Acts 5:1-11: Lying to God

Person standing with large pointed out nose from lying too much

I would like to discuss a story in the Book of Acts that sheds light about two people who lied to God. Let me first be clear that we all will fall short from time to time in our walk with the Lord, and that is why we need to continually seek God. Romans 3:23 (KJV) reminds us, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”. The two people who end up lying to God are Ananias and Sapphira, it is believed that Ananias made a promise to God that he would give all proceeds of a future sale of his land to God. However, we will find out that Ananias will not follow through with how he is supposed to handle the proceeds of the sale, and his wife Sapphira will conspire this act with him.

The Act of Lying Committed and then Confronted

Let’s begin by looking at Acts 5:1-2 (NKJV), “But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession.  And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”.  So, they were supposed to bring the full proceeds to the church, but they didn’t. In this act, Ananias and his wife are both guilty of lying to God. Acts 5:3-4 (NKJV) continues, “But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself?  While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.””. Peter knew immediately that Ananias was lying not only to the church but to God. Peter was able to pick up on this lie only because he was filled with the Holy Spirit and had a discerning spirit.  Peter rebukes what Ananias has done and questions him as to why he let Satan filled his heart to lie to God. We know that Satan is the father of all lies, in John 8:44 (NKJV) Jesus told us, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”.

The Reaction of Ananias and His Wife

Many people, when confronted with a lie, will try to defend themselves, but because Ananias lied to God something different took place. Acts 5:5-10 (NKJV) continues, “Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things.  And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him. Now it was about three hours later when his wife came in, not knowing what had happened.  And Peter answered her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?” She said, “Yes, for so much.” Then Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.”  Then immediately she fell at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her by her husband.”. Ananias and his wife both fell and died when they are confronted, they knew that they did wrong to the Lord. Now there were other people around when this happened, and I don’t know about you but if I saw someone who fell and died after being convicted of a lie, I would be scared. Everyone has lied at some point in their life, and even probably after becoming a born-again Christian. We may all tell white lies from time to time or even bigger lies. No matter the size of the lie the Lord does not approve of it in any way. I am saying this because we can all be guilty of lying, along with other sins, even myself can be guilty. Therefore, we need to always be in an attitude of repentance to the Lord, because it is our inherited nature from Adam to sin.

What is a Vow to God?

Let me clarify, the example of lying we see in Acts chapter 5 is not comparable to the white lies we might tell people in our everyday life from time to time (even though those are still a sin). Their lie was to God, and it broke a vow they had obviously made to God on giving all the proceeds to the church of the sale of their land. God will not tolerate a broken vow that was made in His name.

Old Testament Scriptures on Vows to God

I would like to give you a few scriptures from the Old Testament regarding vows to God:

•    Deuteronomy 23:21 (NKJV): “When you make a vow to the Lord your God, you shall not delay to pay it; for the Lord, your God will surely require it of you, and it would be sin to you.”

•    Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 (NKJV): “When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; For He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed— Better not to vow than to vow and not pay.”

•    Numbers 30:2 (NKJV): “If a man makes a vow to the Lord or swears an oath to bind himself by some agreement, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.”

A Vow Must Be Kept!

It is made very clear that vows made to God must be kept, a broken vow to God would be considered lying to God. Oral vows made in the name of the Lord are the equivalent to a modern-day written contract. Here is an example we might be able to relate to if you have a contractor do a renovation to your house and if they don’t follow through on delivering something, they agreed to in their contract with you, they could get in legal trouble. So just like in our modern day written contracts, oral vows made to God are not taken lightly. If someone breaks a modern-day written contract there are consequences, just like there are consequences for breaking a vow made with God. Vows were usually made to the Lord in the form of service to be dedicated to the Lord or also could be a sacrifice in the act of worship towards the Lord.

Sin in the Church

Another take away from the story Ananias and his wife is that sin in the church is not tolerated by the Lord. Far too often today we see many well-known ‘ministers’ taking advantage of their funds coming into their ministry. We also see many people in church leadership misusing their authority. We could make a long list of the sins that take place in today’s churches. Instead of making a list, I would like to point us to Revelation 2:23 (NKJV) which says, “…and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.”.

Final Thoughts…

We all know that we will sin from time to time, and when we do, we need to repent. With how busy we can be every day we can often forget of sins that we have done throughout that day. We might label these sins as small, just like white lies. Regardless of what it is, we need to repent of it to God. When you repent of your sins to the Lord you will feel a weight come off your shoulders. I encourage you to ask the Lord to search your heart and reveal anything to you that you need to repent to Him about. This prayer is given to us in Psalm 139:23-24 (NKJV), “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.”. As you repent of your sins, it can be expected for the enemy to try to rehash those sins that you already repented of back into to your memory. When this happens, just start praying in the name of Jesus and start reading the Word. Also, when Satan tries to put a lie into your heart, remember that he is the father of all lies.