“We are witnesses of these things and so is the Holy Spirit, who is given by God to those who obey him.” (Acts 5:32, NLT)
After a first wave of persecution by the Jewish religious leaders, the early Church flourished because it had been empowered by God: “Yet more and more people believed and were brought to the Lord—crowds of both men and women.” (Acts 5:14, NLT).
Acts 5:1-11 records the events that precipitated this great demonstration of the power of God in the Church.
A man named Ananias and his wife Sapphira sold some property and brought a portion of the proceeds to the apostles, claiming it was the full amount.
The Apostle Peter, by the power of the Holy Spirit, recognized their deception and told them they had embezzled the money from God: “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!” (vs. 3-4).
Both Ananias and Sapphira fell dead when Peter confronted them with their sin!
Their lack of integrity had the potential to compromise the Church and so they fell under the direct judgment of God.
The sudden judgment on Ananias and Sapphira had a sobering effect on both the believers and others who heard about the incident.
A believer’s integrity is critical to the effectiveness of his or her witness to others.
The power of the Holy Spirit is not hindered when believers live and act with integrity.
To engage in deception and somehow think that God doesn’t know is a fundamental misconception of one’s faith (or lack of faith). That sort of behavior would certainly call into question whether the deceiver really knows Christ and has the indwelling Holy Spirit.
For the Church to thrive and effectively (and powerfully) declare the gospel, Christ’s followers must be people of the highest integrity.