Summary: I would like to thank Pastor Jerry Shirley for sharing this series on Acts. It has been a blessing as well as a great help. I have used these for our church, as I spend my days caring for my dying father.
From Harmony to Hypocrisy Acts 4: 36-5:11
The early church is experiencing revival with thousands being saved and the devil is not happy!
He has tried to destroy and stop the church through intimidation and persecution but could not.
Since he was going nowhere, by unleashing outside forces against the church, he found a way to get in the church and hopefully destroy it from within!
Maybe he thought if he couldn’t defeat the church, he could, at least corrupt it enough that those outside would not believe and those inside would just give up!
Let’s think about what we have seen, in chapters 2-4. We have seen literally thousands come into the church through true repentance and salvation.
By chapter 4 the church is filled with excitement as more and more are surrendering to Jesus.
But then along comes Ananias and Sapphire, in chapter 5.
In chapter 4, we see great generosity… but, like many today, Ananias and Sapphira just wanted to be noticed.
In chapter 4 we see unity in the early church… but, Ananias and Sapphira had their own selfish motive for being a part of the church.
The first thing I want to show you is:
I. The Problem in the Church: Look at verses 1-4.
I want you to use your imagination this morning and think how this may have happened.
Back in chapter 4:37 Barnabus had made quite a generous donation. Now it would natural for many to have been impressed by such an offering.
BUT we need to understand that he didn’t give it for praise but you can believe that word about the gift quickly spread.
Let’s see if we can get into the mind of this couple, Ananias and Sapphira, who possibly were bitten by the green-eyed monster of jealousy. Let’s see if we can see how they may have concocted a plan of their own, to stand out and be noticed in the church.
Here’s what we know…They sell some property.
Maybe they carry a big bag of money home and dump it on the living room floor. Then they stack it up and their eyes begin to glisten, as they admire the money stacked up in front of them!
You know, money does funny things to people. The Bible compares it to a trap.
How many, in this very room have said...“If I had a million dollars I’d give it to the church.”? Many say that yet they have never even given a nickel to the church.
The truth is that money will never make greedy people unselfish, it has a tendency, however, to make greedy people greedier!
The more you have the more you want.
Let’s get back to that sack of money. Maybe they say, “This will be a great day at church this Sunday” BUT it’s only Monday and suppose, they planted some leaks about what they were going to do… just to sweeten the deal a bit!
They probably knew just like you know the perfect person to leak juicy bits of information to if you want something to get out!
Think about this… Here they are, staring at all that money the rest of the week.
Suddenly they begin to say to themselves, “We haven’t saved anything for retirement” so they slip out, just a little, mind you, and set it aside.
Oh but what about the kid’s college fund… just a bit more.
“You know we really could use a vacation”… just a bit more.
“You know, honey, that old camel of ours in on his last leg and with the kids and all, we need a new 4 door camel… just a bit more.
Sunday comes and they now have half the money in the bag, on the way to church, and half stuffed under their mattress.
Notice that THEY didn’t go to church together this Sunday. Ananias came first, maybe with a grin on his face, like a possum eating earth worms as he gave the sack of money to the Apostles.
Here’s my question to you. “Was it wrong for them to only bring part of the money to church?”
There was no record of God telling them to do it. Nor do we find that God spoke to them and told them to sell anything and bring any amount of money to the church.
And that’s the point Peter makes in v. 4… He is not saying that there is anything wrong with any of the above.
The problem was not with their giving ONLY a portion of the money.
The problem was that they intentionally lied about the amount and deliberately deceived the church in order to lift themselves up!
They pretended to be something they were not and that’s Hypocrisy!
If they had come and said, we sold our property for $50k and we feel led to give half to the church…that would have been fine…but they just couldn’t let Barnabas get all the attention, so they claimed to be giving the full amount of the selling price.