“The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out too” (Acts 5:9)
Terrifying! Could you and I withstand a rigorous investigation? The deceit by Ananias and Sapphira was unable to survive in the white-hot purity of that early apostolic church! It wasn’t that the owning of property itself was forbidden; all giving was voluntary (verse 4). Their sin lay in pretending they had given a certain sum of money – while in fact secretly keeping back part for themselves. “You have not lied to men, but to God,” they were told.
1. THE IRONICAL ELEMENT – it’s the first flaw in the beautiful emerging story of the Church! Now it could be argued, ‘These Christians are not special; they’re doing quiet deals on the side like everybody else.’
2. THE ETHICAL ELEMENT. The issue here was that, when deceit invaded the fellowship, either Christ’s Spirit must leave the church, or the hypocritical Ananias must leave! There was no room for both.
3. THE ECCLESIASTICAL ELEMENT. This sin dented and disrupted the entire church! Let us never say that our sin is ‘private.’
4. THE ESCHATALOGICAL ELEMENT. For here, in this dramatic episode, was a stern reminder to the early church - and indeed to future generations of believers – that, running through our whole human existence, and up to the end of time, is the theme of wrongs being eventually dealt with, in divine judgment.
The overall lesson is that we are to exercise self-judgment NOW, before the time! Ananias could have repented. If he had, he would have been forgiven. He might even have become a leader, instead of being dead!