To understand what is going on, let’s first read Acts 4:34-35, “Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.” This was in the very early days of the church and we find the believers in Christ pooling all their money, even selling their properties so that they could give the money to the apostles to distribute to the need of others. Although this is a very loving gesture, we do not read that the Lord instructed them to do this. It seems that their care of each other prompted them to do this so that every man’s needs were met.

This distribution of wealth was a very loving voluntary gesture, however, chapter 5 begins with the word ‘BUT’. Acts 5:1-2, “But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, And KEPT BACK PART OF THE PRICE, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.” The issue before us is not that Ananias and Sapphira did not give all the money from the sale of their land, but that they ACTED as if they did. This is brought out in the next few verses. Verses 3-4 tell us, “But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.” Surely Peter knew about this deception by divine revelation. He points out that before Ananias sold their land, it belonged to them. After they sold the land, the money belonged to them. To share all their money with the others was strictly a voluntary act. Perhaps they were not required to share all their possessions…but they were at least required to be honest about it. Hypocrisy and pride rolled into one caused them to perpetuate this lie.

Before moving on, I want to point out one critical fact. In verse 3, Peter states that Ananias and Sapphira had lied to the Holy Ghost. He goes on to say in verse 4, “thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.” It is so clear from this context that the Holy Spirit IS God. He is not just an influence. He is not an inanimate object. As part of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit is just as much God as the Father and the Son.

The lie of this couple was, sadly, the first dark spot in the history of the church. Persecutions and hatred from the outside could be handled and overcome. But now, in the person of these two who professed to be saved, we see decay coming from within the church. For lying to the Holy Ghost, Ananias lost his physical life. Three hours later, we see that Peter asked Ananias directly about the money they had contributed. Verse 8 says, “And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much.” A direct lie to a direct question, which resulted in her death!

Our loving God, decided to show this infant church the seriousness of lying. We often tell lies without thinking twice about it. We sometimes tell ‘white lies’ and think of them as being perfectly fine. They are not! The result of the death of this couple is shown in verse 11, “And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.” The Greek word for fear in this verse is ‘phobos’, and it literally means to be afraid. May we never take sin so lightly that we do not even consider how our sins affect our savior who died for those sins. Perhaps you have lied to the Lord but He has spared your physical life. Do not be fooled into thinking that the Lord does not consider lying to be a great sin anymore. He does! If you are guilty of this, you need to confess your sin to the Lord. We read in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (297.2)