Before reading this post, I would encourage you to read through Acts chapter 5 and answer the following questions:
Is it easy or hard for you to be truthful? Why or why not?
Have you seen someone, or yourself, be healed by the Holy Spirit?
What is your response when people come against your beliefs? Is it fear or anger? Have you ever experienced something like that and seen it as an opportunity for the Gospel?
In chapter 4 we see that the early church gathered around community and sharing. We see that as a huge portion of their daily lives and how they had unity in that. As we look at chapter 5, we are introduced to a couple named Ananias and Sapphira. This account shows how the unity that the church had was abused. Ananias and Sapphira sell their land and decide to keep some of the money for themselves and tell the church that they gave everything they had to them. God didn’t call everyone to sell everything for the church, but these two wanted to look like they were spiritual but not trust God with it. Peter goes to Ananias and asks, “why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land (Acts 5:3 ESV)”. Peter said that they did not lie to men but they lied to God. Peter didn’t care about the money or the land. He cared that they were lied to look good and that they sinned against God. It seems pretty intense that when Ananias heard Peter’s words, he fell down dead. But the Holy Spirit dealt so harshly with this because it wasn’t just a lie, it was a lie that could have really messed with the unity and community that the early church had. Ananias and Sapphira cracked the door for Satan to enter and the Holy Spirit slammed that door so Satan couldn’t get to the people of the church. Sapphira comes in later and Peter gave her the chance to not lie to him and the Holy Spirit, but she said the same thing as her husband and she also fell dead.
It isn't necessary to act like other people or do what other people are called to do. If you are not in a place in your heart to give to the church because you don't want to, then don't. Don't sacrifice if your heart is not ready to. God loves a cheerful giver, He doesn't want someone to give out of obligation or to look like everyone else.
Reflect on your own life and how you give to others. How is your heart?
The chapter continues, showing many signs and wonders that are done by Peter and the other Apostles through the power of the Holy Spirit. People are bringing sick family members to them to be touched. People are lining up in the street in hopes that Peter’s shadow might touch them and they would be healed. Jesus said to His Disciples, “truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in Me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father (John 14:12 ESV)”. We see that Peter was able to do those greater works through the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus never healed anyone by His shadow. Jesus was talking to us as well when He talked about doing His works and greater. We can do the works that Jesus did and we can even do greater works through the Holy Spirit!
Pray for greater works to be done through you!
Since the Apostles were healing and preaching the name of Jesus, the Sadducees came in and arrested them. They didn’t stay in jail long because at night an angel of the Lord opened the doors and told them to “go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life (Acts 5:20 ESV)”. The next morning they were in the temple preaching the name of Jesus and salvation through Him. The leaders were confused and angry that they were still preaching the name of Jesus. They wanted to kill them but were scared of the people who were loving the Apostles because of the healings that were happening. People were coming to Jesus through their teachings! The leaders told Peter and the Apostles to stop teaching in the name of Jesus but they responded by saying, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him (Acts 5:29-32 ESV)”. I love this response! They were answering to God and not what men told them to do. Yes, we are called to honor authority because God places people in authority over us, but if they are going against what God says, we are to obey God over men.
The leaders wanted to kill these men, but Gamaliel, a leader in the Sanhedrin, got up and said that if they are not backed by God, they will come to nothing. He gives two accounts of when men in Jewish history tried to start a movement but were not backed by God. If God is behind you, you can’t fail but if He is not behind it, it will die. Gamaliel says to the other leaders, “so in the present case I tell you keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God (Acts 5:38-39 ESV)”.
What is God telling you to do that you are questioning if it is Him or not? If it is the Lord, it will not fail!