The Agreed Resolve The Sermon Continued Acts 5:1-11 Ananias & Sapphira “Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” (Acts 5:4) 13| An Agreement| Acts 5:9-10 “Then Peter said to her, ‘How is 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 down 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” (Acts 5:9-10). The experience of Christianity dwells mostly in the realm of the abstract, creating difficulty for my masculinity. Sometimes I feel like I exist in only half of what God intended, which may be why God gave me a wife to help me in an area where I do not do well. After many years, I am willing to admit this problem, which is half the battle. Many men have issues with the church movement. The feminine approach to life that seems to shape the programs of the church repulses them. They see the church as a need of children and women, but it is not concrete enough for them. The use of feminine and masculine nouns is crucial in the original language of the Scriptures depicting the mystical element of Christianity. Rules, programs, and activities appeal to the concrete approach of the masculine. However, I find these are lifeless and routine without the feminine aspect. I was amazed to discover that everything I want in life appears as feminine in the Scriptures. Prayer, love, faith, and spiritual blessings are all in the feminine gender. Duty and obligation (masculine) begin to live when love and faith (feminine) are present. With the feminine gender, things move beyond understanding. I can measure, gage, and fix things in the masculine, operating by the laws that I can manage. Masculine is factual and always the same. The steps to becoming a Christian are repentance and belief. If anyone does these two things, salvation is theirs. The problem is that repentance and belief are not concrete. Repentance says I am sorry for committing a list of sins. Belief is not merely stating the creed of the Bible because the Bible tells us that the devil believes. Therefore, no one can manufacture on their own mystical, feminine, or abstract elements involved in these steps. Rules and programs never produced the Christian martyrs. People do not give their lives for the concrete. Christianity is a relationship with Jesus! However, even that language may be too weak to describe the intimacy involved. In the Old Testament, the relationship between God and man was a covenant. A covenant is an agreement enacted between two parties in which one or both make promises in advance, under oath, to perform or refrain from stipulated actions. This agreement is a concrete approach to relationships. However, in the New Testament, while we may refer to it as a covenant, it is far beyond the concrete (masculine). The New Testament covenant injects the element of the feminine. The union of God and man in oneness creates something new, the Kingdom person! The New Testament expresses it verbally in “born again” (John 3:3), “born of the Spirit” (John 3:8), “children of God” (John 1:12), or “You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us” (John 17:21). The mystery of the marriage relationship is evident in children! Marriage is a covenant relationship that is far beyond the performance of rules and or laws. Marriage dwells in emotions, attitudes, feelings, and the mystical expression of love. A person may see marriage as a concrete covenant that can be broken by divorce. The son or daughter, who is the physical expression of marriage unity, will never agree. Two people came together to form the child’s life, and divorce rips that child apart. What does this do to them? Paul said, “This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:32). You might think the actions of Ananias and Sapphira were harmless. After all, it was their money, and they were still generous to the church. Their story may be the view of the concrete, masculine approach. But this is not the opinion of the New Testament. Sin is not a Divine law that is broken and must receive an ascribed punishment. The Divine law does not come from God, removed from human relationship. He did not view human society and arbitrarily establish a law structure that allows us to exist together peacefully. When we break these laws, God already has a punishment assigned in advance. No! No! The Divine law is an expression of His Divine nature with which we have an intimate relationship. He fills us with His nature, we merge with His Spirit, and He creates a new creature in the fusion of our life with His. This oneness is not concrete, but abstract, on the highest level. Every sin is not the breaking of a law but a violation of His Person. We can see this in our passage. Agreement In our passage, “have agreed together” is a translation of the Greek word “symphoneo.” “Smyphoneo” proposes the idea of being in accord or coming to an agreement. The undercurrent is the concept of linking, union, harmony, or oneness. “Symphoneo” is used six times in the New Testament, four times referring to a personal relationship. Jesus used the word to describe His presence interacting with the believers. The disciples rebuked Him when Jesus first predicted His death and resurrection (Matthew 16:22). The idea of redemption through bleeding, suffering, and dying seemed foreign to them. During their lives, the offering of sacrificial lambs for redemption was the practice. Yet, they argued with Jesus for six-days about the sacrifice of crucifixion (Matthew 17:1). Three of the disciples were at the Mount of Transfiguration as verification of redemption through suffering. Because of their argument, the other nine disciples found their ministry shut down (Matthew 17:14-20). Their disagreement with Jesus affected their relationships with each other. They argued over positions in the coming Kingdom (Matthew 18:1). Jesus spoke to the disciples about “agreement (symphoneo),” beginning with the link that must happen between heaven and earth. He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 18:18). We must never think we can decide something in the physical and control the spiritual. Jesus proposed an agreement, link, harmony, and oneness between what is happening in the spiritual and physical realms. Jesus continued to verify the truth. “Again I say to you that if two of you agree (symphoneo) on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven” (Matthew 18:19). He began with the word “again,” repeating what He already said. He went on to describe the agreement as “symphoneo,” which is the root word of our English word “symphony.” Musical instruments come in all sizes, shapes, and varieties, stringed, brass, drums, and cymbals. An artistic masterpiece becomes a symphony when all the instruments come together. Jesus proposed a harmony or symphonic agreement between the spiritual and physical realms within the context of two or more believers. What would be the result of such a symphony?” “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). The symphony of heaven and earth within the believers produces the presence of Jesus. Jesus is the revelation of complete harmony between heaven and earth, the link of oneness we know as Christianity. We dwell in a harmonious state when we merge with Jesus. Our lives give forth the music of the symphony! We have to make it known that an agreement between the spiritual and physical realms is not optional. Our lives will and must reflect the spiritual and physical link. Peter confronted Sapphira with this agreement. He asked, “How is it that you have agreed together (smyphoneo) to test the Spirit of the Lord” (Acts 5:9)? The sin of Ananias and Sapphira was not a simple lie or the embezzlement of funds. The physical act of these sinful deeds revealed a harmony or link with Satan in the spiritual world (Acts 5:3). Had they at one time experienced the merger with the Holy Spirit? Had they given their lives to Christ in a symphonic harmony with His nature? Even if the answer to these questions is yes, a shift had taken place in their spiritual lives. They still had a part with the church movement and ministry, but something had happened in their link with Jesus. The connection between the spiritual and the physical gives us a new view of sin! Christianity is not about God, who has arbitrarily established laws to govern society. The world says when a person disobeys a rule, God, the judge, inflicts the established punishment for the crime. There is no close link between the law, the sinner, and the punishment. However, Christianity proposes the opposite. There is a close relationship between the Trinity God and the law. The Old Testament law is a symphony flowing from God’s nature. God did not arbitrarily establish the law to keep people within the boundaries of decency. The law is the pulse beat of God’s heart. Therefore, sin is not the breaking of the law that does not matter in the future; it is a violation of the nature of God. Sin disrupts the symphony of physical and spiritual intimacy with God. Every sin is against God (Psalms 5:1-4). If I lose my temper and physically harm a person, that is sin. Someone calls the police, and the police bring me before the judge. I broke the law of the land, but the judge has no involvement in my action. However, the judge, according to the law, sentences me to jail as punishment for my crime. Christianity is entirely different! If I lose my temper and harm someone, the judge before whom I stand is the one I injured. He bears the pain of my action; He suffers the consequences of my choice. Jesus experiences the full weight of my sin in Himself, so I do not suffer punishment. God forgives my sin and completely restores my link with Him, the one I violated. “We implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:20-21). My sin destroyed the symphony between my life and God’s heart, but God took the full weight of the punishment for the violation that He might bring me back into harmony with Him! Peter asked Sapphira, “How it is that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord” (Acts 5:9). The statement refers to Ananias and Sapphira agreeing together to do this evil thing. But there is so much more. Their agreement was not a concrete covenant between two people to commit an act. There was an agreement of harmony with them and the spiritual forces of evil. What they did was not a lie or lack of generosity to the church. Ananias and Sapphira harmonized with evil in a war against the Holy Spirit. We must understand the sin in our lives in light of this war. Assessment According to Peter’s statement, Ananias and Sapphira were in harmony with the evil of the spiritual world and attempted “to test the Spirit of the Lord.” The Greek word “peirazo” translated “to test,” a morally neutral word. “Peirazo” is not bad or evil, and it is not good or beneficial. The testing takes on the character of the person who does the testing. If Satan does the testing, we call it “temptation.” If God does the testing, we know it is a test to strengthen us in our relationship with Him. In our passage, the verb “peirazo” is an infinitive, meaning connection with the main verb to give purpose. Ananias and Sapphira agreed together and linked with the spiritual evil to test the Spirit of the Lord. This link with evil is something of a contradiction; if Satan is involved, the act is a temptation to embrace evil. But, “God cannot be tempted (peirazo) by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone” (James 1:13). Therefore, it is foolish to instigate a situation in which we catch God in evil. Satan’s temptation of Jesus in the wilderness created the same situation (Matthew 4:1-11). After forty days of intense spiritual warfare, Jesus and Satan entered the climax of the battle. In the second of the last three temptations, Satan took Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple. The pinnacle of the temple is where the priest blows the horn to announce the time to offer the sacrificial lamb. Satan suggested to Jesus that He leap from the pinnacle and allow the angels to rescue Him. Such a spectacular deliverance would gain the attention of all Jerusalem and give Jesus immediate credence for ministry. Satan temptation would bring quicker and easier deliverance than the cross. Jesus quoted to Satan this Scripture, “You shall not tempt the Lord your God” (Matthew 4:7; Deuteronomy 6:16). Both with Jesus and now Ananias and Sapphira, the issue was not a temptation to do an evil deed, but to compromise the boundaries. If God’s will was to sell the property and give the proceeds to the church for ministry, could they accomplish this by not giving it all? What if we could redeem the world without suffering the crucifixion? Would that be acceptable? What difference would it make? Could we give less than all and still qualify? Will God accept partial giving within His will? The answer is, “NO.” The consistent attitude of the Christian must always be total commitment. The deed may be flawed, but the manner of surrender requires completeness. Ananias and Sapphira linked with spiritual evil to reduce the boundaries of abandonment to Jesus. Anything less than complete and total surrender, and all in love, is not acceptable to Jesus! Any agreement that links us with spiritual evil manifests a half-heartedness that the Kingdom will not tolerate. Attachment Let us return to the original illustration of Ananias and Sapphira. We cannot agree with the evil of the spiritual world because it nullifies all that is Christian. If Christianity is a list of rules to keep, perhaps we can increase our commitment by keeping more rules. Therefore, statements like, “I am trying my best,” “I am doing better than I was,” or “I am improving” would apply. But Christianity is not rules to do, ceremonies to carry out, or meetings to attend. Christianity is a relationship with a Person, Jesus. The relationship is not casual but a merger. All that Jesus is merges with all that I am! We must define sin by this relationship with Jesus. It is not about the act, a deed done, or not done. Sin is the inner motive and state of love within each person. Anything less than completely loving Jesus is not within the boundaries of Christian. The early Church was passionate about Jesus. Everything we read about them in the Book of Acts projects completeness to their love for Christ. Being one with Jesus demands total availability. The musical drama He wants to produce from you requires a symphonic agreement with His Person. Let me testify about Him! He captured me! After knowing Jesus in His greatness, I realize no one can be half-hearted about Him and really know Him. Everything else pales in light of who Jesus is! When Jesus brings what I have planned into His plan, what I have planned becomes insignificant. The pleasures of the world are empty and filled with death without His presence. Think of what Ananias and Sapphira sacrificed for a few dollars. They linked with spiritual evil and lost everything. The Trinity God calls you to surrender completely to Jesus. Will you allow Him to tear down all the barriers and blockades that keep you from Him? Will you set aside every hindrance? Listen to the writer of the Book of Hebrews. “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).