Summary: Ananias and Sapphira felt that they could play games with God and the church. There are a few reasons why this is a bad idea.
Passage: Acts 5:1-11
Intro: Every time God is working to accomplish something that involves people, we can be sure of one thing.
1. People will find a way to mess it up!
2. we see it in Scripture, we see it in history, we see it in our own experiences.
3. missions, churches, ministries are works of God that involve transformed people, but when the transformation hasn’t caught up with the purpose of God, trouble brews.
4. the early church was off to a great start, with great power and explosive growth and a godly reputation. What could derail it?!
5. The flesh can and does, and as we look at this passage, we need to listen to the warnings that God is speaking to us.
6. we would like everything to be positive and encouraging, but the flesh is real and extremely dangerous.
7. these warnings are as well positive statements, and if we live by them, good things will happen,
8. but if we ignore them, like Ananias and Sapphira did, we will experience loss.
I. Fear Breeds Sin
1. it’s hard to tell when Ananias and Sapphira hatched their plot.
2. some people had sold properties and given it all to the apostles to be distributed to the needy.
3. This couple also sold a property, and we might assume that their original intention was to give it all.
4. but somewhere between the selling and the giving a plan emerged.
5. they decided to keep some of it, but make it seem as though they were giving it all.
6. word translated “kept back” is literally “to embezzle, to secretly take a part of a larger quantity which had been given as a trust.”
7. why did they do that? What was the motivation?
8. they wanted to be numbered with the faithful, but they were afraid of the cost.
9. the property was entrusted to them, and they had the right to give all or part or none! V4
10. but they were afraid that if they gave all, God could not supply their needs.
-afraid men would think ill of them if they knew they did not give it all
-afraid if they told the truth, they would be condemned by others
11. but their fear bred sin, as it tends to
12. They came up with a plan to answer all their fears, gain favor with men but keep a little nest egg in case God failed.
13. but that plan involved lying to God as well as men. Deception!
14. brothers and sisters, we need to examine our lives for the presence of fear.
-often shows up as “what if”
15. fear keeps us from sharing the gospel, from giving, from serving.
16. if we allow fear to remain, it will breed sin.
II. We Serve a Holy God
1. we love to play games.
2. not talking about football or basketball, but mind games to get what we want
Il) back when I was a kid, the phrase used to describe a tactic used to attract the opposite gender was “playing hard to get”
3. games are played at the office, on the manufacturing floor, in the classroom, in the Halls of Congress.
4. and certainly Ananias and Sapphira were playing a game for the purpose of gaining the favor of men while keeping as much money as possible.
5. it’s interesting that there is no indication of percentages; how much was given and how much was kept.
6. the problem was not one of amount, but of deceptive hearts seeking to move “up the ladder”
7. this kind of game-playing is both expected and accepted in the world.
Il) Tom Hanks and Ron Howard meeting with the President of France because they wanted to use the Louvre Museum to film “The DaVinci Code”. He suggested that they give a leading part to the daughter of a friend of his, and pay more to another friend. That’s just how “things get done.”
8. Here’s the bottom line from this passage:
9. God doesn’t play games. God does things according to His character and the principles He has revealed.
10. God is not a pragmatist, doing whatever He has to do to accomplish His goals.
11. God does not agree that the end justify the means.
12. God is incredibly holy, and He is gracious and forgiving on the basis of the righteousness of the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ.
13. the way we do things, the reason we do things, the motivation for our actions; these are all important things to God.
14. if we want to do God’s work, we need to do it God’s way.
15. and that is the way of integrity, sacrifice, unselfishness, faith.