Ananias and Sapphira entered into an agreement of deceit. Their plan was to keep back part of the profit they had made from the sale of their possession. The greek word nosphizō (νοσφίζω) used for “keep back” has the meaning to take or carry away for one’s self. To steal or to take by theft. To embezzle and purloin in a clandestine way.
It is the same type of “take” that Achan was guilty of when he coveted after the Babylonian garment, the two hundred shekels of silver, and the fifty shekels of gold, and took them and buried them in the earth inside his tent. For Achan, given the circumstance, and the direct commandments and recent revelations from God, it was a sin unto death.
The analogy is, the trouble Achan was to Joshua, the trouble Ananias and Sapphira were to the early church. Just as Achan interrupted the progress of the conquest of the Promised Land, Ananias and Sapphira’s actions interrupted the progress of the early church.
And like Achan, given the timing of the recent revelations and miracles done by Jesus and the Apostles, Ananias and Sapphira’s sin lead them to a death judgement by God. This is the first sin we have record of entering inside the early church. And sadly, it would not be the last.
The specific sin of Ananias and Sapphira was that they only gave part of their sale while claiming to have given all of it. They were free to give part, all, or none. The issue was not in the giving, but in the deception. Peter asked: “why have you conceived this thing in your heart?” Ananias chose to keep back part of the profit of the sale because of greed, and this greed led to the conception of sin. Once the idea was conceived in his heart, it led to the deliberate intention to deceive, and Satan was able to gain control, filling his heart.
…why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost…Acts 5:3
Ananias’ sin lead him to lie to God.
…thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.
The Bible very clearly teaches that the Holy Spirit living inside a Christian is God. And for a Christian to lie to the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of them is the same as lying to God. The Bible teaches that God disciplines and chastens those He loves. Like a father his son who disobeys and does wrong. But the Bible also says there is a sin that leads to death.
To be clear, the sin of Ananias and Sapphira did not change their justification status. They are still believers and saved for eternity. Only that they were judged with an earthly judgement.
As a result of this judgement, the purity of the early church was preserved, and Godly fear was held by all believers. You see how precious God’s church is in His eyes. This account of Ananias and Sapphire being judged should be a sobering verse for any Christian to be careful not to grieve the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of us. We are thankful that God is gracious and patient with us. God is long-suffering with us, but not forever-suffering. God will eventually chasten us and judge us for sin. And 1 Peter 4:17 teaches that judgement must begin at the house of God. 😧
1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, 2 And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? 4 Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. 5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. 6 And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him. 7 And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. 8 And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much.
9 Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. 10 Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband. 11 And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.Acts 5:1-11 KJV
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