One of the most frightening stories in the Bible is the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. There we are told in chapter 4, leading up to chapter 5, that there “was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need” (4:34-35). All of the believers in amazing generosity and charity were selling their possessions and then distributing the proceeds to all the believers so that no one had any need. Of course, Ananias and Sapphira saw this and wanted to be a part of such exciting events. They loved seeing how people were being blessed by the generosity and how those who were doing the selling and giving were being praised by others for being such a blessing. But the idea of selling all their property and giving away all the proceeds just seemed a bit extreme to Ananias and Sapphira. And so they concocted a plan to sell their portion of their land for an undisclosed amount. They would then give to the distribution of the saints a portion of the proceeds without telling anyone how much they sold the land for, and if people just happened to assume they were giving all the proceeds from the sale of their land, well, Ananias and Sapphira would not correct them, but they also were not going to lie and tell people they were donating all the proceeds. If people wanted to assume they were, Ananias and Sapphira could not help that. It was the perfect plan to do something good, to make a little profit and, at the same time, receive praise from men for giving away ‘all the proceeds’ from the sale of their land. That is, until Peter calls them out on it and says, “Ananias, 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? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God”, and then Ananias falls over dead (5:3-5). Three hours later Peter says to Sapphira, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she says, “Yes, for so much.” Then Peter says to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” She then falls over and dies. Through it all, Ananias and Sapphira never "spoke" a lie. Presumably when Peter asked Sapphira if they had sold the land for X amount of money, she answered truthfully. Then why did God strike them both dead? They were lying by their deeds. They were behaving in such a way so as to deceive people into thinking they were donating ‘all the proceeds’ from the sale of their property just like everyone else was doing. Lying is a sin that can be committed with or without words. It’s called deception.
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