Summary: As our merciful God is working His goodness into our hearts and lives, He requires sincerity and integrity from us.
Living a Life of Integrity
Intro: This is almost an unbelievable story to most people today. Can you imagine something like this happening today? I think it is safe to conclude that God does not always choose to work in this way. We do have some examples from the OT where God actually killed people because they took Him lightly and did what was evil in His eyes. We read about Nadab and Abihu, who disobeyed God by using their own fire to burn incense to the Lord. God destroyed them with fire. Then there were the first two sons of Judah (Jacob’s grandsons) who were so wicked that God just killed them. So, we know that God did personally put some people to death, but if He still does so, we don’t really know what we are seeing. Paul says that some people in Corinth have died because they did not discern the Lord’s body when they took communion. We understand the Lord’s body to be the body of believers that made up the church in Corinth. It seems that the wealthy members were having a feast with fellow wealthy members, while the poor were shuffled off to the side because they could not afford an elegant feast. However, my point today is not that God is out to kill anybody. The Bible says that He did not come to condemn, but to save. The enemy is the one who wants to steal, kill, and destroy. The real lesson today is about how we treat God and one another. Here it is in a nutshell:
Prop: As our merciful God is working His goodness into our hearts and lives, He requires sincerity and integrity from us.
Interrogative: How do we know this to be true?
TS: Acts 5 shows us at least 4 principles that tell us what God wants from us.
I. God Cares about Proper Motives (Generosity or Greed?)
-As we can see in Luke’s account of Ananias and Sapphira, one of the first problems that surfaces in their lives has to do with motives. Have you ever had something nice done for you, but you knew that the person was not doing it for the right reasons? Or, we could put the shoe on the other foot. Have you ever done something nice for somebody, but as you look back, you weren’t doing it so much to help them as to help yourself in some way?
-Well, at the end of ch.4, Luke mentions that Barnabas sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet. He wasn’t the only one to do so, however. Acts 4:34-35 says, “There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.”
-So, we have the positive examples of people who gave because they wanted to help meet a need in the family of God. As far as we can tell, they were giving for the right reasons: to honor God and to help those in need.
-The fact that we should be givers is very clear in Scripture. The Bible says a lot about giving. Jesus told His disciples, “You have received freely, now give to others freely.” Later in Acts, Paul tells the Ephesian believers to remember the words of the Lord Jesus who said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” James writes that if we see someone in need and we don’t do anything to help them, then our faith is dead and useless. So, giving is part of being a Christian. I would almost go so far as to say that if a person refuses to be generous and give when there is a need, then God’s love is either not in them, or it has grown cold. We are not saved by works such as giving, but it is (or should be) a reflection of the work that God has done in us.