Act 5 – Scene 1
Not every story has a happy ending and the story of Ananias and Sapphira is once such story. Their story is a warning for all believers to take God very seriously.
Chapter 5 tells us the shocking event of Ananias and Sapphira death. The context for this event is the latter verses of chapter 4. The Christians who had land and property sold it so that none amongst them had any need. This was not a compulsory action but they decided, one assumes, by the leading of the Holy Spirit to give gladly, cheerfully and freely by bring it to the apostles.
Ananias and Sapphira were likely a wealthy couple who, like everyone else who had the means to do so, decided to sell a piece of property. Remember this was voluntary, the apostles had not issued an edict commanding such an action. Instead of laying it all at the feet of the apostles, Ananias in cahoots with his wife kept some back for themselves, yet gave the impression that he had given it all. Peter gets a word of knowledge and exposes the lie. The result of their actions led to their death. They had lied to God and thought they cold get away with it and still look good before the people.
You might think that this is harsh and extreme, but it was something they brought upon themselves by there sinful actions. This goes to show how serious sin is and how seriously God deals with it. Left alone their deceit would have infected the community and its witness in Jerusalem.
Ananias and Sappphira wanted to give the impression that they had given it all yet they were unwilling to surrender it all and kept some back. Whilst today we may not see the same pronouncements that Peter uttered to the couple there are lessons we learn. This is not to say that God thinks any more lightly about sin now as he did then.
Ananias and Sapphira played with fire and got burnt. Proverbs 4:23 tells us to guard our hearts for it is the well spring of life, the Christian having encountered Jesus and his life knows only to well that he is the only one able to purify the sewer of our naturally dark hearts, into clean hearts. The serious nature of sin means, if we allow sin to get a grip and leave it to fester in the dark recesses of our hearts it will eat way at our soul, if left unchecked and unrepentant. Repentance brings forgiveness, and being forgiven by God and submitting to Jesus enables his reign in our lives. The non-believer, a person who has not been born again by the Holy Spirit – John 3, is subject to sin and under its curse which leads to death. The good news is that Jesus paid the price and is the only way of forgiveness and life and he provides life in abundance for us to enjoy here and now, and for eternity!
What does this mean for us as followers of Jesus here and now? We must be people of integrity, which means to be the kind of person we are in private as in public . The sin of Ananias and Sapphira was hidden from everyone except God, it started where sin always starts, in the heart. It started with a thought, that led to an action and that gave birth to death. James in his letter sums it up perfectly…
14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (James 1:14-15 ESV)
To be an unstoppable follower of Jesus is to live a life of repentance and faith in Jesus, humbly relying on him for everything in the power of the indwelling Spirit of God. I’m sure we all know people who once walked with Jesus but no longer do, why? Likely they have either been lured by sinful desire or allowed their heart to grow cold by keeping it unguarded and allowing the enemy a foot hold and they have died or dying spiritually.
Mission to a broken world requires people who are different, not perfect but being perfected, just because of Jesus’ amazing grace. The Holy Spirit is always at work in his people bringing change and perfecting (2 Cor 3:18). Ananias and Sapphira’s deceit would have affected the unity of the community and in turn that would have affected the mission of God. If we are to be effective in our unstoppable mission we must be people of integrity – which means sticking close to Jesus. Selah!