Sunday, October 31, 2010
Perception - CS - Ananias and Sapphira
"Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God." Acts 5:4,5
Is there such a thing as a white lie? One that is harmless? If there is such a thing, it would have been Ananias' and Sapphira's lie. I mean, who were they hurting? They sold some property, kept a bit of the sales price for themselves, but when they gave the money to the apostles for the ministry of the early church, they said they gave the total amount. No one had asked them to do this, but they weren't completely honest. But did it really hurt anyone to keep back a bit and act as if you gave it all?
Next thing they knew, they were standing before the Lord Himself. From earth's perspective, they were dead. So apparently, there is no such thing as a harmless lie.
Peter was the one who reprimanded them before they died, and he told them that their lie was against God. David understood this with his own sin with Bathsheba, when he said, "Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight..." (Psalm 51:4)
So what was Ananias and Sapphira's perception of God?
I have met plenty of Christians who understand that their sins have been forgiven by God and live on the perception that there is no penatly for sin. Jesus paid for it and God knows I'm a sinner, so if He's already forgiven me, why should I worry about it?
It sounds pretty silly when I write it out, but that doesn't change the fact that most of us live as if there are no consequences to sin. We live forgiven but not grateful. That was Ananias and Sapphira's problem - they didn't think God really cared about truthfulness or else they would have been truthful. They didn't think a little white lie had any consequences, but they were wrong.
So what does God think about truthfulness? Do lies bother Him? Are there earthly consequences for tiny, little sins or can we get away with them? Well, what does this story tell us?
Yes, our penalty has been paid when it comes to sin, but there are always consequences. And these consequences come in all shapes and sizes. Our motivation to be truthful needs to flow from a proper perception of God and His view of sin, not a misperception that salvation is a get-out-of-jail-free card.
Next, I promise a good example...