Week of: March 28, 2011
Sharing by: Pam Crawford
Then Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart? You lied to the Holy Spirit, and you kept some of the money for yourself? The property was yours to sell or not sell, as you wished. And after selling it, the money was yours to give away. How could you do a thing like this? You weren’t lying to us, but to God.
What does it look like? Can it be used by Satan to “bait” us into doing something we might not generally consider doing? These were questions I looked at as I recently studied the story of Ananias and Sapphira in the Book of Acts, chapter 5. If you have not yet had the opportunity to read this account, may I suggest you do so before moving on? Their story has been helpful to me as I continue to work at recognizing when I’m being lured into compromise.
I realize that not everybody is comfortable in hearing about Satan. In fact, I get that some might be of the opinion that I’m giving Satan way too much attention by writing about him and the bait he lays out before us. And, I am also aware that there are some who believe that they are so well protected by God, that Satan can’t touch them. With all due respect, we are all entitled to our own opinion, however I would ask that we set aside our opinions to look at the words of the Apostle Peter and John. They both give us two key warnings.
1 Peter 5:8 - “Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour.” (LASB)
John 10:10 - “The thief’s purpose is to steal, and kill and destroy.”
Peter and John wrote Scripture so that future generations (us) might know the will of God. And, their writings were to educate people regarding God’s enemy the devil. In his article titled Satan, John W. Ritenbaugh of the Berean helps us to get a better understanding of Ananias and Sapphira. We should take note that these were two churchgoers who failed to take Satan into consideration when they decided to listen to a lie. Consequently they ended up paying a hefty price for compromising their integrity.
by John Ritenbaugh
“They listened to a lie and were divided, first, from God's church and then from life itself. What did Satan do? He moved them toward self-satisfaction to the point (the actual sin) that they lied to take credit for a greater sacrifice than they actually made.
The sad part of this is that no one asked them to donate the entire sale price of the piece of land. What happened was they committed themselves to it and then undoubtedly began to feel put on. "Hey, Sapphira, that's too much money." Maybe they began to think, "We didn't expect we'd get so much money from the sale of this, and it is too much to donate." They began to think, undoubtedly, of other uses that they could put the money to. "We could buy new clothes. We could improve the house. We could buy another piece of land as an investment and make even more from it."
They had apparently already told those who were in charge of the collection that they would contribute the entire amount of the sale, and when the time came to give the contribution, they gave only a part of it but let on as if it was the entire sale price. They kept the difference for themselves.
Who led them to dare to lie? Satan has a modus operandi. He will always move us in the direction of self-satisfaction at the expense of obedience to God, service to God, or service to others, so that we elevate ourselves over the others.
Is that not what Satan did originally? In his own mind, his vanity elevated him higher than the position God had given to him, and it then began to work on his mind so that he had to do something about it. This process repeats itself over and over again.”
Ananias and Sapphira are not alone. We too face the challenge on a regular basis to remain faithful to the standards of Christian living. If Satan can get us to believe that God is withholding something good from us, he has successfully laid the bait. Deception can worm its way in at any moment and that’s why we’re told to be on guard. Don’t take my word for it, just look around our world today. Our divorce rate, conflict within families, financial destruction, and the many addictions people fall prey to on a daily basis are a clear indication that we have fallen for the lies. For a believer, self-satisfaction will tempt us to pick up the bait of compromise, so let’s continue to be aware of our surroundings.
Lord, thank you for the reminder that if we don’t have something, it’s not because You desire to keep something good from us. You knew what was best in the Garden of Eden and Father you still know what is best for us today. May we acknowledge that the big picture belongs only to You? Help us to reject the bait of self-satisfaction and compromise when it rears its ugly head. May we rest in the satisfaction and contentment that is found in You. Thank you for warning us when danger is near. May we have eyes and ears to recognize it? In Your son’s name we pray. Amen
Additional Scripture: Genesis 3
Book Suggestion: The Bait of Satan by John Bevere
“Satan will use something that seems right at the moment, but his ultimate plan is to use that to our own destruction or death. When we are settled in trusting God, we are not moved from the Father’s care. We will not succumb to the temptation to care for ourselves.”