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Read Introduction to Colossians


“Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.“


The fifth and last in the list of five sins we are to put to death is “covetousness.”

“and covetousness, which is idolatry”

This word occurs 10 times in the New Testament. “Covetousness” is the desire to have more. The Greeks defined it as insatiate desire. It can no more satisfy than a sieve used for a container. “Covetousness” is ruthless self-seeking. It is a strong desire to acquire more and more material possessions or to possess more things than other people have. This is all irrespective of need — greed, avarice, covetousness.

“Covetousness” takes advantage of others from the motivation of greed. This person exploits others.

“In this matter, then, no one should do wrong to his brother or take advantage of him (1 Th 4.6).

“As something you want to do and not because you are being taken advantage of” (2 Cor 9.5).

The New Testament always uses this word in a bad sense (Mk 7:22; Lk 12:15; Rom. 1:29; Eph 5:3; 1 Th. 2:5). “They are experts in greed” (2 Pet. 2.14). Gadgets, stuff, and things do not make up real life. Often people who have all the stuff have the least of true life. The “good life” is not necessarily good. They have no monopoly on life.

Once we strip off the camouflage of covetousness by confessing it as sin, by identifying it for what it is, then God gives us relief from greed.


The desire to have more and more is a vanity that can never satisfy.


Some believe that looking in store windows and longing for certain items is covetousness. If you go to a boat show and say, “I like that one,” that is not covetousness but normal desire. If your neighbor has a beautiful wife and you seek her for yourself, that is covetousness.

Satisfaction comes from knowing Christ (Phil. 4:10-13). Knowing him personally will displace your need for more.