Acts 5

Ananias and Sapphira

As the Church was forming the new believers began selling their property and bringing the money to the Apostles to be used for ministry and as a result there were no needy people among the believers. In Chapter 5 we read that Ananias and Sapphira sold a piece of property they owned and did the same, except they held back a portion of the money. Peter, led by the Holy Spirit, confronted them regarding their action. The problem was not that they held back a portion of the money for they did not have to give any of the money to the Apostles. The problem was that they had lied to the Holy Spirit.

Peter made it clear that Ananias and Sapphira could have sold the property and kept the money. They could have even said they sold the property for such and such and we decided to give a certain percentage of the money. The issue was not about the money it was about honesty. It was their dishonesty that caused their death. They had sinned when they lied and as Moses said in Numbers 32:23b, “…Be sure your sin will find you out.” NASB

So what are we to make of this? The death of Ananias and Sapphira is meant to give us an understanding of what takes place spiritually when we sin against the Lord. In Isaiah 59:1&2 we read, “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not so short that it cannot save; Nor is His ear so dull That it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He does not hear.” NASB

In the Bible death means separation which is clearly described in the verses from Isaiah 59. The Church was born when the Holy Spirit was given and took up residence in the hearts of believers. We read in Acts 4 that as people were being saved and began to form the Church that the people were of one heart and mind. Ananias and Sapphira, however, were double minded and so they lied to the Holy Spirit and thus were corrupting the work of the Church as it was starting out. This is meant to serve as a warning to us. If we claim to be born of the Spirit and yet willfully sin we are separating ourselves from God and what He has for us. James 1:2-8 warns us of the dangers of being double minded.\

In Leviticus 10 we see the same illustration.  Here the newly constructed Tabernacle has been set up. God has given instructions regarding the ministry of the Priests who have been anointed to serve and represent God to the people. However, in chapter 10 we read that Aaron’s sons took their censors, put incense in them and offered unauthorized fire before the Lord. As a result, fire came from the presence of the Lord and killed Nadab and Abihu, Aaron’s sons.

I find it interesting that when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples back in Acts 2, He was seen as flaming tongues of fire. Incense represents prayer, a pleasing fragrance to the Lord. Could it be that these men misrepresented God before the people? Verses 6-11 indicate that was exactly what happened. In verses 6&7 Moses instructs Aaron to be mindful of how he looked to the people he is to serve for he represents God to the people. In verses 8-11 further illustrates the point. I do not believe it is any accident that this instruction warns of fermented drink and I believe these men were led by another “spirit” rather than the Holy Spirit. Fermented drink requires yeast in the fermenting process and in the Bible yeast is always a symbol of sin. This is why the Apostle Paul warns in Ephesians 5:18, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” NIV

The point of these two lessons is that Christians represent God to the world not only with our words, but just as important, with our actions and the way we conduct our lives. If we are calling ourselves Christians and yet willfully sinning, we can expect that we are separating ourselves from God and severing ourselves from the power of the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul deals with this in greater detail in 1 Corinthians 10&11 which is our homework for today.

As we examine ourselves, as Paul suggests in 1 Corinthians 11, here are things to look for that may be hindering our relationship with the Holy Spirit.

Acts 5:3, 7:51; Ephesians 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 4:8, 5:19; and Hebrews 10:26-31.

It would be well if we heed the warning in 1 Corinthians 3 as well. One day we will stand before God and give an account for our lives. If we are to hear “well done good and faithful servant,” we must stay connected to the Holy Spirit for He is the source of our power to serve.

People are watching. Represent God well!

Pastor Dave