but peter said, “ananias, why has satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land?” [acts 5:3]
lying to the Holy Spirit
when the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. [john 16:13]
the Holy Spirit is not the spirit of lies, but the spirit of truth. he points us towards belief in Jesus and guides us in the full might of God’s power. this language “satan has filled your heart” is in sharp contrast to the Holy Spirit – they are walking not in step with and filled with the Spirit, but are walking in step with the enemy, the father of lies.
in this critical time for the church, when the gospel is spreading like wildfire across the earth, dedication to Christ was essential. believers were being persecuted for their faith, at first by jews and eventually by the romans, and their steadfast faith given by the Spirit allowed them to thrive in that persecution. if false commitment and surrender to Christ was allowed to infect the church in jerusalem at this time, it would have been a serious threat to this spread of the gospel.
this partial sacrifice, this giving to God while holding back some for ourselves, is pervasive especially in the western church today. claiming to be a Christ-follower hardly costs us anything—to many it even makes life easier. as a result, we struggle today with the fruit of partial sacrifice that God protected the early church from: lukewarm faith. Jesus says this to the lukewarm church in laodicea in revelation chapter 3:
i know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. would that you were either cold or hot! so, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, i will spit you out of my mouth. for you say, i am rich, i have prospered, and i need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.
[revelation 3:15-17]
to the cold, Jesus proclaimed the gospel! to the hot, Jesus continued to proclaim the gospel as he raised them up to serve and grow as his disciples. to the lukewarm, he gave this warning.
Lord, renew the hearts of the lukewarm! renew their thankfulness for what you have done, and stir that up into an unquenchable passion for you and your glory. help us to see where we have held some of our sacrifice back, where we’ve held back from fully surrendering ourselves to you. we are not able to do this in our own: please help!
~stephen hall