Summary: This is the story of Ananias and Sapphira. They are an example of when we do a good thing but do with the wrong motives and attempt to make ourselves look good to others.
“Money Problems at the Church”
On your way to church today you may have been greeted by someone who wanted you to buy a Sunday paper. They are stationed I read that one of these workers spotted a man who would drive up, buy a paper with a $20 bill, get his change, then go to the other side of the intersection and do the same thing until he had covered all of them. This worker was curious why this man was doing this so the worker called the police. As it turns out the $20 bills were counterfeit and by doing this he got a paper and $19 in change from each one. $19 in real money. But he also got caught.
Many times people who work in banks or in retail are trained to spot counterfeit bills. One of the ways this is done is by taking the bill and holding it up to the light and then looking at the president’s picture on the bill. If the bill is real and you hold it up to the light, beside the picture you can see an image of the President but not unless you hold it up to the light.
There are plenty of people who come to church week after week .... they look like believers, they pray like believers. They sing like believers and they dress up like believers . To the untrained eye they look like believers. But the only way to tell if they are real is the same way you can tell if money is real. If you hold them up to the light, which is Jesus Christ, you should see the image of God in their lives.
It is unfortunate that many have never committed their lives to Jesus Christ and they are walking around as counterfeit believers. Some have done it for so long that they have even fooled themselves and have convinced others that they are the real deal. This is the message I want you to hear this morning. God is not pleased with part-time believers. He is not pleased with part-time devotion, part-time commitment or part-time service.
The Bible says we cannot serve God and riches at the same time. In fact not just riches, we cannot serve God and anything else. The OT says the God we serve is a jealous God and He wants first place in our lives.
As we have been walking verse by verse through the book of Acts we have seen the birth of the early church. These early believers have been filled with the Holy Spirit. They have preached the gospel, they have healed the sick and the Bible tells us they were of one heart and mind... so much so that they began to sell their possessions and share everything they had with one another. When they sold their things they would lay the money at the feet of the apostles so that it could be used to help anyone who was in need.
As a matter of fact we read of Barnabas who was a committed follower of Jesus. Barnabas sold a field that he owned and brought all the money to the apostles. Barnabas did this for the simple reason that he loved the Lord and he loved the God’s church. Barnabas was not under pressure of any kind...he did it because of his commitment to Christ.
Now we come this morning to a married couple in chapter 5 by the name of Ananias and Sapphira. They too owned a piece of property. They no doubt had seen how Barnabas was praised for giving his land. Maybe the pastor bragged on Barnabas in church...maybe they dedicated a pew to Barnabas and now this couple wanted some recognition as well.
We all know how it is when we do a good thing but we do it for the wrong reason. We give to be seen. We help to be noticed. We come to church because it’s good for our image. We all do it. Ananias and Sapphira wanted to do a good thing but they did it with the wrong motive ....and they got caught.
This morning I want you to see the steps this couple took...where they started and where it all ended. (1) First of all, together they sold their property and together they held back from God. This was the effort of 2 people. Even though Ananias is named 1st, clearly Sapphira was involved. Luke tells us her that Ananias put the money aside for himself and that he did so with his wife’s full knowledge.
To this point the early church is doing well. From a group of 120 they had seen over 5000 people come to Christ and now they were all worshiping together. Through the power of the Holy Spirit Peter healed a man who was crippled from birth. This man who was probably known by everyone in town as the man who sat at the temple gate every day begging was now shouting and praising God and running up and down the streets of Jerusalem. And as a result people were coming to Christ by the thousands. That is the power of a changed life. But