BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For Sunday January 1, 2012
DO NOT GRIEVE THE HOLY SPIRIT
(And be willing to suffer for righteousness sake)
Failure in our honesty, talent, and diligence amounts to sin against GOD. It was the great violinmaker Antonio Stradivari who said, “If my hands slacked, I would rob GOD”. In Acts chapter 5, verses 1-10, Luke gives us a vivid example of a couple who failed in their honesty, because they were driven by their jealousy of the respect that had been won by Barnabas and others when they sold their possessions to make contributions to the poor (Acts 4:32-37).
Scripture tells us that there was a man named Ananias, who, along with his wife Sapphira, sold some of their property, with the intention of giving the proceeds to the needy in the church. However, after selling the property they decided that they would keep some of the proceeds for themselves. Of course, there is nothing wrong with this type of action, because the money was theirs to do with as they wished. The problem came when they decided to deceive the church into thinking that they were giving the Apostles all of the proceeds they had received from the sale of their property.
In this particular passage, we see just one of the many ways we, as professed Christians, grieve the HOLY SPIRIT. Here we see, even by the New Testament standard of Grace, just how our sins toward one another, as harmless as they may seem to us, will not be taken lightly by GOD. After we accept CHRIST and receive the gift of the HOLY SPIRIT from our FATHER GOD, each time we sin thereafter, we grieve the HOLY SPIRIT within us, offend CHRIST JESUS WHO died for us, and show a lack of reverence for GOD THE FATHER WHO created us.
Ananias and Sapphira weren’t condemned because they failed to give all, but rather, they were condemned because their deceit reintroduced the hypocrisy that had corrupted so many in the church that operated under the banner of Judaism. Christianity, the only religion that is a product of GOD’s mind, was intended to be, that faith, which reflected GOD’s image more clearly to man. This new Christian doctrine was to instill new hope in the hearts and minds of GOD’s greatest creation, man. It would be a hope that would forever serve as motivation to make life on earth conform more fully with HIS word, just as it was presented to us by JESUS CHRIST, during HIS three-year ministry here on earth.
In Acts 5:3-4 Peter says to 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” (KJV).
As soon as Ananias heard these words, he fell dead. Three hours later, his wife Sapphira came in, not knowing what had happened to her husband. When Peter asked her, “Was this the price you and your husband received for your land? She replied, “Yes, that was the price”. Peter then rebuked her, and she, as well, fell dead.
The LORD’s response to this situation was intended to put fear in the hearts of those who might attempt to deceive HIS Church, then, and in the future (Acts 5:13). This passage serves to show us that GOD will not hold blameless, those who attempt to deceive the Church for personal financial gain, nor will HE hold blameless, those who use the Church for self-promotion, brought on by jealousy, as Ananias and Sapphira attempted to do.
GOD never intended for HIS Church to look like, or conform to the World, but rather, HE intended for the World to transform itself to look like HIS Church, which is, by the way, supposed to reflect the image of CHRIST JESUS. And when we try to do it any way other than GOD’s way, we will grieve the HOLY SPIRIT in the process.
Taking up at verse 17 we see more of the problem of violent jealousy in the Church, this time, coming from the ranks of the high priest and his friends, the Sadducees. Jealous of the popularity of the apostles in the Church, they decided to arrest them, and throw them in jail. However, an angel of the LORD came that same night and miraculously released the men from their incarceration, without opening the gates, or alarming the guards. The guards remained unaware that the apostles were gone, until it was discovered the next morning. The angel directed the apostles to go to the temple and teach GOD’s message to the people (Vs. 19-20).
When the captain of the guards received word that the apostles were over in the temple teaching, he and his men went over and non-violently re-arrested them and brought them before the council of the high priest and elders of Israel for trial (Vs. 26-42). During the trial, the apostles defiance toward the council, and their continued preaching, even in their presence, so infuriated the council, that they decided to kill them all (v. 33).
However, in verse 34, we are introduced to a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a very popular teacher of religious law in Israel in those days. In fact, Gamaliel was the mentor of Saul (the Apostle Paul), when he attended seminary training at the school of Hillel where Gamaliel served as an instructor. Gamaliel’s words of wisdom calmed the angry council down, and they received his advice to them, to not kill the apostles, but rather, let their actions play out and let GOD decide whether or not they are HIS legit representatives (Vs. 35-39).
Yet and still, the council ordered the men flogged, and gave them another stern warning not to speak in the name of JESUS anymore (v. 40). The apostles, nevertheless, left the trial rejoicing that GOD had counted them worthy to suffer dishonor for the name of JESUS. And every day forward, in the temple, and in their homes, they continued to preach this message: “The MESSIAH you are looking for is JESUS” (Vs. 41-42). Amen.
(1) Reflect on times in which you have grieved the HOLY SPIRIT with your sin since you became a Christian. Did it break your heart?
(2) Work on becoming the same person in the privacy of your home that you are in public. You can fool man, probably most of the time, but you can’t ever fool GOD, because GOD sees what you are doing, all the time.
(3) Remember, when you become a Christian, you are working for GOD, and self-promotion is incompatible with serving CHRIST. You can’t be “self-serving” and “CHRIST-serving” at the same time.
(4) Be willing to suffer dishonor, pain, and hard times for the sake of JESUS CHRIST, our LORD, just as HE did for us.
Express to GOD, in prayer, your desire to become more “CHRIST serving” and less “self-serving”. Ask HIM to remove those desires to self-promote, so that you can be more like JESUS, and to allow “self” to wither away and die from your heart.
KEY VERSE: Acts 5:3
DEVOTIONAL PASSAGES: James 3:14-16, Romans 8:9-11, & John 14:15-17 & 26
A Book by Book Bible Study by,
Larry D. Alexander