Part V

The Holy Spirit Purifies

There was great unity among the believers and they shared with each other their possessions. One day, a certain believer, named Ananias, did so as well. However, the Holy Spirit knew what was in the heart of this man and his wife, and revealed it to Peter, as we can read in Acts 5:1-11

Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but he brought the rest and put it at the apostles' feet. Then Peter said, "Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land?" Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.” When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then the young men came forward, wrapped up his body and carried him out and buried him. About three hours later, his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?” “Yes,” she said, “that is the price.” Peter said to her, “How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door and they will carry you out also.” At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.

These two believers did not have to sell their property. Moreover, they did not have to give everything they had sold the property for. The land, as well as the money they had received for the land, was theirs, and they could do with it as they wished. But they lied, trying to look better than they were in the eyes of the other believers. As Peter said, they lied not just to the other believers but they lied to the Holy Spirit of God. God is a holy God and He considers lying an evil act for which these two people had to pay a high price; their very lives. What happened to them became, of course, known to many others. And yet, many more people became believers, despite the fact that the Holy Spirit had high standards for those who wished to become believers. These standards remain today, for God is still a holy God, which means that even today we need to live by God’s standards, and not by the standards of the world around us.

Part VI