5 But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, 2 and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? 4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.” 5 When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. (Acts 5:1-5)
As a pastor, I sometime hear people mention that they would like to see more of the gifts of the spirit operating in the body of Christ. However, I have to wonder if the gift of discernment that showed up through Peter on this particular day in the church, would show up in our gatherings, how much would we embrace it or even recognize it as such?
God through his Holy Spirit saw fit to include this passage for our benefit today. So what does this passage mean for us and how might we apply it? Well, to start off, we must contextualize all the goings on of the church up to this point.
If you have been following the devotionals or the book of Acts up to this point, you quickly realize that God was showing up everywhere with signs and wonders accompanied by the proclamation of the gospel and subsequently, thousands getting saved. All this left in its wake a strong community of believers who had only been made bolder and stronger and more unified in their efforts to reach the lost and care for the new community. Notice that last part; reach the lost and care for the new community.
We also must understand that God jealously watches over his work that he does and guards it strongly. This is what is happening in our passage. The church was moving and acting in the power of the Holy Spirit, God is showing up with signs and wonders, the Gospel is being proclaimed, the lost are being found and the community is caring for one another. Into this scene steps Ananias and his wife Sapphira, with the audacity to act as if God doesn’t even exist by putting back something for themselves under the guise of having given all. God wouldn’t put up with it. Through the gift of discernment, Peter reveals the thing of their deceit and lying to the Holy Spirit and Ananias fell over dead. No wonder great fear came upon all who heard of it.
If we are looking for an example of this today, you might be hard pressed to find an occurrence exactly like this. However one truth that can be taken from this for us today is this: God knows when you are lying to him and will not let you stand in the way of the proclamation of his gospel. This is a truth that should be a litmus test for the things we say, the things we do and the reasons we do them. May the Lord help us and have mercy on us.