Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all things shall be added unto you (Matt. 6:33)

Category — Theft of using the rational to confirm goods and truths as one’s own

“Thou shalt not steal” by Rev. P.N.Odhner

“Thou shalt not steal.” (Exodus 20:15)

All the Ten Precepts of the Decalogue look to the universal reigning of the Divine Human in all things of man’s love and faith, in all the good and true with man, in all things of his will and understanding. If this end is not with us in the keeping of the Precepts, then they become with us a mere moral and civil code, less than they are with the gentiles. The goods which are commanded in these Precepts are the Lord’s. They are the goods which He made receptible to men when He fought and suffered to glorify His Human. The evils forbidden in these precepts are the evils which prevent the reception of the goods and trues of the Divine Human in the mind of man. They prevent the Lord’s reigning universally in the goods and trues in the love and faith with man. For this cause alone they are sins against God. The man of the Church should hot think of these Precepts in any other way. If the man of the Church does think of these Precepts in any other way, and we must face the fact that often we do think of them in another way, then it is because the thought is influenced by one or another of the evils forbidden in them.

Of the seventh Precept, “Thou shalt not steal,” it is said in the Arcana Coelestia: “Thou shalt not steal, signifies that his spiritual goods must not be taken away from anyone, and that those things which are the Lord’s must not be attributed to self.” (Arcana Coelestia 8905.)

Looked at from a merely natural viewpoint, the evil of theft does not appear as bad as the evil of murder or of adultery. But it is said in the Word that this evil enters more deeply into man than other evils, because it is conjoined with cunning and deceit. (Doctrine of Life 81.) It is a colder crime, in which the understanding of a man is closely involved. There is a conscious use of the false in this evil. There are two great evils with men from which all others spring, the love of commanding all things from the love of self, and the love of possessing all things from the love of the world. One is of the love of evil, and the other of the love of the false.

Looking from the outside inwards, the love of the world is a lesser evil than the love of self, the love of possessing is a lesser evil than the love of commanding all things, the false is lesser than the evil. But if we regard things as they proceed from within towards the outside, then we can see that there is a love of possessing all things which originates from the love of commanding all things, there is a love of the world which is out of the love of self, and there is the false which is out of evil. And these are more developed, hardened, confirmed forms of those terrible evils, and are deeper. In this series, the false is worse than the evil. The false is the last refuge of the evil, and it is the very stronghold of the evil in the human mind. From this stronghold the evil can win back to itself the whole mind by its cunning and deceit. In this we can see that the latter Commandments forbid evil ‘and false things which are worse than the things forbidden in the former.

Read the full sermon on Exous 20:15 (Thou shalt not steal) by Rev. P.N.Odhner