5:1-11) Satan's Intrusion in the Camp
Let's continue with our Acts studies. As usual we will stop the
studies at points of discussion. This next study is going to have its
serious side, so just hang in there.
Our last study saw the new believers selling their properties and
bringing the proceeds to the apostles. A sense of awe is resting
upon everyone. But something happens that is going to bring a new
dimension to the new covenant community, and to Jerusalem at
large. Satan is going to make an appearance, and he will attempt to
do it from within the ranks of believers. Let's see what effect this
will have on the furtherance of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This is Acts Study #12 - Acts
5:1-11 Satan's Intrusion in the Camp.
"But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a
piece of property, and kept back some of the price for himself, with
his wife's full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the
Why did Ananias and Sapphira decide to involved themselves in a
deception? It may be that the esteem given to Barnabas caused
envy to rise up in their hearts. Notice that Ananias did exactly what
Barnabas did, "He laid it at the apostle's feet."
As we look at the Scriptures under study, I want to share two
considerations with regard to this issue of deception. One will
address whether Ananias and Sapphira were ever believers. The
other will address the issue of how Satan tries to plant among
believers, someone who is actually working for him.
"But Peter said, 'Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to
lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the
land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And
after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you
have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men
but to God."
Some Powerful Lessons
Let deal with our first consideration as to Ananias and Sapphira
being believers. There are some powerful lessons to be had here.
(1) It is Satan who has filled Ananias heart to lie. James tells us
how a temptation works in a believer's life. In reading what James
has to say, I will provide some fill in with the use of brackets [ ]:
James said, "Let no one say when he is tempted [a solicitation to
evil], 'I am being tempted by God' [Or, God is in this]; for God
cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone
[with evil]. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and
enticed by his own lust. [personal sinful longings.] Then when lust
[personal sinful longings] has conceived [the temptation is in full
control], it gives birth to sin [sin is acted on]; and when sin is
accomplished [completes its act], it brings forth death [something
always dies where sin gives birth]. Do not be deceived [don't be
fooled. It works this way, every time], my beloved brethren
[addressed to believers]." (James
What James says may fit Ananias and Sapphira. With this couple,
the sinful leaning appears to be envy, or pride. But any sinful
leaning can become an opportunity for Satan to gain an
advantage over that area. This is why believers should not flirt
with sin. And as for temptation, we are told both to flee from
temptation, but also to pray that we not enter into temptation.
Listen again to what Peter says to Ananias; "Why has Satan filled
your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit ... Why is it that you have
conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to
God." Do you see it? This is exactly the way James lays it out.
Here's the crux. If a temptation can gain full control over a believer,
that person loses all sense of moral bearing. The believer's
discernment gets muddy. White becomes black. Evil becomes
good. And who is going to be hurt doesn't become part of the
picture. In fact in a temptation of this sort, Satan paints a picture of
everyone ending up happy. So while Ananias was thinking about
how to get honor from the apostles, the idea of death and
destruction, or the idea of actually lying to God didn't enter the
Planted By Satan?
Now let's take the second consideration, in which Ananias and
Sapphira were never true believers to begin with, but had been
planted by Satan.
When Peter said that Satan had filled* their heart. The Greek term
for filled is 'pleroo', which means to make full. It carries the
totality. It can only mean that their entire inner being had been filled
with a lie. This speaks of Satan being fully in charge.
Is this a case of a sinner being empowered by Satan in an attempt
to destroy the work of God? John seems to think so. He says, "By
this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious:
anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the
one who does not love his brother. (1John3:10)
Notice the language used of Judas:
"The chief priests and the scribes were seeking how they might put
Him to death; for they were afraid of the people. And Satan entered
into Judas who was called Iscariot, belonging to the number of the
twelve. And he went away and discussed with the chief priests and
officers how he might betray Him to them." (Luke
The scene appears much the same. But what is the lesson we need
to learn? The lesson is that the greatest damage Satan can afflict
among believers, will always be to get someone into a position or
honor or leadership. This is true whether it is be someone he is able
to plant, or if he somehow can get a believer misled in this area. In
any event, Satan has made an intrusion.
Let's leave this for now.
The Judgment of God
"And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed
his last; and great fear came over all who heard of it."
Notice that it doesn't say that Peter pronounced a death sentence
on Ananias. This was God's doing. But Peter took his cue from the
Holy Spirit, and did pronounce the death sentence on Sapphira.
Let's take verses 6-10
as a whole. There is little comment to be
"The young men got up and covered him up, and after
carrying him out, they buried him. Now there elapsed an interval of
about three hours, and his wife came in, not knowing what had
happened. And Peter responded to her, 'Tell me whether you sold
the land for such and such a price?' And she said, 'Yes, that was
the price.' Then Peter said to her, 'Why is it that you have agreed
together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Behold, the feet of
those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will
carry you out as well.' And immediately she fell at his feet and
breathed her last, and the young men came in and found her dead,
and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband."
Very often we as believers are unable to conceive of God bringing
such an awesome judgment upon anyone. We are so use to
preaching love and grace. But keep in mind that Satan is always
looking for a place to work among God's people. And in this case it
was crucial that such a serious offense be dealt with quickly. And
this judgment would ultimately serve to advance the gospel.
Bad Things ... Good People?
Note: There is a form of teaching today that leaves the impression
that if anything bad ever happens to a believer, it has to be Satan's
doing, and the believer simply needs to rebuke the enemy. Not only
is that form of teaching none Biblical, it can do damage to the walk
of a believer. It allows for the no true repentance.
The fact is that because God does love us so much, He will
introduce a punitive judgment in our life to bring about a correction
or a repentance where it is needed. The apostle carefully spells this
out. Paul says ...
"For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number
sleep. But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged.
But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we
will not be condemned along with the world." (1Co11:30-32)
What is the result of this incidence of Ananias and Sapphira? Note:
"And great fear came over the whole church, and over all
who heard of these things."
Now a new element is involved. Not that this will take away from
the joy and rejoicing of believers. Rather, it will help produce the
true fruit of repentance, both among believers who may be erring,
and among those who are turning to the Lord.
In completing this portion of our studies, I want to point out
something about the fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord refers to
an awesome respect and love for our heavenly Father, and for His
truths. It is a healthy fear. When the prophet describes the attributes
of Messiah, this is what is said,
"And He will be the stability of your times, a wealth of
wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is his treasure."
How about it? Would you not like to have the same treasure? Think
The study is open.
Previous: #11b - Curiosities on Pentecost (Shavout) - A Follow-up
Next: #13 (Acts 5:12-16) The Shadow of Peter
This study on
Acts was originally part of a
series on the book of Acts given to members of
Hebraic Foundations from July 10, 2002 through January 19, 2003.
They were written by Pastor Buddy Martin, Founder and Senior Pastor of
Christian Challenge International.