A Church that Acts – Pure Heart…Pure Actions

We continue with our journey through the book of Acts. Remember, our objective here is to rediscover the origins, history, divine influences and governing principles which drove the first century church and followers of Jesus through the centuries to follow in order to discover some practical lessons which are relevant to our walk of faith today.

Central to what we hope to glean from the book of Acts is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit during Pentecost. Apart from this event the early followers of Jesus would have been committed but powerless. The arrival of the Holy Spirit is THE defining catalyst for the success of these early believers.

Today we turn to Acts, chapter 5. The first section of chapter 5 deals with the actions of a married couple named Ananias and Sapphira. The lesson we learn from this account is essential for every transaction in life; private, personal, family, community, political, business, and so on. The attitude of our heart must determine our actions while, at the same time, we monitor how our actions are perceived by those with no window into our motives.

Acts 5:1-11
1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,
2 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.
3 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?

The root of the problem:

A deceitful heart,
Led to dishonest actions,
Driven by pride/appearances.

Jeremiah 17:9-10
9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
10 I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

What we should know:

God is the only true judge of our motives/actions.
God’s justice is the only perfect justice.
God’s perfect justice does not nullify our pursuit of justice so long as we acknowledge our imperfection.

4 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.

The land belonged to Ananias and Sapphira. The profit from its sale was Ananias’ and Sapphira’s. The sin was the lie that they were donating all the proceeds.

5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.
6 And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.

Don’t forget the nature of the sin…it was a dishonest heart.

We should note: Peter doesn’t pronounce the sentence of death on Ananias, nor does the scripture indicate this was the judgment of God.

If every act of dishonesty was met with instant death people would be dropping dead around us all the time. In fact, I’m certain I wouldn’t be here to tell you this.

On the other hand, such a sentence would virtually eliminate dishonesty in the world. After all, above all else most of us act out of self interest. The reasons we lie are almost always selfish.

7 And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.
8 And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much.
9 Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.
10 Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.

In the case of Sapphira we do see, at the very least, that Peter had it revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that she would meet the same fate as her husband.

What was her sin?  She conspired with her husband to deceive the apostles about their contribution from the sale of their land. Her complicit actions were equally offensive and sinful before God. To knowingly condone sin (and possibly even advocate for it) is also sin.

11 And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.

The lesson, here, is not for us to live in fear of death from God’s judgment every day of our lives. The message is that we must deal righteously with others regardless of what they may or may not know.

For instance, if you or I have a vehicle for sale and we have knowledge of crucial mechanical issues which may not be obvious to a buyer, we have a righteous obligation to reveal such knowledge.

As followers of Jesus we should always pursue a pure heart in order that our actions may reflect our relationship with Him. The claim of a relationship with Christ must always be ratified by actions which are consistent with His teachings.






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