Prayer and fasting 21 days – Acts 5
The presence of the Holy Spirit among the believers when they met was so strong that miracles happened and sin was met with immediate judgment. The sin was not holding back money, it was “just a little lie!” As Peter said, while the property belonged to Ananias and Sapphira they could do what they wished with it. There was no compulsion to give. But they lied to the Holy Spirit about it, maybe just to look good, to show themselves to be spiritual people. Perhaps there is a hint of not trusting God with their future as well. But the presence of the holy and powerful God was enough to kill them.
Let’s choose to live in a right fear of God. Ask Him to fill you with the Spirit and enable you to live with integrity, always speaking truth and being the same person in all circumstances, even when no one is looking!
Note that Peter did not judge, he merely spoke out a word of knowledge and then prophesied what would be the consequence of the lie. Undoubtedly he wanted to confront them with sin but his aim was to honour God.
It is little wonder that this produced fear, a healthy fear of God, acknowledging who He is and what He is like, a worshipful fear that gives Him glory, not a cringing fear keeping us at a distance. Our God is a consuming fire Deut 4:24 and Heb 12:29) but He is also the loving Father (1 Jn 3:1-2) who draws us close. We cannot take Him for granted. The closeness means we need to change in the presence of a God who does not change and who is perfect and holy. There is a paradox here – he is to be feared but He loves us and wants to enjoy intimate fellowship.
There is a paradox in the response of those around. People held the believers in high esteem and did not dare join them (v13) yet many were added to their number (v14). There was fear and also a response of drawing close to God.
Do we really want to live in God’s presence? Are we prepared to change as a result? We like miracles of healing and other signs of God’s power, but the judgment on impure motives is fearsome and we do not like the prospect of spiritual and human opposition leading to imprisonment and persecution.
The first apostles understood fear though: “We must obey God rather than men.” (v29) They feared God so they did not fear what humans could do. And they did not complain when God delivered them miraculously and supernaturally from the prison but did not deliver them from the beating (v40). In fact they rejoiced when persecuted (v41) because it meant sharing the humiliation and sufferings of Jesus. How could they do that? Because they had invited and lived in the fear of the Lord. Nothing else mattered to them than their love for God in response to His love.
People like that are unbeatable. Are we?