Acts 04_32-05_16 - Victory over the adversary
Victory over the Adversary
1. Satan had failed completely in his attempt to silence the witness of the church.
a. However, the enemy never gives up; he simply changes his strategy.
b. His first approach had been to attack the church from the outside, hoping that arrest and threats would frighten the leaders.
2. When that failed, Satan decided to attack the church from the inside and use people who were a part of the fellowship.
a. We must face the fact that Satan is a clever foe.
b. If he does not succeed as the “devouring lion” (1 Peter 5:8), then he attacks again as the “deceiving serpent” or an “angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:3, 13–14).
c. Satan is both a murderer and a liar (John 8:44), and the church must be prepared for both attacks.
Acts 4:32-37 "32And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. 33And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. 34Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, 35And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. 36And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, 37Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet."
The Generosity of the Believers
1. The believers had prayed and God’s Spirit had filled them and given them new power.
2. The church that depends on believing prayer will know the blessing of the Holy Spirit in its ministry.
3. How can we tell when a local church is really filled with the Spirit?
4. When you go back to the record of the first filling at Pentecost (Acts 2:44–47), you discover three outstanding characteristics of a Spirit-filled church.
a. It is unified (2:44, 46).
i. This is a God-given spiritual unity, not a man-made organizational uniformity.
ii. The church is an organism that is held together by life, and that life comes through the Holy Spirit. Of course, the church must be organized; for if an organism is not organized, it will die. However, when the organization starts to hinder spiritual life and ministry, then the church becomes just another religious institution that exists to keep itself going. When the Holy Spirit is at work, God’s people will be united in their doctrinal beliefs, as well as in fellowship, giving, and worship (Acts 4:32).
b. A Spirit-filled church is magnified and will have “favor with all the people” (2:47).
i. In spite of the opposition of the rulers, the common people were drawn to the believers because something new and exciting was happening.
ii. When the religious leaders tried to silence the church, it was their fear of the people that restrained them (Acts 4:21; 5:26).
iii. Yes, a Spirit-filled church will have its enemies, but what the Lord is doing will attract the attention and the admiration of people who are hungry to know God.
c. A Spirit-filled church is multiplied, because the Lord will daily add new believers to the church (2:47).
i. Evangelism will not be the work of a chosen few, but the daily delight and ministry of the whole congregation.
ii. In the early church, each member sought to be an effective witness for Jesus Christ, no matter where he happened to be.
iii. No wonder the church grew from 120 to over 5,000 in just a short time!
5. Did Satan’s attack affect the spiritual condition of the church?
a. Not at all! The fact that Peter and John were arrested, tried, and threatened had absolutely no effect on the spiritual life of the church, for the church was still unified (Acts 4:32), magnified (Acts 4:33), and multiplied! (Acts 4:32)
b. Acts 4:32-33 "32And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. 33And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all."
6. One evidence of the unity of the church was the way they sacrificed and shared with one another.
a. When the Holy Spirit is at work, giving is a blessing and not a burden.
b. We must keep in mind that this “Christian communism” was very unlike the political Communism of our day.
c. What the believers did was purely voluntary (Acts 5:4) and was motivated by love.
d. Acts 5:4 "4Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God."
e. No doubt many of the new believers were visitors in Jerusalem, having come for the feasts; and they had to depend on their Christian friends to help meet their daily needs.
f. Nor should we think that every believer sold all his goods and brought the money to the Apostles.
7. Joses, nicknamed “Barnabas” (son of consolation), is introduced at this point for several reasons.
a. First, he was a generous giver and illustrated the very thing Dr. Luke was describing.
b. Second, his noble act apparently filled Ananias and Sapphira with envy so that they attempted to impress the church with their giving and ended up being killed.
c. Third, Barnabas had a most important ministry
i. His name occurs 24 times in 23 verses in the book of Acts
ii. He is mentioned another 5 times in the epistles.
iii. In fact, it is Barnabas who encouraged Paul in his early service for the Lord (Acts 9:26–27; 11:19–30; 13:1–5), and who gave his cousin John Mark the encouragement he needed after his failure (Acts 13:13; 15:36–41; Col. 4:10).
8. His property was in Cyprus
Acts 5:1-11 "1But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, 2And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? 4Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. 5And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. 6And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him. 7And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. 8And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. 9Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. 10Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband. 11And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things."
The Hypocrisy of Ananias and Sapphira
1. George MacDonald wrote, “Half of the misery in the world comes from trying to look, instead of trying to be,what one is not.”
2. The name that Jesus gave to this practice is “hypocrisy,” which simply means “wearing a mask, playing the actor.”
They build the front just like St. Mark’s,
Or like Westminster Abbey;
And then, as if to cheat the Lord,
They make the back parts shabby.
That was the sin of Ananias and Sapphira: putting on a lovely “front” in order to conceal the shabby sin in their lives, sin that cost them their lives.
4. Ananias means “God is gracious,” but he learned that God is also holy; and Sapphira means “beautiful,” but her heart was ugly with sin.
a. No doubt some people are shocked when they read that God killed two people just because they lied about a business transaction and about their church giving.
b. But when you consider the features connected with this sin, you have to agree that God did the right thing by judging them.
5. It is worth noting that the Lord judges sin severely at the beginning of a new period.
a. Just after the tabernacle was erected, God killed Nadab and Abihu for trying to present “false fire” to the Lord (Lev. 10).
b. He also had Achan killed for disobeying orders after Israel had entered the Promised Land (Joshua 7).
c. While God was certainly not responsible for their sins, He did use these judgments as warnings to the people, and even to us
d. 1 Corinthians 10:11-12 "11Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. 12Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."
6. To begin with, the sin of Ananias and Sapphira was energized by Satan (Acts 5:3); and that is a serious matter.
a. If Satan cannot defeat the church by attacks from the outside, he will get on the inside and go to work.
b. Acts 20:28-31 "28Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 31Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears."
c. Our adversary knows how to lie to the minds and hearts of church members, even genuine Christians, and get them to follow his orders.
d. Ephesians 6:10–19
7. Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, “Sin has many tools, but a lie is the handle which fits them all.”
a. Satan is a liar and a murderer (John 8:44).
b. He lied to and through this couple, and the lie led to their deaths.
c. When God judged Ananias and Sapphira, He was also judging Satan. He was letting everybody know that He would not tolerate deception in His church.
8. Their sin was motivated by pride, and pride is a sin that God especially hates and judges.
a. Proverbs 8:13 "13The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate."
b. Satan’s lie: “You can also bask in this kind of glory! You can make others think that you are as spiritual as Barnabas!”
c. Instead of resisting Satan’s approaches, they yielded to him and planned their strategy.
9. Jesus made it very clear that we must be careful how we give, lest the glory that belongs to God should be given to us.
a. Matthew 6:1-4 "1Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. 2Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 3But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: 4That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly."
b. The Pharisees were adept at calling attention to their gifts, and they received the praises of men—but that’s all they received!
c. Whatever we possess, God has given to us; we are stewards, not owners.
d. We must use what He gives us for His glory alone.
e. 2 Corinthians 9:7-15 "7Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. 8And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: 9(As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever. 10Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;) 11Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God. 12For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God; 13Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men; 14And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you. 15Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift."
10. Pride has been called “the first peer and president of hell.”
a. Indeed, it was pride that transformed Lucifer into Satan (Isa. 14:12–15),
b. “Ye shall be as gods!” (Genesis 3).
c. Pride opens the door to every other sin, for once we are more concerned with our reputation than our character, there is no end to the things we will do just to make ourselves “look good” before others.
11. A third feature of their sin was especially wicked:
their sin was directed against God’s church.
a. We have reason to believe that Ananias and Sapphira were believers.
b. Acts 5:3 "3But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?"
c. Acts 5:9 "9Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out."
12. God loves His church and is jealous over it, for the church was purchased by the blood of God’s Son
a. Acts 20:28 "28Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood."
b. Ephesians 5:25 "25Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;"
c. The church is to glorify God and evangelize the world.
d. Satan wants to destroy the church, and
the easiest way to do it is to use those who are within the fellowship.
e. Had Peter not been discerning, Ananias and Sapphira would have become influential people in the church!
f. Satan would have been working through them to accomplish his purposes!
g. 1 Timothy 3:15 "15But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
h. Satan attacks it with his lies.
i. The church is God’s army (2 Timothy 2:1–4), and Satan seeks to get into the ranks as many traitors as he can.
j. We are much safer when Satan is attacking from the outside, but when he gets on the inside, the church is in danger.
13. What is described in this chapter is not a case of church discipline.
a. Hebrews 10:30-31 "30For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. 31It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."
b. Had Ananias and Sapphira judged their own sin, God would not have judged them
c. 1 Corinthians 11:31-32 "31For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. 32But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world."
14. Ananias was dead and buried, and Sapphira did not even know it!
a. Satan always keeps his servants in the dark
b. Jesus is the opposite: John 15:15 "15Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you."
c. They lied and tempted the Holy Ghost: Matthew 4:7 "7Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God."
15. We must keep in mind that their sin was not in robbing God of money but in lying to Him and robbing Him of glory.
a. They were not required to sell the property; and, having sold it, they were not required to give any of the money to the church
b. Their lust for personal glory conceived this sin in their hearts (Acts 5:4, 9), and that sin eventually produced death.
c. James 1:15 "15Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death."
16. The result was a wave of godly fear that swept over the church and over all those who heard the story.
a. Acts 5:11 "11And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things."
b. We have moved from “great power” and “great grace” (Acts 5:33) to “great fear,” and all of these ought to be present in our church.
c. Hebrews 12:28-29 "28Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: 29For our God is a consuming fire."
Acts 5:12-16 "12And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch. 13And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them. 14And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.) 15Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them. 16There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one."
The Ministry of the Apostles
1. We have learned that the Spirit-filled church is unified, magnified, and multiplied. Satan wants to divide the church, disgrace the church, and decrease the church; and he will do it, if we let him.
2. But the church described here completely triumphed over the attacks of Satan!
a. The people were still Unified: Acts 5:12 "12And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch."
b. Magnified: Acts 5:13 "13And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them."
c. Multiplied: Acts 5:14 "14And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.)"
d. Multitudes were added to the Lord, and for the first time, Luke mentions the salvation of women.
i. Both in his Gospel and in Acts, Luke has a great deal to say about women and their relationship to Christ and the church.
ii. There are at least a dozen references in Acts to women, as Luke shows the key role women played in the early church.
iii. This is a remarkable thing when you consider the general position of women in the culture of that day.
iv. Galatians 3:26-28 "26For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 27For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."
3. God gave the Apostles power to perform great miracles.
a. While it is true that some of the ordinary members exercised miraculous powers (Acts 6:8), it was primarily the Apostles who did the miracles.
b. These “signs and wonders” were God’s way of authenticating their ministry (Rom. 15:18–19; 2 Cor. 12:12; Heb. 2:4).
4. Just as there were special judgments at the beginning of a new era, so there were also special miracles.
a. Beginning of the age of Law, Moses performed great signs and wonders.
b. Elijah and Elisha were miracle workers at the beginning of the great era of the Prophets
c. Jesus and the Apostles performed signs and wonders when the Gospel Age was inaugurated.
d. Each time God opened a new door, He called man’s attention to it. It was His way of saying, “Follow these leaders, because I have sent them.”
5. Miracles were for a purpose. Jesus used miracles:
a. Not only to show compassion and meet human need;
b. But to present His credentials as the Son of God
c. And to convey spiritual truth.
For example, when He fed the 5,000, the miracle met their physical need, revealed Him as the Son of God, and gave Him opportunity to preach a sermon about the Bread of Life (John 6).
6. The apostolic miracles followed a similar pattern.
a. Peter and John healed the crippled beggar and met his need, but Peter used that miracle to preach a salvation sermon and to prove to the people and the council that he and John were indeed the servants of the living Christ.
b. One of the qualifications for an apostle was that he had seen the risen Christ (Acts 1:22; 1 Cor. 9:1); and, since nobody can claim that experience today, there are no apostles in the church.
c. The Apostles and prophets laid the foundation for the church
Ephesians 2:20 "20And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;"
d. If there are no apostles, there can be no “signs of an apostle” as are found in the Book of Acts: 2 Corinthians 12:12 "12Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds."
7. This certainly does not mean that God is limited and can no longer perform miracles for His people!
a. But it does mean that the need for confirming miracles has passed away.
b. We now have the completed Word of God and we test teachers by their message, not by miracles
8. Peter’s shadow.
9. It is significant that all of these people were healed.
a. Acts 5:16 "16There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one."
b. There were no failures and nobody was sent away because he or she “did not have faith to be healed.”
c. The important thing was not the healing of the afflicted, but the winning of lost souls, as multitudes were added to the fellowship.
d. The Spirit gave them power for wonders and power for witness (Acts 1:8), for miracles apart from God’s Word cannot save the lost.
10. The greatest miracle of all is the transformation of a lost sinner into a child of God by the grace of God.
a. That is the miracle that meets the greatest need, lasts the longest, and costs the greatest price—the blood of God’s Son.
b. And that is one miracle we can all participate in as we share the message of the Gospel:
Romans 1:16 "16For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.