Let us turn to Acts 5 and Ananias & Sapphira. Please read Acts 5:1-11 in preparation of tonight’s study.
I think we can agree that Ananias and Sapphira had good intentions. In the enthusiasm of religious activity, worship and sharing that occurred after Christ, Ananias and Sapphira were energized to do their part. They sold some land and gave some of the proceeds to the apostles but kept the rest for themselves. Right there we can pause for a moment and recognize that there is nothing wrong with this act. If they had given just a portion of the money they received, that is fine: We give what we can, as according to our blessings.
But where they went wrong is that they wanted the apostles and the peripheral believers around to believe that they had done this great thing in giving all of the proceeds of the land they sold to the apostles. Peter knew this sin and exposed both of them at different times to show them that they had sinned in lying and testing the Holy Spirit.
In a profound and immediate judgment from God, Ananias and Sapphira fell dead separately when their sin was publicly revealed. Acts 5:9-11: “9 Then Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” 10 Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her by her husband. 11 So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things.”
Instead of public praise, they received public judgment. They experienced the inverse of what they were seeking.
It would have served them much better to have just been forthcoming about the amount of money they were giving and that it was not the whole amount for the land sold. It was their land that they owned, perfectly within their right and judgment to give what seemed best or sensible to them. But they wanted more than the simple satisfaction of having honored God and others through giving. They were seeking to honor themselves and increase their own standing.