Of all the accounts of the activities of the early church found in the book of Acts, this chapter is the scariest and most confusing. It is scary because who among us has not pretended to be more than we really are at one time or another? It is confusing because there is the implication of God’s judgment of death on Ananias and Sapphira.
The key seems to be found in verse 3 when Peter accused Ananias of having his heart filled with Satan to the point “he lied to the Holy Spirit”. Peter discerned blatant hypocrisy in both Ananias and Sapphira.
It is one thing to fool each other, but it is another thing to try to fool the ever present Holy Spirit. When Ananias was exposed for the fraud he was, the shock was so great that he fell dead. He and his wife had lied to God.
The deaths of this husband and wife put great fear in the early church. This fear is a missing element in the church today. I suspect very little thought is given to the reality of how we deal directly with God in our giving, fellowship, and worship.
We avoid fear at all costs, yet fear is necessary in keeping us from making the holy become common. If it is common, it is not holy. Fear should be understood as a respect that is shrouded with reverence. Unfortunately, the ramifications of worship in this “feel good” religious culture make worship all about us. In reality, it is all about God.
What was to happen in Jerusalem that day was to be an act of worship, through giving, that should have glorified God. Instead of worship, it was fraud. There is a saying that goes, “You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all the people all the time.” We should add, “You can’t fool God any of the time.”
- Dale Clemens