Uncomfortable Grace

Go in the Power of the Word  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Introduction

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/airport-you-ugly-note_n_5d586935e4b0d8840ff41d85 Security guard passing passenger a note that said, “You ugly.” Really? What would possess you to do such a thing? Obviously fired.
Question we should ask when we read the story of Ananias and Sapphira. God at work so powerfully, why would they do something so foolish? What would possess you to sin against the God who loves you and saved you from your sin?
This is probably the most offensive story in the Book of Acts. When we read this story, instead of being offended by what Ananias and Sapphira did, we’re offended by what God did.
This story makes us uncomfortable. But, this story is a story of uncomfortable grace.
We all need some uncomfortable grace. We need the reminder that God is absolutely holy, righteous, just, and pure. We also need the reminder that there are tremendous consequences for our sins. We need the reminder that in God’s grace, He wants to grow us in Christlikeness so that while we may not be sinless in this life, we will grow to sin less.
This story a warning against open rebellion against God as well as a gracious reminder of the kind of church God wants us to be. Examine the story and then three lessons about the uncomfortable grace in this passage of Scripture.

Story:

summary much like . Early believers voluntarily living a communal, generous life. Gospel taking hold hold of their hearts, and as Gospel gripped their hearts, they were loosening their grip on their stuff.
Note vs. 36 - Barnabas. “Son of Encouragement.” How I want to be known. 6xs in Acts - He lays down his stuff and picks people up. Here, Luke wants us to see Barnabas’ generosity. He sold a field and gave all the proceeds to the disciples.
5:1.. But… You know the story isn’t going to go well when you see the conjunction. Ananias stand in stark contrast to Barnabas.
Similarities to Barnabas: they’re new believers, caught up in the excitement of the new church, land owners, sold land and gave proceeds to church. But, a big difference.
A problem deep in the heart of Ananias and Sapphira only visible to God. They wanted to be a part of the Christian community, but they also wanted autonomy from the Christian community. They wanted to be in charge of their lives. They wanted to call the shots.
So Ananias lies. He sold a piece of property and brought the proceeds to feet of disciples just like Barnabas. Imagine people looking on as he brought the proceeds. He seemed so generous, but truth, he was greedy.
Holy Spirit gave Peter glimpse into Ananias’ heart. Note contrast. Filled with Spirit vs. filled with Satan. (Think Judas; ) Spirit leads us to speak truth. Satan leads us to lie and deceive. But, lie simply not to people but to the Spirit Himself.
Peter: “Why did you lie? The property and proceeds were yours. No one required you to give it all to the church. You could have kept a portion of proceeds for yourself, yet you chose to lie. You have not lied to us, you lied to God.”
Immediately, Ananias died. Young men carried out his body. (How would you like that job?) Fear came upon the people.
Three hours later, Sapphira walks in. She has no clue what has happened. Maybe she came looking for her husband. After all, he hadn’t come home.
Peter: “How much did you sell the land for?” She lied too.
Peter: “How is it that you test the Spirit of the Lord?” Not a good thing to test the Lord. (, ) Exactly what Ananias and Sapphira do - test the grace of God - provoking Him to judgment. Instead of following leadership of Spirit, Sapphira followed her husband into the sin of greed and deceit. And immediately, she died just as her husband.
Offensive! How could God do such a thing? On flip side, how could Ananias and Sapphira? How could they test God? We should be far more offended by sin than by a perfect God who deals with sin justly according to His will. God protecting the early church from Satan’s inside attacks. He was not going to allow the enemy to have victory over His church!

You might be able to hide from people but you cannot hide from God.

Ananias and Sapphira vs. Barnabas - a deliberate contrast. BUT, in they eyes of everyone, they looked exactly the same. Both looked godly, generous, and concerned about the Kingdom. However, on the inside, Ananias and Sapphira completely different than Barnabas. They were hiding some of the same sins we hide:
Praise-seekers - Wanted to be seen as generous people. Wanted the attention of people. Are you a praise-seeker or a praise giver? Always concerned about what others think? Always long to hear people speak well of you? Root problem: You make people big and you make God small. You fear man more than you fear God. People are not awesome, God is. (College student calling me fit. Immediate big head! I love praise!)
Greed. I can’t stop thinking about what I want out of life. Taker not a giver. Hallmark of greed: I will grasp on to whatever I can even if the rest of my life is falling apart. Why? Your security is not in God but stuff.
Reality: You can fake it with people. You can write big checks to the church and still have a heart of greed. You can present yourself as generous and humble but still long for the praise of people. You can put on a good act for us, but not for God. He knows the truth about you. He knows what is in your heart. You cannot hide from God. He knows your secrets. ( - He knows the secrets of your heart.)
When life is about praise-seeking and greed it will never be enough.
Why your secret sin is a big deal - it stunts your spiritual growth! It will grow like a cancer in your soul. You know it! And eventually, it will damage your relationships. You will experience the damage of sin if it goes unconfessed.

You can play games with people but you cannot play games with God.

Ananias and Sapphira wanted to be a part of what God was doing. They wanted to be a part of the Christian community, but they didn’t want their membership in the community to cost them too much.
The game we play: How much can I get without giving? We want the benefits of being a Christian and the Christian community, but we don’t want it to cost us too much. Beware of the dark side of the 4 C’s:
Cared for. You like the fact that the church desires to minister to people. But, in selfishness, you are angry when you get left out, or when you are asked to care for someone else.
Clout. You like the fact that in the church you can gain influence and control. Teaching a LCG where you have a weekly platform. But, you’re offended when asked to do something you don’t want to do.
Catered to. You like going to a church that meets your preferences, but you get mad when we change things to try to reach more people.
Connected. You joined the church because you wanted friendships, but you wish we would quit talking about reaching new people. We’re big enough, and your comfortable with what we have.
You want community and a relationship with God as long as it doesn’t cost you a whole lot. You want to define the parameters of your relationship with God and His church. You can’t play that game with God. He’s in charge, not you. It’s time to quit playing the game and find the true joy of being a Barnabas and giving your life away. We need more like Barnabas!

You can embrace grace and learn to walk in holiness.

This story of justice and grace. God protecting His church by exposing sin that could have stopped the early church in its tracts.
It’s a story of grace for us as well - and aren’t you thankful that God doesn’t choose to work in this way in His church today! Otherwise, we would have a mortuary tucked away in every church.
This story should drive us to:
Healthy fear. In a culture where we mock God instead of fearing God. (Fearing my son in the middle of the night.) God does not take your sin lightly and neither should you. He really is holy and really wants you to be holy as well. Don’t be surprised when you face consequences for your sin. ()
Daily confession. Your unconfessed sin brings to a halt the work God wants to do in you and through you. What sins are we hiding from everyone else that are hindering a Gospel movement in our church? Bitterness? Selfishness? A desire to be recognized? Catered to? Lifestyle choices that you know dishonor God and harm the witness of the church? Your sin never just affects you, it affects all of us. When you are not at your best, the church is not at it’s best.
Gospel appreciation. We’re not different than Ananias and Sapphira. We’re all greedy, deceptive, praise-seekers. We deserve death, but on the cross, Jesus took what we deserve. While you make experience consequences for your sin, you never have to experience the eternal judgment of God because Jesus was judged in your place. He died and rose again for you. When you understand how much you are loved by God, He becomes big in your life, and everything else becomes small. When God becomes big, you can let go of the need for the praise of people and the need to hold on to your stuff. You can let go of your need to be the center of attention. When God’s love becomes big, you can open up your hands, and say to God, “Give me what you want to give me and take what you want to take.”
This morning, do you know Jesus? If believer, let this passage serve as a warning. What sins do you need to confess? Are you experiencing the consequences of sin? Does God have your attention? Turn back to Him.
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