Summary: Hypocrisy! The bane of the church. The most common excuse for non-believers. But it is also something God HATES! So much that he struck down dead a Couple for it. This sermon examines 4 signs of hypocrisy, and what to do about it.
February 1, 2015
NOTE: A PowerPoint presentation of this sermon is available upon request by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[PROP: A BEAUTIFUL BOWL/PLATTER (LIGHT COLORED ON THE INSIDE). MAKE SURE OUTSIDE IS CLEAN AND INSIDE IS AS DIRTY AS YOU CAN MAKE IT!]
TEXT: Acts 5:1-16 – “But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, 2 And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet. 3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? 4 Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. 5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. 6 And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him. 7 And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. 8 And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. 9 Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. 10 Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband. 11 And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.
One of my former pastors used to say that when you encounter the word “therefore” in the Bible, you should pause and see what it’s there for. If I can exercise a little liberty with my former pastor’s advice about the scripture, I would add this: “When in the Bible you encounter the word “but,” always ask “what?” That is, look at “what” was just mentioned, since Webster defines “but” as a word “used to introduce something contrasting with what has already been mentioned.
So what was just mentioned in chapter 5? Well, last week, in Acts 4, we studied Barnabas who owned a piece of property, which he sold and gave to the church to help alleviate the suffering of the believers in Jerusalem. There were several motivations we examined for his action, and one of them was to be generous and big-hearted to those in Jerusalem who were in desperate need.
After reading about that in Acts 4, the very first word we encounter in chapter 5 is “but.” The Holy Spirit, who inspired Luke’s record in the book of Acts, wants to show a counter-point to Barnabas, the big-hearted, open-handed, selfless giver. The contrast is a couple named Ananias and Sapphira who offered to sell their property and give all the proceeds to the church. But they lied about giving ALL the money to God, keeping some of it for themselves.
This husband and wife tried to give the impression that they had made a big sacrifice to impress others, when in fact, they were lying about the “giving it all” part. Theirs was the sin of hypocrisy, and that’s what I want to preach on today.
Illus. – The owner of a French restaurant came up with a gimmick that doubled his clientele in a matter of weeks. When a fellow comes in with his girl, a smiling waiter hands each an ornate menu. They look exactly alike on the outside, but the one given to the man has the real prices listed for each item, while his lady friend’s copy shows the same dishes at fictitious, and highly inflated prices. As the fellow orders, the girl is AMAZED by his generosity!
Do you know what that is?—That, my friend, is HYPOCRISY!—Only after she marries the shmuck does she find out he’s a cheapskate!
Illus. – Etiquette requires that in Chinese conversation a person should compliment another person and everybody and everything that is his in a most flattering style, while he should depreciate himself and all those with him to the lowest possible degree. The following is no exaggeration of a typical Chinese conversation (I know this for because I called a man who had been a missionary in China and he confirmed that the following is a very believable scenario):