Summary: Looking at the account of Ananias and Sapphira in four sections: 1. The Sin of Ananias and Sapphira, 2. The Courage of the Apostle Peter, 3. The Judgment of God, and 4. The Reaction of the people.
THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT!
That great preacher of old, Spurgeon said – and I quote, ‘Mark Antony once yoked two lions together and drove them through the streets of Rome, but no human skill can ever yoke together the Lion of the Tribe of Judah and the Lion of the Pit.’
What an incredible truth! And yet how many of us try to yoke, or hold together in our own lives the Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Jesus Christ) and the Lion of the Pit (Satan). We pledge our allegiance to Jesus and yet walk hand in hand with darkness.
In continuing our studies in the book of Acts – I invite Angela to come forward and read to us Acts 5:1-11.
This is one of those passages that we tend to pass over, perhaps because it makes us feel uncomfortable, or perhaps because we think it shows God in a bad light.
Listen carefully to God’s Word as Angela reads it to us – Acts 5:1-11. Thanks Angela.
We may recall that things were going extremely well in the church. Satan’s attempts to thwart by external attack had failed dismally. His tactic had proven ineffective in stopping the advance of the gospel, so he tried a different strategy - he attacked from within. How tragic it is when God’s own people allow Satan to use them to spoil God’s own work!
Let’s consider the account we have just heard – and we’ll look at it in four sections.
The first being -
1. The Sin of Ananias and Sapphira
What was their sin? It must have been terrible when we consider how God judged it! What was their sin?
It was the ‘Lion of the Pit’ inspired – vs 3 ‘…how is it that Satan…’ You belong to Jesus, you belong to the Lion of the Tribe of Judah – ‘…how is it that Satan…’ has taken your heart?! ‘…how is it that Satan has so filled your heart…’ ‘…how is it that Satan has so filled your heart…’ that you would choose him over the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. That you would be true to him and lie to God Almighty! ‘…how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit…’
You know, ‘refusing to deal with our own potential for evil can make even our goodness dangerous.’
Well, their sin was premeditated, deliberate, planned – vs 2 ‘With his wife’s full knowledge…’
This husband & wife team, were quite possibly known & respected in the Church. They had witnessed the power of the blessing of God. They were not outsiders or enemies of the Church - they were hinderers from within!
Several weeks ago I was pressured into doing what I try my hardest not to do - weeding! And I was working on a particular patch in the garden where lawn had gone wild & spread its runners throughout the garden bed – it was terrible to remove – in fact I left a fair amount of it there. And I commented to my son Daniel, ‘Its amazing the harm caused by a valued plant when it crosses the boundaries & goes wild – it’s more damaging than weeds!’ It’s like the believer who walks with the Lion of the Pit!
Barnabas sold a field he owned and gave the proceeds to help the needy & expand the gospel. Unfortunately somewhere in the church a man and wife saw the recognition that Barnabas was getting, and desired the same kind of acclaim. Ananias and Sapphira thought, ‘I would like to have people praising me like that! Look at all the attention that he is getting.’ So they decided to sell some land and do the same. But a terrible thing happened! Satan tempted them to withhold some of the money on the pretence of giving all. He convinced them to pretend to be what they were not! Look at us they said. We are so spiritual! Praise us for our service!
We have a tendency to excuse our sin and blame Satan by rather glibly saying as Flip Wilson used to joke, ‘The Devil made me do it!’
The truth of the matter is the Devil can’t make you do anything! (1 Cor 10:13).
It is interesting that Jesus, who usually treated even the vilest of sinners with gentleness, who ate with them, who forgave them, always got angry with one particular sin - the sin of Hypocrisy. Jesus called the Pharisees, ‘white-washed tombs’, looking clean on the outside but opposite on the inside. The reason Jesus hates this sin in particular is that it leads people away from God. It stands in the way of people seeing Jesus. It cries out, ‘Look at me!’