The story of Ananias and Sapphira is a classic, must read story in the Scriptures. The story is told in Acts 5:1-11. After watching Barnabas sell some land and give all of the proceeds to the ministry, Ananias and Sapphira devise a plan to sell some property, and give a portion of it to the ministry, while pretending to give all of it! They were hoping to recieve the acclaim without the sacrifice, and they wanted the comfort without the commitment. So Ananias comes to where the Apostles are, carrying with him a bag of money and he drops the money at Peter’s feet, and he probably expects Peter to gush over this gift…but Peter says in verse 3, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.”
Immediately following Peter’s statement Ananias drops dead! 3 hours later, his bride, Sapphira comes in and it’s deja vue all over again. She lies to Peter as well, and she dies right there on the spot! 2 dead within 3 hours. My kind of church service!
But this brief exchange, this amazing story reminds us that Christ-likeness, not churchy-ness is the goal of every Believer! And it also reminds us that Churchy-ness not Christ-likeness is Satan’s goal. Peter says in verse 3, “How is it that Stant has so filled your heart…” Why would Satan encourage this couple to build their identity through decietfulness? The reason is because it would shift the focus off of Jesus, and His victory over Satan, sin and death, and it would place the focus on Ananias and Sapphira and what they’ve done to to help this growing community. It would place the focus on us, and what we’ve done, instead of on Christ and what He has accomplished, and this would strip the community of it’s power.
The truth is Satan is crafty and smart and he will use any avenue available to take the focus off of Jesus, off of His kingdom, and off of the spreading of the Gospel, and often times he does it by getting Christians to care more about their position or identity in the church, rather than in their identity in Christ…which is what he does with Ananias and Sapphira. It’s obvious they wanted to become like Barnabas, and Satan used that as the “in” to lead them down the path, and into sin.
Let me ask you this; are you more concerned with your identity in the church, than you are with your idenity in Christ? If you are involved at any level of ministry the temptation is there to earn a name, build your reputation, grow your fame, earn a esteemed position within the church, just as Ananias and Sapphira tried….but this is nothing more than self-serving ambition, and opposite of Jesus thinking. The only reason for any type of involvement in ministry is a profound love of the Lord Jesus Christ because of what He has done by cleansing us of our sin, and giving us new life in Him.