“But Peter said: ‘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

And no one puts new wine into old wineskins or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined.”  Mark 2;22

“Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men.”  Matthew 12:31

I must admit that for the longest time I had a problem getting my arms around the story of Ananias and Sapphira.  A quick recap, Jesus Christ has been resurrected and returned to His Father in heaven.  Peter and the other apostles have started to preach the Good News Gospel to the people of Jerusalem.  Despite persecution from the Jewish leaders, the church is growing.  People are hearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ and are joining the church, sometimes thousands in a day.  One of the deeply rooted traditions of the Jewish people was to take care of widows, orphans and the poor.  Scripture tells us that the people joining the church were of one heart and selling what they had to allow for distribution to those in need.  Now enter Ananias and Sapphira.  It seems obvious that they were known to the Apostles.  They had heard the preaching of the Gospel and decided to join the church.  It is also obvious that they were a couple of some means for they had land.  For some reason (which will go into a little later) they first decide to sell the land to give to the poor.  Scripture also tells us that when they came to give to the apostles so that their money could be distributed, they lied.  They told the disciples that they had sold their land for less than they actually sold it for so that they could keep some of the money for themselves.  When Peter uncovers their lie; he tells first Ananias and then later Sapphira that their lie is going to cost them their lives.  And both of them fall down dead, right where they are standing.

I have to admit, for the longest time I thought:  “Wow that is harsh!”  I mean to me it was like; they gave most of it didn’t they, so why such a drastic punishment.  Didn’t Peter lie about knowing Jesus, yet he’s still standing?  Yet I thank God for His patience in opening my eyes.

You see getting to the heart of the matter is that, it is the heart that matters; really the primary thing that truly matters.  Jesus taught about this.  There was an old way, and old wine if you will, a way of appearances.  The old wine and wineskins of appearances was about, do I look religious as I go about my day.   Do I look like I give large amounts of money to the temple?  Do I look and sound holy when I pray?  Would those around me judge me as righteous?  These things did not depend on the heart, the why they were being done; but they depended on how the action looked.

Jesus had a new wine and that wine needed new wineskins.  Jesus said it was not the action that truly mattered but the heart that was driving the action.  Were you doing something to bring glory to yourself?  If so, no reward in heaven.  Was it of vital importance to you that others see you?  No reward in heaven.  If you tried to put the old wine in new wineskins, everything would be destroyed, the wine as well as the skin.

Ananias and Sapphira were old wineskin people.  Peter told them; having the land was not a sin.  They could decide to keep it without anyone judging.  They were the one’s who decided to sell.  After the sale, the money was theirs to do with what they wanted.  But it is clear to tell they had old wine hearts.  For the other early members’ hearts were focusedon the need and glorifying God.  There is no scripture reference to anyone bringing glory or praise to themselves concerning the dividing of the property.  But Ananias and Sapphira had a different heart.  They wanted the praises of the people for giving all they had to helping the community while sneakily keeping some of the proceeds of the sale as well for their own comfort.  That old wine thinking could not coexist with the new wine/wineskin following of Jesus Christ.  Peter did not pronounce judgement and carry out the sentencing on them.  He simply uncovered their evil so that all would know why God did what He did to them.

Tragic yes, but what does that have to do with you and I. Paul tells us that if we are in Christ, we are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)  So if indeed we are made new, then our hearts must be new as well.  So it is that we must understand that our intention, our motivation is of utmost importance in the new life we lead.  Are we doing for the praise of people, are we doing out of the remorse of guilt, are we doing reluctantly or begrudgingly because someone has told us to?  These are not the motivations or intentions that Jesus Christ and Our Heavenly Father are looking for.

Conversely, are we loving others because we know how much we are loved by God.  Do we give in secret believing in joy that giving is a great opportunity from above.  If we are praised do we in turn praise the Grace and Blessings given to us from Our Heavenly Father.  That is the new wine/wineskin heart.  Jesus Christ and Our Heavenly Father know this; where are hearts are, what they are focused on, will be the true determinant of our righteous behavior.  Let us strive to have the newly created heart in Jesus Christ that brings Praise and Glory to Almighty God.

Our Most Gracious and Heavenly Father, the greatest compliment that has ever been given is when we are said to have a heart that follows after Yours.  In Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit, give us new hearts that are always and completely focused on You.  Write Your very Will on our hearts that we might joyfully and completely follow You.  We pray these things in the Name of Jesus Christ.  Amen

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