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ACTS   5/1-16

INTRODUCTION
There’s something very ominous about the “But” that takes us into chapter 5. If you can ignore the chapter break the comparison between the attitude of Barnabas on the one hand and that of Ananias and Sapphira on the other stand in stark contrast. It’s one thing to be under attack from external sources; it’s quite another for the attack to be launched from within.

[1] LYING TO THE HOLY SPIRIT  Vs.1,2

a. There are few things that attract God’s judgment more than pretence and hypocrisy. Jesus saved His strongest censure for those who pretended, the hypocrites – especially in the name of religion. Ananias, with the full agreement and complicity of his wife,

*Sold some property (like Barnabas)

*Gave some to the Apostles, claiming it was the entire proceeds from the sale.

*Was exposed as a fraud and charged with lying to the Holy Spirit

NB: v.4 is important if we are to keep a balanced understanding of what really took place.

*There was no expectation or requirement for Ananias and Sapphira to sell the land.

*Having sold it, there was no expectation for them to give the proceeds (in part or in whole) to the Apostles.

*The “sin” was in the lie – not to the Apostles – but to the Holy Spirit. Behind the human manoeuvring (presumably for reputation or recognition) lay the activity of Satan as he endeavoured to corrupt and compromise the dynamic unity of the Church.

How does one “lie to the olyHoly Spirit”?

[2] A TOUGH CALL.

 a. This is a very sobering incident. In the midst of incredible blessing, God moves quickly and decisively to excise a “potential cancer” in the ranks of this new community. But surely others have committed more heinous sins yet without such sudden judgment? So what made this situation so different? Consider the following aspects.

*This new community marked the beginning of a new creation based on the New Covenant. In the same way that Satan invaded that first creation through another husband and wife (Adam and Eve), this new creation is now under threat.

*Compare the story of Achan in Joshua 7 with this event. A new beginning (creation) for God’s people is under threat. Again, the threat involves material possessions. How do you respond to the idea that God is moving in judgment to protect the new community?

“The greater the awareness and experience of the presence and power of God among His people, the greater the accountability of the people”. Do you agree or disagree with that statement?

  When Judas had eaten the bread, Satan entered into him. Then Jesus told him, “Hurry and do what you’re going to do.” John 13:27 (NLT).  Is Judas another example of the same evil strategy employed repeatedly over the years to undermine God’s people?

Read Matthew 26/14-17. Note that money/possessions are involved and Satan is active in Judas as he was with Ananias & Sapphira and as he was with Adam & Eve.

[3]  DIVINE JUDGMENT OR HUMAN COINCIDENCE?  (Vs. 7-11)

The text does not say that God “killed” Ananias and Sapphira. The shock of exposure could have triggered a heart attack in Ananias. Similarly, Sapphira could have collapsed upon hearing of her husband’s death. But, in terms of timing, both those explanations are “drawing a long bow”.

  1. It’s obvious that the Church saw the deaths of Ananias & Sapphira as a divine initiative (v.11) It’s virtually impossible to reach any other conclusion. “Great fear gripped the whole Church….” How would you like to belong to a Church that was so God-conscious or God-aware that a careful respect and awe of God were the prevailing attitudes?

  2. Read Acts 5/12-16. Compare v.13 with v.14. What features stand out to you?

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