Scripture: Acts 5:1-11
I. The Holy Spirit empowers holiness by exposing sin.
A. Ananias and Sapphira in chapter 5 act in contrast to Barnabas in Acts 4:36-37. Barnabas sold some land and gives all of the money from the sale of the land to the apostles to help the poor. Ananias and Sapphira want to make it look like they have done exactly the same thing as Barnabas. They also sold their land, but they gave only part of the money from the sale to the apostles. They did not give all of it (Acts 5:2). They lied.
B. When the Holy Spirit comes into contact with sin, He will expose that sin for the Christian to see brightly and clearly. And when the Holy Spirit exposes sin, you need to repent of that sin and live a holy life. Holiness is for every Christian. Holiness is the purpose for which God saved us. Ephesians 1:4 says, “He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.”
II. The Holy Spirit empowers holiness by judging sin.
A. Notice what happened immediately after Peter exposed Ananias’ sin. God performed a miracle of judgment (vs. 5). The sin of attempting to deceive God and the church cost Ananias his life. We are shocked to read of the instant nature of God’s judgment in this case. But God knows our sin. He sees that sin, and He holds us accountable for it. The same thing happens to Ananias’ wife Sapphira later in the chapter (vs. 10).
B. The church had a proper and holy fear of God after these instant deaths (vs. 5 and 11). God always takes sin seriously. God’s people are called to holiness and are accountable to God for it. And in his mercy sometimes God judges sin immediately so that the church that observes that judgment can have a proper fear of that judgment and live a holy life instead.
III. The Holy Spirit empowers holiness by purifying the community.
A. Peter says to Ananias in vs. 4: “You have not lied to man but to God.” But when Ananias brought part of the money from the sale and gave it to the apostles, he lied to the apostles. But Peter opened the eyes of Ananias to see that he was really lying to God. Since the church is God’s people, a lie told to God’s people is a lie told to God. God needed to judge this sin in the newly formed church. A similar judgment occurred with Achan and Israel in Joshua 7:1: “But the people of Israel broke faith in regard to the devoted things, for Achan… took some of the devoted things. And the anger of the Lord burned against the people of Israel.”
SERMON DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
1) How did the sin of Ananias and Sapphira get exposed to the entire church? Is it an option for a Christian to say that he or she does not want to live a holy life?
2) Why does God not always immediately judge sin? When Christians see the judgment of God, what are some of the consequences of seeing that judgment?
3) Does the sin of an individual only affect that individual? What is the responsibility of the church and its leaders when they become aware of sin in the church?