Putting On a Show

by Greg Laurie on May 7, 2024
The property was yours to sell or not sell, as you wished. And after selling it, the money was also yours to give away. How could you do a thing like this? You weren’t lying to us but to God!
—Acts 5:4

The church was young, just starting to really explode. Thousands of people were coming to faith in Christ. Miracles were being performed. And along came a husband and wife named Ananias and Sapphira.

They apparently had some means, and they sold a piece of land and announced they were giving the proceeds to the church. But they kept some of the money for themselves and didn’t tell anyone about it.

Peter, however, knew the truth. And he confronted Ananias about it.

He said, “Ananias, why have you let Satan fill your heart? You lied to the Holy Spirit, and you kept some of the money for yourself. The property was yours to sell or not sell, as you wished. And after selling it, the money was also yours to give away. How could you do a thing like this? You weren’t lying to us but to God!” (Acts 5:3–4 NLT).

Then Ananias died on the spot. A little while later, Sapphira came in and told Peter the same story. As a result, she died, too. Now, this might seem like harsh judgment on God’s part. It might seem a little radical. But they were lying to the Holy Spirit. They were pretending to be something they were not.

Instead, they should have just been honest before God and told the truth. They were actors putting on a show. And they wanted people to think they were more thoroughly devoted to God than they were.

Sometimes, people say they wish the church could see more miracles today like the church saw in the Book of Acts. But do we really want all the miracles? If, like Ananias and Sapphira, everyone in the church who was living a lie died on the spot, then every church would need a full-time undertaker.

A classic example of an actor is Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed the Lord. Worse yet, he did it with a kiss. A handshake or a tap on the shoulder could have done the job. But instead, he told the temple police, “You will know which one to arrest when I greet him with a kiss” (Matthew 26:48 NLT).

The original language implies that when Judas kissed Jesus, it wasn’t just one peck. Rather, Judas kissed Him repeatedly.

In contrast, as Judas was about to betray Him, Jesus said, “My friend, go ahead and do what you have come for” (verse 50 NLT). It was a gesture of love, compassion, and even forgiveness. Even so, Judas chose to betray Him.

The entertainment industry has award ceremonies for the best actor, the best musical artist, and so forth. Perhaps the church could have the Judas award for the best performance by a nonbeliever playing the role of a Christian. The performance may deceive a lot of people, but it isn’t deceiving God.

You can fool all the people some of the time. You can fool some of the people all the time. But you can’t fool God any time.

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