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The Scriptorium

Sin in the Camp

The Lord moved swiftly against sin.

Acts (5)

Be sure to view the video introducing our study of Acts 5 (Lesson 5) by clicking here.

Read and meditate on Acts 5.1-6.
We recall that immediately after Israel’s great victory at Jericho, sin in the camp almost derailed the whole endeavor (Josh. 7). Satan, though bound by our Lord Jesus (Matt. 12.22-29), still stalks and rages about, always looking for ways to short-circuit His ongoing work (v. 3; cf. 1 Pet. 5.8). The believer’s duty – and the duty of the church – is to resist him (1 Pet. 5.9).

For reflection
1.  The sin of Ananias and Sapphira was not that they kept part of the proceeds of the sale of their property. As Peter noted, it was theirs to do with as they wished. But by representing the portion of the proceeds they donated as the whole of what they had received, they lied to the church and the Lord, and stole God’s glory to make themselves look good (v. 4). Are we ever inclined to misrepresent the truth, just to look good in front of others? Give some examples of how we might do this.

2.  Peter’s role in this situation was merely to expose the sin. Somehow – obviously, by the Spirit – he had come to know that this couple’s actions were not on the up-and-up. What do you think is required to be so in tune and in touch with the Spirit that we can “hear” His prompts and cues throughout the day?

3. Ananias died (v. 5), perhaps because of the shock of being found out and embarrassed in front of the very people he’d been trying to impress. More likely, God brought this judgment on him as a way of saying to His Church, right here at the get-go, that you must not harbor sin in your midst. You will have no more success than Israel against Ai if you allow sin to find among you a place to root and flourish. The fear of God’s discipline resonated with the hearts of His people, just as it should (v. 5). Does your church practice church discipline, as outlined in Matthew 18.15-17 and 1 Corinthians 5?

4.  We should note, however, that just because Ananias sinned against God and the church, he was not treated scornfully or with disgrace in death. He was given a proper burial by members of the household of faith (v. 6). Does this signal that he was still acknowledged as a member of the Body of Christ, albeit one who had come under the discipline of the Lord? What does this suggest about how we should regard fellow believers who are under discipline?

5.  As Paul would explain to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 5; 2 Cor. 2.5-11), members of the church found to be in sin may deserve the discipline of the Body, but they never cease to deserve its love as well. This is the way to frustrate Satan (2 Cor. 2.10, 11). Suppose you’d been given the opportunity to counsel Ananias before he went to Peter. What would you have said to him?

God intends the church – His assembly, body, and temple – to be a holy community. The actions taken in Acts 5 are strong, but they were necessary at this critical stage of the church’s life, and we can see the benefit that came from this discipline as we read through the rest of Acts 5. Why do you suppose churches today are reluctant to practice church discipline?

Closing Prayer
O LORD, do not rebuke me in Your wrath,
Nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure!
For Your arrows pierce me deeply,
And Your hand presses me down.
There is no soundness in my flesh
Because of Your anger,
Nor any health in my bones
Because of my sin.
For my iniquities have gone over my head;
Like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me.
My wounds are foul and festering
Because of my foolishness.
I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly;
I go mourning all the day long.
For my loins are full of inflammation,
And there is no soundness in my flesh.
I am feeble and severely broken;
I groan because of the turmoil of my heart.
LORD, all my desire is before You;
And my sighing is not hidden from You…
For I will declare my iniquity;
I will be in anguish over my sin.

Psalm 38.1-9, 18

T. M. Moore

Each week’s studies in Acts are bound together into a free PDF that you can download for personal or group use (click here). Each week also features a video related to the studies of the week, which you may find helpful as you work through our studies in Acts.

Acts is the record of Christ’s ongoing work as King and Lord. For more insight into His work in our here and now, order the book,
The Kingship of Jesus, from our online store by clicking here.

Please prayerfully consider supporting The Fellowship of Ailbe by sending a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452. Or, you can click here to donate online through credit card or PayPal.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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