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Sapphira, Her Deadly Lie

We have been looking at women of the early church, who got it all right.  I would be remiss if we didn’t take a look into the heart of a woman who got it all wrong.  Well … one thing wrong… dead wrong.

Matthew warns us…Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  Matthew 7:13

Our lady of the day and her husband are about to open that gate and for them there is no coming back from it.

The Holy Spirit had come, the church was booming, this was happening…

44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.  Acts 2:44-47

Sounds great doesn’t it?  The perfect church, where is it?  How do I join?  One problem the church then and the church today are filled with sinful people in need of a Savior.  Things are bound to start going wrong.

Matthew warns us…Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  Matthew 7:13

Ananias and Sapphira were one of the first…their hearts had made a wrong turn, they wanted notoriety, applauded… and were willing to lie to achieve it.

Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.  Acts 5:1

Let’s get this straight – Ananias and Sapphira sell a piece of land for a profit.  They make a point to bring an offering to the church, an amount that the two of them have agreed upon.  What is the harm?  There is no law that says they had to give it all.

Deception was the sin, they wanted to look like ‘big givers’ for appearances sake they made it seem like they were giving all of the money from the sale.  They wanted to appear generous, but yet they were selfish and a lie rolled right off of their lips, not a lie to mere men, but to God.

Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”

When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.

Sapphira has a chance for redemption here … God gives us a chance to come clean.

About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened.Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?”

“Yes,” she said, “that is the price.”

Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”

10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband.11 Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.

She holds tight to the lie, not knowing that her husband is already in the grave.  I wonder if the last sound she heard were feet of the men coming back for her as she dropped to the floor?  God’s judgement was swift.  Perhaps He was giving an example of how serious this heart issue is to Him.

We look at Ananias and Sapphira and think…Fools! Why not just tell the truth?

We have never tried to appear more generous, more caring, more giving than we really are?  Have we  never told a little lie, added some enhancement and puffed ourselves up to ‘look good’ to other believers around us?  I’m guilty.  Are you?

Do we believe for a moment that God does not see the motives of our heart?  I am sure our couple had quite the conversation convincing one another they were making the right decision.  They may have even convinced themselves that their conscience was clear.

I wonder if Paul was referring to them when he said this…My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart.  1 Corinthians 4: 4-5

And… the church was seized by great fear.  We should be, God is all-powerful.  He is the one sustaining our every breath.  He looks into our hearts, He knows our motives.  We must check our hearts to ensure that our motives are pure.  When we give, we are giving with a pure heart not needing any validation, our only goal to please God and bless others.

We will receive our reward, maybe not today but someday… “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,  so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.  Matthew 6: 1-4

Our sad little couple, with Satan’s help, deceived themselves, and in a moment their lives were over.  That we may live a transparent life before our God.

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