When Sin Entered the Church
This week’s Sunday Sermon comes from the arguably lesser popular verse of Acts 5:1-11, and it the reasons for it’s lesser popularity are understandable. This week, we learn of how sin entered the early Church and how sin entered the Church; so that we may better learn to adopt God’s attitude towards sin.
So, how did sin enter the early Church and how can it still enter the modern Church (one can only be so jolly in discussing such a topic, although it is a very crucial topic to be addressed within the Church)?
There is room to be concerned with one’s own self-image
The verse recounts the hypocrisy in Ananias and Sapphira’s actions, which was a direct contrast to the previously discussed, Barnabas. To understand the passage fully, we should know that there were no rules obligating the early Church give. Most church members gave generously as moved by the Holy Spirit.
However, this couple (let’s call them A+S) lied about how much they gave (v.2) for the sake of wanting to ‘appear’ godlier than they were. In doing so, we can assume that A+S lived their lives on the basis of pursuing status rather than pursuing God. Being wrapped in their own self-image, they allowed themselves to fall into hypocrisy within the environment of a Spirit-filled Church.
There is a prompting to induce people to sin
There is this wonderful image given about how great it is when a household family devotes themselves to serving God. There is also an equally (and oppositely) depressing image of when a family devotes themselves to rebel against God.
Sin entered the early Church because people were willing to drag others to sin and be dragged to sin. In this case, Ananias' desire for prestige was greater and higher than his desire to be truthful which led Sapphira into sin. Even in the selfless concern that believers had for each other, Satan saw an opportunity to attack the church. He thought he might find people who could be tempted to share with the wrong motive. Satan knew that if he was going to damage the church, it wasn’t going to happen from the outside; he was going to attack on the inside.
The sin of A+S is almost a call back to many other major falls in scripture, such as Adam and Eve, Judas, and various others. What is interesting is that these falls occur in the presence of a Godly community of sorts (Eden for Adam and Eve; Discipleship for Judas). James 1:15 summarises it best on how sin is conceived and the consequence (I’ll let you read that one for yourselves).
There is submission to the will of sin
It’s important to note here that being tempted to sin is not a sin, however, submitting to temptation would lead one to commit a sin. This submission to sin comes from one’s own heart, as Proverbs 4:2 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
For A+S, their sin was born out of their heart’s desire for prestige and appearance in the Church. In doing so, they submitted to their desires (which did not come from God, but from Satan) and fell into the trap of hypocrisy together.
This week's sermon was definitely a difficult (I dare say, scary) message, but it’s also one that needs the attention it deserves. Hypocrisy, as with many sins, is a dangerous sin to fall into. We can’t assume the Church is automatically safe from sin as long as the devil is looking for a way in. The Church should actively be trying to address and fight against sin in all its forms.
We thank You so much that You know what is good for us,
and that you teach us to guard our hearts against temptation.
We pray Lord, that You provide us with the wisdom to be more aware of hypocrisy
And that as we grow in Christ, we would have fewer places in our hearts to sin to hide.
We ask for your forgiveness if there is anything we hide from you,
And ask that You alone stay Lord of our hearts and lives.
We thank you for Your Grace Lord, We thank you for your Son Jesus,
That you provided us deliverance.
In Jesus’ name,