Acts: Day 5

The Effects of the Gospel


Today's Text: Acts 4:23-37, Acts 5:1-11, Deuteronomy 15:4-6, Hebrews 6:13-20

Text: Acts 4:23-37, Acts 5:1-11, Deuteronomy 15:4-6, Hebrews 6:13-20

When I was a kid, I was scared of the dark.

At night, I would quicken my step down the hallway when passing a darkened room. My own room was upstairs, and before bedtime, I would run up to dark windows to pull down their pink shades; large trees loomed just outside, holding who-knows-what in the darkness.

I was afraid of what I did not know, and certain that the unknown could, and would, hurt me.

My heart’s inclination is to treat the story of Ananias and Sapphira like those darkened windows in my childhood bedroom. I want to run past it, afraid to stop and look for fear of what I might find.

The chief priests and elders were afraid too. They saw the wonders and heard the testimonies brought on by the spread of the gospel, and they demanded that the apostles stop preaching (Acts 4:17). They were afraid of what they did not understand. But the gospel is true even when we don’t believe.  

The apostles knew this. Their intimate experience of Christ’s salvation so affected them, they not only refused to stop preaching and healing in the name of Jesus, they prayed that the Holy Spirit would equip them to preach and heal all the more (Acts 4:29-30).

And so the effects of the gospel continued to spread, in spite of the Council’s warnings. The power of the gospel was so great that this newfound church poured out all they had for the glory of God and the good of their fellow believers. “There was not a needy person among them” (v. 34).

This was the context in which Ananias approached Peter with a portion of the proceeds from the land he’d sold, and a premeditated lie about the full amount of the sale. Picture that: while the church was literally giving their all—preaching the gospel and being arrested, giving freely and relying individually and collectively on the grace of Jesus—Ananias and his wife cooked up a plan not only to deceive the church, but to deceive God.

The couple did not fear God as holy. They did not trust God as good. They believed God could be tricked, and they set out to do just that. And we know what became of them: in pretending to give all, they lost all.

But the story of Ananias and Sapphira isn’t about money.

This story is not a departure from the stories of gospel power demonstrated in the chapters preceding it—power that healed the sick, fed the hungry, provided for the poor, and saved souls by the thousands. This, too, was the living God at work, and the living God is to be revered as holy and powerful and good, because He is.

I don’t have to be afraid of this holy God the way I was once afraid of the dark. He is not unknown, like the night time darkness lurking outside my bedroom windows. No, our God has intentionally and carefully made Himself known. Through the person of Jesus Christ and through His Word, we are invited to know the real, holy Him.

We may not fully understand His ways, but we can see His fingerprints on each page of the whole Story. We see them when He gives His covenant to Adam and Abraham and David, and when He pursues His people, though they run. We see them in Jesus’ life and death and in the glory of the resurrection. We see them when we are given forgiveness and mercy, instead of judgment and death. And we see them in this story, too, as God reveals His unquestionable, uncompromising holiness to His people in a powerful way.

He is holy. And He is wholly good.



  • Alms giving is important but I don’t think God would want us to force ourselves in a position where we couldn’t provide for ourselves. This is why I wonder why Anais and Sapphira were hesitant to give all of their possessions away…

  • The gospel is true even when we don’t believe it. Wow! What an impact that one statement had on my heart tonight. Even when I’m not living the way I should, even when I’m doubting God’s power, God is still God.

  • I just came home from a church camp 7 hours away that lasted a week. While I was there a huge impact was made on my life. I felt as if I didn’t completely understand why I became saved. But while I was there I felt as if Christ as just set he heart and mind out for me to help others and become a follower of him. Like I was just now being saved. Even though I have been saved since I was around the age of 6. I have hardly ever opened my bible until just recently when I was shown this app. And I think this has really helped me progress in my live fir Christ.

    • Gracen

      I went through something similar years ago. I had been saved since elementary school, and I do believe that had K died, I would have gone to heaven because my basic belief was there. However, I believe that camp when I was older is what took Jesus from being just my Savior (saving me from hell) to being the Lord and King of my life. My spiritual journey has definitely had ups and downs since then (it’s been about 7 years since), but I have never regretted a time of picking up my bible or devotion. Stay strong sister!

  • I love the idea of coupling together trusting God with fearing Him. I think fearing Him, acknowledging that He is holy, helps us be able to fully trust His ways.

  • Keely Gallagher

    I have loved how much “bold” has already been used in Acts. I loved the “no other name” devotion where I was reminded to pray to be filled with boldness, eloquence and joy. So I loved today’s as I was reading Acts 4 and we get to verse 29 and they pray
    “enable your servants to speak your word with GREAT BOLDNESS”.

    What I love about this and what I have skipped over before is they ask to speak THE Word with great boldness, not their own words. They weren’t worried about them getting any fame out of all of this or for their own words to convict and change the lives around them. They wanted to speak the gospel with boldness.

    How could they do this?
    They first had to pray. I’m reminded that God can use me if I’m willing and surrendered in prayer to him.

    God gave them His spirit for this to happen. I need to be filled with His spirit and let all of “me” go when I am sharing the gospel and his words. I want to speak HIS words with boldness.

    After this, they were then able to speak boldy.

    Lord speak through me so that I may be bold.

    • Sarah

      Thank you for your words! I wrote down pretty much your whole response in my study book so I could reflect on them. God bless!

  • Okay, I’m a few days late on this and I’m having a hard time with the reading. I would say that I’m someone who is really involved in politics… and I may just be picking up on the wrong parts of the scripture and missing the “big picture”. So as Christians, should we be giving everything we earn to others and not work hard to become financially stable? Is being “well off” a sin if we do not give everything we own to help others? Again, this is probably a stupid question. I’m just looking for a little guidance.

    • Kate

      I may not be the most equipped to respond to your post, but I saw it and thought you asked some good questions. I don’t think your question is stupid, and I wanted you to have a response. I think this topic is something good to wrestle with, and I have often had to do that.

      I don’t think scripture is telling us that we cannot be “well off” or that we should not be working towards being financial stable. As I have pondered these questions in my own heart, I have come to the conclusion that it “depends.” Some might think that is a safe answer, but I believe it may be accurate. I think it depends on the reasons and energy behind your choices. I think it would be foolish and the Bible would speak to that if we do not use wisdom when it comes to money; however, I think we are called to be generous and help those in need. To be honest, I, at times, can equate money to security. Therefore, I would say that I am not using money well if I think that keeping it will somehow make me better off. I believe it can be an idol, and I think that is where the balance lies in my own experience. If I can be well off and let it be a tool that allows me to help others and draw people towards Jesus, then I think it can be a great avenue for some. I think that if being “well off” somehow creates in us this lack of need for God, then it is dangerous. I hope that it is somewhat helpful to you. Great question.

      • Lyn

        My pastor always says that the Bible is written for us, not to us! I think this is a good example of that. The inclusion of this story from the early church isn’t a specific command to live culturally the way it played out here. The expression of Gods character in our lives likely plays out a bit differently today, having government structures and such. But the character itself of generosity should be present in us just as much as it was then!

      • Cali

        Thank you!

    • Learning To Abide

      The root of this question is really determined by our starting point, our perspective. From a biblical perspective, we must keep the mindset that everything we are blessed with is Gods. We are the stewards of such blessings. We must stay in tune with Gods will and purpose for these blessings be it money, a roof over our heads, provisions such as food and clothing, abilities, education, spiritual gifts, etc. He will guide us in using these resources to build His kingdom, not our own. This will look different for each of us.

      In regards to the “common living,” it is noted by several commentaries that this giving was voluntary, not commanded. But the unity of the fellowship was threatened when Ananias and Sapphira pretended to be giving all but deceitfully keeping back a portion. It was the lie that led to their punishment.

      It is also suggested that this “common living” style in our modern day church might look like people sharing with generosity their trades and God-given abilities to help one another in their times of need. Remembering the mindset that everything we acquire is Gods to begin with. We are His vessels of ministry

    • Deborah

      Cali, this is a hard reading but It is NOT about saving. The couple were deceitful. They were saying they were giving the whole amount of the sale property but were actually keeping back part for themselves in secret. Hebrews 4:12 says
      For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. –God is judging their intent. Your intent of being frugal and saving, planning your finances is good.

    • Lisa Leese

      It definitely was not a stupid question to me bc i was literally thinking the same thing while I was reading the study today. I know im a few days behind but still wanted to let you know I appreciate that you asked bc it helped give me clarity too. I dont believe its wrong to be well off, rich, or whatever we want to label it. I like Kate’s response about it being circumstantial. Being generous and helping others in need doesn’t mean we need to give away everything we work for; at the same time what we work for shouldn’t be the primary focus of our lives. Thanks again for asking! Im glad Im not the only one who was concerned about that topic. lisa

    • Barbara

      While I believe we are not specifically called to be irresponsible with the security of our families, I do believe this passage has many layers. Yes, it it about the fact that the church was living communally and Ananias and Sapphira didn’t do what everyone else was doing, but it was also about faith and trust. Faith in God starts with believing Him. They did not believe God would continue to provide for them, and they didn’t trust that if they gave all they had He would bless them in return. We are not just talking about money here, but about giving God all we have. Period. In no way are we meant to be “safe,” but to put ourselves in a position to lean wholly on Him. As the apostles were praying for boldness in preaching the Word, Ananias and Sapphira were depending upon earthly possessions. The apostles knew it was risky to continue to spread the Kingdom, and Ananias and Sapphira had their eyes on money. There is a beautiful example here of how to live out our faith, and how keeping our eyes on this world leads to death.

  • Carrie Rogers

    Thank you for encouraging me not to run away from the hard parts of the bible. God is holy & He is wholly good.❤️ God help me be bold!

  • Tamara B

    Today as I read in a comment about james 4:17, It reminded me that I had read it before. I looked it up and saw that I wrote it down a few months ago. It spoke to me, not because of what it says, but because of me remembering it..
    This past week, I’ve “remembered” bible verses and bookpassages just at the moment I needed it. To me it feels as if the Holy spirit is giving me the right words to speak (email) just as promised in matt 10:19.
    I realise, that this past year, I’ve become more familliar with my bible. When listening At church or reading something, I recognise things I’ve read recently. It all comes together, and I can use this knowledge much more than before.
    God works trough the Holy spirit, to make me remember what I need at the right time.. But I have to do my part too. I have to read, listen, speak to God, even when some things seem to not apply to me.. I might need it for someone else (or even me) later on!

    It’s starting to feel like a cliché, but it must be true.. I really learn a lot of SRT. Thanks for all the commenting, and I hope that I also inspire someone with my comments

  • Joy Baba

    May God help me as a wife to always help my husband make decisions that are righteous.

    • Hope

      You ain’t lying, sis! This is hard, right? We see the ways that God provides a helpmeet to provide checks and balances. And yet, Saphira is drown into deception. Let us be righteous wives and mothers so that we insist that our families abide in Jesus Christ our ONLY salvation.

  • Even in times of pain and hurt and darkness, even in times of joy and happiness HE IS GOOD!

  • The story of Ananias and Sapphira makes me think of 1 Chronicles 28:9:

    “And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.”

    Ananias and Sapphira thought that they could deceive God and only serve Him in a way that was convenient for them. How often we do this! I pray that the Lord will renew our hearts and minds today so that we can serve Him wholeheartedly and acknowledge Him in every area of our lives, and not just the ones that are convenient or comfortable.

  • This devotional today was amazing. Thank God that He does reveal himself to us in due time. We don’t always understand the given circumstances but thanks be to God that we can trust God is still in control and we never leave us. Everything we go through is a chance for us to grow into stronger believers and thank God we are only GOING through it, and God won’t allow us to stay stuck in it! Amen sisters

  • Caroline

    Amen! What a great reminder that it’s not about how we feel. Sometimes I don’t feel like declaring ”it is well,” but I do it anyway. Sometimes I don’t feel like praising God, but I do it anyway!

  • May I speak His Word – His Truth – with great boldness. May I hold nothing back.

  • God is light and so we don’t have to be afraid of the darkness, for darkness will not overcome the light. We just have to let the light shine with us and that starts with being honest with ourselves, with others and with God.

  • Thanks, B. Your words have caused me to really ponder this morning. A good day to you!

  • I am amazed at how Sapphira had a chance to make things right.

    Peter said, “tell me, were you given this price for your field?” (5:7-8, MSG)

    And yet she still “sticks” to her & Ananias’ plan and in return loses out on grace. How many times in my life has Jesus offered me grace\redemption yet in my own stubbornness or fear of getting caught, I still play the part that is deceiving and manipulating. It reminds me of the verses found in James 4:17, “In fact, if you know the right thing to do and don’t do it, that, for you, is evil.”

    Lord, please help us do the right thing even if we are scared of judgement. For we know if we confess our sins, You are faithful and just to forgive us our sins. (1 John 1:9)

  • Keri Underwood

    “But the Gospel is true even when we don’t believe” – That is such a powerful sentence! This is a truth I hold on to when I am going through a trial. I hold on to that promise when everything else around me is failing. This truth has gotten me through some dark times!

  • The story of Ananias and Sapphira has always creeped me out like most people as well. It reminds me that God can always see my heart. To him, it’s like an open book. HE knows what I’m feeling, when, and why. I need to be willing to obey God and give anything he wants me to give. I pray my heart is humbled and that The word of God shows me when I’m wrong and encourages me when I’m right. God gives us the power to use any experience to lend greatness and glory to life. Why waste all that power? In the end where’s it going to get us?

  • Ananias abs Sapphira is a hard one, I read a John Bevere book on Fear of God and it was so helpful. Like this devo he spoke of how it wasn’t that sure they could keep some if they needed it but they lied and thought the Holy Spirit wouldn’t know, displacing honor. Makes me think of how I try to help my kids understand the weight of honor and lies

    • Steph W

      Mandy- which book did you read? I’m reading his book ‘bait of Satan’ right now! Wow!

  • This IS a hard story but I can only imagine God’s pain in giving over His only Son to the cross for our judgement. His heart must have been so grieved (and must still). Word says that the wages for our sin is death … Ananias and Sapphire were in sin. We must play close attention to Peter’s remark in this story, “Why has Satan FILLED your heart…”, to me, this is indication that they were not convicted by the Holy Spirit, they were not in Christ because when you are fully in Christ, HE is fully in your heart. When one is fully in sin God can not be in it and sometimes that means the judgement of sin is upon us through the sin itself. Their immediate deaths, again in my opinion, represent life without God …. sin equals death … God IS the breath of life, HE IS LIFE. I believe in His love, God desires relationship with us and lovingly protects us from ourselves, but there are times when sin has overcome a heart (Satan fills it, as is the case here per Peter) and grieving, God must withdraw Himself from the sinner (just as He did Christ on the cross) and that automatically means death (whether a long, slow physical death in life or immediate). GOD is a God of love and of grace … He desires life for all sinners, BUT because God IS truth, we must know that His intention in this is good, whether we see it or not, whether we understand it or not.

    Realizing I am rambling my way through this and not necessarily expressing myself the way I intend but God IS good, God IS life!

    • churchmouse

      Appreciate your enlightening words this morning, B. Thanks for sharing!

    • Keri Underwood

      Love this reflection so much! Thanks for sharing!

    • Michele


    • Michele

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. I appreciate it.

    • Sophie

      This is so fantastic B, thank you!

    • Steph W

      Thank you for your words! As you pointed out Peter asked Ananias why Satan had FILLED his heart to lie. Thank you for that observation!
      I had a thought as I read your words..

      Just before that passage we read how everyone who prayed was filled with the Holy Spirit (AGAIN). Did you notice that? The disciples were filled with the spirit AGAIN after Pentecost. Being filled with the spirit is not a ‘one and done’ thing. To continue operating in the power, they occasionally need a refilling :)

      How EASY it is to allow Satan to creep back in unknowingly.

      Perhaps Satan used this powerful spiritual filling of the spirit days earlier to say ‘Ananias, you’ve given so much!’ You’re so spiritual! Everyone has already given as well. There is no more need right now. Keep some of it for yourself- Or hang on to it until another need arises in the church and give then. You can be a blessing twice!

      For me, this story should make us uncomfortable. It reminds us that we are dealing with a HOLY God who wants us to keep our promises, but also recognizing (as Peter does) the work of Satan in our lives and ask God to constantly be checking our hearts and motives to evaluate if there is ‘any wicked way in me’

      Lord Jesus, thank you for not striking me dead every time I grieve the Holy Spirit! I am in awe of who you are. Thank you for the example of Ananias and Sapphira and I thank you for the mercy you show us each day.

  • churchmouse

    The account of Ananias and Sapphira always makes me squirm. They are willing to sell a piece of their property. Good deed. They are willing to bring part of it as an offering to the apostles. Sounds fine. And then they are stuck dead. Right there. In front of everyone. If I was part of the ‘everyone’ I’d be squirming. And probably backing up. John Wooden said that “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.” Ananias and Sapphira’s secret was outed. I squirm again. Jesus said “Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 7:21) Prior to that verse Jesus said that true prophets would be recognized by their fruit. And following that verse, Jesus talks about the wise and foolish builders, the importance of putting in to practice what Jesus says. And yes all of this makes me squirm. And it would be paralyzing if it weren’t for grace. I have the drop – dead account of trifling with God. And I have the admonition to acknowledge the fruit I’m producing. And I’m reminded that in order to be His disciple I must be willing to discipline myself in His ways. Praise God I am reminded to stop trifling and get serious. I don’t squirm when I’m serious. I’m laser focused. I’m not perfect. I struggle. Daily. I ask forgiveness (perhaps Ananias and Sapphira should have asked also). I surely do not want to be half hearted when it comes to serving God. He is holy and good. This is serious business. After all, it is indeed picking up my cross and following Him. So I’m praying for the strength and the resolve. It is not easy to do the hard and holy things. Help me, Lord.

  • Stephanie… I think it’s a clear picture of their hearts. And God needed to show His power to the disciples. Their lives were going to be turned upside down very soon as they begin to share the gospel and move out of their close knit family into the world. They needed to know God is God. All powerful and He wants hearts that desire to serve Him completely. They didn’t need to lie. They chose too. Hope that makes sense.

    • Lisa

      This is really good insight. The purpose of this was to prepare the early church for a huge blast of the gospel spreading. I have always thought God was just weeding out the uncommitted (which by itself is hard to accept. because haven’t I ever been half-hearted!?!?!?), however I think what you said is more to the point – THEY DIDN’T NEED TO LIE. The early church was going to be thrust out of their comfort zone into the world, and would be even more tempted to water down, deny, hide, lie. Out of fear. God was showing the church His power, and reminding them that this was His gig, He was bringing the gospel of salvation to the entire world at this moment. His plan, His power, His Spirit moving and changing hearts. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt to just be reminded that He is a God of justice, and the era of grace will at some day come to an end. Sobering. Thank you Jesus for not snuffing me out when I am also acting in fear or selfishness. You are good to me!

  • The Pastor at our church often brings a chest of drawers out onto the stage when preaching. He talks about how we try to compartmentalize our God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit. We say here you can be in my Sunday drawer but then tell God no I do not want you in my finance drawer or my honesty drawer or my relationship drawer. The Pastor’s point is God does not want just a drawer of your life here and there-He wants to be in control of the whole chest of drawers. God wants to be a part of every aspect of our lives not just the the places where we are comfortable with Him. Ananias and his wife seem to have believed they could give over some parts of their chest of drawers while maintaining a secret hidden drawer for themselves. They forgot that we not only serve a Holy God but He is also all-knowing and as scary as that can be to me it is also a comfort. Comforting in the sense that He knows me like no one else and still loves me. Thank God for His unfailing love and may we all give Him access to every “drawer” of our lives!

    • candacejo

      Love that analogy! ♥

    • Kristi

      Love that! Thanks for sharing!

      • melanie

        I’ve also heard the analogy with a home and God wants to reside in all the rooms. We can’t have a junk rooms. You know the room you move everything to when company comes. I dont know about you but I shut the door and pretend the rest of the house is clean and neat. Out of sight out of mind kind of thought. He really does want all of our home. Our hearts, soul, mind, and stregth. may be continue to be teachable with humble spirits to learn from each other.

    • Libby

      Love that thought! Gonna share this, if that’s okay!

  • Stephanie

    I know we may never know the answer, but it still troubles me that this couple was not offered grace.

    • Gina

      I replied to you below. Ooopppsss :)

    • drasch

      Stephanie I have struggled with this, too.

      Remember that Ananias and Sapphira would have been blessed with the Holy Spirit as were the other disciples at Pentecost (Acts 4:32), so the Holy Spirit was within them. They had likely publicly stated their intent to sell and donate the proceeds of their land as Barnabas had.

      They were spiritual hypocrites. They weren’t forced to sell the land, weren’t forced to donate to the church, but their promised words and their actions differed — and by the result, we see how seriously God viewed that hypocrisy. Directly grieving the Holy spirit was a sin that held death as the consequence. It was important to preserve and protect the newly-installed church from sin and hypocrisy.

      • Mary

        It’s also a great example of how seriously God takes our oaths/vows/promises.

      • Erin Cox

        Thank you! I’ve always had trouble with understanding what grieving/blaspheming the Holy Spirit means. You gave me clarification on that and this story is an excellent illustration. No one forced their hand at any point. Pride and greed led them to seek to deceive God himself.

      • Steph W

        Thank you for your insight drasch!
        I love what you said about how they likely publicly professed to give their all and then didn’t. They had premeditated their deceit. God takes seriously our oaths. The passage we read in Hebrews today touches on God’s oath and the seriousness of standing by what you promise. Thanks for helping to connect those passages.

        I’m humbled by the reminder of how HOLY our God is.

        Too often I want to focus only on the attributes of God I’m comfortable with (Loving, graceful, merciful) yet that is an inadequate view of who God is when I choose to forget his sovereignty and holiness.

    • Pam B

      Peter gave them both a chance to come clean, and they chose to stick to their lie.

    • JJ Smith

      another thought is we don’t know if they went to Hell or Heaven but I’m assuming if they were Christ followers even though they screwed up here they probably went to heaven when they died. So God removing them from the earth didn’t necessarily have any impact on their Eternal salvation, just on the ability of the remaining Church to see his power

  • I am learning that there is no partial obedience with God. There is no using human ‘wisdom’ to approach sacrifice unto him. I’ve been reading a lot about Saul lately, and the lessons from the book of Acts have complemented that greatly. God wants us to obey him fully, without fear of any man. I pray that I find the strength to do this more and more in my daily life.

    • Tols

      What you said about their being “no partial obedience with God” really struck me. I feel like as Christians sometimes we get to a place of comfort with our sins where we think we can negotiate between continuing with them and also following God. But God wants our whole heart. All or nothing. Go hard or go home. In the light of what happened to Ananias + Sapphira that is particularly sobering. Thank God we are here to live another day to read this and change our ways. It’s a mercy they never had, & I don’t necessarily think they were more sinful than any of us. I pray God helps us all to understand and walk in His holiness.

      • Dana


        • Mary

          Amen to this as well! Very sobering and humbling. I know their are areas in my life of partial obedience- where I think God’s grace will continue and I have refused to give every single area. I too am thankful for this reminder today.

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