Lying to the Holy Spirit
Open Your Bible
Acts 4:23-37, Acts 5:1-11, Deuteronomy 15:4-6, Hebrews 6:13-20
BY Kara Gause
I don’t have a huge “bucket list,” but there are a few things I hope to experience on this side of eternity. My top ten includes watching the aurora borealis paint the sky directly above me, finally learning to ride a bike (yes, really), and hanging a mirror ball from my living room ceiling, much to my 12-year-old daughters’ dismay. An odd choice, sure, but it doesn’t surprise them in the least. I’m a shimmy-shaker from way, way back; honestly, I’ve always prioritized dancing at home. What I lack in skill I make up for in enthusiasm—again, much to my daughters’ dismay.
When I read Ananias and Sapphira’s story, I see enthusiasm, though for what is less clear. The husband and wife so wanted to be a part of the growing church that they sold their field and gave the earnings to the church—well, a portion of it. In theory, this is a very admirable act; one gospel-spreading Barnabas did the same (Acts 4:36–37). So, where did Ananias and Sapphira go wrong?
Sharing their resources is a good thing, and holding back some of the profits for themselves wouldn’t have been wrong, if they hadn’t promised it all. After seeking guidance from the Holy Spirit, the amount of money shared was at the discretion of the individual, so no one’s hand was forced. Peter says as much when confronting Ananias in his lie: “Wasn’t it yours while you possessed it? And after it was sold, wasn’t it at your disposal?” (Acts 5:4).
The lie was the thing; they were deceived by the enemy and agreed “to test the Spirit of the Lord” (v.9). Seeking the approval of their community, they told the apostles they’d given everything, while still holding back something for themselves. They tried to deceive God’s people, His church, who are the temple of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8;2:4;Ephesians 4:4–6). So in reality, the couple “lied [not] to people but to God” (Acts 5:4). Their offense, a bold lie, was an offense against God and God alone (Psalm 51:4). They valued the approval of others above obedience to their Holy God.
Jesus Himself cautioned, “No one can serve two masters…You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24). Because He wants our wholehearted devotion, He values obedience and holiness. Ananias and Sapphira’s actions could’ve tainted the holiness of the early Church, leading people astray, but God would not allow it. He dealt with their sin, and a healthy, holy fear and reverence of the Lord was reaffirmed within His Church (Acts 5:11).
Our actions mirror and reflect what we value most, casting either shadow or light over our surroundings. So, it’s worth asking ourselves what we’re truly devoted to. Are we seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance and obeying Him, or do we seek the approval of others first? Honest answers can lead to much-needed change in our lives, drawing us closer to God and keeping Him first on our ever-shifting list of priorities.