But a man named Ananias… Before I can begin I’ll have to look back to see what’s on the other side of the “but”. That would be the story of Joseph aka Barnabas who sold his property and gave the proceeds to the Disciples’ Sharing Fund.
But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property…and they also brought the proceeds to the disciples. But A & S lied about how much they got for the property and tried to say they were giving it all to God’s work when they had skimmed some off the top. The actions were the same but the condition of their hearts were polar opposites.
Peter knew right away about the deceit. (Did the Holy Spirit tell him?). (It reminds me of the snake in the Garden of Eden – paradise one minute and fig leaves the next.)
Peter had no problem identifying the entryway to sin – Ananias was tempted by Satan and then colluded with the enemy in his heart. James could not have been anymore on target when he wrote:
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. James 1:14-15
Peter’s pronouncement was straight forward and God’s consequence immediate – You have not lied to man but to God. When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. Three hours later Peter questions the wife – she continues the lie – the results are the same.
Hypocrisy, self-seeking and deceit have entered the building. The damage to the fledgling church is so potentially perilous that God deals swiftly and precisely. Great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things. The message is clear – God is not to be trifled with.
(It is easy to stand in judgment of the foolish arrogance of A & S. I mean how could they have thought they would get away with it? Why the need to rip off their friends? – Truthfully the only answer that works for me is they never got it in the first place. They had joined the crowd but had never joined their hearts to Jesus.)
On a personal note I am intimately acquainted with the power of temptation and wily ways of rationalization. The Enemy is constantly on the prowl for the slightest opening. We do not fight this battle again flesh and blood, Paul reminds me. I do well to remember to be clad in the whole armor of God, wielding the Spirit’s sword and praying at all times.
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. (Proverbs 4:23 NLT)
He is not to be trifled with.
The heart of the matter is a matter of the heart.
About the World?
The enemy is prowling around, seeking someone to devour. Don’t be lunch!