Acts Devotionals

Fatal Blasphemy

In this year’s 89 kilometer Comrades Marathon between Pietermaritzburg and Durban, two runners died. City Press reported:

CMA doctor Jeremy Boulter confirmed that Phakamile Ntshiza and Mzameleni Mthembu had experience distress at different points along the route and passed away. Ntshiza reportedly passed away while running close to the halfway mark, before he could be transported to hospital. Mthembu suffered a heart attack while running along the Pinetown stretch of the route. He was taken to the Westville Hospital, where he later passed away.

Why did they die? There are many factors such as heat, exhaustion, insufficient preparation and poor health could be amongst the reasons … not forgetting determination. Some runners push too hard from the start whilst others run according to a predetermined race plan. Pushing too hard mostly results in failure or bad results whilst a race plan might not give a fast time, but will secure a finish.

What cannot be calculated is one’s body condition and how the exertion (up and down huge hills), peer pressure and temperature (heat) might influence and effect the body, heart and mind. Some runners are too proud to bail and push on until they injure themselves. In these two cases, we don’t know why the one had a heart attack and why the other died for an unknown reason … but they dropped down and died.

Today we see Ananias dropping down and dying … yet in his case we know why! He blasphemed against the Holy Spirit. Read:

Ac 5:4 “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.

1) The deceit revealed. Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? Although the proceeds for the property could have been known by many, Peter had the gift of discernment. Notice the three rapid questions in verse 4.

(1) Yes, the property was his. Legally he was the owner.

(2) The proceeds from the sale belonged to him. And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? He could determine how to use the money.

(3) He together with his wife pretended that the amount placed before the apostles was the full sum received for the property. What made you think of doing such a thing?

They gave the impression that they were giving the full purchase price. The money they brought to the apostles was equal to us giving tithes at Church. It is given to God. Here is the scary thing … Ananias, whilst giving the people the impression it was the full amount he was giving to God for His needy people, was actually lying to the Spirit, which was blasphemy. Be extremely cautious about your tithe and any other financial commitments you make to your Church because you are actually making that commitment to God!

2) The sin that leads to death.

Ac 5:5 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died.

From this passage it seems as though there is no other explanation … he lied to the Holy Spirit which is blasphemy … Jesus warned that this sin is unpardonable … as it is the sin that leads to spiritual and eternal death and once confronted by Peter, Ananias drops down dead. What is interesting here is that the word “died” in the Greek is only used three times in the Bible. Here, then of Sapphira in verse 10 and thirdly of Herod in chapter 12:23. Although different, Ananias and Sapphira as well as Herod’s death were related to their opposition to God’s Gospel Truth … the couple of blasphemy and the king of his rejection of God, seeking to persecute and destroy the Church (See chapter 12:14 & v21-23), and his refusal to submit to God as the true King. To me it seems as the word “died” here means far more than physical death. They were all spiritually dead and died eternally. The Holy Spirit put them to death. This happened in other places such as:

(a) Nadab and Abihu, Aaron’s sons.

Lev 10:1 Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, contrary to his command. 2 So fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD.

(b) Achan son of Carmi. (Read Joshua 7:1-25).

Jos 7:1 But the Israelites acted unfaithfully in regard to the devoted things; Achan son of Carmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of them. So the LORD’S anger burned against Israel.

Jos 7:20 Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the LORD, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: 21 When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath.”

Jos 7:24 Then Joshua, together with all Israel, took Achan son of Zerah, the silver, the robe, the gold wedge, his sons and daughters, his cattle, donkeys and sheep, his tent and all that he had, to the Valley of Achor. 25 Joshua said, “Why have you brought this trouble on us? The LORD will bring trouble on you today.” Then all Israel stoned him, and after they had stoned the rest, they burned them.

The lesson from Ananias and Sapphira—as well as Nadab, Abihu and Achan—is that God is gloriously holy and must be honoured!

Lord, help me to respect and honour You, empowered by the Spirit so that I surrender fully and truthfully to You in love, obedience and submission. Amen.

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