortal existence, standing already within the shadow of the death-valley, I learned these truths in divine Science: that all real being is in God, the divine Mind, and that Life, Truth, and Love are all-powerful and ever-present; that the opposite of Truth, — called, error, sin, sickness, disease, death, — is the false testimony of false material sense, of mind in matter; that this false sense evolves, in belief, a subjective state of mortal mind which this same so-called mind names matter, thereby shutting out the true sense of Spirit.”  (Science and Health, p. 108)

Lies of the “Serpent”

Notice in that last statement that Mrs. Eddy refers to error, sin, sickness, disease, and death as “false testimony of false material sense.”  This gives an indication of a spiritual or metaphysical interpretation of what the original Ninth Commandment was pointing the way for mankind to eventually understand; that not only is it important to be honest, but to recognize that we are falling into a conspiracy of lies, by believing in the false testimony of the material senses.  We must learn protect ourselves from the suffering this “false witnessing” seems to cause.

Whether we notice it or not, we are challenged every day by false accusations. Why is that?  We can go back to the Bible which offered the first explanation. It all started with the serpent in the allegory of Adam and Eve.  Mary Baker Eddy describes it as follows:

“In the Greek devil is named serpent – liar – the god of this world; and St. Paul defines this world’s god as dishonesty, craftiness, handling the word of God deceitfully.  The original text defines devil as accuser, calumniator; therefore, according to Holy Writ these qualities are objectionable and ought not to proceed from the individual, the pulpit, or the press.”  (Message for 1901, p. 16)

Mary Baker Eddy had a term for these devilish accusations that bombard us:  aggressive mental suggestion.  Her followers are urged to defend themselves daily against these false suggestions, by watching our thought and rejecting any “lies” that come to us.  Sometimes the lies are from others, sometimes the lies appear as our own thought.  Because their source is not from God, the infinite divine Mind, who is Love only, the lies can be rejected. Sticking to God’s truth can bring healing.

Living the Christ, Truth

The teachings of Christian Science help us learn how to understand God, not merely to believe in Him, by praying to know Him better, and studying the Bible with a new perception of the spiritual meaning behind familiar stories and passages.  In Christian Science, one of the names for God is Truth.  The infinite manifestation of Truth is the Christ, the impersonal image of God, which comes to mankind to bless and heal, which was embodied by Christ Jesus.  But Truth is also the “Comforter” which Jesus promised would come to us when he was no longer physically present with us.  Mary Baker Eddy discovered this Truth and devoted the rest of her life in demonstrating and teaching this revelation so that we can all heal sickness and sin as Jesus did.

Students of Christian Science understand the need to obey the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount in their daily lives.  This helps to purify consciousness and provide the ability to be alert to falsehoods, both in our dealings with others, as well as the lies of evil and errors that oppose God’s goodness and supremacy.  Mrs. Eddy writes:

“Thou shalt not bear false witness; that is, thou shalt not utter a lie, either mentally or audibly, nor cause it to be thought.  Obedience to these commandments is indispensable to health, happiness, and length of days.”  (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 67)

Plato said: “What thou seest, that thou beest,” a truth that aligns with the spiritual view of the Ninth Commandment, in that we do not want to judge falsely anyone, which by doing so we show forth what we ourselves are.  For example, in Christian Science practice, if we see a sick man, and do not mentally reject the picture, we are believing that sickness is a God-made reality and therefore might make us vulnerable to the same belief, as well.  But both situations are false beliefs ready to be destroyed by truth.  The work of denying this error and affirming God’s truth, has proven to be an effective healer since Mary Baker Eddy’s discovery in 1866.  We have learned not to “bear false witness” for others as well as ourselves.  It can be, of course, a struggle to do this constantly, and there are certainly times we do not ignore wrong-doing or an illness that does not get healed immediately, but our goal is to try to see our fellow man as God’s child, His image and likeness as stated in Genesis as much as possible.  This may take consecrated prayer and much study of the Bible and the writings of Mary Baker Eddy to educate ourselves and grow spiritually, but the results are worth it.

“The Christianly scientific man reflects the divine law, thus becoming a law unto himself.  He does violence to no man.  Neither is he a false accuser.”  (Science and Health, p. 458)

“This Science requires man to be honest, just, pure; to love his neighbor as himself, and to love God supremely.” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 367)

Telling the truth is so important that Mrs. Eddy put a rule in her Church Manual stipulating that in the offices of the Publishing Society where her periodicals were prepared and sold: “No idle gossip, no slander, no mischief-making, no evil speaking shall be allowed.”  (Church Manual, p. 81)

In addition, Mary Baker Eddy wrote: “But all people can and should be just, merciful; they should never envy, slander, hate, or try to injure, but always should try to bless their fellow-mortals.”  (Miscellaneous Writings, pg 32).  It is no surprise, then, that when she established her newspaper, The Christian Science Monitor, she chose as its motto, “To injure no man, but to bless all mankind.”

Judging Others

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught:  Judge not, that ye be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1)

When judging others, our human opinion may not necessarily be the truth, so we must be willing to withhold our opinion when not needed.  Of course, there are times we are in a position to have to wisely use our discernment in judging others, such as in a court of law, or when hiring someone for a job, but speaking harshly to another in the name of “I’m just being honest!” is no excuse for hurting another.  A sympathetic or diplomatic approach may be the most loving thing to do.

Mary Baker Eddy writes of judgment:  “No mortal is infallible, — hence the Scripture, ‘Judge no man.’” (Miscellany, p. 364)

“He who judges others should know well whereof he speaks.  Where the motive to do right exists, and the majority of one’s acts are right, we should avoid referring to past mistakes.  The greatest sin that one can commit against himself is to wrong one of God’s ‘little ones.’” (Miscellaneous Writings p. 130)

“Students are advised by the author to be charitable and kind, not only towards differing forms of religion and medicine, but to those who hold these differing opinions.  Let us be faithful in pointing the way through Christ, as we understand it, but let us also be careful always to ‘judge righteous judgment,’ and never to condemn rashly.”  (Science and Health, p. 444)

Spiritual Sense versus Physical Senses

How do we know what is spiritually true about anyone, if we are witness to problems with our eyes and ears, etc. and it all seems so real?  We learn in Christian Science – and indeed through the examples of Jesus and other Bible healers – that we do not gather facts solely from the physical senses when it comes to metaphysical healing.  We must learn to elevate thought to see with the spiritual senses. We all have access to a spiritual sense, because we reflect Spirit, God, as His image and likeness.  In the book of Job, he describes it this way:

“But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.” (Job 32:8)  Mary Baker Eddy defines it:  “Spiritual sense is a conscious, constant capacity to understand God.” (Science and Health, p. 209)

As we practice demonstrating the truths of Christian Science, in addition to living the Ten Commandments and the teachings of Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount, thus purifying consciousness, we cultivate spiritual sense until it becomes natural to turn to it when needing to accurately judge a situation.

Mary Baker Eddy writes about spiritual sense versus the physical senses:

“The five material senses testify to truth and error as united in a mind both good and evil.  Their false evidence will finally yield to Truth, — to the recognition of Spirit and of the spiritual creation.”  (Science and Health, p. 287)

“What is termed material sense can report only a mortal temporary sense of things, whereas spiritual sense can bear witness only to Truth.  To material sense, the unreal is the real until this sense is corrected by Christian Science.”  (Science and Health, p. 298)

“Science reverses the false testimony of the physical senses, and by this reversal mortals arrive at the fundamental facts of being.” (Science and Health, p. 120)

“The use of a lie is that it unwittingly confirms Truth, when handled by Christian Science, which reverses false testimony and gains a knowledge of God from opposite facts, or phenomena.” (Unity of Good, p. 36)

“The opposite of Truth, — called error, sin, sickness, disease, death, — is the false testimony of false material sense, of mind in matter.”  (Science and Health p. 108)


The textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, offers a treasure trove of ideas about the perfection of God, man, and the universe that enable us to rise above the false witnessing of the “serpent” – the evil and the erroneous testimony of the physical senses — that seeks to punish God’s children rather than bless His creation, and seeks to mesmerize them into believing its lies and acting upon them.  This is the essence of the Ninth Commandment.  Simply, we do not disobey God by telling or believing in lies.

We could say that Truth is reality as God knows it.  So, to “get real,” let God alone bear witness to you and your neighbor in Truth and Love.

As St. Paul exhorted: “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.”  (Eph. 4:25)

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”  (III John 1:4)

* * * * * * *
Copyright 2018 Vicki Jones Cole

An essay on Teaching Children the Ninth Commandment will be coming in the future.  In the meantime, these essays are based on the lessons found in the book “First Lessons in Christian Science.”  To see the lessons for children on the Ninth Commandment go to the Ten Commandments page and scroll down to the Ninth Commandment list. See the About page for information about the book.

The Ninth Commandment – For Young Children  (from the book)

Next;  The Tenth Commandment – a Christian Science Perspective – [Includes Biblical Background; Jesus and the New Testament; Christian Science and the Tenth Commandment; Envy; Greed; Lust; Wrong Desires]

“How I Told My Kids the Truth about Santa without Robbing Them of the Joy of Christmas”

Questions and Answers on Christian Science
About this blog and book and a Welcome!

For a list of daily lessons from the book “First Lessons in Christian Science,” found on this site, that are useful in teaching children at home or in Sunday School, visit these pages:

Volume One:  The Ten Commandments
Volume Two:  The Beatitudes
Volume Three:  The Lord’s Prayer

For a list of all the articles and essays on this site, visit the Essays page.

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