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Acts 4:32-5:11 – Lying to the Holy Spirit

Acts has shown us how the Spirit was poured out on the believers, how the good news of Jesus was proclaimed and how the message was accompanied by signs and wonders. Now Luke shows us the character of the Church by describing the life of the Church. Church is a wonderful place when the full number of believers at Church are of one heart (kardia) and of one soul (psyche). In other words, they were characterized by loving friendship and having a single purpose. One characteristic of a regenerated heart that reflects God is generosity. The believers were sharing their possessions with one another. Some, including a Levite called Barnabas, were even selling fields, and laying the proceeds at the apostles’ feet to be used for those in need.

Ananias and Sapphira reflect unregenerate hearts. Outwardly their actions appear like the generosity previously described. But instead they posed a terrible threat to the church. Like genuine heart-changed believers Ananias and Sapphira laid money at the feet of the apostles. However, they acted deceptively. They claimed the money laid at the feet of the apostles was the whole sum they had received from the sale of a field. In doing so they acted with covetousness and lied to the Holy Spirit. Peter attributes this act of deception to Satan having filled their hearts causing them to act for monetary gain. In both these ways they become like Judas – a counterfeit with a tragic demise.

It is an unsurprising that following Satan having filled their hearts with covetousness they lie. Satan is the father of lies and a murderer. Here his offspring lie and the evil one brings about their death at the hands of the righteous Lord. Both Ananias and Sapphira fall at the apostles’ feet and take their last breath. They used their breath to lie, now it is taken away from them. They sought self-glory at the apostles’ feet, now they die in shame at the apostles’ feet. Their quick burials remind one of other Biblical passages where persons under the direct judgment of God were buried quickly to be removed from the sight of God and his people.

The Church could potentially have been undone by counterfeit holiness and deceit. The Lord saved the church by acting quickly in righteous judgment so that sinful yeast would not work through the whole loaf. The Lord’s judgment saved the Church. The potential for counterfeit godliness was replaced with a genuine Spirit-induced fear of the Lord. Thank the Lord Jesus that a fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and godliness in the Church.