Event(s): Ananias and Sapphira lie to the Holy Spirit; Peter’s shadow
Today’s Text: Acts 5:1-16
Tomorrow’s Text: Acts 5:17-42
Historians say that around this time, the economic situation in Jerusalem was starting to deteriorate. There was a famine in the land, and political tensions were mounting. In the midst of these economic and social pressures, The Church manifested a beautiful love and generosity towards one another. Not because they had to, but because they wanted to.
In yesterday’s text, we saw how being filled with the Holy Spirit resulted in the ability to boldly proclaim the message of the Gospel. We also saw how the Holy Spirit prompted acts of generosity, such as in the example of Barnabas. Whether it’s trusting God for the right words to say, (or the boldness to say them), or trusting God to meet our practical needs, a natural byproduct of being filled with the Holy Spirit is that we are released to trust God more fully for protection and provision.
Acts 5:2 “and he kept back part of the proceeds” It’s important to point out that the people were free to keep their money if they wanted to (vs 4). Again, these acts of generosity were not legislated; it was the Holy Spirit who was moving upon people’s hearts to give. However, a deeper study of this passage, or reading it in various translations, allows us to understand the real heart of the matter. (The AMP, NLT or MSG really expound on what took place.)
Basically, Ananias and Sapphira sold their property, misappropriated some of the funds from that sale, (keeping a portion back for themselves), but then acted like what they were giving to the church was the full amount. Their motive was wrong. They wanted a reputation, and so they lied and embezzled funds to get it. Their lie being two-fold, in that it was actually God they were lying to, not man (because all giving is as unto God). Secondly, they were also tainting the work that God was doing amongst the people, introducing a counterfeit of the generous spirit that was flowing through the church. Ultimately, it was hypocrisy in the presence of God that they were judged for.
Acts 5:4 “And after it was sold, was it not in your own control?” Whether God revealed this to Peter by the Holy Spirit, or whether he found out some other way, we don’t know. But Peter exposed the truth and confronted Ananias about it. Walking in grace doesn’t mean we don’t confront deception.
Acts 5:5 “[Ananias] fell, and breathed his last.” Peter confronted Ananias about the lie, but it was God who pronounced the judgment. To us, this may seem severe. But in this we are reminded of how Holy God is and how He feels about deception. He is loving. He is kind. But His presence is not to be esteemed lightly. He is Lord of all. He is GOD. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead and that heals the sick and cleansed the leapers, is a power that is pure, holy and righteous. And God is ever merciful to a person whose heart is repentant. As only God could have known, neither Ananias or Sapphira had a repentant heart. That’s clear in the fact that neither of them came clean when confronted with the truth. And in this case, with what God was doing in and through the church at the time, He would move with great discipline if necessary, to ensure it’s purity and survival.
Acts 5:14 “that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them.” As we continue to grow in our relationship with God, there is a “density” that comes to the power and authority we begin to walk in. The Kingdom of Heaven starts with God’s rule being formed within us but then progresses to God’s rule being formed in the world around us. First we experience it, and then we carry it. As Bill Johnson says, “The Holy Spirit is in you for your benefit, but He’s upon you for the benefit of others.”
Have you ever come in contact with someone who is stressed out, anxious, or angry even, and before they say a word, you already “feel” what they’re feeling? It’s as though what’s on them has a way of spreading to the people around them, without them even trying. We’ve all been guilty of this, haven’t we?
It’s been said, “your shadow will always release whatever overshadows you”. This is a true statement – both in the positive and negative sense. As we learned today in the examples of Ananias, Sapphira and Peter, what we choose to come up under matters, whether we align ourselves with the truth of God or with the lies of the enemy. We will cast a shadow of whatever we come into agreement and alignment with.
As you read today’s study, consider what you’re currently in alignment with in this season of your life. Everyone can have a rough day, but overall, are you coming into greater alignment with the truth of God that’s producing the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control (Galatians 5:22-23)? Or are there lies that the enemy is trying to hang over you, causing your “shadow” to produce stress, anger, anxiety, lack of trust or worry? Today, let’s take some time to get in God’s presence and ask Him to fill us with the Holy Spirit. Remember, this is not a one-time event; it’s a lifestyle. When God fills us with His Spirit, we’ll experience His love to such a degree that acts like generosity and boldness will become our norm and overflow in our lives. Cast your cares upon Him, for He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).