INTEGRITY OF THE CHURCH

January 10, 2018

ACTS 4:32-5:11

INTEGRITY OF THE CHURCH

 

When it comes to judgement, it must happen first within the house of God. This does sound strange because a lot of times we get hurt by the church because we feel we get judged and alienated but the reality of the situation is that the House of God should be the place where you are the most exposed but at the same time the most loved. When we call upon the church to be judged first, what we are saying is that the church is a place where people are being healed through the Holy Spirit but it is not a place where we can actively hide our sin or alternate lifestyles. A church that is pure and full of integrity is a church that has much witnessing power to the world. So when a leader in love calls you out privately about a particular sin, it is not that they are condemning you but bringing to light what was hidden so that you can be free of it for the LORD desires a church that does not entertain sin but only His presence.

 

32 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35 and laid it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.

 

This is community that the LORD desires! God lives in perfect community through the Trinity of Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. Before there was anything there was God and as three persons they live in perfect harmony with one another. When God created people, he called them to live in perfect harmony with him as the center but Adam and Eve ruined all this through inviting sin into the picture. Let us be straight to the point, sin separates.

 

God’s intention for community is pictured today in this passage where things that we have are a blessing from God so that we may truly know the blessedness of blessing others which is a function of God that we are also given to operate. To bless others is to truly operate as a person who knows the heart of God and thus we see God’s beautiful picture of community through the early church.

 

What is notable here is that no one was in a state of need because everyone took care of each other. What does it take for a community to get to this point? Love for God, love for one another, and trust in God. A community that sacrificially gives to one another must be built on trust that everyone will do the same for each other. The reason that this all worked in the early church is because they were all united under one purpose to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

When you are unified under that sole purpose, the love of God moves through the community and we shall see that the perfect love casts out any fear of lack and thus opens the heart to give what they have abundantly in Christ! This is a community of trust and love on display and serves as an example for generations.

 

TAKE AWAY: Unity in the body of Christ will be reflected in the level of our sacrificial love for one another.

 

ACTION: Let us believe that God provides for our needs so that it frees us to to think of others.

 

5 But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property,2 and with his wife's knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles' feet

 

Ananias and Sapphira serve as contrasting characters to the previously mentioned Barnabas. We see that this married couple does the complete opposite of what Barnabas does and God’s response to this planned sin puts everyone on notice!

 

3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? 4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.”

 

Peter is aware of the lie and exposes Ananias. Peter’s question reveals to us several things about Satan’s tactic of deception. Peter’s question starts with why Satan has filled his heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and this reveals to us that our hearts and minds are vessels that can be filled. Now if our hearts and minds are vessels, than what they can be filled with will be up to us because we have that freedom in God to control our own bodies. As we have free will and are the gatekeepers to our hearts than we will either allow Satan or God to fill it.

 

The second thing that is being exposed here is that Satan deceived Ananias to try and deceive the Holy Spirit. Ananias played himself real hard here because you can’t lie to God in the sense that you cannot successfully lie to God! To lie to God reveals that you’ve allowed yourself to be deceived with the idea that you can get away with it and also shows that you have a lesser view of God in your eyes because there is the belief that God can be fooled. In the end, this lie of Ananias will cost him dearly.

 

TAKE AWAY: We are opened to be filled with whatever influence we choose to allow in our lives.

 

ACTION: Let us not believe in the deceptions of the enemy by knowing the truth of God and inviting His presence daily.

 

5 When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. 6 The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him.

7 After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you[a] sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” 9 But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.”10 Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.

 

The reason for this level of punishment is not explained. But my idea is that God came down on this situation so hard is because the church is a new group and it is in a very fragile state. If deception like the one made by Ananias and Sapphira were to remain, then it will spell certain doom for the group as a whole because trust within the community will be broken. When there is lack of trust in a group there is no unity and if the people of God are not united then the movement that has started at Pentecost will fizzle out due to disunity. God dealt with this sin quickly so that the corruption from this incident will not blow up the community into pieces. There are some things that you can take away from this particular judgment, which are the following:

  1. This is another instance of God’s timing. A lot of times we talk about God’s timing in answering prayers and such but there is also a timing to judgment. For whatever the reason, God deemed it necessary to judge that particular sin now. As stated earlier, I believe it was to help the young church stay afloat.

  2. God doesn’t change from the OT→ NT. We believe that OT God is angry but NT is all fluffy and friendly. FALSE. God is just as loving in the OT and just as wrathful against sin in the NT.

  3. The purity that God calls the church to be in is high for we play a huge part in the “realness” factor of the Gospel. It is not up to us but we sure help the cause when we practice what we preach.

  4. We must be thankful that when we do sin and live to tell the tale that it’s a grace from God that gives us a chance to repent and live.

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