Acts 5:1–11 (NKJV)
1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. 2 And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part 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 keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? 4 While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”Acts 5:1-11
5 Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things. 6 And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him.
7 Now it was about three hours later when his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 And Peter answered her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?”
She said, “Yes, for so much.”
9 Then Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” 10 Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her by her husband. 11 So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things.
This story takes the book of Acts into a disturbing turn. The church was moving forward at an amazing pace, thousands of people being saved, a lame man healed right outside the temple, and then two people die because they lied to the Holy Spirit. Ananias and Sapphira were part of the church, and wanted to help with the needs of others. They sold a property–voluntarily–and brought part of the proceeds to the church. They were not required to sell their property, as Peter’s discussion with Ananias confirms, and they were not required to bring all the money to the church. Their gift or lack thereof was not the problem. The problem was the lie. Why did Ananias and Sapphira lie to Peter and the other members of the church, and why did they think that was acceptable? More importantly, how did they think God would not know?
Many times, people do not think about the all-seeing eye of God. He is omniscient, knowing everything, and nothing is hidden from Him. Some feel that they can hide their actions, their sins from everyone: their family, their friends, their acquaintances, the legal authorities. However, no matter how much you are able to hide from people, God always knows. At the impetus of this new phase of God’s church, it was important to set the standard. God would not be mocked. No one would be able to “get by” with blatant disregard for the sovereignty and power of Almighty God. His grace would be extended, but He it still the mighty God of creation. Therefore, although it seems extreme, this act set the stage for Christians everywhere to know that God is God and He must be honored and worshipped.
The Scripture then concludes this passage with the assessment that great fear came upon the people. The church needs to return to a reverence and honoring fear of God. We cannot treat God like the “big guy upstairs” or a benevolent pawpaw in heaven. While He loves us more than we could ever know, He is still God Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth, the Lord God Omnipotent Who Reigns forever. Be sure that God stays on the throne and that you stay worshipful before Him. Don’t lie to the Holy Spirit. It never works.