Acts Chapter 5
Ananias and Sapphira:
The story of Ananias and Sapphira is one of the most disturbing accounts in the New Testament. They sold their property and brought only a part of the money before the apostles. They were attempting to deceive God himself (Acts 5:3, 9). It reveals the seriousness of deception in the Christian life. Their desire for recognition among people led them to this sin. They sought the praises of men rather than the glory of God. There is no such thing as secret sin before God. They were motivated by pride in life to sin against God. God is more concerned about our character than our reputation. When lustful desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin eventually will produce death (James 1:15). Pride goes before fall (Isaiah 14:12-15). Their sin was not robbing God of money but lying to God (Acts 5:4). Lying to a servant of God is tantamount to lying to God. They were not required to sell their property and give the money to the church. Satan was using them to accomplish in the church what he could not do from outside. When Satan cannot defeat us, he will try to corrupt our character. Thankfully most of us do not receive immediate judgment for our sins now because God is merciful. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of God (Hebrews 10:30-31). If we judge ourselves, God will not have to judge us (1 Corinthians 11:31). By confessing our sins, we judge ourselves. The wages of sin is always death (Romans 6:23). God’s punishment of Ananias and Sapphira brought great fear in the church (Acts 5:11). Pray that God would help us to live a life of integrity before God.
When can the Holy Spirit be Sinned Against?
The scripture clearly teaches that the Holy Spirit is a person rather than a force. To Commit a sin against the Spirit is to commit a sin against God. By lying to the Holy Spirit, we lie against God. Ananias and Sapphira committed this sin. Christians can grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). We grieve the Holy Spirit when we slander others and have a grudge against them. Quenching the Spirit is a sin against God (1 Thessalonians 5:19). When we do not exercise the God given gift this happens. Insulting the Holy Spirit is a sin. This is considering the great price Jesus paid on the cross for our salvation as common and unholy (Hebrews 10:29). They refuse to accept the gift of salvation. We commit the sin of resisting the Holy Spirit by not receiving Christ as Lord and Savior when we are convicted of our need of salvation. (Acts 7:51). Blaspheming the Holy Spirit is the sin we commit when we disregard the convincing work of the Spirit in our lives (Matthew 12:31-31). This is the unpardonable sin toward God. Every time a person resists the Spirit, he gets a step closer to no return. Pray that God would open our hearts to receive Christ and be saved. Our sins are great, but Jesus chose to die for us because his love for us was even greater.
The Healing Ministry of the Apostles:
(Read Acts 5:12-16)
The death of Ananias and Sapphira did not prevent the church from growing. Many miraculous signs and wonders were done by the apostles. These miracles were God’s way of authenticating the ministry of apostles. Jesus used miracles to prove that He is the Son of God. One of the qualifications of the apostle was that he could perform miracles (2 Corinthians 12:12). Satan can do counterfeit miracles to deceive people (2 Thessalonians 2:9). It is significant that all those who came to Jesus for healing were healed immediately and completely. Jews sought signs to believe in Christ (1 Corinthians 1:22). Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). Only the gospel can save sinners. The miracle of all miracles is the transformed life of a lost sinner into a child of God. The Bible tells us to test the spirits whether they are from God (1 John 4:1). It is a reference to knowing the motivations behind the false teaching. Is our teaching Christ centered? Does it agree with the rest of the scriptures? Does the miracle bring glory to God or to man? The more we study the scriptures, the more quickly we will be able to identify the counterfeit doctrines (1 John 4:4). God uses even the most painful experiences to accomplish His purposes in the church. The death of Ananias and Sapphira produced healthy fear but did not prevent the church from growing. God always does what is best for you and the church. Ask God to help you through your difficulties.
The Apostles facing Opposition:
(Read Acts 5:17-32)
The growth of the church had provoked the Jewish leaders to arrest Peter and John. They were accused of not obeying the law and preaching that Jesus is alive. Persecution intensified as the church grew. The apostles did not resist arrest. God sent angels to release them from the prison. The angels are the ministering spirit of the servants of God (Hebrews 1:14). While angels play a significant role in the lives of believers, our praise and honor are reserved for God only. Despite the suffering, the apostles continued to proclaim the gospel in the temple. The officers were sent to arrest Peter and John. But they could not arrest them because they were afraid that people would stone them. Apostles were accused of filling Jerusalem with their doctrines. They said that “We cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). Once we have experienced the goodness of the grace of God and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we cannot stop sharing the gospel. The high priest questioned the apostles. They were told not to teach in the name of Christ. Their jealousy and hatred were so strong against the apostles that they wanted to kill them (Acts 5:33). The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection from the dead. The apostles obeyed God rather than men (Acts 5:29). Pray for boldness to witness Christ.
The Conviction of the Apostles:
(Read Acts 5:33-42)
Despite the suffering, the apostles affirmed that Christ was raised from the dead and exalted at the right hand of God as Lord and Savior. The right hand is the place of power, honor, and authority (Psalms 110:1; Acts 7:55). Only Christ can forgive sin (Acts 5:31). He is the captain of our salvation (Hebrews 2:10). Every time the gospel meets with opposition, God finds a way to advance his message. Luke shows that God stands behind the gospel as it advanced and no one was able to stop it. Gamaliel was a Pharisee highly esteemed among the Jews. He was the leader of the famous school of Hillel (Acts 22:3). He used his logic to conclude that if the movement of Jesus is not of God, it will come to nothing. But on the other hand, if it is of God, the council of Sanhedrin cannot fight against it. He advised the Sanhedrin that troublemakers like Theudas and Judas would come and go. The council hated the movement of Jesus but accepted the reasoning of Gamaliel. They released the apostles and ordered them not to preach in the name of Jesus. They had been beaten before they were released. The apostles rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for the gospel (Philippians 1:29). They witnessed Christ daily in the temple and from house to house. The disciples took every opportunity to reach people with the gospel. History shows that the persecutions of the church led to the expansion of the gospel (Acts 8:1). Gospel can’t be stopped, because it is the power of God for salvation to all (Romans 1:16). Pray for boldness to share the gospel.