Quit Playing Games With God & Lying to the Holy Ghost: Are You Afraid of the Cost of Community & Giving All

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the spiritual body of Jesus the Christ—the early church which was birthed on the day of Pentecost—as written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first sixteen verses of the fifth chapter. When you come to this particular portion of scripture you will come to what is perhaps one of the most astonishing and remarkable passages in the entire book of Acts. As I stand here this morning I can’t help but glimpse back upon the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ and notice that what we find in the opening verses of the fifth chapter did not occur one time within and during the life and ministry of Jesus. If you take the time to read the words found in this passage and consider and compete it with the four gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus you will find that not one during His entire life and public ministry do we find the events which took place in this chapter—or anything like it—taking place at all while He walked the earth. It is actually quite interesting and astonishing to read the words which are found in the opening verses of the fifth chapter and uncover the tremendous truth that very early on during the days of the early church it was demonstrated and manifested that the Holy Spirit was not one to trifle or play games with. As you read the words found within the opening verses of this chapter you will encounter an event that may completely and utterly shock you—particularly and especially considering the fact that you most likely have not heard of anything happening since then. What’s more, is that as you read the words found in this passage you will find that such an event which you read about here most likely has not happened in your lifetime. I grew up in the church and grew up in the home of a pastor and minister, and in the various churches my dad served in I never witnessed, nor did I ever behold anything like what took place in the book of Acts taking place in any of those churches. What’s more, is that I attended and graduated from bible college and during the four years I attended this college I never witnessed anything like what we find and read in this passage taking place or occurring at all during my tenure there. There was not a single time during my time growing up in the church, nor during my time in bible college that I ever saw or beheld such an event like that which took place during the days of the early church. In all reality we might very well say that we neither have a context nor a framework for what we read in this chapter, for it occurs and takes place within the context of the early church during the days of the apostles.

I stand here this morning thinking about and considering the words which are found in the opening verses of the fifth chapter and I can’t help but get the strong sense that almost immediately during the days of the early church the Holy Spirit sought to drive a very specific point home to all those who believed on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, those who were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and those who continued daily with the believers and in the apostles’ teaching. I cannot help but get the strong sense within my heart and spirit that what we find and what we read in this passage—even though we might not have a modern context and framework for it in our generation—is a powerful message which the very Spirit of Christ sought to teach the early believers. In all reality, I almost get the sense that what we find and what we read here bears a strong semblance and similarity to what we find and read within the Old Testament during the days of Moses and Aaron and the children of Israel being led through the wilderness. As I read and consider the words which are found within the opening verses of the fifth chapter of the book of Acts I can’t help but think about and be reminded of the words which Moses recorded in the Old Testament concerning two sons of Aaron who had the responsibility of ministering before the Lord within His holy Tabernacle. In all reality I would dare say that if we want to get a true understanding of what we find and read in the fifth chapter of the book of Acts is a wonderful and powerful reminder of what we also find in the Old Testament books of the Torah. If you take the time to read and study that which took place during the days of Moses and Aaron, as well as during the days of the Tabernacle you will quickly encounter and come face to face with the reality that during the days of the beginning of the ministry of the Tabernacle the living God Himself spoke and revealed a similar message to Moses, to Aaron, to the sons of Aaron, as well as to each and every one of the children of Israel. There is something about beginnings and something about the beginning of works that almost seems to warrant a powerful warning from the living God concerning honoring His holiness and honoring His glory. Furthermore, there almost seems to be the sense that during the days of beginning the living God seeks to call the attention of men and women to the honor of His holiness and the honor of His glory in order that they might respect and revere it. I would dare say that it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and honor the incredible importance of honoring and respecting the glory and holiness of the living God and how there is a gee tree at emphasis that is placed on such a reality—not only within the Old Testament under the Old covenant, but also in the New Testament under the new covenant.

I engage myself in this writing this morning and I come face to face with the incredible reality that when we consider the days of the first dwelling place of God in the earth—at least in the corporate sense of community—we find the living God making a very clear point that His glory and His honor was not something to trifle with, nor was it something to play games with. What’s more, is when you come to the days of the early church—the days of the living Temple of the Holy Spirit within and upon the earth—you will find the Spirit of the same God who in the Old Testament made and example of Nadab and Abihu who were the sons of Aaron maki a similar statement during the days of the early church and Temple of the Holy Spirit. It might very well be said that there was another example found within the Old Testament that might very well be considered in light of what we find in the fifth chapter of the book of Acts. If you read the Old Testament book of Second Samuel and Books of the Chronicles you will encounter the account of a man by the name of Uzzah who the Lord also used to teach a powerful example unto David and those who dared interact with the Ark of the Covenant. If there is one thing we must recognize and understand it’s that when we are dealing with the glory and holiness of God—neither are matters we are to trifle or play games with. Throughout Scripture the Spirit of the living God has made it perfectly and abundantly clear that the living God is incredibly passionate about His glory, His honor, and His name, and is unwilling to allow men and women to disrespect and play games in His presence. If we are being honest when we consider each of these three accounts we must acknowledge and admit that the one theme and reality they each had in common was interaction and contact with the presence and glory of the living God. Whether it was Nadab and Abihu during the days of the Tabernacle of Moses, or Uzzah during the days between the Tabernacle and the Temple, or Ananias and Sapphira you have to come face to face with the realization that the glory and presence of the living God is not something to treat and take lightly. Years ago there was a secular boy band who wrote and sang a song that bore the title “Quit Playing Games With My Heart,” and while I do not for one minute believe this song has anything to do with what we are considering now, I believe there is something to be said about the Spirit of the living God declaring unto those who would believe in and those who would follow Him concerning the reality of quit playing games with my holiness. Or perhaps it might very well be said the Spirit of the living God is speaking unto the believers and followers of Jesus the Christ and instructing and warning them to quit playing games with His glory. Even more than this we might also get the sense that the Spirit of the living God is speaking unto the church and assembly of believers in this generation—not only to quit playing games with His presence, but also to quit playing games in His presence. We dare not, we cannot, we must not miss and lose sight of this all important reality, for if there is one thing we must learn and understand it’s that the living God does not treat casual handling of His glory, His holiness and His presence lightly. If there is one thing these three accounts demonstrate and reveal unto us as the saints and followers of the living God, it’s that the Spirit of the living God can and will speak directly unto us concerning how we handle the glory and presence of the living God in our generation. We dare not miss this point, for to do so would make all the difference between a being able to stand in the presence of the living God and our inability to do so.

Before we delve into the words which are written and recorded within the fifth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts I am convinced that we must first journey back into the Old Testament and into the days of the Old Covenant. It is in the days of the Old Testament and Old Covenant—specifically the days of the Tabernacle of Moses during its days of inception—that contains a powerful warning and word of caution concerning us who would dare allow ourselves to enter into, experience and encounter the presence and glory of the living God. I can’t help but get the strong sense that perhaps one of the single greatest messages the church and body of believers in this generation needs to hear is that of playing games in and playing games with the holiness, the glory and the presence of the living God. Throughout history there have been times when men and women have dared play games in and play games with the presence and glory of the living God, and while we might not know of anything like what took place in Scripture occurring within their lives, we must nonetheless know of a certainty that there is something that must be noted and must be expressed concerning the glory and holiness of the living God, and His presence. If such examples and accounts are found within the sacred pages and texts of the holy Scripture, I would dare say that they are there for our admonition, for our warning, for our instruction, and for our knowledge. In fact—even before I get into the account of Nadab and Abihu in the Old Testament—I feel it necessary and imperative to call your attention to the words which the apostle Paul wrote in his first epistle which was written unto the saints which were in Corinth. I believe it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we consider the words he penned in this epistle, for it helps set the stage and context for what we will read concerning Nadab and Abihu, as well as concerning Uzzah who dared stretch forth his hand to steady the Ark of the Covenant. If you begin reading with and from the first verse of the tent chapter of the first New Testament epistle written unto the Corinthian saints you will find the following words which were written concerning the example and account of the children of Israel during the days of Moses and Aaron, during the days of the wilderness wandering, as well as during the days of the Tabernacle which stood at the center of the camp of Israel in the wilderness. The following words were written by the hand of the apostle Paul when writing unto the Corinthian saints and must be carefully considered before moving any further in this writing:

“Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. NOW THESE THINGS WERE OUR EXAMPLES, TO THE INTENT WE SHOULD NOT LUST AFTER EVIL THINGS, AS THEY ALSO LUSTED. NEITHER BE YE IDOLATERS, AS WERE SOME OF THEM; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed,a Nd fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmured ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. NOW ALL THESE THINGS HAPPENED UNTO THEM FOR ENSAMPLES: AND THEY ARE WRITTEN FOR OUR ADMONITION, UPON WHOM THE ENDS OF THE WORLD ARE COME. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say” (1 Corinthians 10:1-15).

It is quite clear from the words which the apostle Paul wrote in this passage of Scripture that those things which were written in the Old Testament and those things which pertained to the Old Covenant were written unto us as ensamples and examples concerning how we ought to live during the days of the end of the times. The apostle Paul makes it very clear that what we find and what we read in the Old Testament are powerful accounts and powerful examples of how we ought to live, and what we ought to abstain from if we want to live lives which are pleasing in the sight of the living God. As you read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture you will notice the apostle declaring unto the Corinthians that these things were our examples that we should not lust after everlasting things as they also lusted. What we must realize is that the apostle didn’t merely write about not lusting after evil things as they lusted, but he would go on to provide other examples for us which we should pay close attention to and follow. If you continue reading the words which are found within this passage of Scripture you will find the apostle Paul going on to write that the words which were written concerning their example were written that we should not be idolaters, as were some of them, nor that we should commit fornication, and some of them committed, and there fell in one day three and twenty thousand. What’s more, is the fact that the apostle Paul would go on to write that what we find and read from their account is an example unto us that we should not tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents, nor should we murmur as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. LUST OF EVIL THINGS! IDOLATRY! FORNICATION! TEMPTING CHRIST! MURMURING! These were the realities which the apostle Paul wrote and spoke about in this passage of Scripture when writing unto the Corinthians saints, and it warrants strong and careful consideration by us in this generation, for we must take a look at that which was written concerning the children of Israel during the days of the Old Testament and Old Covenant, for it is what we find and what we read concerning them that brings us face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that the Old Testament is replete with examples and accounts of how the children of Israel disobeyed the living God, played games with His holiness and glory, and even played games with His presence and inheritance, and found themselves facing and experiencing judgment at the hand of the living God. If there is one thing we must consider before moving to the account of Nadab and Abihu it’s that what we read concerning the account of their lives—as well as their deaths—is not merely a story and account found within the Old Testament, but was in act written for our admonition and for our warning that we might take and learn from their example. With that being said, I would like to call and draw your attention to the words which are found concerning their lives and deaths in the Old Testament book of Leviticus:

“And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense therein, 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 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. So they went near, and carried them in their coats out of the camp; as Moses had said. And Moses said unto Aaron, and unto Eleanor and unto Ithamar, his sons, Uncover not your heads, neither rend your clothes; lest ye die, and lest wrath come upon all the people: but let your brethren, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning which the Lord hath kindled. And ye shall not go out from the door of the Tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: for the anointing oil of the Lord is upon you. And they did according to the word of Moses” (Leviticus 10:1-7).

The account of Nadab and Abihu took place and occurred during the early days of the Tabernacle of Moses which stood as the house of the glory and presence of the living God in the midst of the children of Israel, and what happened to them served as a powerful warning and word of caution to the children of Israel concerning their fear in the sight and presence of the living God. In fact, if you read the words which Moses spoke unto Aaron after Nadab and Abihu were slain in the presence of the living God you will find him declaring that what happened to these two sons was that which the Lord spake, saying that He would be sanctified in them that come near him, and before all the people He would be glorified. Make not mistake about it when reading the words which are found within this passage of Scripture, for when you read the words found within it you will find Moses emphatically declaring unto Aaron that what he and the children of Israel witnessed and beheld was that which the living and holy God spoke concerning the need for Him to be sanctified by those who would dare come near Him, and how before all the people He would and must be glorified. The account of Nadab and Abihu might seem a bit extreme, and yet as you read the words which are found within this particular passage you will find that not only did they take their censers and put fire therein, and not only did they put incense therein, but they offered strange fire before the Lord which He commanded them not. There would be the tendency to focus solely on the fire whjch they offered before and in the presence of the Lord, and to focus solely on that as the underlying reality that must be considered, and yet the ultimate crux upon which this all hinges is actually upon the words “which He commanded them not.” The truth of the matter when considering the account of Nadab and Abihu is that that which they engaged themselves in, and that which they allowed themselves to do was that which the living God had not commanded. Essentially what they attempted to engage themselves in was operating outside of the parameters of the law and instruction of the living God, and authorizing their own rules concerning the Tabernacle, concerning fire, and concerning the holiness and glory of the living God. As you read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture you will come face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that what Nadab and Abihu were guilty of was operating outside the commandments and instruction of the Lord, and essentially taking matters into their own hands concerning that which was acceptable in the sight and presence of the living God. Oh there is something incredibly dangerous about being in the place where we think and feel we can decide what is and what might be acceptable in the sight and presence of the living God. There is something absolutely tragic about reaching the point within our lives when we no longer operate within the confines and boundaries of the commands of the Lord, and when we choose to operate within our own set of rules and regulations. Oh, I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the Lord spoke through His servant Moses concerning the mountain of God in the wilderness, and the word of caution which He spoke unto them concerning drawing near to Him outside the parameters and boundaries which He Himself had set and established:

“And the Lord said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes, and be ready against the third day: for the third day the Lord will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai. And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up unto the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death: there shall not an hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live: when the trumpet soundeth long, they shall come up to the mount. And Moses went down from the mount unto the people, and sanctified the people; and they washed their clothes. And he said unto the people, Be ready against the third day: come not at your wives. And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled. And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount. And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered Him by a voice. And the Lord came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the Lord called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up. And the Lord said unto Moses, Go down, charge the people, lest they break through unto the Lord to gaze, and many of them perish. And let the priests also, which come near to the Lord, sanctify themselves, lest the Lord break forth upon them. And Moses said unto the Lord, The people cannot come up to mount Sinai: for thou chargedst us, saying, Set bounds about the mount, and sanctify it. And the Lord said unto Him, Away, get thee down, and thou shalt come up, thou, and Aaron with thee: but let not the priests and the people break through to come up unto the Lord, lest He break forth upon them. So Moses went down unto the people, and spake unto them” (Exodus 19:10-25).

This passage together with the passage we find in the Old Testament book of Leviticus brings us face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that the Lord is very serious when it comes to His glory, His presence, and His holiness. When speaking unto Moses after Nadab and Abihu were slain in His presence the Lord declared that this is that which He spoke unto them concerning his being sanctified by those who would come near unto Him, and to be glorified by all the people. When speaking unto Moses concerning the mountain of God, the Lord gave specific instructions that the children of Israel were not to overstep the borders and boundaries which He had set up and established, and that by doing so they would automatically incur the judgment and wrath of the living God upon them. What’s more, is the Lord would go on to speak unto Moses and declare unto Him that neither any child of Israel, nor any of the priests which ministered before the Lord were to break through and come up in order that they might somehow gaze at the living God. Should any of the children of Israel, and should any of the priests make any attempt to break forth beyond and past the borders and boundaries the living God had set up and established, He would surely break forth against them. Oh, it is this awesome and incredible reality found within the account of Nadab and Abihu that help set the stage for what we find and read in the New Testament book of Acts, for what we find in the fifth chapter is the account of Ananias and Sapphira who were part of the early church. In order to truly understand that which we find in the fifth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts it is first necessary and imperative that we turn and direct our attention to what is found in the final verses of the fourth chapter. It is what we find in the final verses of the fourth chapter that helps set the stage and set the context for that which is written in the first eleven verses of the fifth chapter. What’s more is that I would dare say that we cannot truly understand the significance of what is found in the fifth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts without and apart from first considering the words which are found at the end of the fourth chapter. IF you begin reading with and from the thirty-second verse of the fourth chapter you will come face to face with and encounter the following words concerning the early church after they had prayed over the threatening of the religious council, and after the place where they were was shaken and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Consider if you will the words found within this passage, and keep them in the back of your mind when you come to 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 Barabas, (which is, being interpreted, The Son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought eh money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet” (Acts 4:32-36).

What you find at the end of the fourth chapter of the New Testament book fo Acts is a wonderful and powerful count of the unity and community of the early church, and how during the days of the early church there was not a single person who thought and believed that what they had was their own and belonged to them. If you read the words which are found within the his passage of Scripture you will find it written that all those in the days of the early church were of one heart and of one soul, and they had all things in common. What you find and read within these verses is the early church and those who had possessions and land selling them and bringing the proceeds unto the apostles and laying them at their feet. What’s more, is there was a man name Joses, whom the apostles surnamed Barnabas who had land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. IN order to understand that which we find and that which we read in the fifth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we must understand it in the context of those within the early church having land and/or possessions, selling that which they had, and then bringing the funds and proceeds unto the apostles and laying them at their feet. Even more than this, we must recognize and understand that when they sold land and/or possessions and received the proceeds, they brought the full amount of the proceeds unto the apostles and laid it at their feet. There is absolutely no indication when reading the words found int eh final verses of the fourth chapter that any of those in the early church sold land and/or possessions, received the proceeds and kept back a portion of the proceeds for themselves. There seems to be every indication that all those who had land and/or possessions and sold them brought the full amount of the proceeds unto the apostles and laid it at their feet in order that distribution might be given unto the early church as they had need. In all reality, it was not so much about selling land and or possessions that is the ultimate reality, but it touches on realities which are much greater and much deeper than that. When thinking about and considering this reality it is necessary to focus on the reality of the tremendous unity and selflessness that surrounds selling land and possessions and bringing the proceeds unto the apostles’ feet, for such actions wonderfully and powerful demonstrate a wonderful and powerful sense of unity and community among the early church. What’s more, is that what you find in the selling of land and/or possessions is that of living beyond yourself and choosing to connect yourself with those around you. What’s more, is that there is a certain selflessness that surrounds the willingness to not only sell land and/or possessions, but also to not even count that which you had in your possession as even belonging to you in the first place. There is something to be said about selling land and/or possessions and doing so—not only because you did not count it as yours in the first place, but also because you chose to align yourselves with others and have all things in common with them. The beloved physician Luke writes and records how not only did the early church have all things in common, but they were all of one heart and one mind. It was this having all things in common and being of one heart and one soul that allowed them to live in the place of selflessness and in the place where they did not count anything they had as their own, but belonging unto the Lord and unto the Lord’s people.

What was so dangerous about what Ananias and Sapphira did was that not only did they choose to sell a piece of property and printed to give the appearance and impression that they brought all the proceeds to the apostles, but they also lied unto and tempted the very Spirit of the living God. The apostle Peter makes it very clear when speaking unto Ananias that Satan filled his heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to. Keep back part of the price of the land. When speaking unto his wife who would come in after the space of about three hours, the apostle Peter would go on to speak unto her concerning agreeing with her husband to tempt the Holy Spirit. The incredible danger we find in the account of Ananias and Sapphira was not necessarily in holding back a portion of the proceeds, but in giving the appearance and giving the appearance that they were giving everything unto the Lord. Oh, I would dare say that this was true on multiple levels and ultimate fronts, for by choosing to withhold and keep back a portion of the proceeds for and unto themselves, they were giving the appearance that they were living in community and were living in harmony with those before and around them, and yet they were not. By keeping back a portion of the proceeds unto themselves and only bringing a portion of what they received unto the apostles demonstrates and reveals the awesome and dangerous reality that while they were giving the appearance and impression that they were living in community and were living for those around them, they were in all reality living for themselves, and themselves only. By holding and keeping back a portion of the proceeds for themselves, that which they were doing was not only lying to the Holy Spirit about giving everything to Him, but they were also lying to the Holy Spirit and to the church about being fully and wholeheartedly committed unto them. Their actions on this particular day demonstrated that while on the surface they were living in community with the believers, there was a part of themselves which was being held and kept back. I would dare say that by keeping back a portion of the proceeds there was something much deeper and something much greater taking place within their hearts and lives, and demonstrates the fact that they were withholding more than just monetary funds and proceeds from the early church and from the apostles. I firmly believe that what we find within this passage is an incredible and wonderful warning and word of caution concerning our giving the appearance that we are giving everything we have unto the living God, and yet inwardly and secretly we are holding something back. Perhaps the best question we must ask ourselves at this moment is what we are holding back from the living God, and what we are in all reality refusing and hesitant to give up and give unto Him fully and completely. Is there something—is there some part of us—we are holding back and are unwilling to give unto Him? Furthermore, when it comes to the reality of community, are we giving the appearance that we are living in community, and yet secretly and inwardly we are holding a portion of ourselves back from those around us? I would dare say that what we find and what we read in this passage of Scripture is not simply about money and material wealth, but about community and giving the appearance that we are wholeheartedly committed to community, and yet are secretly holding something back from those before and around us.

WITHHOLDING OURSELVES FROM COMMUNITY! THE APPEARANCE OF COMMUNITY WHILE HOLDING OUR HEARTS BACK! THE APPEARANCE OF COMMUNITY WHILE HOLDING OUR GIFTS BACK! At the end of the fourth chapter we find the early church being of one heart and being of one soul, and having all things in common. This discipline of having all things in common was what allowed those in the early church to not consider that which they had and held as belonging unto them, and to sell what they had, bring the proceeds unto the apostles, and allowing distribution to be given unto and made for the saints of God. What Ananias and Sapphira did was not simply withhold proceeds and funds, but also lying to the Holy Spirit. Not only did they lie to the Holy Spirit about what they were bringing and offering unto Him, but they were lying to the Holy Spirit about their true intentions for and with community. By holding and withholding a portion of the proceeds back for themselves this couple within the early church was demonstrating the reality that they weren’t fully and completely committed to community, and were choosing to still live for themselves and for their own needs and desires. That which we find in this passage is a wonderful and powerful picture of two in the early church who refused to truly and genuinely live in community with those before and those around them, and to live for themselves. Oh it was true that they did bring and they did give a portion of their funds unto the apostles, and it was true that they did in fact give a portion of themselves unto the church, however, the ultimate reality and expression they demonstrated and revealed was that they were withholding from community and were withholding from the church. Their actions demonstrated the tremendous reality that they were unwilling to fully and completely live in community and unity with the early church, and were still to some degree and some measure living for themselves and for their own needs, their own wants, their own desires, and their own pleasures. Oh that we would come face to face with this reality and not necessarily ask ourselves what we are bringing before the Lord strictly from a monetary point of view, but also what we are withholding. When we bring our tithes and offerings unto the Lord are we giving the appearance that we are bringing everything we have unto the Lord, or are we secretly holding and withholding a portion back for ourselves? When we engage ourselves in community and when we engage ourselves in the church and in the body, are we truly committing and giving ourselves to the body, or are we withholding a portion of ourselves. The question we must ask ourselves is our we secretly afraid of fully and completely committing ourselves to community and to the body because of what it will cost us and what it will require of us? Are we afraid of the cost of the community? THE COST OF COMMUNITY! ARE WE AFRAID OF THE COST OF COMMUNITY? ARE WE WILLING TO COMMIT OURSELVES TO COMMUNITY? ARE WE WILLING TO GIVE OURSELVES WHOLEHEARTEDLY TO COMMUNITY? Perhaps the single greatest question we must ask ourselves is one that has already been mentioned in this writing, and that is simply this: Are we done playing games with God and with His glory, His presence, and His holiness?

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