Sunday, February 13, 2011

Holding Back

When the church was just beginning, the sin of Ananias and Sapphira served as the ultimate object lesson about the need for faithfulness. Acts 5:1-11 tells all about their great lie. Peter said to Ananias, “You have not lied to men but to God” (Acts 5:4). To Sapphira he replied, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the spirit of the Lord?” (Acts 5:9).

Actually, they had lied to men as well as God. They had deceived the church into thinking they had done all they could. Peter was simply pointing out that nothing is worse than dishonesty to the Creator. To think that one could somehow fool God is ridiculous. To believe that person could justify partial obedience is not in harmony with God’s commandment. To “seem religious” is an abomination in the eyes of He who weighs the hearts of men (Proverbs 21:2).

Though Ananias and Sapphira committed a great sin before the Lord and His people, perhaps their greatest mistake was in what they did not do. They “held back” (Acts 10:2-3), while making it look like they were giving all. God knows about everything we have. Is there even one physical or spiritual possession, talent, or blessing that exists that He did not bestow (James 1:17)? Therefore, when the Master wants to visit concerning our progress, we should realize no hole is deep enough to bury our talent from His eyes (Matthew 25:25-27). There is no excuse at work or play, asleep or awake that will make holding back from God acceptable. God wants all or none, hot or cold, because in-between makes Him sick (Revelation 3:15-16).

The biggest barrier to church growth is the church itself. God has given every provision to the church. He has given His word, His Son, and His everlasting promise. He has equipped the saints for the work of ministry and edification (Ephesians 4:12). He has given abundantly that the church may reach “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13).

Holding back is for the Christian the most dangerous of sins. It attempts to disavow the promise one makes when obeying the gospel. It hurts the church because the world is observing the church’s level of dedication. It hurts individuals because they are deceived into thinking partial service is obedience. It weakens faith. It breeds apathy. It gives Satan a place to stay. It is sin punishable by death (James 4:17; Romans 6:23; Acts 5:5, 10).

When Ananias and Sapphira died, “great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things” (Acts 5:11). This fear led to the purification of the church, and to the glory of God. People stopped holding back, at least for a little while.

If God punished today the way He did then, who would be alive? Who would be dead? Who would respectively respond in obedience? Who would dare continue to “test the Spirit of the Lord” (Acts 5:9)?

“By myself I have sword, says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son, ‘in blessing I will bless you...’” (Genesis 22:16-17).

No comments:

Post a Comment