Summary: A study of the book of Acts 4: 32 – 5: 11
Acts 4: 32 – 5: 11
Want to still stick to your prior testimony?
32 Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. 33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. 34 Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, 35 and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need. 36 And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, 37 having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
5 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. 2 And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? 4 While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” 5 Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things. 6 And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him. 7 Now it was about three hours later when his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 And Peter answered her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?” She said, “Yes, for so much.” 9 Then Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” 10 Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her by her husband. 11 So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things.
The bible teaches that in the last days ‘lawlessness’ will abound. A major part of lawlessness is the erosion of truth. Telling the truth under oath is “a breathtakingly simple proposition on which the entire American legal system rests. False statements are undermining America. It uses to be that when a witness testified he or she would put their hand on the bible and answer that they ‘swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help me God.’ Since we do not want our Holy God involved in our country anymore, the words to a witness today are, ‘Do you affirm to tell the truth?’
We know how many murders are committed each year 1,248,185 in 2016. We know the precise numbers for reported instances of rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, and vehicle theft. No one keeps statistics for perjury and false statements-lies told under oath or to investigative and other agencies of the U.S. government-even though they are felonies punishable by up to five years in prison. There is simply too much of it, and too little is prosecuted to generate any meaningful statistics.
Although lying seems to be an inherent part of human nature, the narrow but serious class of lies that undermines the judicial process on which government depends has been a crime as old as civilization itself. Originally prosecuted in England by ecclesiastical courts, by the sixteenth century perjury was firmly embedded as a crime in the English common law. The offender was typically punished by cutting out his tongue, or making him stand with both ears nailed to the pillory. False testimony that resulted in the execution of an innocent person was itself punishable by death. Exile, imprisonment, fines, and “perpetual infamy” were meted out as the centuries passed. I would call that a great incentive to tell the truth.
Perjury was a crime in the American colonies and has been a crime in the United States since independence. Today perjury and false statements are federal offenses under U.S. criminal code Title 18, and perjury is also outlawed by statute in all fifty states. The obligation to appear as a witness if summoned and to provide truthful testimony has been inculcated in generations of Americans through civics and history classes. “I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” is a phrase nearly every American knows by heart.