Your Message for this Week
THE ANANIAS-SAPPHIRA CONSPIRACY
“But Peter said, Ananias why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back part of the price of the land?” Acts 5:3
A conspiracy can be defined as a secret plan by a group of persons to do something unlawful or mischievous. Where we had ended off last week, we studied the Coming of the Holy Spirit and His effect on the Church (Acts 2). From that point, Luke writes about the power of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the apostles and the phenomenal growth of the Church. Acts 4:33 summarizes everything up this way, “With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the LORD Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.” It’s a picture of a wonderful community of God’s people. Acts 4:36-37 tells of a man called Joses who sold a field and gave the money to the apostles so that it could be distributed among the believers who were in need. The apostles called him “Barnabas” which means “Son of Encouragement”. It was probably this action that led to his recognition. It is this event that introduces us to our text this week in Acts. 5:1-11.
ANANIAS AND SAPPHIRA’S SIN
Maybe as a result of what they had just witnessed Barnabas do, Ananias and his wife decided to do a similar thing but with a few modifications. They sold a possession and conspired together to present a portion of their money while passing it off as the entire amount (Acts 5:1-3,8)! Peter asked Ananias, “While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control?” (Acts 5:4a). Ananias and Sapphira did not have to give all of their money to the church! It was their plan to keep some of the money and then lie about the amount given to Peter that was the problem. They were trying to look generous while being greedy at the same time. By claiming to have a moral standard to which their behavior was not conforming, they were committing the sin of hypocrisy. To an onlooker, there was no difference between Barnabas and Ananias and Sapphira but deep in their hearts was a love of money and a desire for people’s praise. Often, we are deceived by appearance because we are human. The Prophet Samuel expressed it so plainly while speaking to Jesse, the father of King David; …but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7b). It may be difficult for us to distinguish between the truth and a lie but nothing is hidden from God!
The Holy Spirit knows our thoughts as if they were being displayed on a screen. Jesus said that a day would come when “every secret will be proclaimed from the housetops” (Matt 10:27). There are no locked doors or hidden closets for the Holy Spirit.
LYING TO GOD
A lot of Christians do not think that telling lies is a big deal! Today, we discover that because of it, Ananias and Sapphira lost their lives. Acts 5:5, 9-10). When Peter confronted Ananias with his crime, he said, “you have not lied to men but to God”! The real crime in this text is not that this man and his wife kept back some of the money. Their crime was that they have lied to God. In Acts 5:3-4, we also see an unmistakable reference to the Deity of the Holy Spirit. He, along with the Father and the Son is the Eternal God. (Acts 5:11). The “fear of God” is a good and proper attitude. It does not mean to be “scared” of God and regard Him as an unapproachable bully. To “fear God” is to have the wisdom to know that He is Holy and Sovereign; and we are not. Holiness and sovereignty demand respect.
So, why were Ananias and Sapphira put to death for their actions and yet at one point or another, we are all guilty of the same sin? The answer to that question is left to God Himself. We need to remember that the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23) and God takes sin very seriously. Ananias and Sapphira serve as a warning to us. However, He is a Merciful and Loving God. He does not treat us as our sins deserve (Ps.103:10). That is the Grace of God! Grace is not something we can demand from the LORD. It’s not something we earn. He chooses whom to give it.
Unless we yield to the Holy Spirit, we often end up fulfilling our own desires. In Matt. 5:16, Jesus asked us to show forth our “good works”. For any work to be considered good, it must arise out of true faith, it must conform to God’s Word and it must be done for God’s Glory.
It is only under the influence of the Holy Spirit that these criteria can be met. How often do we do things for our own glory? Remember, the Holy Spirit is here to help us. God Bless You.