We know the disciples at Pentecost sold all they had and gave all the proceeds to the poor in order to be saved (Luke 18:18,22), for Peter had no money (Acts 3:6). So when a married couple only brought part of their money (Acts 5:1,2), we know they couldn’t have been saved, and couldn’t be allowed to join the church.
They must have said they brought it all, however, for Peter said they “lied” (v. 3). Peter was a prophet, and prophets just knew stuff like that (II Ki. 6:12; John 4:16-19, 28, 29).
When Peter says Satan filled his heart (Acts 5:3), he knew that Satan hadn’t snuck up on Ananias and filled his heart to lie against his will. He knew this for he’d heard the Lord say that “deceit” like that comes from the heart of men (Mark 7:21-23).Men don’t need any help from Satan to sin, the fall-en nature we inherited from Adam makes us sin on our own
Now we know Satan was involved in Judas’ sin (John 13:2). But even then he couldn’t have been if Judas hadn’t let him. He let Satan fill his heart because he was covetous and want-ed the 30 pieces of silver the priests promised him for selling the Lord out. And Ananias let him because he wanted in on the blessing of living with all things common. He just didn’t want to sacrifice all his money. That’s why Peter asked him “why” Satan filled his heart, i.e., why he let him do it.
Ananias had lied to Peter, but Peter told him he lied to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3) because he was filled with the Spirit (Acts 2:4). Peter told him he “conceived” the lie and James must have had Pentecost in mind because he too wrote about conceiving sin (James 1:15). He also warned about double minded men like Ananias (1:8).
When James also said that rich men would die (1:10,14), that too goes along with what was happening at Pentecost. The only rich people at Pentecost were those who didn’t sell all their things and share the proceeds, the ones who weren’t even trying to join Peter’s church. That means they couldn’t be saved (Mt. 19:23, 24; Lu. 18:23, 24).
Acts 5:3 says Ananias lied to the Spirit, but verse 4 says he lied to God because the Spirit is God. Of course, some deny that the Holy Spirit is even a person, saying He’s just some kind of force like in Star Wars. But you can’t “lie” to a force!
Ananias’s sin brought forth death, just like James said it would (Acts 5:5). People get uneasy when I say Peter struck him dead, but that wasn’t the only time God gave men the power to inflict death and physical punishment (II Ki. 1:9, 10; Acts 13:11), and it won’t be the last (Rev. 11:3, 5).
When Ananias’s wife was also stricken dead (Acts 5:6-9), that proved his death wasn’t a coincidence. “Tempt” (v.7) can mean to provoke (Ps. 78:56). Those Jews knew it was wrong to make a graven image, so when they did it they provoked God to anger and jealousy (v. 58). “Tempt” also means to test (Rev. 3:10) or prove (Heb. 3:9). When they made that image, they were testing God to see what He’d do, and Sapphira was testing God to see what He’d do too, when she and her husband tried to lie their way into the church.
All this was a “taste” of the “powers” that men of God will have in the kingdom (Heb. 6:4, 5). They will need power like that, for there will be “leaven” or sin in the kingdom (Mt. 13:33). Saved men won’t be able to sin (I Jo. 3:9; 5:18) but they’ll have kids who will have to grow up and get saved. If they sin before they do, they’ll be executed like this, or by the flying roll (Zech. 5:1-4).
This roll will be a copy of the ten commandments. Notice both are written on both sides (Ex. 32:15). One side of both says don’t swear, the other side of both says don’t steal. If men swear or steal in the kingdom, they will die. If they go 100 years without sinning and then sin they’ll still have to die, and will be considered a “child” (Isa. 65:20) since they should have lived as long as men did in early Genesis.
Satan can’t be everywhere at once, but he dogged the Lord’s steps and then the disciples, and now he’s after believers—especially grace believers like you! That’s why it is important to be here in church learning God’s Word, to learn how to defend yourself!
Video of this message is available on YouTube: Uncommon Selfishness – Acts 5:1-11