Ananias & Sapphira Hide the Truth & Suffer Consequences

Once a court painter painted the portrait of Oliver Cromwell. Cromwell was disfigured by warts upon his face. The painter, thinking to please the great man, omitted the disfiguring warts. When Cromwell saw the picture, he said, “Take it away, and paint me warts and all.&rdq … More

Hypocrisy

In the last few verses of chapter 4 we are told about the church members selling their possessions and bringing the money to the church. No doubt the people were praising God for the generous offering Barnabas had given. Ananias and Sapphira decided they would like to have the people think they were as spiritual as Barnabas. So, they planned a strategy. They agreed to sell their property and simply pretend they were giving all they had received from it to the church, when actually they were only giving part of it (vv. 1-4).

This act was judged harshly because dishonesty, greed and covetousness are destructive in a church, preventing the Holy Spirit from working effectively (vv.  5-10).This is one of the stories which demonstrate the honesty of the Bible. It might well have been left out, because it shows that even in the early Church there were very imperfect Christians; but the Bible refuses to present an idealized picture of anything. It is one of the great virtues of the Bible that it shows us its heroes, warts and all. Their sin of hypocrisy was actually motivated by pride, and that is a sin that God especially hates and judges (Prov. 8:13). Once we are more concerned about our reputation than we are about our character, there is no end to the things we will do to make ourselves “look good” before others.

We need to keep in mind that Ananias and Sapphira did not have to sell their property. And after they did sell it, they did not have to bring any of the proceeds to the church. They simply pretended to be more devoted to Christ than they actually were, and for this they were judged. God judges all sin, but not always in the same manner. His judgement on Ananias and Sapphira produced shock waves and fear among the believers, making them realize how seriously God regards sin in their lives (v. 11). There is no substitute for personal purity, and there is a price to pay if we don’t remain pure.

Application

It is easy for me to condemn Ananias and Sapphira, but I need to take a look at my own life to see if my witness is backed up by my practice. Do I mean the songs I sing, or everything I pray in public? (Matthew 15:8).

Acts 5:1-11 (English Standard Version)

But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife's knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God." When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him. After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter said to her, "Tell me whether you sold the land for so much." And she said, "Yes, for so much." But Peter said to her, "How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out." Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.

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