God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen. I Timothy 6:15-16 NIV

And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. Matthew 12:31-32

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 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 just to human beings but to God.” When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then some 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 conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! 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. Acts 5:1-11 NIV

Joshua 7 tells us that Achan, all his family and livestock were stoned to death after he chose to disobey God and keep plunder from Jericho. Exodus 32 tells us about God’s and Moses’ righteous anger when the people of Israel decided to forget about worshipping God and made Aaron fashion a golden calf so they could worship it instead. Many people died as a result. Here in Acts 5:1-11 Ananias and Sapphira are punished with death for lying to the apostles and to the Holy Spirit about a gift of money. These are difficult passages to read and understand.

When I first read the story about Achan I was quite shocked that his children were killed along with the man who had actually taken the forbidden plunder. I can remember asking my youth leader questions about Achan. Asking questions can be good. It means we are trying to understand. In each of these passages, punishment is given to the point of death for a sin that must be nipped in the bud at the beginning of something new that God was doing in and amongst His people. In Exodus 32 the people needed to understand the seriousness of how to properly worship God and not idols.

In Joshua 7 the people were being taught to rely on God to fight their battles, but He would not do that if they were not totally devoted to worshipping God. In Acts 5 the Holy Spirit has been given to every believer, but the church was just beginning to learn of the power of the Holy Spirit. The church was a new entity, perhaps only a few months old. The believers were learning how to be a community, how to worship, and what God required of them in terms of purity.

What do we do with these types of passages? First – ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to us what we need to know and understand. Second – we need to understand that God is Holy, just, loving, sovereign, compassionate, and omniscient. “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts,’” Isaiah 55:8-9. Third – realize some passages in scripture may not be fully explained in our lifetimes. God is God and I am not.

By Grace Hunter

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