“But there was a certain man named Ananias who, with his wife, Sapphira, sold some property. He brought part of the money to the apostles, claiming it was the full amount. With his wife’s consent, he kept the rest. Acts 5:1-2

Recently our church did a series of sermons on the first few chapters of Acts. I felt sorry for the pastor who had to preach about Ananias and Sapphira!

Christians can have an idealised view of the early church as if it were perfect because it formed so close to when Jesus lived. Surely with his teaching still ringing in their ears, the church didn’t have any problems. However, there were at least two problem people in the church who were prepared to lie to the congregation.

Yet, mostly the story demonstrates how dependent we are on God’s grace.

God required the death penalty for an act of disobedience. “If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die” (Genesis 2:17). “For all people are mine to judge—both parents and children alike. And this is my rule: The person who sins is the one who will die” (Ezekiel 18:4). However, God didn’t mete out justice and give Adam and Eve what they deserved (death) instead he showed them mercy and allowed them to live for a long time. More than that he showed them grace in providing animals’ skins for them (3:21). But God’s mercy cannot be presumed, sin still brings the death penalty as Uzzah (2 Samuel 6:7), Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10:1-2) discovered, as well as Ananias and Sapphira.

We live after the cross where Jesus died, so we may think we’re exempt from the death penalty, which is perhaps where Ananias and Sapphira made their big mistake. (God’s people in the OT looked forward to the cross to be forgiven whereas we look back to the cross.) The wages of sin is still death (Romans 6:23). We’re so reliant on God’s mercy and grace, that we don’t even take our next breath unless God allows it.

A humbling thought.