Acts 5:3

Letter from President Ronald Reagan to Gracie York

Friday, 11 February 2022

But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? Acts 5:3

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

The previous verse revealed Ananias having kept back a part of the proceeds from what he had sold, and yet placing a certain part of it at the feet of the apostles. With that done, the account continues with, “But Peter said.”

The attention of the narrative continues on with Peter. This is not an indication that Peter is the leader of the people, nor is it a note that such notable things only occurred to Peter. Rather, the narrative is recording the events surrounding Peter because he is the main apostle at this time, and he is also the one – between Peter and Paul, who Acts is mainly centered around – whose ministry is focused more especially on the Jews.

When Paul arrives on the scene, the narrative will begin to focus on him more and more because the spiritual banner of Israel will begin to transfer from Peter to Paul, and from the Jew to the Gentile. As the narrative is on Peter at this time, Luke continues with the words of Peter, saying, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart.”

This is one of two times Satan is spoken of by name in Acts. The other being in Acts 26:18. It is a clear indication that he is alive and active in the world after the time of the cross. In this case, it was to fill the heart of Ananias. The heart is reflective of the seat of reason and understanding. Ananias’ thought process was clearly afflicted so that he would presume to be deceitful with the money that was intended for the aid of the church.

It is an egregious offense because the apostles represented the leadership of the church, and they were those who demonstrated the power of God working through them. However, the words here no more indicate an unsaved person than they did when Jesus essentially said the same thing to Peter –

“And the Lord said, ‘Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.’” Luke 22:31, 32

Likewise, Paul’s epistles clearly show that Satan is working within the church and is active in that work, even among and against believers –

“Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” 1 Corinthians 7:5

Paul gives a comparable note of warning again in 2 Corinthians 2:11 and elsewhere. As for now with Ananias, the filling of his heart by Satan was “to lie to the Holy Spirit.” The offense is especially said to be directed toward the Holy Spirit as opposed to “the Lord” or “God” in a more general sense. Albert Barnes gives a long, detailed, and specific analysis of this, but the key point of his thoughts center on these words –

“Peter intended, doubtless, to designate an offence as committed particularly against the person, or influence, by which he and the other apostles were inspired. Ananias supposed that he could escape detection, and the offence was one, therefore, against the Inspirer of the apostles. Yet that was the Holy Spirit as “distinct from the Father.” See John 14:16-17, John 14:26; John 15:26; John 16:7-11; John 20:22. Compare Acts 5:32. The offence, therefore, being against him who was “sent” by the Father, and who was appointed to a particular work, clearly supposes that the Holy Spirit is distinct from the Father.”

Barnes also equates what happened here to the “blasphemy of the Spirit” noted in Matthew 12 and Mark 3. The presence of the working of the Spirit in and through Jesus can be equated to that now working through the apostles, but the magnitude of the offense does not appear to be the same. The people accused Jesus of being filled with Satan when it was the Holy Spirit. Ananias has not done this.

And more, Jesus didn’t call for those who blasphemed the Spirit to suddenly keel over and die. He simply told them that what they had done was an unpardonable offence. The very fact that punishment will come so swiftly upon Ananias is a better indication that he was saved than it would be that he is unsaved. However, it is not a proof of the matter and only a general inference can be made. Regardless of that debatable issue, Peter explains why this is lying to the Holy Spirit, saying, “and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself?”

The spiritual aspect of the ministry was plainly evident through the work of the apostles. They were carrying on the ministry of Christ, and they were responsible for the development of the church. As His “sent ones,” they bore His authority and their decisions were on His behalf. In lying to them, it was taken as a lie against the Holy Spirit who empowered them. Ananias and his wife will be given as object lessons to the people concerning this truth. What occurs to them will be a means of establishing the apostles’ authority to conduct the affairs of the church during this period of its establishment.

Life application: Things like what is occurring with Ananias no longer occur in the church today. The lesson has been recorded, and we have this descriptive account to read and accept or reject. But the Bible is a testament to it having occurred. To not believe it is not much different than what Ananias has done.

The Bible claims that it has come under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It claims to be the word of God, including that of Him working through the apostles. How is it different, then, to ignore the prescriptions found in Scripture than it is to do what Ananias did? In other words, Paul (an apostle of Jesus Christ) clearly states that a woman is not to teach or have authority over a man.

And yet, there are female teachers, preachers, and pastors that fill churches throughout the world. It is no less lying to the Holy Spirit. This same logic can be used in countless other doctrines that are recorded by the apostles in the pages of the epistles. The word of God must be held as sacred, and it must be treated with the same respect and honor that we give to the Holy Spirit who authored it. It is a reflection of who He is.

If we are willing to consider the word in this light, our treatment of it will be as it should be. Let us not fail to hold the word in the highest of esteem, being obedient to its precepts, lest our hearts be guilty of lying to the One who breathed it out for us as a moral guide in a darkened world.

Glorious God, how can we say we love You, and yet ignore what Your word says? And how can we know what Your word says unless we take time to read it and to know it? We have a great disconnect in our thinking when we say we love You and want to be pleasing to You, and yet we don’t spend the time getting to know who You are and what You expect! Help us to correct this by learning and applying this sacred treasure to our lives. Amen.