The account of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5 is one of the most sobering events in the New Testament. It brings to light the seriousness of sin in a dramatic display of God's justice. As the early church movement was getting off the ground, the people were generously meeting each other's needs with various acts of kindness. Luke introduces us first to a man named Barnabas who exemplified this generous spirit, and then to a couple named Ananias and Sapphira who are examples of hypocrisy.
This couple sold a piece of land and brought in part of the proceeds. This act in itself is great and generous, however, they lied about it. They told Peter that they had brought in all the proceeds, but in fact, only brought in part of the proceeds. Their sin was in lying to the Holy Spirit. In short, they were trying to impress everyone with a higher level of spirituality and commitment than they really had.
The sin of Ananias and Sapphira is serious and emblematic of many Christians. God abhors those who put on a show in order to appear religious.
In reality, it's possible for a believer to do all sorts of ministry in His name, from attending, giving, serving, preaching, teaching, praying, and displease God because it's done for the wrong reason!
God doesn't want lip service; He wants your heart. He wants your motive to be one of love for all that He has done for you. Ananias and Sapphira knew this, they had just forgotten it. They were so consumed with the praise of people they forgot that the only One whose opinion matters is God.
Listen, if we are offended by the swift judgment of God described here, it reveals our ignorance of God’s holiness and the seriousness of our sin. We shouldn’t ask the question, "Why did they die?" We should wonder, "Why do we remain alive?" In the church, there are two kinds of people, and it’s nearly impossible to distinguish them from the outside.
On the outside, Ananias and Sapphira look just like Barnabas. They were active in the church. They were generous. But deep in their heart was a love of money and a love of people’s praise they’d never repented of. How does this account impact you? Are you holding anything back from God? Give Him everything you have - you won't regret it! Press on!
Pastor Brian Richard