Yesterday we saw that we are all sinners and we also saw that there are those who commit the unpardonable sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. This sin is the one that leads to eternal death. There is no forgiveness. The day before we made acquaintance with Joseph who was nicknamed Barnabas because of his open, loving, caring and giving heart. Yes he was a sinner, saved by grace and never committed the unforgivable sin. Now we come face to face with a married couple named Ananias and Sapphira. But before I provide commentary, please read the text carefully:
Ac 5:1 Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2 With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. 3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4 Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.” 5 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. 6 Then the young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him. 7 About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?” “Yes,” she said, “that is the price.” 9 Peter said to her, “How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.” 10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.
This account is extremely moving and indeed terrifying. Notice that Ananias “lied to the Holy Spirit” (v3) and Sapphira “tested the Holy Spirit” (v9). For their sin, both “fell down dead (v5 & v10).
1) Do you really know a person?
Ac 5:1 Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property.
This married couple did what others were doing … selling assets and bringing money to the apostles for use amongst the poor and needy. At face value they appeared normal, loving, giving believers. They sold a piece of property to facilitate the needs. Although we are not told where the property was, because of the environment everyone would have known they sold this asset. Recently we had a show house, a sign was placed outside saying “Show House – Saturday 9-10am”. Our short road was the busiest I have ever seen … but more, every person in our short street knew we are selling our house. Ananias and Sapphira would not have sold the way we did but everyone knew they sold the property … and some would have known the market value of the property. Having said that, this couple were part of the visible Church and there is no reason to doubt that they were accepted as such.
2) Premeditated sin … deceit.
Ac 5:2 With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.
By agreement and consent they did not bring the full purchase price to the apostles for distribution. This was their right … after all, the property was theirs and they could do as they pleased with the money. The problem was they gave the impression that what they laid at the apostles’ feet was the exact amount they received for the property! Their premeditated sin was deceit. They lied about what they did. Although this was a combined sin, only Ananias brought the money to the apostles. If we are chosen to be holy and blameless, such sins as deceit and lies [as well as all sin] are forbidden … especially when dealing with those God appoints to lead His local Church.
3) Unknown to many, Church Leaders, especially the pastors are men gifted with discernment. Although having an ability to discern truth from error, I never had the gift of discernment. My wife did. She would often come to me explaining her insight into certain matters … and each time she was right. That gift is scary as we see with Peter:
Ac 5:3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4 Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing?”
The Holy Spirit gave Him the spiritual gift of discernment and he was able to read Ananias’ heart, motive and intention. His heart was spiritually dead. His motive was greed and his intention was that the people thought he gave all the proceeds for the property sacrificially, in love for Jesus and in love with the struggling brothers and sisters within the Church community. Here we see the architect of sin … “satan” … and note satan filled his heart. This is not satanic oppression! This is satanic possession. It is full submission to the master of his heart. This is not a saved sinner sinning, this is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit … because he denied the Gospel he pretended to follow! Jesus was not Lord of his heart, satan was! O that we would have more of this gift available in God’s Church. Search your heart friend … be certain Jesus fills your heart and not the enemy!
4) Your sins will catch you out. This is a fact of life … the wheel turns and what goes around will come around. Be sure of it. The Word of God puts it differently:
Nu 32:23 “But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the LORD, and you may be sure that your sin will find you out.”
Ananias’ sin caught him out and to make matters worse, his sin was not only blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, it was a public sin and as we shall see it was dealt with publically. I am aware how hard it is not to sin. I am as human as you are and I am as Christian as you are. What we need is God’s grace in abundance.
Search our hearts, Lord. Mercifully make certain Jesus is seated there as Lord and King. Help us, Lord, to obey You. Amen.