Robert Wurtz II
“After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.”
Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband.” (Acts 5:7–10 ESV)
Our passage is a tragic and dire warning situated early in the history of the Church. Like the judgment that fell upon Nadab and Abihu, Ananias and Sapphira were likewise smitten dead by God. We know that Satan filled Ananias’ heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, but what about his wife? Peter said that they “agreed together” from the Greek word sumphoneo, from which we get our word symphony. The figure in the word is that of concord of sounds. Your souls were attuned to each other respecting this deceit (Vincent). The temptation of Satan resonated (if you will) in the heart of Sapphira when Ananias rehearsed it.
God gave woman (Eve) to Adam to be a helper to him. Not to help him sin, but to help him do right. The trouble is that husbands and wives (and family members) are sometimes so utterly loyal to each other that they are willing to betray God rather than betray the family member. This is a serious problem. Perhaps this is because betrayal is one of the worst emotions we can feel and we don’t want to deal treacherously with a loved one. We don’t want to hurt them.
We mustn’t love anyone or anything more than we love God. Sometimes in life, we have to choose between being loyal to a family member (or friend) and being faithful to God. This is the choice Sapphira faced, and she chose her husband over God. Something in her wanted to agree with him rather than God. What a tragedy. Neither of them seemed to be conscious of the fact that God knew their hearts.
Behind this event was Satan whom the scripture says, “filled their hearts to lie to the Holy Spirit.” The English word “filled” is from the same Greek word that Paul uses in Ephesians 5:18 where we are told to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Ananias had allowed himself to come entirely under the controlling influence of Satan. He wanted both the attention he would receive from selling the property and donating all of the money to the ministry and he wanted the money itself. Pride and greed became beachheads from which Satan could enter in and deceive the man.
Do you notice in the text that neither of them could see judgment coming? They were completely blind to the severity of their sin. This is what deception does. In this case, it was a secret sin, similar to the secret sins among the elders that caused God to go far away from His Temple in Ezekiel. If God had not revealed the thing, they might well have taken a position in the churches and caused all kinds of problems. God wouldn’t have it. He destroyed them both before they could destroy the churches.
The most troubling thing of all in this passage is the level of loyalty that Sapphira expressed for her husband. She put her own life and perchance her soul on the line for him. That is unconscionable. Did he demand that kind of loyalty from her? Was she willingly and joyfully loyal to him? We are not told. We only know that they came into agreement like a symphony… like a musical harmony. They were in unity, but it was for evil.
The story of Ananias and Sapphira was written for our learning and admonition. God is teaching us something. We should never be so loyal to a family member or friend that we are blind to the sin they are committing; especially if they are in the ministry. We need to let God be true. Don’t make excuses for them. We might end up being judged with them. That’s the clear implication of Acts 5:7-10.
What would have happened if Sapphira would have said, “Ananias, you will make yourself a liar and a hypocrite if you do that!” Was she afraid to call him a liar? Would hypocrite have been judgmental? Is the word liar too harsh? The old timers used to say that we should call our sin by it’s worst name. The problem today is that people want to commit fifty dollar sins and give them ten cent labels. Don’t do it. Call the sin by it’s worst possible name and allow the impact of that label to sober your mind towards repentance. It might just be the discordant note we need at a crucial time to prevent a symphony of evil from manifesting in our own lives.