ANANIAS AND SAPPHIRA

DIVIDED LOYALTY

Reading: Acts 4:32-5:11

INTRODUCTION

(A) This is an unusually strange little Bible story found in amongst stories of sacrifice, caring, sharing and love found in the early church.

(B) In fact, someone said to me once, that it reminded them rather of what would happen perhaps in witchcraft, rather than Christianity !

(C) Unfortunately today, Christians are inclined to water down the message of a COMPLETE GOD, One Who exercises JUDGEMENT as well as LOVE: and a God, Who, as this story shows, HATES HYPOCRISY !!

(D) Incidentally, in Matthew 23, J. B. Phillips translates ‘hypocrites’ as ‘PLAY ACTORS’ !! And when you think about it, that’s EXACTLY WHAT A HYPOCRITE IS !! I have often come across people PLAY ACTING at being CHRISTIANS. They can’t be real Christians of course, because like any play acting, it’s OUTWARD, and NOT COMING FROM THE HEART !! Quite naturally, they fail in the very rudiments, the beginnings of being a Christian, the act of LOVING ONE ANOTHER !! JESUS STATED THIS AS THE MARK OF BEING A TRUE CHRISTIAN

POINT 1.

(A) Two such PLAY ACTING CHRISTIANS were Ananias and his wife Sapphira away back in the beginnings of the Church - so they’re not some sort of new abomination.

(B) In those early days, as we are told in verse 32, that the early Christians would not accept that any of their possessions actually belonged to them as individuals. Instead, they gave up their claim on everything they had so it could be shared out. NO ONE WAS FORCING THEM TO DO THIS, THEY SIMPLY FELT IT WAS A PART O F THEIR DEDICATION TO THE LORD.

(C) Along came Ananias and his wife Sapphira, who possessed a plot of land. They went and sold it and then came and presented the money to the Lord via the Apostles, stating that it was the complete amount which they had received for their land.

(D) Now THEY WERE NOT JUDGED FOR REFUSING TO GIVE UP ALL THE PRICE, BUT FOR PRETENDING TO GIVE IT UP - FOR THEIR CHEAP PLAY-ACTING CULMINATING IN AN ENDEAVOUR TO LIE TO GOD !! IT WAS A CONSPIRICY OF PRETENSE BETWEEN A HUSBAND AND WIFE !

(E) Let me remind you of the verse which says God is not mocked for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

(F) But I wonder, do we ever make a pretense to God ??? Do we sing songs and prayer choruses, we don’t mean ? Do we state ourselves to be Christians, and then act in totally unchristian ways to others ? GOD DOES NOT LIKE HYPOCRISY TODAY ANY MORE THAN HE DID IN THE 5th chapter OF ACTS.

POINT 2

(A) Peter says to Ananias in verse 3 of chapter 5 Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost?

(B) Being a Christian should be the HAPPIEST experience on earth BUT ALSO THE MOST SERIOUS !!

(C) If Satan had been allowed to fill the heart of Ananias, then his heart had to be empty first !! It’s a bit like The Devil finding work for idle hands to do This is one of the main reasons why we should try and fill our minds with the things of God - for if we don’t, the Devil will make sure they are filled with HIS things. We’ve all proved it time and time again have we not ? No wonder the Scripture tells us, in Philippians 4:8, Whatsoever things are true, Whatsoever things are honest, Whatsoever things are just, Whatsoever things are pure, Whatsoever things are lovely, Whatsoever things are of good report; If there be any virtue, And if there be any praise, THINK ON THESE THINGS.

(D) If we find that Satan is filling our heart, with temptation, temper, hatred, impurity, it is because we have not kept our minds filled with Godly things.

(E) Our thought lives are very important in the eyes of God! It says in Isaiah 5 5:7, Let the wicked forsake his way AND THE UNRIGHTEOUS MAN HIS THOUGHTS: and let him return unto the Lord.

(F) Let us remember too, that there is nothing within the recesses of our mind that is hidden from God ! He says, I THE LORD SEARCH THE HEART (Jeremiah 17:10) WE ARE TRANSPARENT TO HIM !!

(G) Not just once, but I believe continually, we must yield again our hearts to the One Who said in Proverbs 23:26 GIVE ME THINE HEART.

POINT 3

(A) Ananias and Sapphira had DIVIDED LOYALTY . They were split between SPIRITUAL and MATERIAL BENEFITS !

(B) I meet many Christians today who have that same problem. Sometimes, it’s knowing what to put in their church offering or their cartridge. The sincerity of Ananias, or rather the lack of it, was proved when it touched his pocket. All these years later, many Christians are still the same today. Sometimes it’s deciding whether to go for spiritual or material gain through non essential Sunday work or overtime. What does it matter if I miss Sunday worship?

(C) Divided loyalty can enter every department of our lives. The wife or the husband, who allow themselves to be dominated by their partner, so they have no mind of their own in the will of God for their personal life! Sometimes, it’s the feeling that their time is their own, and therefore God has no claim upon it.

A man unexpectedly met a friend in San Francisco at midnight. Where are you going he asked. Oh he said, I am a communist, and I am in my way to a meeting. His friend said, No-one will be there. Everyone will be there who should be the communist said. I work eight hours a day, I sleep and attend to my personal needs eight hours, and eight hours I give to communism. One half of my income I give to communism.

That’s some consecration to compete with, isn’t it ???

Let me say very specially on this Self Denial Sunday

PRAY AND GIVE THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE.

Sometimes, it can be the putting of one’s family before God and His will forgetting that He said, in Scripture, that if we were to do that then we were not worthy of Him - HE AND HIS WILL MUST ALWAYS COME FIRST - THERE MUST BE NO DIVIDED LOYALTY !

Sometimes, with others, it can be friends, or perhaps a specific friendship that sets up the opposition to the Lord and His will.

CONCLUSION

(A) Ananias and Sapphira came to a very sticky end, because they tried to serve two masters, and chose the material, rather than the spiritual.

(B) Let us make sure that we are not being dishonest with God about our own commitment.

(C) MAKE SURE YOU ARE NOT GIVING UP SOMETHING ETERNAL FOR SOMETHING TEMPORAL!

(D) Let us make sure that we do not have divided loyalty. IS GOD TRULY COMING FIRST ALL THE TIME ????

SONG TUNE

371 (666 )

PRAYER CHORUS NO 84

179 (742 )

605 (193 )