“Great fear seized the whole Church and all who heard about these events.”
One of the characteristics of the book of Acts is the combination of key significant events which move the account of the creation of the Church forward and editorial summaries which describe the characteristic life of the believing community. After four chapters in which the new Testament Church is shown to be growing in grace and commitment to the LORD Jesus Christ Luke begins to describe the challenges which they will begin to face. The Apostle Paul makes this clear while writing in 2 Timothy 3:12 “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” This is a certainty which we must expect and which we begin to see developed in the fifth chapter of Acts. We must expect that there will be challenges to living the Christian life which we will have to face which come from the world around us, our own flesh and satanic deception. This is what the fifth chapter draws our attention to. Ananias and Sapphira are clearly deceived by Satan, being led astray by their own fleshly desires to pursue things which are rooted in a worldly approach to life. At its heart this passage reveals an attitude of heart which takes God lightly and elevates our own fleshly desires for security in the things which this world provides. Satan takes something which they need and deceives this couple so that they lie to the Holy Spirit.
To dig down into the heart of the account which Luke gives us here we see that the whole purpose of this event was to lead the New Testament Church into the development of a reverent fear and awe of God. At the beginning of the fifth chapter of Acts Ananias and Sapphira have an attitude which assumes that God now takes sin lightly. Again, as Paul asks in Romans 6:1 “Shall we go on sinning that grace may increase?” This is certainly a danger that the Church faces as the Gospel is proclaimed. We receive grace from God and then forget that His purpose is to make us holy with the Righteousness of Christ. Luke shows us how this event brought the Church back to a reverent fear of God. He tells us that the Church came into, or developed, a reverent fear or awe of God.
To take God’s Holiness lightly is a danger which the Church is always facing. To fall into this error robs us of the grace and power which the Lord has promised to us. The Scriptures constantly call us to a life of reverence for God.
“Then the Church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit; it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord.”
“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him. Fear the lord, you saints, for those who fear Him lack nothing.”
“An oracle is within my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked: There is no fear of God before his eyes.”
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”
“Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”
This reverent awe and fear of God is desperately needed by the Church today.