Post by the Husband
” When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it.” (Acts 5:5)
When we think of how God is portrayed in the New Testament, we usually think of Him as the gracious and loving God — the Father who sends His only son to save sinners. The “Old Testament” God seems to have softened up somehow, but of course, this is terrible theology! There is no difference between the “Old Testament God” and the “New Testament God”. There is only one God!
So when Ananias collapses, the newly converted Christians see a side of God they may only have heard about in the Old Testament. He is a righteous and holy God. Yes, forgiving and merciful, but also completely just. Admittedly, I am personally shaken when reading this passage. After all, I grew up thinking that my faith was solid, my salvation was sealed, and I practically couldn’t do anything to lose my salvation; saved securely and wholly. And to an extent that is true — but at the same time, we serve a living Holy God who detests evil completely.
I’ve often wondered why the sin of Ananias and Sapphira was so severe that God would practically kill them on the spot. Surely other people have done worse things and “got away” with it?
I’ve read a few commentaries on this subject and they outline a few reasons.
The context of their sin was probably vital in the way things played out. For instance, it was the period for the formation of the church. It is also likely that the Holy Spirit wanted the foundations of the church to be strong; after all, there was going to be more than 2000 years for the church to build upon what happens here in the book of Acts.
However, what really strikes me most about this sin is the idea of hypocrisy and the desire to be viewed as spiritual.
It wasn’t because they withheld the money — but that they lied about the money.
As Peter said, the entire thing was voluntary. They didn’t have to sell the property and give all the money from the proceeds. Who knows, maybe they needed the money that they kept.
The ugliness of the sin was that they pretended to give up all the money of that property — so in a sense to show that they were part of the movement.
I’m not sure what their real intent was — but I suppose that the conversation between husband and wife could have sounded something like this:
Ananias : “Hey dear, how much should we give to the church?”
Sapphira : “Maybe we should sell that property over the east side of Jerusalem.”
Ananias : “And give all of it?”
Sapphira: “No dear, keep 10% of it.”
Ananias: “But I think everyone is giving their land completely…”
Sapphira: “I’m sure God wouldn’t mind if we kept some, after all, we have bills to pay.”
Ananias: “I suppose you’re right. It doesn’t really matter whether it’s all or a part. After all, the others wouldn’t know how much. I don’t want to have to tell them that we kept some of it. That would make us look stingy or unspiritual.”
And so two supposed believers rationalised themselves – probably with seemingly good intentions – into sinning against God and losing their lives!
What frightens me most of all is that this sort of compromising type of thinking is so common in my own mind!
How many times do I justify myself in my weaknesses? How many times do I try to present myself in a more spiritual light in front of others? What about my presentation to my own family? Do I pretend to be more holy than I actually am?
May God help me… I know that my heart is no better than these two unfortunate historical figures.
And dear Friends, let’s not justify ourselves and rationalise our lying in an attempt to look good before others. Let’s face up to our own deceptive hearts and allow the Holy Spirit to shine. Let there be no trickery in our minds. Let’s confess our sins and ask God to help us from where we are, rather than pretend we are something we’re not — so that we do not end up like Ananias and Sapphira!