Don't be caught dead; Lying
For the common good, or looking good?
For the common good, or looking good?
Pride is the root of many sins. Pride brought about a lie, a deception is trying to look good for the common good of the people.
George McDonald Wrote:
“Half of the misery in the world comes from trying to look, instead of trying to be, what one is not.”
Some setting for our passage tonight
A time of common good (Act2:44-45; 4:32-35)
The church has just been born, a local church, a united church that had all things in common
44 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.
The church that sold possessions for the common good
32 And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all.
34 For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales 35 and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need.
A family of believers looking out for one another. What a great example to see and to follow.
A time of generosity exampled (Act4:36-37)
36 Now Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means Son of Encouragement), 37 and who owned a tract of land, sold it and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
Now comes a time of hypocrisy, pride, deception coming into view (yes, even in the church) (Act5:1-11)
From a time where generosity was exampled, when they had all things in common, and were of one mind and no one was in need we will see in our passage that hypocrisy was alive even in the early church, following the example of the Jewish leadership that Jesus condemned previously.
Hypocrisy is a deliberate deception, trying to make people think you are something more, or something different, or even more spiritual than you really are. We have a great exampled warning to us today from what was displayed then for our learning and our hope.
Even in the early church they were imperfect, imperfect people, imperfect Christians and commentator William Barclay said it like this:
“The bible refused to represent an idealized picture of anything.”
(Consequences of sin slide inserted here)
Eventhough we see the costly price of lying, of pride, of hypocrisy in our passage tonight we can still find encouragement for us to walk the walk for we can know:
Failure to be diligent is a sin against God
Failure to use our talents is a sin against God
Failure in truth, in other words to lie, is a sin against God
Sin has it’s consequences, sin needs to be clearly seen as it is and looked at and treated severely.
Oliver Wendell Holmes once said “Sin has many tools, but a lie is the handle which fits them all.”
God judges sin, deals with sin severely at the start of each age, each new period as seen:
Death of Nabad and Abihu (Lev10) at start of Jewish age
Death of Achan and family (Jos7) at start of the time of entering the promised land
Tonight the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira (Act5:1-11) at the start of the church age.
We have some background of the times now we get to the story of the time. The cast of characters and the play laid out.
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.
Best actor: Ananias, best supporting actress Sapphira.
Hypocrite, is an actor. They came and brought money from land sale to the apostles feet, they held back some of the proceeds for themselves, but acted as if they gave it all (stay tuned when look at whole context we will see that).
Maybe take just a second and look at one of the interpretive versions of (v.2)
2 He brought part of the money to the apostles, claiming it was the full amount. With his wife’s consent, he kept the rest.
It was common practice at the time according to Act4:34 for this church family, local church to have some costly things for being a member, a believer, not from order but from heart. It could cost family (Lk14:26); placement in community (Jn12:42), but still when the church was born they were willing to give so that no one was in need.
A few quick observations
They were intending to deceive the apostles and make themselves look good; they did not consider they were deceiving, lying to God.
They gave the impression they gave it all; but had kept back, hidden a portion.
This is reminiscent of the hypocrisy that Jesus denounced in Mt23, and you can look that up on our own
(Transition): You have the actors, you have the first scene that is set, now we get to seeing how the scene is played out.
Judgment on Ananias
Judgment on Ananias
Sin is called out for what it is. Consequences are carried out. Now may we look, see, learn what we can from this section so we don’t repeat.
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.
Ananias sin was empowered by Satan (v.3)
Sin was called out by Peter (vv.3-4)
The heart of the matter is called into light (v.4)
The consequences of sin are seen (v.5)
Consequences of sin carried him out, dead (v.6)
This sin was motivated by pride (Pro8:13; Mt6:1-4; Jm1:17; 1Tim6:17; 1jn3:17; Isa14:12-13)
Pride can slip in and try to take credit for what God has done or is doing. Pride is costly and we know God hates pride
13 “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way And the perverted mouth, I hate.
Jesus gives a stern warning to prevent pride and not be an actor (hypocrite)
1 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. 2 “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.
3 “But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
God gives us all that we have, every good and perfect gift is from above (Jm1:17) and every gift given is for our enjoyment (1Tim6:17) and should be used for the benefit of others and not stored up for ourselves (1Jn3:17)
Look at what pride did to Lucifer
12 “How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations! 13 “But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly In the recesses of the north.
14 ‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ 15 “Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, To the recesses of the pit.
Pride opens the door to every other sin.
we need to be diligent to protect our character and not worry about our reputation. Don’t let pride be a killer to you.
Pride, reputation caused sin that was against God. Even though they thought it was only deception against the church.
They were believers, they were the church, they wanted to look good and were able to lie to the Spirit (v.3) and they were able to lie and tempt the Spirit (v.9) and that means they had the Spirit, they were really believers, they really were the church, but yet they really were still deceivers, hypocrites.
Peter and his discernment protected the church (v.3, 9)
For the church is he pillar of truth (1Tim3:15)
15 but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.
The church is temple of God (1Cor3:16)
16 Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
The church is God’s army (2Tim2:1-4)
1 You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
3 Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.
The church is safe as long as we keep the deceiver outside the church.
Ananias had the right actions, well, in part at least but with deception so we know it was with the wrong heart and Jesus addressed actions and heart too
Right actions with wrong heart (Mt15:8; Heb10:31-32; Act5:5)
8 ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far away from Me.
For God will judge the heart, will judge His people and look what it says here in Hebrews
30 For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” 31 It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
The end result for Ananias was, death (Act5:5)
(transition) As Peter clearly shows pride, lying, sin, the sin against God by lying to the Holy Spirit (v.4) and now that brings us to our next actor, Sapphira
Judgment on Sapphira
Judgment on Sapphira
I think you saw the pride, the deception the consequences to Ananias now we continue with the passage to deal with Sapphira.
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.
Confrontation by Peter (v.7-9)
So, 3 hours has passed, her husband is dead unbeknownst to her.
Peter questions, knowing the answer already, but seems he gives her her the opportunity to be truthful
Do you think she agreed because she was in submission to her husband or out of deception to try to look good.
By looking at her answer she was testing the Spirit
She was warned, did not adhere and god passed judgment.
Sapphira falls dead (vv.10-11)
The same men who carried out the hubby carries her out, they bury her with her husband.
Out of the ordinary they get a paupers burial, no professional mourners, no fanfare, no funeral with kind words.
The end result was the people were filled with fear (vv.5, 11)
Sapphira tested God; we are told not to test the Lord thy God (Mt4:7)
7 Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ”
The sin was the deception, the lying, not the money, for it was their money.
This was not robbing money, but robbing glory that was due to God
The result was fear swept through the church, making a shift from great power and grace(Act4:33) to great fear (Act5:11)
33 And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all.
(expand, expound on how things can slip to old ways - works vs. faith and heart) Also, sin still has severe consequences today. Don’t get caught dead in sin!
(Transition) - may we be people who are not actors, portraying something we are not, but people who are:
May we be people of reverence and awe (Heb12:28-29; 1The2:13)
28 Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; 29 for our God is a consuming fire.
May we learn from the words we have read tonight that they are not the words of man, but of God
13 For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.
Are we allowing God’s word to perform it’s work in us who believe. We have a great example today what not to do, but let us finish on what we should do.
1 Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, 2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.
(Encouragement slide - Go be a blessing)
May we be united in mind, having the same love and willing to maintain that love as united by the Spirit intent on one purpose, to love one another and to serve one another.