In Isolation Thoughts 2

 

Sunday 5th July 2020

 

Music: YouTube- The Collingsworth Family- At Calvary

Bible Reading: Acts 5.1-11

Honesty with God

As we come to this chapter in the record of the early church, we move from the miracle and power of prayer to a totally different scenario. We have the sudden death of two believers which causes great upset amongst the believers.  In previous studies, we have seen how the Christians showed a different social responsibility in their community. We know that the Jewish Law had provision for the poor and needy, but this was openly abused and the wealthy found ways of avoiding their obligation. Look back in the Gospels and see what Jesus had to say about their practice of ‘Corban’. This resulted in people having to sit by the roadside begging for money to enable them to live. Again look at the Gospel accounts of those begging that came face to face with Jesus and were healed. In recent weeks we have looked at the same situation with the lame man on the Temple Road. The Christians went way beyond this, they set up communal living and support, we saw in the last study that, ‘no one was in need’.

Community Need Supported

It all started well, we are introduced to this husband and wife, Ananias and Sapphira. They were members of the early church and had close contact with the Disciples. They saw what was happening within the community and decided that they could play their part. They obviously owned some property and decided to sell it and put the proceeds into the church funds. This was in keeping with what was being done by others and showed a commitment to the Lord’s work. The Disciples, well actually Peter, received the gift on behalf of the church. Then came the problem, Peter asked about the value of the sale.

Conspiracy to Dishonour God

It was at this point that Ananias had to make a decision, should he tell the truth or go with the conspiracy that he’d agreed with his wife. The problem was they had decided to keep some of the money for themselves. In one sense, this is not a problem, if only they then had been open with Peter and agreed that they had sold the property for a certain sum. but that they were keeping some of it back for themselves. However, they decided to be dishonest and tell Peter that this was the total amount. The issue here is not keeping back the money but lying to Peter and by implication lying to God. They were claiming credit and praise from the community for their generosity, yet the same time being dishonest. What made it worse, was that they had conspired together in this dishonesty. It was a deliberate act and not one of them acting on impulse. From the moment they had sold the property and the money was in their hands, they decided to keep some for themselves and at the same time tell Peter and the other disciples that they were giving the whole amount. This whole incident reminds us the God is in control and knows exactly what we are doing, He knows what is in our mind and in our thoughts. This incident also shows us how the Holy Spirit revealed to Peter their dishonesty.

Condemnation and Judgment

God’s judgement on this sin was immediate and severe. It is reminiscent of some of the judgements we read in the old Testament. When God was teaching his people to obey him in all things. Sometimes we read that the actions caused a wide consequence for the people. For instance, the loss of life at Ai, because of the disobedience by Achan. When his sin had been brought into the open there was judgement on both him and his family. Here in Acts, we see God’s judgement instantly fell on Ananias. He died and was buried. We then read that three hours later, Sapphira comes into the scene. For some reason, she was not aware of the earlier death of her husband. Peter asks her about the sale. She confirms the price that she had agreed with her husband to disclose to the church. Peter then challenges her on her dishonesty. He points out that her sin was not against the church but against the Lord. He then informs her that her husband had died because of their dishonesty to God. The men who buried her husband where now at the door to bury her. Just like her husband, she died instantly and was buried. These two sudden deaths caused great fear in the early Church, but not only in the early Church, the details of the incident spread through the whole community.

What to does this teach us today?

God is omniscient, He knows our every action and thought.

God wants us to be open and honest with Him.

God reminds us that our actions can have wide implications as well as affecting us.

We need to be careful what we say and do.

 

Music: YouTube- Have thine own way


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