We’re going through the New Testament now here at Deeper Waters trying to come to a deeper understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity. We’re in the book of Acts for the moment. Now the majority of our time has been spent in the New Testament looking at the deity of Christ. Tonight, we’re going to look at the deity of the Holy Spirit, which is also essential to the doctrine of the Trinity. We will be looking at Acts 5:1-11.
1Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.3Then 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? 4Didn’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.”
5When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. 6Then the young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.
7About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?”
“Yes,” she said, “that is the price.”
9Peter 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.”
10At 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. 11Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.
If you’ve done any Trinitarian apologetics, you should know this passage. It is one of the main ones used in defending the deity of the Holy Spirit and not only his deity, but his personality, contrary to the idea of the Jehovah’s Witnesses that the Holy Spirit is a force.
The charge is that you don’t lie to a force and I agree with that. We’ll see throughout the epistles especially that the Holy Spirit is spoken of in personal terms and when we come to passages that seem to indicate he’s less than personal, we’ll show that this is not so.
The charge in this passage is a strong one as Ananias and Sapphira have been caught making false claims in the early church. Now the problem was not that they kept money for themselves. There was no wrong in that. The problem was how they wanted to appear to the early community.
Such an offense was taken seriously I believe to show that God did still take sin seriously in the New Testament. This would go against any idea that Christianity means you can do whatever you want and there are no consequences. God was still wanting his people to live holy lives, not for their salvation, but because that was what they were meant to be and that was something that Christ had revealed to them.
Peter tells Ananias that he has lied to the Holy Spirit and later that he has lied to God, a way of putting them on an equal playing level. He later tells Sapphira that she has tested the Spirit of the Lord. Combined together, we have a case that these two chose to challenge God but in this case, Peter referred to indicate the ministry of the Spirit.
The Spirit of the Lord knew what was going on and would not allow it. Ananias and Sapphira paid the price for wanting to have a show of religion while denying the message of truth behind that religion.
Let’s make sure we aren’t doing the same today.