We have been looking at the account of Ananias and Sapphira and the example God made of them for others in the early church (Acts 5:1-10). Satan “filled” their heart and they lied about how much they were giving, saying they gave all they received for the sale of their property when in fact they only gave part of it. The sin wasn’t in the amount they gave but in the lie and deception about it. There are many lessons for us today from this account.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Peter states that Satan enticed them to lie to the Holy Spirit. Whether this was literally Satan or one of his demons we don’t know. Often we say that ‘Satan did ____’ when we know it wasn’t personally him, but done by his forces. Perhaps it was Satan himself since this was a direct, frontal attack on the young church. If the flame could be distinguished before it took root and spread, then the church could be severely crippled. If it was a demon assigned to destroy them, saying ’Satan’ did it is still applicable for they are all his forces working with him for the same effect. It would be most unlikely that Satan would personally attack any of us today. He has far greater places to exert his influence and has plenty of demons to work against us. It doesn’t take Satan to help us sin, the weakest demon, along with out sin nature, can bring about plenty of sin in us because we freely go along with it.
LESSON FOR TODAY: The specific sins that Ananias and Sapphira were guilty of were greed, pride, lies and deception to cover the lies. They were also guilty of jealousy (of Barnabas Acts 4:32-37), and that is greed and pride combined. Their attitude to material things was idolatry, for they put something before God. Idolatry is really spiritual adultery (Jeremiah 3:8-10; Ezekiel 16:23-43; 23:24-30; Revelation 17:1-5). It is clearly forbidden by God (Exodus 20:3,4,23; 23:224). Pride is also seen in wanting to impress everyone with their generosity and have the affirmation which Barnabas had just received (Acts 4:32-37).
LESSON FOR TODAY: Fear of not having enough money for themselves in the future probably entered in as well. Seldom is there a sin that doesn’t have fear as part of it somewhere! As do all sins, it starts in the mind (Judges 2:10-13; Ezekiel 14:7) and then becomes an action. When anything is more important to us than God there are demons who receive that adoration and ‘worship’ that we bestow on the object (Zechariah 10:2; 1 Corinthians 10:19-21).
LESSONS FOR TODAY: When a demon has access to one person that demon can also claim anyone that person becomes attached to, emotionally or physically (1 Corinthians 6:16). Emotional soul ties or physical sexual activity open a person to the demonizing of another.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Peter was made aware of what was happening so he could deal with the sin. As the leader he was responsible for those under him. God gives insights into the workings of demons so their work can be defeated to those with a need to know. When dealing with something demonic always pray for supernatural insight, wisdom and protection so you will be able to defeat the plans of the enemy. Some have the gift of distinguishing between spirits as part of their spiritual gift mix (1 Corinthians 12:10; Acts 13:6-12). If so, it must be used wisely and with maturity, always in total dependence on God so the person isn’t misled or deceived.
LESSON FOR TODAY: God is a holy God and does not allow sin. He uses this first clear rebellion as an example to show how He feels about sin, but in His mercy He doesn’t deal with every sin among His believers in this way. God did the same when He first formed the Jewish nation (Exodus 32:1-35). In each case, starting the Jewish nation or the church, He showed His holiness by bringing strict judgment at the first sin. He doesn’t enforce the same penalty of death on subsequent sinners, not because He shouldn’t but because He chooses to show mercy. His failure to judge our every sin today is not weakness, but mercy, certainly not something we should take advantage of. Every sin of lying, greed, jealousy, fear, etc., like Ananias and Sapphira also deserves death like they received. If you don’t know of anything else you can thank God for, then you can certainly thank Him for not striking you dead for sin.
LESSON FOR TODAY: God promises to bring good out of all things (Romans 8;28). That happened here. A new respect for God and fear of sin gripped the church (Acts 5:5, 11) which led to renewed reverence for God and an increased motivation for holiness. This strengthened the church and allowed God to work through them all the more (Acts 5:12, 15-16). A great number of people were attracted to Jesus and joined (Acts 5:14) but others without pure motives stayed away (Acts 5:13). God’s power was manifested in many being healed and delivered from demonizing (Acts 5:15-16). To have God’s power in your life or your church there must be cleansing from sin and a deep desire for holiness. Revival starts with a deep awareness of the holiness of God and sinfulness of man.
(If I can answer questions or offer personal counsel, or if you would like a free copy of my Spiritual Warfare Handbook, email me at Jerry@ChristianTrainingOrganization.org or download it from http://sw.christiantrainingonline.org/. My next book, Spiritual Warfare in the Bible, which is a more advanced treatment of spiritual warfare, is also available there for free.)