We Can’t Enhance God’s Work. We Mustn’t Detract Either

20 Feb

Two separate scenes (seemingly two separate messages) recorded by Luke—one right after the other—captivated my thoughts. They made me wonder if they instead of being unrelated incidents were complementary to one another for a more complete understanding. Read them in Acts 5.

Ananias and Sapphira

In the first, we have the account of Ananias and his wife Sapphira. At the end of chapter 4 we are told the believers began living in deep community. Many, if not all, sold what they had so that the money could be shared and have all things in common. No one with surplus, and definitely no one in lack. Since it seemed to be the Christian thing to do, Ananias and Sapphira joined in. However, they agreed together to reserve a sum in hiding for themselves (for that rainy day). The Holy Spirit revealed their deception to Peter who confronted Ananias as soon as he presented his sale proceeds. He had no time to repent (possibly no heart to, either), but took his last breath and was carried out.

When Sapphira came in to meet up with her husband, Peter asked her if they sold their property for a certain amount. She confirmed what she and her husband had agreed to say. Peter confronted her for sharing in the attempt to deceive the Holy Spirit. The men who had carried Ananias arrived in time to carry her out, too.

Same error as Uzza

Their stunning account lacks meaning without considering an Old Testament example of similar quick judgment. In 1 Chronicles 13, Uzza died the moment he reached out to keep the Ark from slipping off the cart when the ox stumbled. In our minds we think like Uzza might have reasoned. I know we are commanded not to touch the Ark, but should I do nothing and let it fall? I doubt he had the time to think that through; he simply reacted. But he was judged for disobeying God’s commandment. Fair? We would say he deserved grace in the situation. Just? In accordance with God’s word. The Ark was sanctified holy.

In like manner, the Holy Spirit prompted a holy thing with the deep uniting of the hearts of the believers. It was holy. Ananias and Sapphira came in and touched it with unholy hands. Judgment came swift and complete.

Wisdom of one priest

After this account, the Apostles are thrown in prison for preaching Jesus again. The religious leaders—the keepers of God’s word and teachers for the people—became jealous over the numbers of Jews turning to follow the teachings concerning the Christ. Many wanted to put the leaders of the new sect to death, but one of them (Gamaliel) stood up with this wisdom:
“So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God” (NKJV).

In other words, like Uzza of old, don’t meddle with what is holy.

Our take-away

I’ve spent several weeks writing about the baptism of fire, a baptism I believe will be coming for the Church. It will undoubtedly bring about what some may think to be radical changes and will likely face opposition. John exhorted believers to test the spirit to see whether a teacher or his teaching is of God. We are not to accept or reject every new enticing thought without testing them by the Holy Spirit within us. And may we not confuse our natural discernment with the Lord’s. Come Holy Spirit fire.

2 Responses to “We Can’t Enhance God’s Work. We Mustn’t Detract Either”

  1. Kevin at 8:02 am #

    I have been reading Jeremiah and Chapter 7 jumped out to me as extreme false hearts from the Jews. God spoke they refused to listen. They refused His love. They shunned his word, too. He destroyed them also.


    • hillmenclan at 8:50 am #

      And as Paul said, these things were written as an example for us. Types and shadows for us to learn from and understand.


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