Summary: The Holy Spirit in this passage is showing us the difference between a disciple and a deceiver.
INTRO: In some resort towns in Arizona, it is the practice of various hotels or motels to spray-paint the grass green in the winter to lure tourists to what looks like a lush vacation spot. The problem is that the first spring rains wash the paint into the gutters, revealing how false the image was of the picture-perfect lawns.
That’s the essence of hypocrisy – pretending to be what we are not.
It is a deliberate deception.
This is what Jesus was saying of the Sadducees and Pharisees when He called them Hypocrites. They were deliberately deceiving the people of God for their own good. That is what we will see in our passage today deliberate deception.
If we did not examine closely God’s word here in chapter 5 we would miss that It actually belongs with the scripture beginning in 4.32. The chapter and verse divisions that were placed on the Bible will keep us from seeing the contrast between the generous, and the greedy. We here see what was preached only a few weeks ago. Satan has figured out that persecution strengthens the church. However, infiltration, subtle resistance will rot the church from the inside out.
Using Barnabas as an example Dr Luke gives us a picture of the generosity of the early church.
According to Dr Johnny hunt “wherever you find great generosity in the church look what follows.”
Acts 4.33 “And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all.”
The church through the filling of the Spirit had already experienced great favor, and great power, in chapter 5 great fear was about to come upon them. It is here in God’s word we find another mark of truthfulness. If we were liberal reporters or partisan politicians we would not report this dark story. A story that shows the church of God is not perfect. It is unfortunately filled with imperfect sinners saved by grace. It is in this honesty we see the contrast between the selfless act of Barnabas and the completely selfish act of Ananias and Sapphira.
The Holy Spirit in this passage is showing us the difference between a disciple and a deceiver.
I. Act of Dedication contrasted with An Act of Deception
A) Dedication of Barnabas
1) The source
According to Acts 11.24 Barnabas was “a good man, and full of the Holy spirit and faith.”
2) The Substance -- Selfless sharing
Barnabas was the picture of selfless sharing.
a) Barnabas accepted and introduced Paul to the disciples
(who were afraid of him after his conversion) (Acts 9.27)
b) Barnabas took John Mark under his wing when Paul refused to take him on the second missionary journey (Acts 15.36-39)
c) Barnabas took up for the Antioch Christians and the Jerusalem Christians concern over their orthodox witness to the Greeks. (Acts 11.20-23)
Barnabas was what we should all want to be as Christians. A spirit filled encourager of God’s people. Barnabas had nothing to cover up or hide.
3) Sells his land
a) Imagine the recognition
1) (already had a nick name) Son of encouragement
2) Way of showing respect
b) His action was a result of complete dedication and commitment.
We see a great contrast between the spirit of giving in Barnabas and the spirit of greed in Ananias and Sapphira.
B) Deception of Ananias and Sapphira
1) The Source
Acts 5.3 “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart” As stated earlier Satan has already seen that outside persecution does not work as well as inward corruption.
a) Dr. Adrian Rogers calls Satan the sinister minister. It was the sinister minister that had enticed Ananias and Sapphira to sin.
b) How sad a commentary on Ananias and Sapphira
Ananias literally means, “God is gracious” or “One whom God is good to.” Sapphira “beautiful”
Ananias did not act as though God was gracious to him and Sapphira though beautiful in the flesh had a completely ugly heart. (Car with metallic rims and new paint job, filthy inside)
2) The Substance
Acts 4.3 “to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land?”
a) Important question to ask about Ananias and Sapphira.
Were they Christians? If so why is it important?
1) They were included in the “congregation of those who believed (4.32)
2) They were involved (lied) with the Holy Spirit indicating a relationship
3) If they were not Christians, what lesson about sin did this give to teach all the rest who were true believers?
4) Satan can be personally involved with believers (Eph 6.12, 1 Peter 5.8-9)
5) Death can be divine discipline for a believer (1 Cor 11.30-32, 1 John 5.16)
b) Important to understand
1) Ananias and Sapphira did not sin because they didn’t give all the money from the sale of the land. It was because they pretended to do so. The charge that led ultimately to their execution was not lying to the church but in lying to God.