Ananias and Sapphira found out the hard way what it is like to walk into the glory of God with corruption in their heart.
“1 But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, 2 and kept back some of the price for himself, with his wife’s full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land? 4 “While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” 5 And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last; and great fear came over all who heard of it. 6 The young men got up and covered him up, and after carrying him out, they buried him.
7 Now there elapsed an interval of about three hours, and his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 And Peter responded to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for such and such a price?” And she said, “Yes, that was the price.” 9 Then Peter said to her, “Why is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out as well.” 10 And immediately she fell at his feet and breathed her last, and the young men came in and found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 And great fear came over the whole church, and over all who heard of these things.
12 At the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people; and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s portico. 13 But none of the rest dared to associate with them; however, the people held them in high esteem. 14 And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number, 15 to such an extent that they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on any one of them. 16 Also the people from the cities in the vicinity of Jerusalem were coming together, bringing people who were sick or afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all being healed.”
All those who have been praying for a return to a 1st century church better understand what you are actually praying for because God is not returning to, or for, a 1st century church. God is developing a 21st century church, and maybe even a 22nd century church where the “glory of the latter house will be greater than the glory of the former house.”
It is God’s mercy that has kept our prayers for the glory of God to increase from being fully realized. When it comes in its fullness [the 1st century was a down payment] there very well may be more than a “couple” fall down dead in His presence.
This IS the New Testament friends!
God has never tolerated sin – NEVER!
The sons of Aaron found out what it was like to enter God’s presence incorrectly. Fire from the altar killed them. Why? They offered “strange [unauthorized, unacceptable and unwelcome] fire”.
Isaiah 4 tells us “before the glory” there is a “spirit of burning and judgment” to “purify the daughters of Jerusalem [the Church].”
I don’t know about you but I want to continually step into the spirit of burning and judgment so I will be purified in order to handle the glory.
The Bible says, “For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” [1 Peter 4:17]
Many see this as God punishing people. I see this as God redeeming people. God will judge His people so His people will be able to represent Him [Holy] to the world.
“What will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” They will repent or die! At least they will get the opportunity to repent. Ananias and Sapphira did not get that opportunity. They should have lived repentant lives.
God did not kill Ananias nor Sapphira. Their sin killed them. “The wages of sin IS death.”
What “hidden sin” do you carry in your heart that you carry into your church services?
What guarantee do you have that God will not withdraw His hand of restraint and unload His glory in your church service Wednesday night, or Sunday morning, or some other time when you walk into your “sanctuary”?
Instead of offering some strange fire why don’t you locate His fire and step into it until it purifies you to the point that when He pours His glory out you can not only stand it, or stand up under it, but you can transfer it to other people.
Re-read the story of Ananias and Sapphira again. You will find some interesting information.
1. There was no memorial or funeral service
2. There was no eulogy
3. There was a removal of the dead bodies and a burial – period
4. There was a holy respect for the Christian community
5. There were no “seekers” “checking” “church” out
6. There were real Christians added to the church
7. Then there was an increase in God’s power being released through the apostles
8. Peter, the one who delivered the judgment of God to Ananias and Sapphira, especially operated in increased power. The glory was so strong on him that as far as his shadow extended people were healed and delivered
9. Surrounding cities and their citizens were impacted as well by those who demonstrated a healthy respect [honor, awe] of the Holy God that allowed 2 church member’s membership to expire.
Friends, God is not just interested in you, your church, or your city.
God is interested in you impacting cities around you!
The church my wife Donna and I pastor in beautiful Brunswick and the glorious Golden Isles of Georgia, USA [Bethel Church] have always had people from a minimum of 6 counties, and at times as many as 9 counties, attend our services.
Currently there are people attending who drive between 1 – 1 1/2 hours one way to be in the Presence of God. Some are members, and even leaders, and some are here because they see us a “city” of refuge.
Wise men [people] still travel to find and get it on what God is doing in the earth! There will also always be people who are not interested or aware of what God is doing in their city or region. And then there will always be those who will criticize or attempt to kill what God is doing.
What are you doing with what God is doing?
What Were They Thinking?
Wouldn’t you like to ask Ananias & Sapphira, “What were you thinking?” We don’t really know what they were thinking because the text in Acts 5 does not tell us.
Peter asked them both some questions but Luke, who wrote Acts, does not say what they said, if they said anything at all in defense of their defenseless deception.
V5 says this about Ananias, “As he heard these words [questions] He fell down and breathed his last.”
I believe before Ananias fell down dead, he fell down. He chose deception and in that choice he chose death.
Verse 8 says, “Peter responded to her” which indicates Sapphira may have asked him, “”Where is Ananias?”
Sapphira did answer the first question Peter asked her. Then she fell down dead as well. Luke uses the word “immediately” to describe how swift she lost her life.
This word ‘immediately’ is the same word used in the Gospels to describe how quickly the disciples Jesus chose, chose to follow him and dropped everything to follow Him.
There is a false perception [which is a deception] that under grace Christians can get away with sin. Grace is not a get out of jail free card folks. Read carefully 1 John 2:1-6 and notice John writes to “little children”.
“1 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.
3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.”
“Little children” is “paidion” and is the 3rd level of maturity in the first level of 4 levels of maturity. Little children can understand they do not have permission to [may not] sin.
John goes on to say, “If” not “when” we sin. Sin should not be an issue if we are growing up in Christ Jesus. I can hear those saying, “Kevin, you are crazy. No one will ever live a sinless life.”
Jesus was tempted in every way that you and I are but He did not send. This means He chose right over wrong! It means He chose eternity over the temporary! It means He chose to be faithful to who He was and what He came to accomplish over what others wanted Him to be and to do!
So did Joseph and Mary! At least they were sexually sinless.
There are so called “believers” today that think it is archaic to remain sexually pure. It is only impossible to those who believe it is impossible, or to those who really do not care to remain pure because they believe “God will understand.”
Anything we see as impossible, is! If we believe we can’t, we won’t! If we believe it will not work, it won’t! Deal with it! “According to your faith will it be done.”
Your faith is not showing!
Those who know [have an intimate relationship with] the Father through Jesus the Christ, will keep His commandments. If you read chapter 2 you see the commandments have to do with love, not LAW.
Love supersedes LAW because it is based on the person’s heart that we love, not their rules! In fact, Paul says in Galatians 5 that those who live according to the Spirit are above the LAW.
If we do not keep His commandments we are liars and the truth is not IN us.
“We ought to walk as Jesus the Christ walked”. Jesus is our role model for all life and ministry.
Grace is God’s ability that lifts us up, not lets us down.
Grace is God’s enablement that causes our commitment to live godly in this perverse generation to grow more concrete.
“11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, 14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.”
Grace has appeared to ~
1. Bring salvation to all men – does not mean all men are saved or will be saved
2. Instruct us to DENY ungodliness [this means to say “no” to it not deny that it exists]
3. Instruct us to deny worldly desires [carnality, immaturity]
4. Instruct us to live sensibly, righteously and godly [be like God [Jesus]]
~~~ The result of us being taught to live like God is ~~~
We will look for the appearing of the blessed hope and glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ [in us not for us]. In other words, Jesus becomes more prominent in our lives [lifestyle].
Some of us are praying faithfully and with great fervor for God’s glory to invade our lives and areas of responsibility. As I wrote above if we are serious about God increasing His glory we best be serious about being prepared to host and handle it.
Jesus [the glory of God in earth in a man [John 1:14]] lived His life as an example of giving Himself to God’s purposes in order to redeem us from –
EVERY lawless deed [including using His name without having a real relationship with Him [Luke 13:23-28]]
And to ~
Purify for Himself, for His own possession, a people who will be zealous for GOOD deeds.
Or, a people who are possessed by God!
So, I believe it is possible that Ananias & Sapphira thought that they could get away with sin. After all, they most probably had said a prayer, possibly even were baptized in water, and therefore, thought because “in Christ God had reconciled the world to Himself, not counting men’s sins against them” – they were good to go!
Whatever they were thinking did not work out the way they thought, or they would have not approached God [His delegated authority – Peter], trying to get away with lying.
We see how “that worked out for them.”
“There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death” [Proverbs 14:12; 16:25].
1 Timothy 1:5-11
“5 Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith, 6 from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm. 8 But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, 9 knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.”
The law was never intended for the righteous person! It was for those who violate God’s heart!
“19 What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. 20 Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one. 21 Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. 22 But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11
” 9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were [past tense] some of you. But you were [past tense] washed, but you were [past tense] sanctified, but you were [past tense] justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”
God has a standard! God’s standard is very high! God does not have a bell curve where he rounds everybody’s “score” up. God calls every body up to His standard!
Jesus the Christ IS God’s standard!
Keep the faith! Keep the passion!
Our hunger and thirst for God is our escort into our deep satisfaction in God!
Dr. Kevin M. Drury