Subject: “A Fatal Attraction”
Text: Acts 5:1-11
How dangerous it is to hate what God loves and to love what God hates. It is really a fatal attraction to fall in love with things that have the potential to destroy our relationship with God, our fellowship with others and the peace in our lives. This is what happened in the Ananias and Sapphira story. They were a couple who used a God given blessing in a God forbidden way. The root cause of their fall was a fatal attraction. Ananias and Sapphira loved money and the praise of others more than they did God. They set themselves against the Holy Spirit and resisted his powerful influence. Once the love of money and of human praise took possession of a person, he becomes open to all kind of satanic influence.
The church of God filled with the Holy Spirit’s power was experiencing tremendous growth and unity. The church was filled with demonstrations of genuine generosity and harmony. This new movement was on the lips of every person. Even the Pharisees and Sadducees were impressed with the character and commitment of these ignorant and unlearned men. The church faced both internal and external problems. Externally, they were being persecution constantly. Internally, they were confronted by administrative problems and spiritual hypocrisy. What Satan had failed to accomplish through external persecution, he attempts to do through spiritual hypocrisy. Hypocrisy in the church is still one of the main tools he using to hinder the progress of the church. Most of the time, he using this same fatal attraction: The love of money and the love of praise. The number one reason people give for not wanting to have anything to do with the church or with Christianity is hypocrisy. They say the church is filled with hypocrites. Would you consider yourself a hypocrite? I want you to evaluate yourself based upon what one man wrote. He said, “I met the strangest man the other day. He said he believes in the Bible, but he never reads it. He said he thought well of the church of which he is a member, but he never attends. He said a man should be honest with God in money matters, but he never tithes. He said the younger generation needs the Lord, but he isn’t leading them in that direction. He said the church needs dedicated church members, but he isn’t one. He said the church should do more ministering to people, but he doesn’t help. He is critical of the way the church is “run,” but he never participates. He says prayer changes things, but he never prays. He was a strange man indeed.” Do you know people like that? I know a few and one in particular. Some times I find it a lot easier to talk the talk than to walk the walk. Are there areas of your life that you do not quite walk the walk?
One recent survey by the Barna group revealed some of the hypocrisy that exists in the church. Listen to these statistics: 29% of Christian adults surveyed in 1997 actually believe that Bible commands us to tithe. 17% of Christian adults claimed to have tithed in 1997, but only 3% actually did so. In 1999, 8% of born again Christians tithed their income in 1999. (29% claimed to believe it, 17% claim to do it, only 8% actually do)
It’s like the story I heard about a one dollar bill that met a twenty dollar bill and said, “Hey, where’ve you been? I haven’t seen you around here much.” The twenty answered (as the dollar bill listened enviously), “I’ve been hanging out at the casinos, went out on a cruise and did the rounds of the ship, back to the Untied States for a while, went to a couple of baseball games, to the mall, that kind of stuff. How about you?” The one-dollar bill said, “You know, same old stuff, church, church, church
I want to share three things from this text: (1) The Spirit Filled Church Will Be Tempted; (2) Our Temptation of a Spirit Filled Church Stems from Two Sources: Satan and Self and; (3) The Spirit Filled Church Must Grow in the Fear of the Lord and the Comfort of the Holy Spirit.
1. The Spirit Filled Church Will Be Tempted. The Holy Spirit is no guarantee against trouble, persecution, confusion or temptation. The early church was filled with the Spirit, but they faced constant temptation to be fearful, to doubt and even to sin. When ever God is doing great things among his people, we can expect Satan to show up and try to show out. Whenever you and I are experiencing God’s greatest blessing, we should expect Satan to try to tempt us to use a God given blessing in a God forbidden way. The songwriter says, “Yield not to temptation for yielding is sin, each victory will help you some other to win.” The Spirit filled church will be tempted. Secondly, our temptation stems from two sources.
2. Our Temptation of a Spirit Filled Church Stems from Two Sources: Satan and Self. It stemmed from satanic influence. Peter acknowledged in 5:3 that Satan had filled Ananias’ heart to lie. Jesus said that Satan is the Father of lies. Satan tried before to put an end to the church by outside persecution. When that didn’t work, he tries destroying it from the inside. Satan still does this today. The main tool he uses is hypocrisy. Whatever hypocrisy you have in your life, be certain that it is from Satan and if you don’t deal with it, it will become a stronghold in your life. The second influence stems from self-centeredness. Ananias wanted to impress others and make a name for himself, so he lied about the financial gift. He wanted people to think he was giving a fortune and thus think he was super-spiritual. Hypocrisy always results when someone loves themselves more than they love God and others. They are willing to do what it takes to look good in front of others rather than laboring to work on the heart. The Spirit filled church will be tempted. Secondly, our temptation of a Spirit filled church stems from two sources. Satanic influence and self centeredness, and finally,
3. The Spirit Filled Church Must Grow in the Fear of the Lord and the Comfort of the Holy Spirit. - Ac 5:11 And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.” Many times the church of today want to grow in the comfort of the Holy Ghost only. The early church not only had the comfort of the Holy Ghost, they had a great fear of God. This people feared God’s displeasure. They knew now more than ever that He was not just a loving God, but a Holy God. Even those that were outside of the church feared God. I am afraid we live in a generation that believes they can come and go as they please and do whatever they want or feel and still be on their way to heaven anyhow! A Godly Christian life requires us to give up the life of sin and walk in the fear of God. Many theologians refer to the greatest of the early church and it was a great church. The Bible uses the word great in Acts three different ways and it appears four times. The church had great power. They had great grace or favor upon them. And finally and most important, they had a great fear of the Lord.
Today, we mostly preach the comfort of the Holy Ghost! The Lord is on our side. The Lord will never leave us nor forsake us. Our God is a loving and kind heavenly Father who understands the weakness of our flesh. He heals our diseases and forgives our iniquities. These things are faithful and true saying of the words of God. But the word of God also says, “All souls are mine and the soul that sinneth, it shall die”
Ga 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Re 3:15,16 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
Re 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, imstone: which is the second death.
Watch out for the fatal attractions of life. Watch for the temptation to love money or selfish ambitions more than God. We must overcome Satan, the world and the flesh. We must grow in the fear of the Lord and the comfort of the Holy Ghost. There are some combinations that we must keep together, such as Comfort and Fear, and Grace and Truth. Comfort and Grace without the balance of Fear and Truth leads to abuse and misuse.
Ga 5:13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.