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Anyone who reads the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts
5 is certain to be taken aback by the horror of it. God, the
Holy Spirit, “zapped” this couple dead for telling a lie! Could
it happen to you? Is God still in the business of teaching
people a lesson in good conduct by executing them?

The inspired scripture record reads, “But 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? Whiles it remained,
was it not thine own? And after it was sold, was it not in thine
own power? Why has thou conceived this thing in thine
heart? Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. And
Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the
ghost; and great fear came on all them that heard these
things.” (Acts 5:3, 4). When Ananias' wife, Sapphira, came in
about three hours later, her fate was exactly the same – instant

We know they lied to the apostles, and through them the Holy
Spirit, about the price they received for their property sold in
accordance with the Lord's injunction, “Sell that ye have, and
give alms...” (Luke 12:33). He had made it clear to the rich
young ruler of Luke 18 that keeping the commandments was
not enough, but,“yet lackest thou one thing; Sell all that thou
hast, and distribute unto the poor and thou shalt have treasure
in heaven; and come, follow me.” Throughout the Lord's
earthly ministry to Israel, he said again and again that his
followers must sell all their possessions and rely totally on
God to provide for their physical needs. The believers of the
Pentecostal era did indeed follow this command, “And all that
believed were together, and had all things common, and sold
their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as
every man had need.” (Acts 2:44, 45). Why? Because after
our Lord's death, burial, and resurrection, and after his
ascension into heaven to await his “foes” being made his
“footstool,” (Acts 2:33-35), the prophesied tribulation (Dan.
9:27) was scheduled to begin in which a faithful remnant
would be gleaned from Israel's population, along with any
God-fearing Gentiles that wished to be saved through that
remnant. By refusing the “mark of the beast” (Rev. 13:16,
17), these tribulation believers would be unable to buy and

The Holy Spirit had arrived at Pentecost to begin his special

ministry to Israel in which their kingdom and the soon-return
of Christ (Acts 3:19-21) would result if they placed faith in
Jesus' name as messiah, and if God accepted their response to
his indictment against them (Lev. 26; Acts 7), and if they did
works “meet for repentance,” such as water baptism. (Acts
2:38). Israel was still laboring under a performance-based
acceptance system (the Law) with God, and that system had
now been expanded to include the very intents of their hearts.
(Matt. 5-7). Those Israelites wishing to join themselves to
God under the New Covenant instituted by Christ at his last
supper, but who failed to remain faithful during this time of
testing, would be swiftly cut off from the Covenant people as
the Law required -- by death. With the Holy Spirit overseeing
matters at this time, there was no need for a messy stoning on
the outskirts of the city. Could this happen to us? Are we, the
body of Christ -- a “new creature,” saved by grace through
faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ, completely apart from the
Law of Moses and the agency of the nation Israel -- under this
same performance-based acceptance system with God? Please
allow our Apostle Paul, to whom was given this dispensation
of the grace of God for us Gentiles (Eph. 3; Rom. 11:13), to
answer that question: “Knowing that a man is not justified by
the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we
have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by
the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law; for by the
works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” (Gal. 2:16). “For
Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that
believeth.” (Romans 10:6). “To wit, that God was in Christ,
reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their
trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of
reconciliation.” (2 Cor. 5:19).

You (and I) are blessed to be living in this dispensation of the

grace of God, in which a long-suffering God desires “all men
to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” All
of your sins have been paid for at the cross by Jesus Christ;
and all that remains is for you to accept that fact and thank
God for the free gift of eternal life that becomes yours at that
moment. What happened to the unfaithful couple in our story
in Acts 5 was in keeping with the law program that Israel was
still under at that time. The world, at this time, is not under
law, but under grace. Hasten to take hold of salvation in
Christ, so freely given, while God, in his mercy and long-
suffering, prolongs the day of grace.