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True or Untrue to God?
by David A. DePra
But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it, at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him. And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband. (Acts 5:1-10)
This event is the first recorded sin against the Holy Spirit after Pentecost. It is always wise to take note of the, "firsts," in the book of Acts. Often there are seed Truths contained therein which reveal the greater mind of God on a particular matter. Thus, God is speaking – indeed, He is WARNING US – about a sin that He takes very seriously when it is committed in His church. In this case, two people dropped dead as the consequence of this sin. If such a thing happened in your congregation, would you not sit up and take notice? Well, if you are a member of the Body of Christ it DID happen in your congregation. For all who are in Christ are members of the SAME body.
Ananais and Sapphira LIED. Note that: Their sin was A LIE. But don’t think of this as just a lie that they told. No. There was much more involved than simply a violation of one of the ten commandments. Actually, they had introduced a lie into the Truth – they had entered into a pure move of God, a move of the very Spirit of TRUTH, and they had brought into that a LIE. This was a FIRST for the new church. And the consequences show us how terrible this was in the eyes of God.
Anaias not only lied, but he was UNTRUE to God. This is a big question. Am I untrue to God? Then I am a lie -- and I will end up lying to the Holy Spirit. But if I am true to God then I will speak and live the Truth by the grace of God.
What lies are today found in the Body of Christ? What lies are permitted, committed, and affirmed, that bring contradiction and darkness to the Spirit of Truth? I’m speaking, not only of lying doctrines, but also of lying motives and intentions. I’m talking about people who seem to be living and serving for God, but who are there for themselves. Indeed, for that matter, what lies am I personally living out each day? This is the question, and it is the issue being dealt with in this passage.
Ananais and his wife lied. In fact, they conspired together to lie – it was a fully premeditated LIE. So right off the bat, we need to see that they had no excuse for their sin. This lie was not something they blurted out in the heat of a moment, or because they were embarrassed. It was not something they did because they found themselves in an awkward position. Nope. They deliberately and knowingly lied –they proactively planned to lie. Their sin was just that blatant.
The seriousness of this lie is seen in the consequences they suffered. They died. Some professing Christians lie all the time in churches today – I don’t know whether you realize that or not – but it is a fact. But we do not see any of them dropping dead. Thank God for His mercy. But having said that, Ananais and Sapphira did die – and that certainly gives us a glimpse of the seriousness that God attaches to the sin they committed.
Why was this sin so terrible? Well, we have to remember that the Holy Spirit had just been given. The move of God of that time was fresh and new, and had yet to be polluted by men. More specifically, God had moved upon the hearts of those in the church to freely give of their money and possessions to their brethren. They were selling possessions and giving the money so that it could be distributed to those in need.
And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. (Acts 4:31-35)
Now, as is the case with any real move of God, it is an expression CORPORATELY of the Truth – it is an expression of God Himself. What happened here was Truth being experienced and lived out. Those people saw something – they saw Jesus. And it resulted in what is described above. Thus, to bring a lie into this move of God was a terrible thing to do.
Why did the church begin to GIVE in this incredible way? You can see that this was not some, "fund raising project." It was not about people deciding that they should pool their interests. In fact, you do not see any COMMAND from God to give. No. Rather, this was voluntary and spontaneous. It was something that was fully of grace – it says that great grace was upon them all. This was the result of people seeing the Truth about God, and the result was that they were MADE TRUE – and the further result was that what they DID WAS TRUE – it was an expression of the Truth about God. In this case, for this time, GIVING was the expression of Christ. The Holy Spirit of Truth had so carried them away that they voluntarily and joyfully give.
There have been Christians that have tried to take what happened here in Acts and turn it into a law or principle to follow. They try to make giving in this way a mandate from God – they say it is an example of the, "true Body life." The problem with this is that any time you take what the Holy Spirit has done and try to make it operate as a religious system – a system that operates apart from Christ -- it will become a thing of death. We are supposed to live in Christ – not just live in a bunch of principles we derive from the Bible. But of course it is a waste of time to try to explain that to some Christians. They just won’t get it.
If there is one thing we need to see about what the church was doing here in Acts 4 and 5 it is this: They were expressing outwardly their inward realization of the Truth of Christ. That could ONLY result in a voluntarily giving. Not one of them gave because they HAD to give. None of them gave because there was some reward promised. No. This was PURE and it was of God – it expressed TRUTH in every way.
We must see that this was fully voluntary, and that this giving was NOT in any way commanded. Peter later states this clearly to Ananais. He said to him, "While it (your property) remained (in your possession), was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it (the money) not in your own power?" So the sin of Ananais was NOT that he refused to obey a command of God to give all. No, there was no command of God! Rather, his sin; this LIE, was grounded in something much worse.
Think about it. When the Holy Spirit began to move at that time, many in the church were selling possessions and voluntarily giving to the church. According to the words of Peter, it is quite possible that some sold land, but did NOT give all of the proceeds -- but gave only part of the proceeds – this would have been totally acceptable. Others may have just given some money. There was no mandate here that everyone give ALL they had. Rather, they simply considered that nothing belonged to them, and gave in accordance with what God was putting on their heart during this special time of grace. In short, all they had belonged to God. That was the Truth. They voluntarily rejoiced in the fact. That was the Truth. They were therefore free to give, or not to give, or to give in part. This is grace and this is always the Truth. But having said all of that, we find that Anaias did give only PART of what he got for his land – again acceptable. So what was his sin?
We know the outward expression of his sin was his LIE – Anaias said he had sold the land and was giving all of the money to the church. But he was not. He was giving only part of the proceeds.
Yet here is the question: But why did Anaias go to all of the trouble to lie about this? He surely knew that he was not obligated to give all of the proceeds of the land to the church. Yet he deliberately lied about it and pretended that he was indeed giving the entire amount. Why? What did he have to gain? Answer that and you will find out the REAL SIN and the REAL LIE – the outward being only the expression of it.
Actually, if we are talking only about the money, Anaias had NOTHING to gain by lying. In fact, if we are talking only about money, whatever Anaias gave the church was a subtraction to him, not a gain. He was never obligated to give a penny, and so whatever he gave was a subtraction to him. For example, if Anaias sold the land for, say, $10,000, and gave Peter $7,500, the full $10,000 belonged to him. He didn’t need to give a cent. So giving $7,500 and lying about it didn’t, "save him," the remaining $2,500! No. In fact, it cost him the $7.500. So why go to the trouble of giving ANYTHING, and lying about this, if he could have given NOTHING and remained right with God?
Well, people LIE for a reason, don’t they? And in this case, since the lie was premeditated, we can be sure there was a reason in the mind of Anaias behind his lie. So why did he lie?
Note something else. Peter said that, "Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Ghost." So SATAN himself was behind this. Sure. Satan always targets a move of the Holy Spirit. But Satan cannot just fill our hearts with his intentions unless we give him the material to work with. Thus, Anaias had lied because in his heart there was a LIE. There was something in the heart of Anaias that was UNTRUE to God, and which Satan could use to try to corrupt what God was doing in His church.
This is a vital point to see. If we are not TRUE to God – that is, if we are not fully committed to His will for His glory – then we are, by definition UNTRUE to Him. In other words, we have a personal gain or agenda in mind for following the Lord. This may be conscious or unconscious. But we can at least open ourselves to God for His Truth to set us free from our UNTRUTH. But if we will NOT – then to the degree that we are untrue to God it will come out in our living. One way or another it will.
God knows that most of us, at least in the beginning, follow Him for what we think we are going to get out of it. He knows that we are, to some degree, UNTRUE. The disciples were as they followed Jesus. But part of being committed to Christ – part of becoming TRUE TO GOD – is to open ourselves to God. If you and I really want the Truth, God will bring it. And when we see the Truth will make US TRUE. That is why the Truth sets us free.
The Truth always makes US TRUE TO GOD, because if we know the Truth, we see that HE is TRUE TO US. But if we have fenced part of ourselves off from God, and are not open to Him, then that part of us will be dark and untrue. It will give Satan material to work with. This is what happened to Anaias.
So let’s get to the answer. Why did Anaias LIE? There can be only one reason why Anaias lied about the price he received for the land: He wanted to APPEAR generous. He wanted to pretend he was in this move of God unto God’s glory. He had sold the land for a greater amount than he was giving, but he wanted it to look like he was giving HIS ALL. THIS WAS THE LIE. The motive here was NOT primarily money. It was PRIDE – Anaias wanted to appear generous and spiritual before the church.
Now let’s make sure we understand this sin: Anaias entered into a move of God – a move that was a corporate expression of the Truth – but he entered it with a lie. He lied by pretending that he was led by the Spirit to give all. He lied by pretending that he was spiritual, obedient, and a part of what God was doing. But in reality, Anaias was not a part of what God was doing. Rather, he attempted to USE what God was doing to make himself look good. Anaias tried to use God for his own pride. Indeed, Anaias not only lied about his actions, but HE HIMSELF WAS A LIE in the midst of the Truth God was expressing.
Can we grasp this great sin? What God was doing was REAL. Great grace was upon the church. There was nothing religious or fake about what God was doing. It was ministering, not only material possessions, but LIFE and TRUTH. But Anaias entered into that and was FAKE. HE was a lie. He lied – because his relationship with God WAS a lie. He was not giving because the grace of God was upon Him. He was not giving because He had given all of himself to God. No. He had not given all of himself to God, and this was proven in his actions. He had held back part of his heart from the Lord, but was pretending as if he fully belonged to the Lord. The business about the land and the money was merely how his true heart was exposed.
Do we seriously think that God does not know our hearts? Do we think that we can hold back ourselves from Him, and pretend that we are fully committed to Him? It will come out. One way or another it will. It will come out in our lives, or in our teaching. And according to this tragedy in Acts, God takes this sort of thing very seriously.
God’s Glory and Will
Anaias tried to use the things of God for his own pride, agenda, and purpose. This was the first sin against the Holy Spirit recorded in the book of Acts. I would submit that it is recorded so because this sin is THE SIN most often committed by Christians. And the result, while not usually physical death, IS SPIRITUAL DEATH. Nothing brings spiritual death into the church like this sin. Yet, it is everywhere today. It is lived and practiced as if it is normal.
Now, not surprisingly, this very same sin was the FIRST SIN against God recorded in the OT -- once Israel crossed the Jordan and began taking possession of the promised land. Do we seriously think that this is mere coincidence? Note what God said:
Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff. (Josh 7:11)
Achan had taken that which was consecrated and/or accursed to the Lord and had, "put it even among his own stuff." What could be more clear that this? This is a matter of using, taking possession of, and channeling that which belongs to God, to myself. This can certainly be done in a material way – money and possessions, etc. But it is also possible to take the Lord’s glory and use it as my own. It is possible to even use the very teachings of the Bible to gain a following, or to feed my own pride and position.
Anytime I bring FLESH into that which is supposed to be SPIRITUAL, I am taking that which belongs to God and, "putting it with my own stuff." I am taking ownership over what belongs to God.
Indeed, here we directly touch the matter of FAITHFULNESS unto the Lord. "Faithfulness," means that I do not take ownership over that which belongs to God, but use it for His will and glory. Note how Paul spoke of himself on this matter:
Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. ( 1 Cor 4:1-2)
Paul knew that everything that we have in Christ belongs to God – indeed WE are not our own. We belong to God. Thus, to be FAITHFUL, you live that out – you treat that which belongs to God as if it DOES! But if you take that which belongs to God and use it for something other than God’s will and glory, then you are committing the sin of Anaias – you are keeping something for yourself, and pretending you are giving your all unto the Lord. You are likewise committing the sin of Achan – you are keeping that which belongs to God among your own stuff and acting as if you have consecrated all to God.
Can we see that this is serious business? That there is a REASON why God put THIS SIN FIRST – both times? This is a protection for us if we will heed, and a warning of the possibilities of our own heart.
I think that each Christian is susceptible to spiritual pride – which, if it gets the best of us, will result in us taking the grace of God, and the things of God, and the very Truth God reveals to us – which will result in us using these things for OURSELVES in some way. Such a tendency simply comes with the package of the flesh. We are all guilty of this to some degree, I’m sure. The question, however, is what we do when God begins to convict us. The question is whether we are open to the Lord so that He can expose our hearts on this matter and make our hearts single, and pure, unto HIM.
There are Christians who take pride in their humility! There are some who take pride in their supposed suffering for the Lord. Others take the blessing of God upon them and mold it into a trophy that they think they have received from God because, "they are special." Because we are the center of our own universe, it is easy to think that we are the center of God’s universe. We are NOT. Christ is HIS center. But that doesn’t mean God doesn’t love us completely, and all equally. He does. It’s just that He does not work with us affirm us as the center. Indeed, He works to crucify that whole notion OUT of us – so that we can know Christ.
But often, we just don’t get it. We still don’t reverence the things of God as gifts of His grace. I have known, for example, individuals who have a terrific gift of insight into the Word of God. They can be quite impressive when they teach. But some use this ability to control others, or to gather for themselves a following, or to pass themselves off as highly spiritual. The flesh has complete control over them unto this end. They are using the things of God for THEMSELVES. They are corrupting that which is spiritual with an earthly, or fleshly handing. They may not say this in words, or need to take much action. It may be nothing more than something that is going on in their heads, to their deception. Or it may indeed affect others. But in the end, this will result in terrible spiritual damage. It is a LIE. And if they persist, THEY will become a LIE.
Why do some Christians do this? Well, it is not necessary that they consciousness know, or consciously PLOT to commit this sin – although I have to believe that at some point, they are able to sense that SOMETHING is not right about it all. But probably most would not say that they are trying to use the things of God for their own pride and purpose. No. Most people who do this would protest that they simply want the glory of God. But this need not be left to guess work – because when the crisis comes to test their faith and their motives, it will be proven as to the material of which they are made. (see I Cor. 3) God will see to it that it is proven one way or another – in this lifetime. He is faithful to do so. And the good news is that if they will open up to the Truth, and turn to God, He will purify their motives.
In this we see a big key. All of this relates directly to our personal relationship with God. Will I give myself to God and embrace the Truth – even if I have been wrong up to this point? Or will I refuse and step back into greater darkness. My choice will be reflected in my living and in my teaching. Anaias and Achan were wrong with God – they were UNTRUE in heart. Therefore, it had to eventually be lived out, one way or another.
A Single Eye
You can take it as a basic principle: How a person handles the things of God – how faithful they are as a steward – is the direct result of their relationship with God Himself. Indeed, to the degree that I am TRUE TO GOD personally, I will be TRUE to His possessions, and to His people. To the degree that I have a single mind and heart to God’s glory – and respond that way when God brings conviction – I will be faithful to Him in other ways.
Note the words of Jesus:
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (Mat 6:19-24)
The vital point of understanding here is to link together two things: The condition of my eye and the resultant condition of my whole body. The eye is the motive or intent – we might say it is equal to my heart attitude unto the Lord. The body is the rest of me – my understanding included. The point is, if my eye is single to God’s purpose, then this is going to result in LIGHT flooding my entire life; my entire understanding. But if my eye is double, or evil, then the opposite will happen – this evil eye is going to cloud my understanding on everything else. The eye therefore is the key to the rest of my life.
Now it is important to note that the condition of my eye is NOT initially speaking to whether I see or understand very much. No. The condition of my eye DETERMINES whether I WILL see and understand. The condition of my eye is my openness and motive towards God Himself. If I get that open and single, then I will understand, because God is LIGHT, and I am embracing Him fully. But if I allow my motives and desires to govern me, then I will not come to understand, indeed, what I eventually THINK I understand is going to be clouded and shadowed by that very double mindedness that I have put between myself and God.
Here we see why many false teachers today not only deceive, but ARE themselves deceived. Their false teaching may be teaching that they, themselves, actually believe. Yet they are fully accountable and to blame for their false teaching. Why? Because to fully embrace a lie requires that there be a place for that lie in your heart. And that place for the lie is there because they have yet to make room for the TRUTH. In short, their eye is not single. It is double or evil, and as a result, they both believe error and then go on to teach it.
There are things that some popular teachers promote today that are so abominable, and so filled with error, that one can hardly imagine how they could believe such heresy. I would submit that some of them KNOW they are lying – that is for certain. But others have such a double-mindedness, and their eye is so corrupted, that their whole being is filled with darkness. And when that is the case, then from that darkness will emerge false teaching, and they themselves will buy into it.
The cause here – the lie that is the root – is often the desire for position. For example, I know of a number of people who all agree and affirm to each other that they are apostles and prophets. It is the language they use. It is what runs their relationships with each other. To break rank and question this would cause that person to lose friends, position, and, of course, money. Thus, their eye is not single. And their whole system becomes darkened – all the while praising God and living in deception as to the real Truth. The only solution is to see and embrace the Truth.
There are NO victims here. For Jesus Christ promised that the Holy Spirit would lead us into all Truth. No matter who we are, or what our weakness is, God will be faithful to convict us and afford us the chance to turn. If we are double-minded, then God will make a way for us to repent and become single-minded. If our eye is evil, then it can become single. And indeed, if our eye is already single, we will be given testing so that we can become more pure in heart to God.
All of this goes back to my personal relationship to God. It is not a matter of brains, or of an ability to dig into the Bible and figure out what it says. Rather, it is a matter of being single-eyed and pure in heart towards God – such that if I do get off the track I will respond to Him when He convicts me. If I am open to Him like that, then I will not end up using the things of God for my own glory – even if I begin or have done so, I will STOP.
God has told us these things over and over in His Word. Even in the Greek word translated, "heresy," we find this taught. The word translated, "heresy," means, "a choice or opinion," that comes from one’s own self. In other words, I am guilty of heresy if what I call, "truth," or, "biblical doctrine," is a product of ME – if it has been created out of my own heart and mind. Truth, on the other hand, comes from God. Jesus Christ IS the Truth. I don’t find it in myself. I find Truth when I find Christ.
But if my eye is not single to God, then I will never be able to know the difference between Truth and error – I won’t be able to know whether I have accepted what I believe because it agrees with me, or whether it is Truth revealed from God. However, here again we remember the faithfulness of God. The Holy Spirit will be working to show us the Truth. But make no question about it – in the end I am either going to allow the Truth to adjust and change me, or I will end up adjusting and changing the Truth to suit me. This again goes back to whether my heart is single to God – it goes back to whether I really want the Truth, not matter the cost to myself.
I know of many supposedly sincere, seemingly loving, Christian people – many of whom are in ministry – who right now have bought into some of the worst errors out there today in the church. It is almost as if they EASILY fell into these things when they were presented with them. Why? Well, the reason people embrace error is because they don’t know the Truth. And often the reason they don’t know the Truth is because the Truth doesn’t suit them. A lie suits them – a religious self-serving lie. But nevertheless a lie And so they exchange the Truth FOR that lie.
I submit that God has stated that there are TWO reasons why people don’t know the Truth. The first reason is that they CANNOT know it – they are not yet to the point where they can know. They are not to blame for this – if the reason they are blind is true ignorance. Ignorance that is without blame is when we cannot know the Truth because we are presently unable to know it. There are many people like this. But they will prove they were truly ignorant if they do open themselves to God in what they DO presently know. Then, when further Truth is brought to them, they will end up embracing it.
The second reason people don’t know the Truth is one for which we are fully to blame. Many do not know the Truth because they REFUSE to know it. They COULD know it, but right now, they have embraced error that has fed something in them – and that error is contrary to the real Truth. It has brought darkness to them and so they cannot see Truth.
Now, again, the real condition of a person’s heart towards God is always revealed with the test comes. If I am ignorant of Truth, but my eye is single to God, then when God brings the Truth, and tests my heart, I will come through, and my body will be filled with greater light. But if my eye is NOT single to God, then when the test comes, I will love darkness rather than light. The choice is mine, for with each and every move of God in the life of a person there always comes an enablement to know enough to turn to God.
The essential thing here is to realize that what I know or don’t know isn’t the issue – it is what I am willing to know, due to my openness to God Himself. Am I willing to embrace the Truth no matter what that might mean for my life? For my status, even in my own eyes? If yes, then my eye is single, and I WILL embrace the Truth when God brings it. If not, I can talk all I want about my willingness, but I have already fenced off areas of my life from God. One way or another, I will corrupt what God has given me.
I knew of a woman who had put herself in the position of leadership over a home group. Over the course of time, this group became much like a cult – all under her control. She was quite impressive as a Bible teacher. She constantly assured everyone how much she loved them – even to the point where if anyone questioned her, she would shed a tear or two, "because they did not know how much she loved them." This lady had an outgoing, charismatic personality. And as long as you did what she wanted, even in your personal life, then you were ok – you were, "in God’s will." Displease her and you were the target of gossip and suspicion. You were OUT of God’s will. Of course, all of this was considered, "love." She did not seem to draw any distinction between God’s will for others, and what she demanded was God’s will for others – because she believed everyone needed to submit to her to find God’s will. Such a thing is never of God. But this woman had this thing down to a science. She was totally deceived, and thus, a deceiver.
Incidentally, never think that those who are deceivers are not going to teach SOME Truth. They ALWAYS will. But at the least, the Truth they teach will be used in such a way that it will not set us free to walk with Christ. It will be adjusted just enough to bind us to men. After all, if a big reason why people pervert the Truth is to make it serve themselves, we should not be surprised that if we believe what they are teaching that we end up serving them, or end up serving ourselves. We can EXPECT that this will be the case.
But God is always faithful, and WAS to this woman. This woman, again and again, was faced with choices from God regarding her position and her teaching. She COULD have known the Truth. But it would have cost her the position she held. Most of all, it would have cost her all of the worth, value, and pride that she had vested in herself – for doing, "the Lord’s work." She would have had to have accepted and confessed years of blame and damage, including damage done to her own family. The voice of God was very loud in her case. At least twice that I know of, the entire fellowship group that she controlled woke up to what was happening and disbanded in protest over her control and teaching. God opened the eyes of the people around her. But her response was NOT to find the Truth in EITHER instance. She never admitted wrong on even one thing. She never broke stride or stopped to consider. Instead, those who spoke against what she was doing were classified as agents of Satan. Decades old friendships were ended, indeed, exposed as being fake. People parted ways with NO reconciliation possible, because this woman would have it on no other basis than people, "falling back to her." Indeed, she and some others who stayed got prophecies and words from the Lord to affirm her, and that were against those that left. Sure. This ALWAYS happens. As for the long term? Both times her groups disbanded, her response was to fall back, regroup for a few years, and then start yet ANOTHER group.
Only God knows for sure what went on between this woman and Him. But from God’s Word we know that the Holy Spirit would absolutely be faithful to convict her and try to set her free. And we know that when someone is in leadership – howbeit self-appointed – that God would do this all the more. The fact that this woman, over the course of almost 50 years in this pattern, never evidenced any repentance – indeed, dug her trenches and defended herself all the more, and KEPT ON to the end of her life – well, this doesn’t bode well for her. Again – God is faithful. Every time all the time. This leaves us with no excuse.
This woman apparently wanted to be a leader who was looked up to – she at least wanted to earn from God. There was probably deep spiritual pride here – God knows. When confronted by people about her errors, she said these people were of Satan. Some of these people were life-long friends – but just like that, the friendship was forever over because they would not affirm her. Anytime stuff like that happens, it is evidence that a person is not out for God’s glory. Their continual protection of their ministry and position – calling friends instruments of the Devil -- proves that they have taken ownership over it and are using it for themselves. The reason goes back to their relationship with God.
Today on Christian television we have great heresy being taught. These people COULD know the Truth. The reason this is certain is because they have been continually appealed to by others who have seen their error. But they all band together and refuse to listen. They have made their choice. They wanted something and they are going to have it, at the cost of the Truth.
Can we see that these are all LIES? Yes, they are lying doctrines and teachings, but they are LYING spirits and living lies in the Body of Christ? Absolutely. This could not continue if the Truth was allowed to reign.
It is not necessary to be a minister, or a person in a position of leadership, to try to use God for your own purposes and glory. Just play games with God and you will end up doing it.
I know of another lady who many years ago was given the ministry materials of a wonderful teacher of God – he gave these to her right before his death. Well, this lady took these things and turned this man’s teachings, and the man himself, into something God never intended – almost like a cult. After a time, this man’s teachings became, according to this lady, "THE Truth." Her entire life was focused on this man’s ministry and her, "assignment," to promote him. This lady came to judge everyone’s spiritual condition in accordance with how they viewed this man’s teaching. Indeed, she could barely complete a sentence, or talk about the Lord, without quoting him. Instead of checking things out only with scripture, she had to check his teachings. She even said that God had given her, "his mantle," and that it was her ministry to, "protect the Truth" – the Truth being this man’s books and tapes. This even got so bad that division was caused by this lady in the Body of Christ due to the fact that certain Christians were not as fixated upon this man’s ministry as she thought they ought to be – and she talked them down because of it. This woman, over the course of time, became quite judgmental, suspicious of her brethren, and become very demanding – in a religious way. She set herself up as a guru – howbeit one that had gotten her position from this man. Sadly, much of what she did was fully in the flesh, which was about the last thing the man who gave her his stuff would have wanted.
What is the problem here? Simple misunderstanding? No. Again, we cannot know what is going on between people and God. But it would seem that the problem is the desire to BE someone for God. That is probable, because why else would she be talking about receiving, "a mantle," from God? That is silly. God doesn’t do such things today. Either way, as noted before, when people end up blinded and deceived in these ways, there are REASONS for that – and those reasons are always found in their relationship with God. If I want to BE someone in the eyes of God – it is really that I want to be someone in my OWN eyes – then I have NOT lost my life in that area into the hands of Christ. And because I haven’t, my eye is not as single as it needs to be. Thus, I will NOT SEE. I cannot see. I will be blinded by the very point I think is my claim to fame before the Lord.
These things are not pretty. They are ugly. But they must be exposed before the Lord. Freedom is impossible otherwise.
Jesus said, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for……what?" "For they shall SEE GOD!" What could be more clear? Let it all go. Give it up. Tell God that if there is any of this sin in your heart that you want Him to do whatever is necessary to set you free. If you will commit to that before the Lord, then you ARE pure in heart – and when God brings the Truth you will respond.
Another example – a positive one. I know of a man who was guilty-- as we all are in some measure-- of this sin of using the things of God to become proud. God hemmed him in and would not let him out. He finally brought him to see the Truth about himself. The man got to the place where he was unwilling to any longer operate in religious pride. He told the Lord that he was willing to completely shut down all ministry and all that was not of the Holy Spirit. In time, through testings, God set this man free, and he went on to have a wonderful ministry, filled with the Truth about God. It fed many.
There are many other examples that we could give. For instance, there are those who have become, "apologists," and given themselves the job of pointing out the error in everyone else. Their, "claim to fame," is that they, "stand for Truth." Nothing wrong with standing for Truth. But some are really standing for themselves, merely USING the Truth. Others do the opposite, and stand for NOTHING, and use THAT to paint a picture of themselves as, "loving and tolerant."
All of these manifestations of sin come back to the same problem: We have not fully let go to God. We have not lost our lives, ministry, and even our desire to be something unto God, into the hands of God. We continue to try to decide and protect what we want to BE, and what we feel we deserve. And when you are trying to save and possess your life for yourself, you are going to use whatever you can to serve that goal. For Christian people, we often use the things of God.
The very Disciples of Christ committed this error. They wanted a kingdom and tried to use Jesus to get it – but of course they reasoned that it was His will that they do so. Judas ended up betraying Him. He tried to use Jesus for his own goals – all in the name of God, of course.
God says, "Lose your life – which includes your pride, your goals, and all that you think you want to be spiritually – lose it all into My hands. Stop trying to possess yourself FOR yourself." But you see, in order to obey that, we have to see we really are NOTHING, and then, REJOICE in that. We have to come to the place, not where we are morbidly DOWN on ourselves, but to where we understand that it is all about Jesus Christ. Those aren’t just words. It is Truth that will slay us.
The Truth is, if God has called you, then He has really APPREHENDED you. Then what God will do is a work IN YOU to rightly relate you to Himself so that He can trust you to be faithful as a minister, or in any other capacity. This will mean that by the time God is done with you, you cannot be in the things of God for your own agenda – you cannot, that is, if you have remained TRUE TO HIM. You will not have a double motive. The thought of using the things of God for position, power, or even just pride, will be obnoxious to you. All of that will be crucified out of your system – if you have yielded to God.
Even ministry is not something God gives us to do for Him. Rather, ministry is the result of God apprehending the minister for HIMSELF first – and then what emerges from that is HIS LIFE and His living TRUTH. Ministry, when everything is said and done, is His LIFE that comes from my DEATH. Read II Corinthians 4. It is quite clear. But if I ignore this, and take upon myself a position or title, I am LYING because I am living a lie. I am not manifesting the TRUTH. I have entered into the things of God and am using God for my own agenda. I am doing in FLESH what must be fully of the Spirit of God. Sorry to be so blunt. But if you want to know what is wrong in the church today you have to come to terms with these things.
God is never going to ask you what you DID FOR HIM. No. He is going to ask you whether you were FAITHFUL TO HIM. He is going to ask you WHO YOU ARE TO HIM, and how HE IS TO YOU. He is going to ask you what you did when He brought you the TRUTH.
Anaias lied to the church because he was already UNTRUE TO GOD – he was a lie to God. Achan lied to Israel because he had a lying heart unto God. It works like that. What we are to God is ultimately going to impact greatly how we relate to others. It is going to result in the fruit of how we handle HIS POSSESSIONS. We ignore this to our own peril.
Let’s look a some more words that Paul had to say about this matter:
Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. (2 Cor 4:1-5)
There was nothing left in Paul that would allow him to divert the Truth of God and adjust it to something that would benefit him in a personal way. No. Paul did NOT, "preach himself." Can we see what it would mean, "to preach yourself?" It would mean to present yourself as the GURU. It would mean to preach so that YOU can be admired and relied upon and submitted to. It would mean that regardless of TRUE WORDS, there would be a hidden thing of dishonesty – A LIE – in your spirit. In short, this passage is a renunciation of using the work of the Holy Spirit for any personal agenda, including pride.
There is a good example of what God desires in this matter in the gospel of John:
And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizes, and all men come to him. John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3:26-30)
Evidently, some of the disciples of John thought John would be concerned because Jesus was drawing away many of John’s followers to Himself. Of course, they were blind to who Jesus really as. But here we see an example of the competitive spirit – something that is rampant among churches, ministries, and pastors today. There are Christians who, in fact, even compare themselves with each other to see who is the, "more spiritual." But John would have none of it. He states a wonderful Truth: "A man can receive (possess) nothing except it was given to Him from above." In other words, absolutely EVERYTHING that you have that is of any value at all in the eyes of God was GIVEN TO YOU. NOTHING that is of value came FROM YOU. This could not be more clear. Therefore, John would say, "It doesn’t belong to us to begin with. It is all OF GOD, for GOD’S will and glory. So how can I take possession of what belongs to God and try to protect it and use it for myself?"
John was getting at a great Truth here. There is NOTHING you have that is of value that was not given to you by God. But you were not given it to use it as you please. No. We are not our own. Nothing God has given belongs to us. Therefore, we MUST be faithful and not take possession of what God has given. This means we not only allow the Truth to have God’s way with US, but we also preach only the Truth.
How is this accomplished? By the personal Cross. Through the work of the Cross, God will crucify out of us all of this personal agenda business. By the time God is done with us we will be purged of this foolishness, and rightly related to Him – so that we can be faithful. Of course, none of this will happen if we don’t yield to the Cross. Yet if we do yield, we WILL decrease. And Christ WILL increase – IN US.
Then came to him the mother of Zebedee's children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom. But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able. And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father. And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren. But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. (Mat 20:20-28)
Some try to teach that if we just go out and serve, we have the right attitude. Not necessarily. Jesus is talking about more than DOING. He is talking about BEING – which stems from a relationship with God Himself. It is entirely possible to serve GOD for personal gain, even if that gain is nothing more than a reward I think I am earning from God. Millions do this. But LOVE serves to the complete disregard of rewards. In fact, Jesus would say to us, "He that loses (lets go) of his reward for My sake, will find it."
How often God speaks to His church about this one issue! When will we learn that God is after US, after the minister, before He is after a ministry? If Anaias and if Achan were rightly related to God, and were pure in heart, and single in eye, they would NOT have committed their sin. Thus, it is incumbent upon us today to learn from their error and seek God for His freedom.
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