Holiness: Ananias and Sapphira.

“But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.” When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him.

After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” 10 Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.” (Acts 5:1-11)

There are people who make a distinction between the Old Testament’s depictions of God vs. the New Testament. They say that the God of the Old Testament is an angry and vengeful tyrant while the New Testament God is loving and kind. As we have just studied, the LORD did bring His wrath upon disobedient people such as Nadab, Abhiu and Uzzah. However, the LORD was also gracious and loving to many others including Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph.

While the New Testament certainly focuses upon the love and grace of God (Ephesians 2:1-10), it does not shy away from presenting God as wrathful (Romans 1:18-32; Ephesians 5:6; Colossians 3:6 I Thessalonians 5:1-11). Today’s text is one such New Testament example of the LORD’s righteous wrath.

A believing couple, Ananias and his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property they owned and gave a portion of the proceeds from the sale to the church. Thus far, no problem. It as their property to sell and they were under no obligation to give any amount acquired from the sale to the church. They willingly did so. So, what’s the problem?

The problem was that what they gave to the church was presented as the full amount of the sale, when it was not. Remember, they were under no obligation to give anything to the church, However, when they did they pretended to give a greater sacrificial monetary gift than what they did. In short, they lied.

The LORD must have revealed this to Simon Peter because he immediately said to Ananias, ““Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.” (Acts 5:3-4)

 Notice that Peter indicates Ananias’ lie is against the Holy Spirit. In this text, Peter explicitly identifies the Holy Spirit as God. A lie is a serious sin, as all sin is. However, how many times have we lied, exaggerated and dismissed our lack of truth telling as simply a “little white lie?” This is not how God sees lying.

What happened to Ananias? Did Peter tell him to repent of his sin and never do it again? This is what the text says happened. “When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him” (Acts 5:5-6).

Ananias’ death was no coincidence. The great fear which came upon all who heard the news was that God had taken this man’s life and could do it again to anyone who sinned.

Three hours later, without prior knowledge of her husband’s death, Peter asked Sapphira, ““Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much” (Acts 5:8). Peter then said, ““How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out” (Acts 5:9).

Immediately, Sapphira fell down at Peter’s feet and died. She too was carried out and was buried next to her husband. Once again the text says that great feat came upon not only the whole church but also the surrounding community.

Dr. R. C. Sproul writes, “Sin is cosmic treason. Sin is treason against a perfectly pure Sovereign. It is an act of supreme ingratitude toward the One to whom we owe everything, to the One who has given us life itself. The slightest sin is an act of defiance against cosmic authority. It is an insult to His holiness. The most mysterious aspect of the mystery of sin is not that the sinner deserves to die, but rather that the sinner in the average situation continues to exist.”    

 Believers in Christ must never presume upon the forbearance and patience of God. We must never think that we will get away with our revolt. We must continually confess and repent of our sin against the holiness of God. We must!

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s