Shared February 16th, 2015
Read this passage with me. This is a very chilling account of the sudden deaths of a married couple, Ananias (Hebrew name meaning “the Lord is gracious”) and his wife Sapphira (Aramaic, “beautiful”). This true account makes us face the fact that God deals with sin, especially church members’ deceit and lack of integrity.
5:1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, 2 and kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? 4 Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. 5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. 6 And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.
7 And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. 8 And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. 9 Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. 10 Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband. 11 And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things (Acts 5:1-11).
Here is the wider context. Jesus Christ had ascended and the Holy Spirit had come. Empowered, the disciples had been preaching and evangelizing and souls were being saved everywhere. The church was just starting and it was also being organized. As a result, those who had been saved were freely giving of their gifts and resources towards the building and equipping of the church. Just like brother Barnabas (Acts 4:37) who sold a field and gave the money to the apostles so that it could be used for distribution among the believers who were in need.
Enter Ananias who, moved by what he had just seen Barnabas (and others) do, decided along with his wife Sapphira, to do the same thing: give. They wanted their presence felt by donating to the church but there was a little, just a slight difference between brother Barnabas and Mr. and Mrs Ananias. The difference was that whereas Barnabas’ action was motivated by the Holy Spirit Mr. and Mrs. Ananias’ were influenced by a totally different spirit: an unholy spirit from satan.
You see, sin blinds us so that we choose short-term gains in this life, fully heedless of the long-term loss in the next. But most of all, sin blinds us to the true nature of the offense: that our sin is against God.
Our archenemy, the deceiver, satan, that devil looks for and attacks at any and every opportunity that he finds. And do you know what? He often does that at our most vulnerable places. Jesus called him the father of lies and he is adept at weaving intricate webs of lies to entrap anyone who chooses to follow the Master, Jesus. satan wants to be a master too, but he is the master of deceit and we, like Nehemiah and Peter and countless saints, ought to be aware of his wicked devices.
The Bible says that satan is lurking and prowling around seeking whom he may devour and he starts with deceit and trickery. So very often satan comes as an angel of light (warning to those who claim in their “near death” experiences that they saw a bright light; question is, “Which light was it?”), and so many times he pretends to be a teacher as well as a lover and promoter of truth. But he is still in the hocus-pocus business. He uses the same process and the same old tricks over and over and over to deceive. You know, lies like the introduction of a false belief system; denial of Jesus’ virgin birth; rejection of the truth that Jesus is the Son of God etc.
I would like to pick up on this chilling story again. TBC.
Proposed prayer: “Dear God, please help me to be a man or woman of truth so that I will always have the insight to discern all false teaching and never be led astray from the true teachings of Your Word no matter how eloquent or persuasive the teachers may be. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer, in Jesus’ name, amen.”