Acts 5: 1-11Written by kathleen on Feb 02, 2015 in - No Comments
Things are not always what they appear to be, particularly in the realm of spirituality.
Some years ago, a painting was auctioned for many thousands of dollars. It portrayed a monk sitting at a table with a prayer book before him, his hands folded in the posture of prayer. Upon closer inspection, however, the buyer discovered that the prayer book on the table was not a prayer book at all, but a shallow pan. And the hands folded together seemingly in prayer actually held a lemon. Thus, the picture portrayed not a monk praying, but a man squeezing lemons.
So, too, oftentimes, we think, that person is spiritual. But upon closer examination, it proves to be a bitter, sour story when we see the real picture. This is precisely what happened in our text concerning the story of Ananias and Sapphira whose name means “God is gracious,” and his wife Sapphira, whose name means “Beautiful.”
They want to fit in with the believers who sold their goods and shared their resources with the new believers who were in Jerusalem for Pentecost; so they sold a piece of land and brought a portion of the proceeds to the apostles.
The problem was not that Ananias held back some money for himself, but that he was trying to appear more religious than he really was. The issue was not selfishness. The issue was hypocrisy.
The word “hypocrite” comes from the Greek word hupokrites, which means “one who is wearing a mask.” It refers to actors who wore large masks on stage in order to be seen by those in the back row. Therefore people who were know as Hupokrites were those who had two faces: one for the stage and one for the street.
1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. 2 And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet
After they saw the great generosity of Barnabas, and how well he was respected, Ananias and Sapphira decided they wanted some of the same respect. So they sold the possession, and gave only a portion to the church, while implying that they had sacrificially given it all to the church.
The word used for kept back means to misappropriate the same word was used of Achan’s theft in the Old Testament and in its only other New Testament use, it means to steal in Titus 2:10.(slaves not to steal)
“The story of Ananias and Sapphira is to the Book of Acts what the story of Achan is to the book of Joshua. In both stories an act of deceit interrupts the victory and progress of the people of God.”
Clearly, both husband and wife are in on the deception for they had vowed to give the whole proceeds of the sale to God, but then changed their mind and handed over only part.” That’s OK– but they should have said that’s what they were doing!
Peter confronts Ananias. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? 4 While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” 5 Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things. 6 And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him. 7 Now it was about three hours later when his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 And Peter answered her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?” She said, “Yes, for so much.” 9 Then Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” 10 Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her by her husband (Intense church service)
God apparently gave Peter supernatural knowledge of what Ananias & Sapphira had done. This spiritual gift is called the word of knowledge and is mentioned in 1st Corinthians 12:8 (having knowledge of things not revealed)
Notice Peter did not accuse Ananias of lying to the church, or to the apostles, but to the Holy Spirit. When Peter said this Ananias must have been crushed He was expecting praise for his spectacular gift, but was called out instead.
Peter acknowledged that the land and its value belonged to Ananias alone; and that he was completely free to do with it what he wanted. His crime was not withholding the money, but in deceptively implying that he was giving it all.
The root of sin in this deception was greed wanting to keep the money; but his greater sin was pride, in wanting everyone to consider him so spiritual that he “gave it all.”
It wasn’t that Ananias’ gift wasn’t big enough, but this Hypocrisy even went beyond the attempt to deceive God and the church; it showed the condition of his heart. He was showing disrespect for God, being filled with self centered vanity and ambition, a lack of faith, and most of all the corrupting of a good & holy work that was taking place.
Therefore this is considered a wicked act and the bible says in the sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord. Proverbs 15:8.
The spirit of Ananias is alive and well in the church today. Many people want to be considered “spiritual” while refusing to do even the simplest of things concerning obedience to what God tells us to do in the Bible. (Read, pray, being a participant in the local church ministry, sharing their faith, or even tithing on a regular basis– they end up deceiving themselves by not being doers of God’s word)
Their sin was so unnecessary Ananias was free to use the money for whatever he wanted, except as a means to inflate his own spiritual pride.
Just as in so many cases; Satan had influenced the heart of Ananias, just as Satan can influence the life of a believer, even a spirit-filled believer, but he can’t do your sinning for you. Ananias had to yield to it in his heart and then make the final choice to act it out!
(In verse 3 Peter said, “Why have you lied to the Holy Ghost?” In verse 4 he said, “You have not lied to men, but to God.” this is an important proof text for the doctrine of the Trinity).
Understand this; Peter did not pronounce a “death sentence” on Ananias. He simply confronted him with his sin and Ananias fell down dead. The death of Ananias was the act of God.” It isn’t the business of the church to pronounce a “death sentence” on anyone!
Peter was probably more surprised than anyone when Ananias fell down dead! Some may ask God struck Ananias dead for his sin. Doesn’t this seem rather extreme? The greater wonder is that God delays His righteous judgment in virtually all other cases.
It could be said that Ananias received exactly what he deserved simply by bringing corruption into the atmosphere of purity that marked the church at that time.
The physical means by which Ananias died was probably a heart attack. Ananias lived in a time, and among a people, who really believed there was a God in heaven we must all answer to. Ananias knew he was accountable before God but it really scared him so the shock of being exposed was too much for him.
Sapphira was a knowing and willing participant in the sin, as well as the blatant cover-up. Therefore God’s judgment of her is just as righteous as His judgment of Ananias.
For many Christians that practice compromise, their greatest fear is not in sinning itself, but in being found out. How many people would be frightened before God if confronted with their sin would result in death like in this text?
As much as anything, the lesson of Ananias and Sapphira is that we presume greatly on God when we assume that there is always time to repent; & time to get right with God, time to get honest with Him. Any such time given by God is an undeserved gift that He owes no one; therefore we should never assume it will always be there.
11 So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things.
The church went from “great grace and great power” in Acts 4:33 to “great fear” in Acts 5:11
What Ananias did must be seen in the context of its time. This was a critical juncture for the early church, and such impurity, sin, scandal and satanic infiltration could have corrupted the entire church at its root.
Therefore God’s purpose was accomplished in the church as great fear came upon all those who heard these things. Today, too many people make excuses or want to debate about their sin it if confronted with it! What they don’t understand is: Just as Ananias and Sapphira were struck down, so are they whenever there’re hypocritical. They become sour and analytical in order to justify their own hypocrisy, they begin to analyze others and see how hypocritical they are making excuses that they might feel better about their own hypocrisy.
Living in hypocrisy you must always keep your mask on and your guard up; fearing that someday someone will see the real person so they become tense, uptight, and unstable. Therefore, as it did with the early church, great fear should come upon us concerning the fear of hypocrisy.
Hypocrisy will kill your witness as others see the masks you wear and the act you put on. Hypocrisy will kill your joy as you analyze and criticize others in order to justify your own deceit.
Hypocrisy will kill your peace as you live in fear that someone will someday see the real you.
Don’t try to pretend to be something you’re not. Don’t be “a poser” trying to be a Christian—learning the language and going through the motions.
Rather step out in faith; trust Jesus for your salvation and be real about seeking first the kingdom of god in your life; be willing to take a stand for Christ by admitting your dependence on Him for every thing!
While such fear could potentially freak us out, in reality it will free you up. You see, when we finally get the full picture of Acts 5, you will understand that the Lord is asking us just to be who we are following him and
Think about this: It’s probably all by God’s grace that the Church’s administration to-day is not what it was then, or there might be many dead men and women at the end of some services!