Familiar with the expression ‘I’m my own worst enemy’? God does not punish us when we fall into a sin — that punishment fell upon Jesus as He suffered and died on a cross. But, though God forgives and forgets our sin, a consequence always follows. Some consequences are relatively minor; others are devastating.
Ananias and Sapphira, when learning that Joseph — you know, Barnabas — has sold his field and given all the monies to the disciples to help the needy among the brothers and sisters in the Lord, decide to do the same. However, rather than tell the truth, they lie. They pretend they are giving the whole amount gained from selling their piece of property. When confronted by Peter, Ananias falls down and dies. Later, Sapphira is given the opportunity to ‘come clean’ so to speak. But, she lies — telling Peter that the monies given represent the entire price of the property. Peter tells her bluntly she is going to die. And she does.
Seems like punishment, doesn’t it?
But, I maintain it is not. Rather, their deaths are consequences. For all we know, Ananias had a heart attack and Sapphira a stroke upon being confronted with such a public shame. Imagine it: the entire church body is “sharing everything.” (Acts 4:32) And, “there are no needy persons among them.” (Acts 4:34) Barnabas generously shares all he has gained from selling his field. Ananias and Sapphira are jealous — they want the attention and acclaim Barnabas obviously receives.
This couple lies to God, the Holy Spirit. As Peter says, “How can you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look!” (Acts 5:9)
Public shame, pride, and their unforgiving spirits — yes, their unwillingness to ask for and receive forgiveness — these kill Ananias and Sapphira.