“But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, and kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? And after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? Why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? Thou hast not liked unto men, but unto God. And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him” (Acts 5:1-6). When reading the account of Ananias’ actions as recorded in the fifth chapter of the book of Acts, we can clearly see Satan’s activity being present and manifested within the early Church. In the Gospels of Luke and John we find the activity of Satan as being manifested in the Upper Room as Jesus and His disciples partook of the Passover meal together. We find Satan’s activity being manifested in that place of intimacy, fellowship and communion between Jesus and His disciples as they all reclined around the table to partake of the meal together. There in the Upper Room the activity of Satan was manifested in the life of Peter, as Jesus declared unto him Satan’s desire to have him that he might sift him as wheat. There in the Upper Room we find the activity of Satan being manifested in the life of Judas, as Satan actually entered Judas just after he took the sop from the hand of Jesus, and immediately before he rose from the table and left the Upper Room. It’s worth noting that of the twelve disciples that were present within Jesus that night, Judas was the only one of the disciples who did not partake of the second Upper Room which is spoken of in the book of the Acts of the apostles. Judas experienced his feet being washed by Jesus, he partook of the same Passover meal as the other disciples, and he even heard Jesus’ teaching concerning the example Jesus set when he washed the feet of the disciples. Despite Judas partaking of all these realities, he did not partake of the second Upper Room—he was not able to experience the manifestation of the Spirit of the Lord within the Upper Room.
What an incredibly tragic thought surrounds the life of Judas, for although he experienced the washing of his feet, and although he partook of the Passover meal with Jesus and the rest of the disciples, he would not enter into the second Upper Room. Judas was aware of Jesus’ instruction to tarry in Jerusalem until the promise of the Father was sent, yet he would not experience or enjoy the promise of the Father. There is a tremendous tragedy that surrounds the life of Judas, for he experienced the same ministry and apostleship the eleven other disciples did, yet he forfeited it all for thirty pieces of silver. The tragic reality of Judas’ life is that although he sat at the same table in the Upper Room with Jesus and the other eleven disciples, he would rise from the table and leave the Upper Room never to experience the reality of the second Upper Room. We must recognize that within Scripture, there wasn’t just one Upper Room experience afforded to the disciples, but there were actually two Upper Room experiences. The first Upper Room experience was one which dealt with the disciples, as well as offered them the opportunity to partake of the Passover meal with the Lord. It was the first Upper Room experience which positioned and qualified the eleven other disciples to experience the reality of the second Upper Room as mentioned in the book of Acts. There were two disciples present within the first Upper Room whom Satan targeted, yet only one of those disciples would not enter into and experience the second Upper Room. Oh that we would learn to discern the activity of Satan, and that we would discern his activity—especially in the place of intimacy, fellowship and communion—for failure to do so may result in a great deal of harm and damage being done. There are a great number of disciples who have experienced the first Upper Room, yet they have never been able to experience the fullness or reality of the second Upper Room. There are men and women in this generation whom Satan has so targeted and come against them that he has managed to prevent them from ever making it to the Upper Room. What’s more, is that when Judas left the Upper Room, he left on his own, of his own accord, and by himself. Judas left the Upper Room completely alone and isolated from the rest of the disciples, and completely alone and isolated from Jesus Christ Himself. Let us not miss the importance and significance of this, for the adversary can and will seek to do anything and everything he can to keep us from experiencing the fullness of the second Upper Room. It is by the grace and mercy of Almighty God, and the prayers of Jesus Christ that Peter was able to experience the Upper Room after denying knowing Jesus three times. What a vast and obvious difference surrounds the lives of Peter and Judas—how one experienced both the first Upper Room and the second Upper Room, while the other experienced only the first Upper Room.
The reason I included the text found in the fifth chapter of the book of the Acts of the apostles is because it reveals something which we as the disciples of Jesus need to be keenly aware of. If there is one thing we must learn and recognize about the fifth chapter, it’s that Ananias and his wife Sapphira were part of the early Church. These weren’t individuals who weren’t a part of the church, but were individuals who may very well have experienced the reality of the Upper Room. If Ananias and Sapphira didn’t experience the reality of the Upper Room, and were part of the three-thousand which joined themselves to the Church on the Day of Pentecost, then perhaps they were apart of the second wave of converts which joined themselves to the church and body of Jesus Christ. Regardless of whether Ananias and his wife Sapphira were part of the original one-hundred and twenty who were present in the Upper Room on the Day of Pentecost, or whether they were part of the three thousand which joined themselves to the church on the Day of Pentecost, they were nonetheless part of the church and body of Christ. The actions which were committed in the fifth chapter weren’t committed by outsiders to the church and body of Christ, but by those who had joined themselves to the body of Jesus Christ. The actions we find being ommitted in the fifth chapter of the book of the Acts of the apostles were such which were committed by those who had considered them disciples and followers of Jesus. In fact, when the chapter opens, it opens with a seemingly remarkable description of this particular couple. This particular chapter opens up with the description of Ananias and his wife Sapphira selling a possession—something which was closely connected to what we read in the previous chapter. Consider what is recorded in the final few verses of the fourth chapter, and you will understand the context surrounding the opening of the fifth chapter. “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyrprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet” (Acts 4:32-37).
When reading the fifth chapter of the book of the Acts of the apostles—and when considering the actions of Ananias in particular—it is important that we don’t just focus on his laying to the Holy Ghost, for there was something else which was equally as dangerous as lying to the Spirit. If you read Peter’s response to Ananias, you will find Peter asking Ananias why Satan had filled his heart to (1) lie to the Holy Ghost, and (2) to keep back part of the price of the land. It is the second part of Peter’s question to Ananias which I want to focus my attention on, for it is something which has been done in the church ever since the days of Ananias and Sappharia. The sin of Ananias was more than just his lying to the Holy Ghost, but was also about keeping back a part of the price which had been agreed upon by him and his wife. When addressing Ananias, the apostle Peter not only addresses his lying to the Holy Ghost, but he also addresses how he lied to the Holy Ghost. The apostle Peter discerned according to the Holy Spirit that Ananias had come into the congregation of the assembly, and had attempted to lead those present into believing that the amount which they brought to the body was the exact price they had received from the property. In other words, Ananias came into the presence of the assembly making the declaration that he was offering unto the Lord more than what he was actually offering. Ananias came into the presence of the body with the declaration that he was offering unto the Lord absolutely everything he had received. When he came into the presence of the apostles and the body of Christ, Ananias came bringing the deception of his offering along with him. It is true that Ananias did bring a portion of the price he had received for the possession, but he brought more than just a portion with him. Ananias brought deception, lies and falsehood with him when he came into the house of the Lord. In other words, Ananias sought to play games in the presence of the Holy Spirit, and in the presence of the holy apostles and body of Christ. Ananias came into the presence of the Holy Spirit attempting to deceive Him into believing that he was actually bringing and offering more than what he actually was. The sin of Ananias wasn’t simply that he withheld and was holding something back, but that he attempted to lie and deceive others into believing that he was holding nothing back.
It is an incredibly dangerous thing to come into the house of the Lord professing we are bringing everything we have and offering it unto the Lord. How many times have we attempted to enter into the house of the Lord and have pretended that we are offering unto the Lord more than that which we actually are. Moreover, how many times have we pretended to offer more unto the land than we have actually been willing to? How many men and women enter into the house of the Lord and continually and repeatedly lie to the Holy Spirit, declaring that they are bringing everything to Him, and are withholding nothing? If there is one thing the fifth chapter of the book of Acts reveals, it’s that honesty is of utmost importance when coming into the house of the Lord. The fifth chapter of the book of Acts reveals just how crucial and how vital honesty is in the house of the Lord—especially honesty before and honesty unto the Holy Spirit. This particular chapter reveals that what we do when entering into the house of the Lord is actually one of two things—either we are speaking truthfully and honestly before the Holy Spirit, or we are speaking deceitfully and are lying to the Holy Spirit. Perhaps the single greatest question that must be asked at this point is what you do when you enter into the house of the Lord. When you enter into the house of the Lord, and when you join yourselves to the body of Christ, are you speaking truthfully before and speaking truthfully to the Holy Spirit, or are you lying and trying to deceive the Holy Spirit? I would dare say that there is a good deal of activity which takes place within many houses of worship throughout the world that is nothing more than lying to the Holy Spirit and making every attempt to deceive the Holy Spirit. There are men and women who enter into the house of the Lord each and every Sunday, lift up hands in worship, place their tithe in the offering plate, and listen to the word preached from the pulpit, and yet they are doing nothing more than lying to and deceiving the Holy Spirit. Ananias lied to the Holy Spirit concerning the offering he had brought unto the Lord in the presence of His holy apostles, and His saints and believers. Ananias entered into the house of the Lord with the deliberate and express intention and purpose of pretending that he was giving more to the Lord than that which he was actually giving. What an absolutely travesty and tragedy it is when we enter into the house of the Lord and proceed to lie to the Holy Spirit concerning the offering(s) we have brought to Him.
The fifth chapter sheds a tremendous amount of light upon one of the most diabolical activities of Satan within the hearts and lives of the people of God. When speaking to Ananias, the apostle Peter wrote that Satan had filled his heart, and had filled his heart leading him to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back a part of the price. One of the adversary’s most deadly and dangerous is to so fill our hearts and minds that we feel the need to lie to the Holy Spirit. One of the adversary’s greatest tactics is to so fill our heart that we are actually able to enter into the house of the Lord and lie to the Holy Spirit. We play a dangerous game in the presence of the Lord when we enter into His house and lie to Him concerning that which we are actually bringing before Him. We play a dangerous game in the presence of the Lord when we lie to Him concerning that which we have been willing to bring before Him. What makes the account of Ananias and Sapphira so alarming is that they weren’t required to sell the possession they had. Ananias and Sapphira weren’t required to even give a portion of the price to the house of the Lord. Ananias and Sapphira sold the piece of property—perhaps they got caught up in all the emotional hype surrounding those who sold what they had and brought to the apostles—and brought a portion of it to the house of the Lord. There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder how many men and women may get caught up in an emotional experience, as in the heat and height of that emotion, say and do things that are actually different from what they are willing, or what they have done before the Lord. I can’t say for sure whether or not Ananias and Sapphira got caught up in the hype of all those who were selling their possessions to give to the body of Christ as each had need, and as a result, they felt compelled to do the same. Perhaps they started out with good intentions, and after they sold their possession, they received more than what they anticipated and expected. Perhaps after they received the sum, they changed their minds on giving it all unto the Lord, and decided to keep a portion of it back for themselves. We must understand that if Ananias and Sapphira had sold the possession and made no attempt to enter into the house of the Lord, they wouldn’t have experienced the events which transpired before the apostle Peter. It was not their selling the possession which caused them to lie to the Holy Spirit, but their deliberate and intentional entering into the house of the Lord claiming to offer more to the Lord than they actually had done. We must read this passage with an open heart that is willing to take a long hard look internally, for we must be willing to ask ourselves if we have lied to the Holy Spirit. Are we intentionally and deliberately lying to the Holy Spirit by declaring that we are giving more to the Lord than we actually are? Have we lied to the Holy Spirit and played games in His presence as Satan has filled our heart to not only keep back a part of ourselves, but also to lie about it.
A question that I feel rising up within my heart right now is this—What exactly are you withholding from the Lord. What are you holding back from the Lord? Scripture speaks of Ananias and Sapphira kept back part of the price of the land, which is actually quite significant regarding our worship. What part of what you are bringing to the Lord are you withholding and keeping to yourself? What part of that which you are bringing to the Lord are you unwilling to part ways with and completely release into the hands and care of the Lord? What part of your life are you keeping back and withholding from the Lord today? What part of your heart are you keeping back and withholding from the Lord your God? That which once belonged to Ananias and Sapphira no longer belonged to them the minute they made the decision to go through with the sale. The minute they agreed to the sale and made it final, that which was once in their possession no longer belonged to them. Perhaps this is the reason why they decided to keep a part of the price back for themselves, for they wanted to keep a portion of what once belonged to them to themselves. Peter acknowledge that while the possession was theirs, it was theirs and did indeed belong to them. Even after it was sold, the price which they sold it for was still in their power and belonged to them. If this passage reveals one thing, it’s that we are either going to make a conscious decision to give to the Lord everything we have, or we are going to keep a portion and piece of it back for ourselves. We are either going to give to the Lord everything of ourselves, or we are going to keep a piece and portion of it back for ourselves. We are either going to give the Lord every part of our heart, or we are going to keep a piece of it back. Today on this very day, what is it you are going to do? Are you going to enter into the presence of the Lord and play games in His presence professing to give everything unto Him, yet holding a portion of it back; or, are you going to truly give everything to the Lord? Satan’s activity was found in the early church in both the lying to the Holy Spirit, and in the keeping back a portion of what was brought to the Lord. Notice the lie is directly connected to the withholding and keeping a portion back, and the two cannot be separated. The lie was directly connected to the withholding, for it what they had actually brought to the apostles and to the Lord which they had lied about. Satan seeks to fill our heart—not only to cause us to lie to the Holy Ghost, but also to keep back and withhold that which we have professed to bring to the Lord. Let us read this passage and pay close attention to the activity of Satan within our lives, and let us recognize that when we are tempted to lie to the Lord about we have brought, and what we are bringing unto Him, it is the activity of Satan. Let us recognize that when we are tempted to withhold a piece or portion of ourselves—our heart, our mind, our spirit, our life, our family, our home, our job, our finances, etc.—the activity of Satan is both present and manifested.
DENYING JESUS! BETRAYING JESUS. LYING TO THE HOLY GHOST! These were the actions which were committed by two of the disciples of Jesus, as well a member of the early church as mentioned in the book of Acts. It is quite obvious that the activity of Satan is clearly manifested and visible—both in the Upper Room at the Passover meal, as well in the Temple of the Lord where the early church gathered. If we are going to truly understand the activity of Satan, and the stands he takes against the lives of countless men and women within our generation, we must pay close attention to such passages as what is found in the gospels of Luke and John, as well as what is found in the book of Acts. It’s important to recognize and note that when Ananias entered into the house of the Lord, he knew exactly what he was going to do. When Ananias entered into Temple of the Lord and appeared before the apostles and those gathered there that day, he was very much aware of what he and his wife had done. When he entered into the courts of the Lord that day, he knew within his heart that he and his wife had not only agreed to sell the possession, but to keep a portion of the price back for themselves. What truly strikes me as alarming about this whole scenario is that neither Ananias, nor his wife Sapphira were required to sell the possession which belonged to them. Moreover, they weren’t required to even give any of the price to the apostles and saints to distribute as was deemed necessary. There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if they had brought only a portion of the price they received from the sale of the possession, but were honest about what they were bringing to the Lord and to His holy apostles—would they have endangered themselves in the presence of the apostle Peter and all those present that day. I can;’t help but wonder how much the price actually was for the sale of the possession. How much did Ananias and Sapphira actually receive from the sale of their possession? Is it possible that they received more than what they were expecting, and as a result, they decided to keep the difference for themselves? What would cause a man and a woman to keep a portion of the price they received from the sale of their possession for themselves? Furthermore, what would cause this same couple to enter into the presence and courts of the Lord and think they could lie to the Holy Ghost about such an act?
The more I consider the account of Ananias and Sapphira, the more I can’t help but wonder the actual size of the portion they withheld and kept back for themselves. What percentage of that which they had received from the sale of their possession did they actually choose to keep for themselves rather than giving to the work and service of the Lord? While the reason for asking such a question-especially one which cannot and will not be answered—might seem utterly and completely irrelevant, I would dare say there is a tremendous significance in such a question. While the answer to this question regarding Ananias and Sapphira cannot be answered, the same question can and will be asked of us in this generation. The real question is not the size of the portion this couple withheld and kept back from themselves, but the size of the portion we ourselves are keeping back and withholding from the Lord. Oh, you are bringing your heart to the Lord in His sacred and holy courts? That’s wonderful. How much of your heart are you actually bringing and offering unto Him? You are bringing your physical body to the Lord before Him in His holy presence? Fantastic. How much of your body are you really willing to give? You have made the decision to offer your life unto the Lord as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto the Lord? Great. How much of your life actually makes it on to the altar and into the midst of the flames? You say you are willing to deny yourself, and take up your cross, and follower after Jesus? Sounds great. How much of yourself are you truly willing to deny? How much of the cross are you truly willing to take up? We will never know the size of the portion Ananias and his wife kept back and withheld from the Lord, but we can and must confront the stark reality of how much we ourselves are agreeing to keep back and withhold from the Holy Ghost. We sing songs like “I Surrender All,” yet deep within our hearts we know and understand that we really aren’t surrendering all. We know deep within our hearts that we haven’t surrendered all unto Jesus, and the truth of the matter is that we we might never do so. What percentage of your heart are you keeping back for yourself and withholding from the Lord? This question must be asked, answered, and dealt with truthfully and carefully, for it may very well determine the very outcome of our lives.
When Ananias entered into the house of the Lord that day and conspired together with his wife to deceive the Holy Ghost [or I should to say, to attempt to deceive the Holy Ghost], I know beyond a shadow of a doubt he didn’t think his actions would warrant his immediate death. Ananias and his wife Sapphira conspired together in secret to keep back and withhold a portion of the price for themselves, yet to enter into the house of the Lord and act as if they were offering everything they had received unto the Lord. It’s worth noting that Luke doesn’t record Ananias speaking any words to the apostle Peter, or to anyone else present that day. In fact, the only one who appears to have spoken a single word was his wife Sapphira, and even that was only in response to the apostle Peter asking her concerning the price the possession was sold for. I believe there is an incredibly powerful truth that is found in Ananias’ entrance into the courts of the Lord, and the simple fact that there is no record of him speaking a single word—either to the apostles, or to anyone else. Is it possible that Ananias’ deception and attempt to lie to the Holy Spirit might not have even been verbal, but was done within his own heart? In other words, did Ananias even have to speak a single word to make an attempt to lie to the Holy Ghost? This question is actually one that is quite powerful when you truly take the time to examine and think about it, for it reveals the powerful truth that lying to the Holy Spirit doesn’t even have to include or involve us speaking a single word before Him or in His presence. Lying to the Holy Spirit doesn’t require us to make a specific declaration concerning our intentions, our desires, our even the acts we are committing. Sometimes—especially when we are in the presence of the Lord—the greatest message we speak to the Lord does not come from our lips, or from our mouths, but from the depths of our heart. Sometimes the loudest message we speak when we enter into the house of the Lord comes not from our mouths, but from that which is within the heart. Do you remember the words of Jesus and how He declared that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks? If you want to truly understand the condition of your heart, you need only listen to the words which proceed from your mouth. Do you want to know the greatest litmus test for the condition of your heart? It’s the words which proceed directly from your lips—whether in the presence of others, or in the presence of the Lord Himself.
THE LOUDEST MESSAGE YOU BRING IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD. To preface what I’m about to say, it is necessary to include and reference the words of Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes. There is found within the fifth chapter of the book of Ecclesiastes a powerful word concerning our entering into the house of the Lord, and specifically our entering in to worship. “Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil. Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon the earth: therefore let thy words be few. For Andrea cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool’s voice is known by multitude of words. When thou o west a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for He hath no pleasure in fools; pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that you shouldest vow and not pray. Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands? For in the multitude of dreams and many words there are also divers vanities: but fear thou God” (Ecclesiastes 5:1-7). What sobering words are found within this particular passage in the book of Ecclesiastes—words which we must pay close attention to when we enter into the house of the Lord. With these words, Solomon cautions and warns us against entering into the house of the Lord to give the sacrifice of fools—many words uttered carelessly before the Lord from our lips. Solomon urges us to enter into the house of the Lord, and to be more ready and more quick to listen and hear rather than to be hasty to speak. How many times do we enter into the house of the Lord ready and anxious to speak—whether in prayer or in worship—and we are doing nothing more than offering the sacrifice of fools in His presence? How many times do we allow our mouths to lead us into sin because we are rash and hasty with the words we speak? How many times do we get caught up in the moment, or get caught up in emotionally hype, and as a result, we utter foolish and rash vows we neither have the intention, nor ability to keep? Solomon writes in this passage concerning making vows unto the Lord, and then deferring to pay it—a word which I am strongly convinced may pertain to Ananias and Sapphira when they entered into the house of the Lord.
When I consider the actions of Ananias and Sapphira, I can’t help but wonder if what helped lead them into sin might not have been a vow they made before the Lord—a vow which they would later decide not to fulfill. Is it possible that Ananias and his wife Sapphira first made a vow and pledge to give everything they received from the sale of the possession to the Lord, yet they decided to change their minds and withhold a portion of it for themselves? Could what have happened in the lives of Ananias and Sapphira have surrounded a vow they made together before the Lord, which they decided they were unwilling to actually fulfill? There is no mention of a vow they may or may not have made before the Lord in the fifth chapter of the book of Acts, but it’s incredibly interesting to hold up the fifth chapter of the book of Acts to the fifth chapter of the book of Ecclesiastes. I am greatly convinced that we say more with our hearts in the house of the Lord than we ever do with our lips. What’s more, I am convinced that what actually proceeds from our lips might be far different from that which is actually present within our hearts. Think about it—how many times do you utter words in the house of the Lord because you see them on a projection screen rather than them being true within your own heart? How many times do you utter words in the house of the Lord because others around you are uttering them, while deep within the very chambers of your heart, those words aren’t true. Please note that there is a place for men and women entering into the house of the Lord, and to be led into worship as a congregation and body. I am not by any stretch of the imagination denouncing corporate worship, nor am I denouncing the worship team, nor am I denouncing any worship leader. What I am speaking of, is the truth of what proceeds from our mouths, versus the truth that is actually within our hearts. Is it possible that the apostle Peter discerned the words and message of Ananias’ heart more than and above any words that may or may not have proceeded from his mouth? Are we aware of the tremendous responsibility we bear when we enter into the house of the Lord and sing words projected on to a screen or wall, or words which are contained within hymnals? What would happen if we actually guarded our foot when we entered into the house of the Lord, and entered to listen rather than to be so quick to speak?
Permit me to be so bold as to ask you in what ways you might be lying to the Holy Ghost? In what ways do you enter into your prayer closet, or enter into the house of the Lord, and attempt to lie to the Holy Ghost? Scripture records nothing of the words which may or may not have proceeded from the lips and mouth of Ananias, yet I am convinced that there is a tremendous truth that is contained here. The truth is—despite any words which may proceed from our lips and mouth, the Lord discerns the thoughts and intentions of the heart. “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, AND IS A DISCERNER OF THE THOUGHTS AND INTENTS OF THE HEART. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom have to do” (Hebrews 4:12-13). The Word of God discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart, and I believe that the thoughts and intents of Ananias’ heart were naked and opened before the eyes of the One who had created him. What is the message of your heart? What is your heart speaking right now at this very moment? We must listen to and examine the words which proceed from our lips, for they absolutely do reveal what is hidden and buried within our hearts, but I am convinced we must also be aware of those words which aren’t spoken. There may very well be a message and words which lie buried beneath the surface within our lives which is not readily apparent to others. However, the Lord knows all and sees all, and is very much aware of what is within our hearts. Peter was able to speak to Ananias the way he did for Ananias was naked and opened before the One whom Peter served. Ananias attempted to lie to the Holy Ghost, and his sin was found out in the presence of the Lord. Oh that we would take this passage as a strong and powerful warning concerning what we willing to offer and present unto the Lord. Let us take this particular passage and truly ask ourselves how much of ourselves we are presenting to the Lord, as well as how much we are withholding and keeping back from the Lord. Let us be very much aware of how we enter into the house of the Lord, and let us draw near to listen and hear rather than to hastily and quickly offer the sacrifice of fools.
When you consider the account of Ananias and Sapphira, it is important to note that they weren’t necessarily wrong for keeping a portion of the price back for themselves. What Ananias and Sapphira were guilty of was entering into the house of the Lord and attempting to lie to the Holy Spirit and deceive the church into thinking they were bringing everything before them. Ananias wasn’t merely guilty of lying to the Holy Spirit, but was guilty of laying to the Holy Spirit about what he was actually bring unto the Lord in His holy house. Ananias stood guilty and judged before the Lord because of his attempt to lie to the Holy Spirit, and little did he know his actions would cost him his very life. One might ask the question why the penalty for lying to the Holy Spirit was so severe, and why the Lord struck down Ananias for lying about what he had brought before Him. The truth of the matter is that we play a very dangerous game in the presence of the Lord when we attempt to deceive Him into believing we are bringing everything we have before Him. Imagine what we would bring to the Lord if we indeed recognized and realized that nothing we own or possess even belongs to us. Consider how drastically different our lives would be like if we ceased any and all use of the words “own” and “possess” as it pertains to the material goods and wealth we have been afforded. What would happen if in our lives we viewed the only thing we actually do possess is eternal life, which was given unto us as a free gift from the Father of Lights above? What if Jesus the Christ—our faithful and true High Priest—was the only thing we actually viewed ourselves as possessing? If we are truly willing to be honest with ourselves, we must admit that we have never, we do not, and will never possess anything—regardless of what our bank account says, or what items may be in our home or parked outside our house or apartment. The possession which Ananias and his wife Sapphira had in all reality didn’t even belong to them, yet was given to them on loan by the Lord. Oh, consider how drastically different our lives would be if we recognized and realized that we are merely stewards of anything and everything we possess within our lives and within our homes.
Ananias and Sapphira conspired to keep a portion of the price back for themselves because they actually believed that the possession which they sold did in fact belong to them. I can’t help but consider the reality of different the account of their lives might have been different if they lived in the reality that the possession they had didn’t even belong to them in the first place. I am convinced the reason we keep a portion of ourselves back from the Lord is because we do not live and are not living in the reality that our lives aren’t even our own. I can’t help but be reminded of the words of the apostle Paul when writing to the Corinthian congregation. In the first epistle the apostle wrote to this congregation, he made a very specific and very powerful declaration unto them. “Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? Know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? For two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? FOR YE ARE BOUGHT WITH A PRICE: THEREFORE GLORIFY GOD IN YOUR BODY, AND IN YOUR SPIRIT, WHICH ARE GODS” (1 Corinthians 6:15-20). With these words, the apostle Paul makes it quite obvious and unmistakable to the Corinthians congregation that neither their lives, nor their bodies belong to themselves, but both had bought bought and purchased with a price. We run into a very dangerous place when we believe the lie and deception that our lives actually belong to us. One of the adversary’s greatest tactics and strategies within the life of an individual is to make them believe the lie that their bodies belong to them—that somehow they are in control of their body. Moreover, the adversary can and will seek to do anything and everything to bring us to the place where we believe the lie that our lives belong to us, and that we have any say over them. There is nothing more dangerous than that man or that woman who believes they are the ultimate say over their bodies and their lives. There is nothing more dangerous than that man or that woman who believes that they are in complete control of their hearts, their minds, their souls and their spirits, and that none belong to the Lord.
There is yet another passage and reference found within the apostle Paul’s epistle to the Corinthians congregation—one that is found in the very next chapter. When writing to the same church and congregation, the apostle Paul writes these words—“Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God. Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. Art thou called being a servant? Care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather. For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant. YE ARE BOUGHT WITH A PRICE; be not ye the servants of men. Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God” (1 Corinthians 7:19-24). Here again—within the same epistle as the previous passage is found—we find the apostle Paul declaring unto the Corinthian congregation that they had been bought with a price, and then urged them to be not the servants of men. The apostle Paul urges and strongly cautions the Corinthians congregations to neither be servants to sin, nor servant of men based on the reality that our lives This reality which the apostle Paul speaks of when writing to the Corinthian congregation must be carefully considered by each and every individual when they consider their own lives. Remember when Jesus spoke to His disciples and followers declaring that he who loved his life would lose it, but he who loved not his life would gain it? Essentially what Jesus was saying was that we are to love not our lives—even unto death if necessary—knowing that our lives do not belong to us, and in all reality, never belonged to us. Those who love not their lives—even unto the death—are those who truly recognize and understand the reality that their lives never have and never will belong to them, and that they were bought with a price. There is a reason why when speaking to His disciples and followers Jesus called them to deny themselves, to take up their cross, and to follow after Him. Perhaps the single greatest challenge we face is the challenge to truly and completely deny ourselves—to deny self. This denying of self goes against absolutely everything within our hearts and minds, for we would assume hold on to and lay hold of everything we think and believe we have.
How incredibly interesting is it to consider perhaps the two greatest challenges we face within our lives—to deny ourselves, and to resist the devil. We were never instructed or encouraged to deny the devil, but rather to resist him. We were never instructed or encouraged to resist ourselves, but to deny ourselves. The question we must ask ourselves at this very moment is whether or not we are following through with either of these actions within our lives. Are we truly living in the reality of denying ourself and resisting the devil? It is not enough to merely resist the devil without also denying ourself, nor is it enough to deny ourself without resisting the devil. At the very heart of it all is a deep underlying principle which stands as the sole foundation for both—submission unto God. We cannot and will not even think about denying ourselves unless we have first submitted ourselves to the Lord. We cannot and will not even think about resisting the devil unless we have first submitted ourselves to the Lord. I am convinced that this is the main reason why when speaking of denying ourselves, Jesus immediately followed it up with the declaration “and take up your cross.” Denying ourselves is great and it is wonderful, but that alone doesn’t require any submission unto the Lord. We can deny ourselves all day long, but if we are not submitting ourselves unto the Lord, it is all in vain. It is through the taking up and carrying of our cross that we demonstrate and manifest our submission unto the Lord, for the cross screams loud the principle of submission. The cross most certainly does speak of submission, for were it not for Jesus’ unwavering and unflinching submission to His Father in heaven, He would never have carried His cross—much less allowed Himself to be nailed to it. Only those who are truly submitted to the Lord can and will carry and take up their cross—and not just take up their cross, In fact, can it even be said that you cannot even say you have denied or are denying yourself if you are unwilling to take up your cross? Denying self and taking up one’s cross go hand in hand and are utterly and completely inseparable, and we dare not attempt to isolate one from the other. Our submission to the Father must include both the denial of self, as well as resisting the devil, for true victory and and will only come when we deny self and resist the devil.
The account of Ananias and Sapphira is so dangerous and worth taking a good, long, hard look at, for it brings us face to face with whether or not we bringing everything before and unto the Lord. Ananias entered into the house of the Lord first—separate from his wife—and put on the display that he had indeed brought everything he had received unto the Lord. When Ananias entered into the house of the Lord, he entered with the express intention of putting on a show and masquerade before the believers in Christ, and before the Lord’s apostles. Ananias entered into the house of the Lord with the express intention to deceive all those present regarding that which he had brought to the Lord, and he did so because he didn’t recognize that anything and everything he had and still did have belonged to the Lord. What is so ironic about this particular passage is that there is no indication that Ananias or his wife were instructed to sell their possession and present the proceeds to the Lord. Ananias and his wife deliberately and intentionally sold the possession, and perhaps they did so to bring the proceeds to the house of the Lord. What happened and what went terribly wrong, is that what they brought to the Lord and what they actually received were two completely different things. Ananias wasn’t willing to be honest regarding what he was bringing to the Lord, and there are a number of men and women who are unwilling to be honest with themselves and honest with the Lord concerning what they are actually willing to bring to the Lord. The adversary can and will seek to do anything he can to prevent us from offering everything we have to the Lord, and will make every attempt to deceive into believing we can hold something back for ourselves. One of the greatest lies and deceptions we can believe is that we are actually able to keep something back from the Lord, and aren’t required to bring unto and give Him absolutely everything. Only those who believe the lie and the deception they are somehow in control of their lives can justify withholding something back for themselves.
Let me pause for a moment and ask you this question—If indeed you do hold something back from the Lord, what can you actually do with it? What can you truly do with that piece or that part of you you have decided to withhold from the Lord? Do you honestly think you can do more with that piece you have decided to withhold from the Lord above and rather than giving it unto Him? Is it possible that Ananias and Sapphira actually believed they could do more with that portion they kept back for themselves than the Lord could? What is the difference between the Lord’s will for that final piece you have decided to withhold and your own will and agenda for it? There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder what plans Ananias and Sapphira had for that portion they withheld and kept back for themselves. While this will never be known, what can be known is what plans you may have for that piece of your heart you have decided to withhold from the Lord. What can be known is what plans you have for that piece of your life you have decided to keep back and withhold from the Lord. Do you actually and honestly believe that you can do more with that portion you have chosen to keep back for yourself than the Lord can? Oh that we would recognize the deceit of the adversary into tempting us to believe we can hold on to parts of our heart, parts of our life, parts of our mind, parts of our family, parts of our ministry, parts of our marriage, parts of our soul and spirit. Ananias and Sapphira not only believed they could withhold a portion of the price back for themselves, but could enter into the house of the Lord and act as though nothing was wrong. Lest we be so bold and brash to point the finger of judgment and condemnation at them, we must first look at our own hearts and lives and see if we are guilty of the same thing. Their actions took place not in the streets, but in the very house of the Lord, as they were both part of the early church. If we are going to recognize the activity of Satan within our lives and within the church, we must take a long hard long at this passage, and examine whether or not we have been deceived into believing the lie that we can withhold and keep a part of ourselves back from the Lord, and then enter into the house of the Lord as if we are offering everything to Him.
WHEN THE LORD PUTS TO DEATH ALL THE GAMES PLAYED IN HIS PRESENCE. This line of thought it actually quite interesting when you consider it in light of your own life. In the fifth chapter of the book of Acts we find Ananias and Sapphira conspiring together to lie to the Holy Spirit about what they were actually bringing into the house of the Lord. It is true that when Ananias entered the house of the Lord, he did enter bringing a gift and offering with him. It is true that when he entered into the house of the Lord, he entered with something to offer and present before the Lord. The truth of the matter is that offering in and of itself is simply not enough when entering into the presence of the Lord. It is incredibly easy to bring an offering into the house of the Lord, and even to present that offering unto the Lord. What we must recognize and realize is that what must accompany that offering is a deep honesty, a deep and abiding character and integrity that surrounds it. Offering is not enough, for the Lord doesn’t merely look at the gift which is being presented unto Him. Even the offering and sacrifice of Jesus Christ upon the cross wasn’t enough, for the Lord didn’t look at the offering and sacrifice alone—He looked at and examined the sacrifice itself. Remember that it is written of Jesus that He knew no sin and therefore became sin for us. Remember the words of John the Baptist when he spoke of Jesus as being the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world. In fact, if you study the history of the sacrificial system as first found within the Old Testament, you will find that in order for a lamb to be presented upon the altar as an offering and sacrifice, that lamb must be without blemish. There must have been no deformities, injuries, spots or wrinkles within and upon that lamb, and only after inspecting the offering was it then qualified to be placed upon the altar, and even this only after it was killed beforehand. When Jesus Christ hung their naked and bleeding upon the cross atop Calvary, His offering and sacrifice wasn’t enough, for it was His life that qualified the offering as being holy and acceptable before the Lord. “I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable unto the Lord, which is your reasonable service.” We tend to focus on the sacrifice part while neglecting and ignoring the “living part,” and even more than the “living” part, we neglect the “holy and acceptable” part.
Jesus was able to hang there upon the cross of Calvary as an acceptable offering and sacrifice because of the life He lived—because He knew no sin, yet became sin and took upon Himself the sin of the world. Were it not for Jesus’ complete holiness, purity, righteousness and obedience before the Father, His sacrifice upon the cross would have been utterly and completely worthless and meaningless. I have already said it once, yet it bears repeating again—“Sacrifice alone isn’t enough!” “Offering alone isn’t enough.” Jesus’ sacrifice upon the cross of Calvary was holy and acceptable before the Father because Jesus Himself was holy and acceptable before the Father. Had Jesus Christ been crucified upon the cross without and apart from living a sinless and spotless life—even His sacrifice and offering would have been utterly and completely worthless. When the Father looked at His Son, He didn’t just look at the sacrifice upon the cross, but He looked at the quality of the sacrifice as well. Oh, how many times do we focus solely on the sacrifice we bring unto the Lord, while completely neglecting and ignoring the quality of such a sacrifice? How many times do we think we can bring anything we want into the house of the Lord and before the throne of God without examining our own hearts, our own thoughts and intents, and our own life before the Lord. The offering Ananias brought before the Lord wasn’t enough, for although he did indeed bring an offering before the Lord, that offering was accompanied by dishonesty and deceit as Ananias sought to deceive and lie to the Holy Ghost. Oh, how many times are the offerings we bring before the Lord ushered and accompanied by dishonesty and deceit? How many times do we bring offerings and sacrifices and gifts into the presence of the Lord without and apart from honesty before the Lord? The offering Ananias brought before the Lord wasn’t acceptable by Him because the Lord saw straight through the charade and façade he attempted to present along with the offering. Oh, it is incredibly dangerous when the offerings and sacrifices we bring are accompanied by charades, facades and smoke and mirrors intended on concealing our own dishonesty and deceit. We spend so much time focusing on the gifts and offerings we bring to the Lord, while completely neglecting and ignoring the quality of the life presenting and bring the offering unto the Lord.
I can’t help but be reminded of the words which Samuel spoke to Saul after Saul had deliberately disobeyed the voice and word of the Lord, and then attempted to justify it by speaking the language of offering and sacrifice. “Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than to sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry” (1 Samuel 15:22-23). These words also bring to remembrance the words which David spoke before the Lord as he repented of his adultery, his deception, and murder. “O Lord, opens thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise. For thou desires not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (Psalm 51:15-17). These words also remind me of the prophetic words which the prophet Micah spoke which are recorded in the sixth chapter of the book which bears his name. “Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? HE hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God” (Micah 6:6-8). We dare not miss the significance and importance of these passages, for they reveal a tremendous truth—the truth that sacrifice and offering alone is not enough to please the Lord. Through these passages we come face to face with the reality that sacrifice and offering must be accompanied by obedience. When we appear before the Lord bringing sacrifices and offerings before Him, we must recognize that what He desires and delights in more than said sacrifices and offerings are a broken heart and a contrite spirit. What the Lord desires above sacrifice and offering is to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God. Sacrifice and offering simply are not enough—a reality which Ananias was confronted with when he entered into the house of the Lord and appeared before the apostles and the saints of God. Ananias thought the offering he had brought to the Lord was enough—this despite the face that his offering was accompanied by dishonesty and deceit. It’s interesting and worth noting that the Holy Spirit saw the dishonesty, the deceit and the falsehood above and beyond, and more than the offering itself. Little did Ananias know that the Holy Spirit would shine a giant spotlight on the dishonesty and deceit that accompanied the gift he brought to the house of the Lord, and would strike him dead in the house of the Lord.
It is necessary to examine the words of the prophet Malachi as recorded in the final book of the Old Testament, for through. Malachi, the Lord confronted a corrupt priesthood that was presenting polluted sacrifices before Him on His holy altar. “A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master. IF then I be a father, where is mine honour? And if I be a master, where is my fear? Saith the Lord of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name? Ye offer polluted breach upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? IN that ye say, The table of the Lord is contemptible. And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice is it not evil? And if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? Offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? Saith the Lord of hosts. And now, I pray you, beseeech God that He will be gracious unto us; this hath been by your means: Will He regard your persons? Saith the Lord of hosts. Who is there even among you that would shut the doors for nought? Neither do ye kindle fire on mine altar for nought. I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord of hosts, neither will I accept an offering at your hand. For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same, my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the Lord of hosts. But ye have profaned it, in that ye say, The table of the Lord is polluted; and the fruit thereof, even his meat, is contemptible. Ye said also, behold, what a weariness is it! And ye have snuffed at it, saith the Lord of hosts; and ye brought that which was torn, and the lame, and the sick; thus ye brought an offering: should I accept this of your hand? Saith the Lord. But curse be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and cometh, and sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing: For I am a great King, saith the Lord of hosts, and my name is dreadful among the heath” (Malachi 1:6-14). These words also bring to mind the words which the prophet Isaiah spoke, which are recorded in the first chapter of the prophetic book which bears his name, and the first book of the prophetic literature of Scripture. “Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; Give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah. TO what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? Saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. When ye come to appear before me, who hath require this at your hand, to tread my courts? Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and Sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. Wash you, make you clean; bout away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow” (Isaiah 1:1-17).
The Holy Spirit struck Ananias and his wife Sapphira down dead in the house of the Lord before the apostles and saints, for the Holy Spirit was seeking to make something powerfully and wonderfully clear. When you come into the house of the Lord, and when you bring your offering with you to present before the Lord, the Lord looks beyond the offering you bring, and looks upon the heart and the life of the one who has brought the offering. The Spirit of the Lord revealed on that day that offering for the sake of offering was not enough, for the Lord delights not in offering alone. I have said it once, and I will say it again—not even the sacrifice and offering of Jesus Christ upon the cross was enough before the Lord. The offering and sacrifice of Jesus was only acceptable and pleasing before the Lord because of the life He lived upon the earth for thirty-three and a half years. It was the life of Jesus which qualified the offering and sacrifice He presented to the Father to be acceptable and pleasing in His sight. We must recognize and come to the realization that offering for the sake of offering is simply not enough, for the Lord looks beyond the offering and sacrifice to the heart of the man or woman who has brought it. If we are going to understand the activity of Satan within the early church, we must recognize and understand that he will seek to fill our hearts so as to deceive us into believing that sacrifice and offering are enough. The adversary will seek to so fill our hearts in order to bring us to the place where we believe we can bring our offering(s) and sacrifice(s) unto the Lord while accompanying them with dishonesty and deceit. The adversary will so fill our hearts so as to tempt us to lie to (or attempt to lie to) the Holy Spirit regarding our offering. Ananias agreed and conspired together with his wife to lie to the Holy Spirit, and entered into the house of the Lord intending on deceiving those present concerning the gift and offering they brought before the Lord. We play a dangerous game—especially in the house of the Lord—when we fail to discern that sacrifice and offering simply is not enough. The Lord doesn’t just look at the offering we bring before Him in the house of the Lord—the tithe we bring, the words we sing and speak with our lips, the lifting up of our hands, the prayers we pray, and the like. The Lord looks upon our heart, and what does He desire from us, but obedience, a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Ananias entered the house of the Lord with more than just his offering, for he entered in with rebellion, with disobedience, with transgression, and perhaps even idolatry, as he and his wife allowed that portion they kept back to become valuable and precious in their sight.
Oh that we would recognize that it is idolatry at its finest when we attempt to withhold a portion of ourselves from the Lord. When we deliberately and intentionally choose to withhold a piece and portion of ourselves back from the Lord, what we are actually saying is that that piece of us is more valuable than the Lord Himself. If the Lord was truly the most valuable and most precious possession in our lives, we would have absolutely no quarrel with offering and presenting unto Him everything within our lives. It is idolatry that will keep us from offering our whole heart to the Lord in His presence. It is idolatry that will keep us from offering our whole life to the Lord in His presence. Do you know that your own heart can be an idol in your life, for anything you are unwilling to release into the hands of the Lord is an idol. Do you know that your own life can be an idol within your heart, for that which we are unwilling to release into the hands of the Lord is an idol. Oh, what idols have you set up and established within your heart this day? That portion of the price which Ananias and Sapphira withheld and kept back from the Lord proved to be an idol within their hearts and lives. PRESENTING OFFERINGS TO THE LORD WHILE HOLDING ON TO IDOLS AT HOME. How many times do we enter into the house of the Lord presenting our offerings and gifts to him, while still holding on to and maintaining both idols and altars within our homes? There is hope for this type of thinking, and for this type of lifestyle—hope that lies in developing a deep and undying love and affection for the Lord. The adversary can and will seek to do anything and everything to cool our vibrant and hot love for the Lord, for he is aware that if he is able to do it, he can drastically and dramatically alter the offerings we bring unto Him. There is a reason Jesus spoke concerning the love of many growing cold in the Last Days, and why Paul wrote that in the last days men will be lovers of pleasures, lovers of self, and lovers of money more than lovers of God. “Hear, O Israel, the Lord your God is One.” We must love the Lord our God with all of our heart, with all of our soul, with all of our mind, and with all of our strength. If you truly love the Lord with all your heart, it will be utterly and completely impossible for you to withhold anything from Him. OH that we would ask the Holy Spirit to give us a deep and undying love and affection for the Lord our God, and that we would work diligently to guard, to protect, and to preserve that love and affection.
I cannot seem to escape the reality that sacrifice simply isn’t enough when entering into the house of the Lord. It is true that we are called to appear before the Lord bringing our gifts, our tithes and our offerings with us, but I would dare say that there are far too many times when we focus more of our attention on the offerings we bring rather than on the one who is bringing the offering. When we enter into the house of the Lord, and when we bring our gifts before Him, we must recognize and understand that He doesn’t simply look at and examine the sacrifice and offering we bring alone. I still hold to the profound truth that even the sacrifice and offering of Jesus upon the cross of Calvary was not enough. It wasn’t enough for Jesus to allow His hands to be nailed to the cross beam of the wooden cross. It wasn’t enough for Jesus to have His feet nailed to the vertical beam of the wooden cross. It wasn’t enough for Jesus to hang there upon the cross naked, bleeding, tired, weary, and alone. In fact, it wasn’t even His willingness to be nailed to the cross that enabled the sacrifice to be acceptable in the sight of our God and Father. What enabled Jesus’ sacrifice and offering to be acceptable before our God and Father was the life He lived leading up to and prior to being nailed to that tree. It was the life Jesus lived—both the life He lived for thirty years in the town of Nazareth, as well as the public life He lived for those three and a half years of public ministry. It was not the sacrifice alone that was pleasing in the sight of the Lord, but the life He deliberately and intentionally chose to live prior to being betrayed into the hands of sinners, tried both privately and publicly, publicly persecuted and beaten, and finally nailed to a cruel Roman tree. Jesus could have been nailed to the cross at a very early age, yet it pleased the Father to wait thirty-three and a half years before placing His one and only begotten Son upon the cross of Calvary. There was a deliberate and intentional plan within the heart of the Father concerning the sacrifice and death of His only begotten Son—a plan that would require Him to live in isolation and seclusion for thirty years before being launched and thrust into public ministry. On that fateful day nearly two thousand years ago, there hung three men—each naked, alone and bleeding upon crosses atop Calvary. Of those three men, only one was qualified and positioned to be able to offer Himself as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto the Lord. There was one fundamental difference between the other two men who hung their dying next to Jesus—this in spite of the fact that one not only found repentance, but also found eternal life. That fundamental difference was found in the wonderful reality that He who knew no sin became sin in order that in His physical body He might destroy the power of sin and death.
The more I consider Ananias’ entrance into the house of the Lord, and the “offering” and “gift” he brought with him, the more I am gripped with the thought that he actually believed that his offering and gift would be accepted by the Lord. I can’t help but be reminded of the Old Testament account of Cain and Able, and how both sons of Adam and Eve presented their offerings to the Lord. “And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord. And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground and offering unto the Lord. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: but unto Cain and to his offering He had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? And why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt ruler over him. And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and slew him” (Genesis 4:1-9). Both Cain and his brother Abel brought offerings unto the Lord, yet only Abel’s offering was actually accepted. Despite the fact that both brothers brought offerings to the Lord, only one offering was actually accepted by the Lord. I can’t help but see within this passage a prophetic picture concerning countless men and women in our generation who enter into the house of the Lord with their sacrifices, their gifts, and their offerings, and yet not everyone’s said gifts or offerings are accepted by the Lord. Ananias entered into the house of the Lord with what he believed to be a special offering and gift before the Lord, yet not only was his offering not accepted, the Spirit called out his deception and falsehood, and he was struck dead before all who were present that day. If there is one underlying principle we must understand and recognize, it’s that the Lord looks beyond anything we may bring before Him into His holy house, and looks straight to the condition of our hearts. It doesn’t matter what offering(s) or gift(s) we bring before the Lord, or how elaborate or large they may be. I am sure the offering Ananias brought before the Lord was a substantial sum, yet his offering and gift was rejected by the Lord. What’s more, is that both the offering and the offerer were both rejected, while the one who brought the offering was struck dead by the Holy Spirit.
Ananias and Sapphira join a small group of individuals within Scripture who were struck down dead for a variety of actions. The first was found in the tenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Leviticus in the account of two of Aaron’s sons—Nadab and Abihu. “And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which He commanded them not. And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord. Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the Lord spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace. And Moses called MIshael and ELzaphan, the sons of Uzziel the uncle of Aaron, and said unto them, Come near, carry your brethren from before the sanctuary out of the camp. So they went near, and carried them in their coats out of the camp; as Moses had said” (Leviticus 10:1-5). The second account is found in the thirteenth chapter of the book of First Chronicles (it is also found in the book of Second Samuel as well). “And David consulted with the captains of thousands and hundred, and with every leader. And David said unto all the congregation of Israel, IF it seem good unto you, and that it be of the Lord our God, let us send abroad unto our brethren every where, that are left in all the land of Israel, and with them also to the priests and Levites which are in their cities and suburbs, that they may gather themselves unto us: and let us bring again the ark of our God to us: for we inquired not at it in the days of Saul. And all the congregation said that they would do so: for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people. So David gathered all Israel together, from Shihor of Egypt even unto the entering of Hemath, to bring the ark of God from Kirjath-Jeanie. And David went up, and all israel, to Baalah, that is, to Kirjath-Jeanie, which belonged to Judah, to bring up thence the ark of God the Lord, that dwelleth between the churning, whose name is called on it. And they carried the ark of God in a new cart out of the house of Abinadab: and Uzzah and Ahio drive the cart. And David al all Israel played before God with all their might, and with singing, and with harps, and with psalteries, and with timbres, and with cymbals, and with trumpets. And when they came unto the threshingfloor of Chidon, uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark; for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzza, and He smote hi, because he put his hand to the ark: and there he died before God. And David was displeased, because the Lord had made a breach upon Uzza: wherefore that place is called Perez-zzz to this day” (1 Chronicles 13:1-11). Both Nadab and Abihu, and now Uzza were struck down by the Lord—each for two different, yet deeply profound reasons. Nadab and Abihu were struck dead for offering strange fire before the Lord. Uzza was struck dead for stretching forth his hand to touch the Ark of the God. Ananias and his wife were both struck dead because they conspired together to lie to and tempt the Holy Spirit.
If these three accounts reveal anything to us in this generation, it should be that when it comes to worship of the Lord our God, there is absolutely no tolerance for any games. Could you imagine if the Spirit of the Lord struck down dead each and every individual who entered into the house of the Lord to play games. What would it be like if the Spirit of the Lord struck down dead every minister or congregant alike who offered up strange fire before the Lord? What would it be like if the Spirit of the Lord struck down each and every individual who entered into he house of the Lord and attempted to lie to and deceive the Holy Spirit in matters of worship. While I do not believe the Holy Spirit of God can or will strike down dead those who may enter into His holy courts as He did Ananias and Sapphira, I am convinced that the account of their lives stands as a very strong and powerful warning to us concerning the offerings and sacrifices we bring before the Lord. Let us not become so deceived into believing the lie that gifts and offerings alone are enough before the Lord. Let us not believe the lie that it is enough to bring our gifts and offerings before the Lord, and that what we bring before Him can and will be regarded and accepted. The truth of the matter is that the offering and gift alone are not enough, for the Lord looks beyond the external manifestation and reality we attempt to bring before Him. The activity of Satan can and will be manifested in the house of the Lord through the lives of those who believe they can lie to and somehow deceive the Holy Spirit regarding the offerings and gifts they bring into His presence. IF there is one thing the account of Ananias and Sapphira reveals, it’s that it is possible for men and women to enter into the house of the Lord, and attempt to lie to the Holy Spirit. It is possible for men and women to enter into the house of the Lord and attempt to lie to the Holy Spirit about what they are actually bringing before Him in the holy courts of the Lord. Oh, it is true we may be able to lie to, deceive and fool those around us in the pews and pulpit of the house of the Lord, but we cannot lie to the Holy Spirit. Satan’s activity was manifested in the early church through one couple who agreed to conspire together to lie to the Holy Spirit concerning what they were actually bringing to the Lord. I do not believe Ananias or his wife believed or even thought they could or would be lying to the Holy Spirit, yet Peter asked Ananias point blank how Satan had so filled his heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back a portion of the price for himself and his wife. Oh, we may be able to lie to and fool man for a little while, but we like naked and bare, exposed and revealed before the Holy One who sits upon the throne in heaven. We must guard our hearts and our minds from allowing the adversary to so fill them to the point where we actually believe we can lie to and attempt to deceive the Holy Spirit concerning our worship of the Father.
Our worship stands naked and open, bare and exposed before the One who sits upon the throne, and the Lord examines our heart when we enter into His presence. Lest you think anything differently, consider the words of the prophet Isaiah, which were echoed and repeated by Jesus Himself when speaking to His disciples and followers. “Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among the people, even a marvelous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid” (Isaiah 29:13-14). Consider also Jesus’ words as recorded in the fifteenth chapter of the gospel account of His life as recorded by Matthew—“But He answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honour thy fathers and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited but me; and honour not his father, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:3-9). Jesus referenced words which were proclaimed by the prophet Isaiah centuries earlier when speaking to the religious system of His day, and confronted the stark reality that they were drawing near to the Lord with their lips only, while their hearts were far from Him. Ananias and Sapphira attempted to draw near to the Lord with the offering and price they brought before Him in His holy house, yet their hearts were far from Him. That heart which is near the Lord cannot and will not attempt to lie to or attempt to deceive the Holy Spirit concerning that which is brought into the presence of the Lord. Oh that the Spirit of the Lord would expose me within my own life and reveal any and all ways I have drawn or am drawing near the Lord with my lips, while my heart is far from the Lord. Let us this day guard our hearts and our minds, so as to not allow the adversary to fill our hearts causing us to believe the deception that we can lie to the Holy Spirit. Let us recognize and understand the activity of the adversary in the house of the Lord, and how he can and will attempt to distort and destroy our worship by making us believe we can enter into the presence of the Lord and lie about what we are actually bringing before Him. UNDERSTANDING THE TRUTH AND TESTIMONY OF YOUR OFFERING! Oh that we would understand that truth and testimony of our offering, for more often than not it is that which is not seen or visible to the naked and observing eye that is the true account of our offering. There is nothing hidden that cannot be exposed and revealed by the Holy Spirit, and we should strive with all diligence to be open, honest and truthful when we enter into the house of the Lord with our gifts and offerings.
- Thus far, we have delved deep into a variety of passages throughout Scripture exploring the various stands Satan has taken throughout history in the lives of men. We began this journey in the eternal realm and courts of heaven where he led a rebellion and insurrection against the throne of God. We continued to the earth where we discovered his assault against the first man and the first woman through temptation in the garden. We transitioned only three chapters within the same Old Testament book of Genesis and discovered his activity in the earth through the corruption of the seed of men by bringing forth the nephilim. His activity continued to be manifested and displayed in the earth through the life of Job when not once, but twice, he sought permission from the Lord to stretch forth his hand upon Job. This activity would be manifested centuries later in the life of David king of Israel as Satan stood up against Israel and provoked David to number all Israel. His activity is again found and displayed in the prophetic vision Zechariah saw of Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the Lord with Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. When we moved beyond the Old Testament into the New Testament, we find his activity once more manifested, yet first manifested in the life of Jesus as he tempted Him three times while in the wilderness. As you continue to study the New Testament, you will discover Satan’s activity as being manifested within the Upper Room where Jesus partook of the Passover meal with His twelve disciples. His activity was seen in his desire to have Peter that he might sift him as wheat, and in his entering into Judas just before he would betray the Son of man into the hands of sinners. His activity is seen in a variety of other places in the four gospels—in his binding of the woman for eighteen years, in his falling like lightning from heaven, and in Jesus’ rebuke of Satan when speaking to Peter. When you come to the book of Acts, you will again find his activity manifested—this time in the lives of Ananias and Sapphira. It was Satan who Peter had declared so filled his heart to conspire together to lie to the Holy Spirit. As you continue to study the Scripture—particularly the New Testament—you will discover that Satan’s activity is no long spoken of in connection with specific individuals, but in connection with the saints of God. In fact, the apostle wrote to the Roman congregation concerning the God of peace soon crushing Satan under their feet. The apostle Peter also wrote of our adversary prowling around like a raging lion seeking whom he may devour, while James encouraged us to submit ourselves to God, to resist the devil and he will flee from us. There is much to be said and spoken of concerning the activity of Satan within the New Testament, and his activity within our lives, and within the earth. It is absolutely undeniable and unmistakable that the activity of is definitely present and manifested within the earth as expressed and revealed through Scripture.