Daily Reading: 2 Chronicles 8, 9, 10; Acts 5:1-16
And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last; and great fear came over all who heard of it. (Acts 5:5, NASB95)
Ananias dies for his transgression. All who lie, steal, or commit fraud are not struck dead; so what makes Ananias and Sapphira’s sin punishable by death? Where is God’s grace?
- Ananias and Sapphira are imitating the act of Barnabas (Acts 4:36-37), but their hearts are not in the right place. They hold back part of the sale of their property and claim that it is the whole amount.
- Through the Holy Spirit, Peter reveals that Ananias’ heart is filled by Satan (Acts 5:3). While the rest of the Messianic community is filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:31), they have a different spirit.
- They are not lying to men, but to God (Acts 5:4). The church is not simply a human organization, but the Body of Christ, indwelt by the Spirit. To attack the church is to attack Jesus Himself (Acts 9:4).
- Their act constituted a testing of the Spirit’s presence in the community (Acts 5:9). This sin was to deny the resurrected Christ and His work in His people.
- The keeping back part of the price (Acts 5:2) echoes Achan’s sin in Joshua 7:1. They were keeping back what they were publicly declaring to be dedicated to God. Achan’s sin resulted in the death of 36 Israelites, their defeat against Ai, and the loss of national confidence (Josh. 7:5). By exposing their sin, and the removal of the couple, God protected the community from defeat. Instead, the Christian community experiences the blessing of God: unity, signs and wonders, multitudes coming to the Lord, and deliverance from sickness and the demonic (Acts 5:12-16).
What seemed liked a terrible tragedy was God’s salvific power at work in his community. Do you understand the sacredness of God’s church? How does it cause you to live? Do you live with a holy awe of God’s presence at work in His people?