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) 14| Breathing| Acts 5:10 “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 5:10). We have had several discussions about the consequences of the lives of Ananias and Sapphira. Various commentaries say God struck them dead because of their disobedience. The reading in English could lead you to the same conclusion. The steps of the story are simple. Ananias and Sapphira contrived to sell their land and hold back a part of the selling price for themselves. That withholding was acceptable, except they said the funds they presented to Peter was the full selling price. In hypocrisy, they appeared to give it all. However, this progression views only the physical activity involved. In light of the world’s sin, their actions do not seem that serious. Luke gives us insight into the spiritual activities through Peter’s questioning of Ananias. A raging spiritual war involved Satan and the Holy Spirit. The stakes were high; this couple faced life and death; the war determined their eternal destinies. When Peter confronted their sin, Ananias and Sapphira immediately died. First, Ananias was carried out by the young men, and three hours later, the same young men carried Sapphira out. We must understand this story in the context of the New Testament as a whole. Listen to what Peter, who confronted Ananias and Sapphira, wrote in one of his epistles. “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). The heart of the mission statement of Jesus is “for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Jesus Himself assured us that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16). The intent of this love is “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17). The evidence from the New Testament surrounds the confrontation of Ananias and Sapphira’s sin. God did not stick them with death; He offered them life! Because Jesus paid the penalty for this couple’s sin, there was nothing to punish. As they arrived in the moment of confrontation, the forgiveness of God was already theirs, in place, and abundant. Already forgiven by God, they needed to respond to God’s ever-present grace. God did not punish Ananias and Sapphira, but there were consequences for their sin. God was not to blame for these consequences; blame the devil; blame their lack of proper response, but do not blame God! We need to gain some understanding of what happened by looking at Sapphira’s circumstances. Peter confronted Sapphira three hours after Ananias’ death. He established their agreement (symphony) in the physical act of sin. They had linked with the evil spiritual world. Because of that link, the consequence Ananias experienced now came to Sapphira. “Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last” (Acts 5:10). There are three aspects of this verse we need to understand. Destruction The destruction of “breathed her last” overcame Sapphira. Ananias and Sapphira lied about the sale price of their property, but that is not Luke’s emphasis here. He says nothing about the loss of their reputation in the early Church community. Peter did not place Sapphira on probation with the possibility of reinstatement into full membership. The consequence of her sin comes from the core of her existence. It is a note of finality. “Ekpsucho” is the Greek translation for “breathed her last.” The prefix of this word is “ek,” meaning “from” or “out of.” The root word “psucho” means “to breathe.” This compound word is used only three times in the New Testament, and two of these times are in our story. Death is involved in the meaning of the word, but there are six other Greek words used to describe death. “Thnesko” means “to die;” “apothnesko” means “to die off or out;” “koimaomai” means “to fall asleep;” “teleutao” and “appollumi” mean “to die or expire;” “apoginomai” means “to be away from.” None of these words indicate death as the extinction of being, but each suggests a change in the state of existence. When a person dies, he goes from one state to another, but does not enter into extinction! Out of all these Greek words for death, why does Luke choose to use the Greek word “ekpsucho?” Again, “ek” is a prefix to the root word “psucho,” meaning “from” or “out of.” “Psucho” is an interesting word, which means “to breathe, blow, refresh with cool air, or breathe naturally. “Psuche,” the noun for “soul,” is derived from the verb “psucho.” In the passage voice, “psuchomai,” means “to be cool, to grow cool or cold in a spiritual sense.” Jesus told the disciples, “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of man will grow cold (psuchomai)” (Matthew 24:12). However, “psucho,” translated as “soul,” leads to confusion. The New Testament uses this word as the principle of life that is present in human beings and animals (Revelation 8:9). It is life’s energy that exists in every living being. God said, “Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life (psucho), I have given every green herb for food” (Genesis 1:30). Humanity is considered a dichotomy in the Old Testament. The material and the immaterial unite to form the human being. The material is the body or the “soma,” and the immaterial is the “psucho.” The creation story describes man as, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being (psucho)” (Genesis 2:7). The breath of life God placed in humanity has two parts. There is the principle of living (psucho) and the spirit (pneuma). Even though animals may share “psucho” with humanity, it appears they do not have “pneuma.” The “psucho” is the seat of the senses, desires, affections, appetites, passions, and the lower aspects of one’s nature. The “pneuma” is the immaterial part of the personality that gives us the ability to communicate with God. The Spirit of God fills the spirit of man (pneuma). In the merger, they become one! This new “spirit/Spirit” engulfs the “psucho” or principle of life and controls all desires, affections, passions, and appetites of the human being. This new creature is a living demonstration of God’s heart, and the principle of that life (psucho) gives the expression of who God is! Not to be possessed with His Spirit, but filled with “self,” makes the principle of life dominated by the spirit of man. The desires, affections, passions, appetites, become an expression of the self-centered person. If Jesus does not fill the “pneuma” of man, he is open to the infilling and influence of Satan, which always brings the consequence of destruction. The Spirit of Jesus did not fill Ananias and Sapphira. Be assured this is not about one decision. The idea of keeping back part of the price for themselves expressed the progression of what happened in their spirits. The destruction occurred daily as they lived in hypocrisy in the fellowship of the early Church. Peter said that Satan filled their “pneuma” (spirit) to influence their “psucho” (principle of life) to lie. He highlighted the evil activity in their spiritual lives. Their spirit (pneuma) consistently destroyed their principle of life (psucho). Now, in this final scene, Sapphira’s principle of life (her psucho) separated her body in death. The message is clear! The principle of life (psucho) fills the body (soma), upon which the spirit (pneuma) acts. God intended the spirit of man to merge with the Spirit of God, enhancing, building, and constructing the principle of life (psucho). If you and I do not merge with Jesus, we live in destruction. We may not fall at the feet of Peter and die, but we continuously defeat and destroy ourselves and everything around us. The principle of life (psucho) decays within us. Jesus must fill us! Dependency Let me summarize the concept of the verse. The human being is a dichotomy in structure, consisting of the physical and spiritual. The physical aspect is the body, which is the flesh, the physical aspect of life. The inner being is the life energy consisting of the desires, affections, passions, and appetites. This internal life principle dominates and dictates the actions of the physical person. However, joining the internal life principle is the spirit of man, the aspect of man created by God, which He can fill with Himself, merged with Him. In this merger, the unique personality of the person takes on the heart of God. This spiritual aspect dictates the desires, affections, passions, and appetites of the person. In oneness with Jesus, the human being expresses the desires of God, has the mind of Christ and expresses God’s heart through the principle of life merged with the Spirit of Jesus. “But” is a tragic word. The man entered into sin! Instead of God filling the spirit of man, the man was on his own. The man’s principle of life floundered with dependence on his spirit, void of God’s Spirit. Questioning Ananias, Peter asked, “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” (Acts 5:3)? The Greek word “nosphizo” translated, “keep back. . . for yourself,” means “to hold back or refuse to hand over.” “Nosphizo,” in the middle voice, “the subject of the verb, is affected by its action or acts upon itself.” It shows a personal preference, is in the infinitive mood, which signifies purpose. The purpose of what Ananias and Sapphira did was selfish and for self-benefit. In the absence of God, the spirit of man took control. Would we not suppose that God filled Ananias and Sapphira with His Spirit? They were involved in the early Church, and something radical had happened to them. But they had undoubtedly dethroned the Spirit of Jesus, and self took over the throne. Is this not the re-enactment of the first sin, Adam and Eve? The temptation of Satan was for them to become their god. Instead of the human spirit (pneuma) coming under the influence and authority of God, they lived independently and became their god. The actions revolved around a rebellious act of disobedience and independence. Our passage leaves us with two conclusions, which are indisputable because of biblical truth and the consistent experience of humanity. First, the “core” of every sin is this same rebellious act. Man expresses an attitude of independence from the influence of God. All sins are equal in their severity; there are no small or insignificant sins. The core of both hate and murder is the self-centered control of the life principle, which affects my desires, appetites, and expressions of life. Ananias and Sapphira retained money that was rightfully theirs but proposed they had given it all. Although their sin was not as shocking as some, their nature of rebellion produced the embezzlement, which was severe. The issue was not their deed, but the cause of the rebellion that did not allow the Spirit of God to control the principle of life. A second conclusion is “consequence.” The consequence of shifting from Jesus’ Spirit to my spirit controlling my life principle is destruction. Luke used the Greek word “ekpsucho” to describe the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira. “Ekpuscho” is about the destruction of the principle of life (psucho) in the person. Although the destruction of Ananias and Sapphira was death, the result of every self-centered rulership over the principle of life (psucho) is destruction. Self-centered ruling always eliminates life. If we allow self-centeredness to dominate relationships, it will undermine the life and bring nothing but hate. When self rules the appetites, it focuses on the immediate pleasure and destroys the long-range destiny of the person. Nothing constructive ever comes from such expressions. The principle of life (psucho) is dependent. Something or someone will control our desires, affections, passions, and appetites. Through the sacrificial redemption of Christ, God designed us to merge with the Spirit of Jesus, to live under His control and authority. If we are not dependent on Christ, we will depend on ourselves. We are not adequate for that position. We can only find life in Jesus; we find destruction in self! Direction The language Luke uses is significant for declaring spiritual truth. He said, “She fell down” (Acts 5:10), a translation of the Greek word “pipto.” Luke said the same thing about Satan (Luke 10:18). Sapphira fell down into death, destruction, and ruin, all depicted in the imagery. Herein lies the cry of the Christian faith. Every person possesses the “psucho,” the principle of life. The spirit ((pneuma), which sources the principle, determines the state of this principle. This spirit is the internal part of the person that can merge with God. When the spirit of man is sourced and merges with the Spirit of Jesus, the person lives in what the Bible calls “eternal life.” “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3). In the church at Corinth, the people were confused about the resurrection from the dead. Many were concerned that their loved ones had died and missed the return of Jesus. Did this mean they would not be in heaven? In answering their questions, Paul focused them on Jesus. He said, “And so it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being (psucho).’ The last Adam became a life-giving (zoopoieo) Spirit (pneuma)” (1 Corinthians 15:45). The first Adam became a living “psucho.” God created him with the principle of life. But Jesus became a “life-giving (zoopoeio) Spirit (pneuma).” The mission of Jesus was to ultimately defeat sin and death’s destructive power that His Spirit could merge with the human spirit and give eternal life. “Zoo” is the Greek word for “life.” “Poieo” is translated “giving,” the Greek word consistently used for “trees bearing fruit.” It is the picture of Jesus’ Spirit merging with the spirit of man to source his body through the principle of life. Eternal life is the term for all Jesus’ accomplishes in this sourcing. There is no “falling down” in this involvement. Paul said that death is swallowed up in victory because God removed the sting of death. The sting of death is sin (1 Corinthians 15:54-56). Ananias “fell down and breathed his last” (Acts 5:5), and Sapphira “fell down at his feet and breathed her last” (Acts 5:10). The question Peter asked remained unanswered by them. Why would they allow their self-centered spirits to source their principle of life (desires, affections, passions, and appetites) when they could have merged with the Spirit of Jesus? Why did they settle for temporary self-sourcing when God could have sourced them eternally? Why did they choose the downward spiral of death when they could have chosen to be up in Jesus? Why? Why? Why? We must ask ourselves the same questions! We are in the midst of the spiritual war, which God fights on the stage of our lives. The central issue is the merger of Jesus’ life and my life. He has made provision for us!