Friday, August 31, 2012

Acts 5 - Pure Hearts and False Motives

Hello Project Ezra!  Thanks for being part of the group.  I pray that you are doing well and are looking forward to another blessed opportunity to share the word of God this weekend.  Our passage this week is Acts chapter 5, the very well know story of the death of Ananias and Sapphira.  I’ve actually held off on tackling this passage for quite a while, since it can be a challenge to explain to a non-believer.  Many would look at this passage as an example of God being arbitrary and vindictive, while in truth it is yet another example of the fact that He is same yesterday, today, and forever.  God is a God of love, but the fact of His love does not eclipse the reality of His justice and wrath, which are displayed in the New Testament just as in the Old Testament. 

However, I thought a better approach to this story would be in comparison to what is said of the Jewish leaders, and the ongoing evidence of their hardened hearts, despite years of signs and wonders performed both by Jesus Himself, and then by His apostles.  Those who reject Christ never do so based on lack of evidence, but based on hearts hardened toward God.  Unbelief is not an intellectual problem, but a moral problem, and it was the same moral problem, that of pride, that led Ananias and Sapphira to lie to the Holy Spirit in order to get the praises of men.  So this outline focuses on pure motives before God.  And of course, none of us truly have pure motives before God in our own strength.  But by His grace, He takes out our hearts of stone and gives us hearts of flesh, transforming us more and more into the image of Christ.  And praise God that by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, we will be seen as pure when we stand before Him on that final day.

I pray this outline is a blessing.  If Project Ezra has encouraged you in sharing your faith, please let your friends and church family know.  Perhaps you may be the tool God uses to encourage one of them to step out in faith and lift His name in public for the first time.  And believe me, there are few blessings greater than that!

All for His glory,


We are here today to share God's word with you.

In fact, we are compelled to speak, just as the Apostles were in this chapter, both by our love for God, and by our care for you.

These we speak are the words of life, words that many people desperately need to hear

We know that some people may be offended by what they hear, though that is not our intent.

But just as the apostles were told by the Angel of the Lord to go, stand in the temple, and speak the words of life, so we have been called to do the same, whether people are offended or not

We are called to obey God rather than men

We cannot help but speak.  We, like the Apostles, are compelled to speak of what we have seen, and heard, and know 

And what we know is the truth of salvation by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, and in Him alone

We pray that we will present Him to you in truth, and with right hearts

But as we pray for true hearts, in Acts chapter 5 we see two groups who had false hearts, and impure motives, regarding Christ 

We don't know you, but would ask you to examine your own heart, in light of this passage, and to see if your hearts are right before Him

Acts 5 talks of Ananias and Sapphira, who were among those who followed Christ

But they lied to the Apostles, and ultimately to God, about the amount they gave, out of pride

They were more interested in the praise of people that in truth towards God

As a consequence, they were struck dead by God, in the presence of the people of God

Make no mistake, God is a God of love, but He is also a God of justice and wrath

It is as dangerous to misrepresent His character as it is to lie to the Holy Spirit

The scriptures tell us it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31)

Acts 5 also talks about the Jewish leaders, who were jealous of the Apostles, and were more interested in protecting their own power, and once again feeding their own pride, that they were in the truth.

They had seen some of the most miraculous acts ever done on earth, yet had killed the man who had done those works, and were now determined to silence His followers

This is why Jesus called them white washed tombs, clean on the outside but filled with dead men’s bones (Matthew 23:37)

They were hypocrites, only interested in themselves. 

So now ask yourself.  Have you come to God with impure motives, or an impure heart?

Have you claimed to believe in God when you are trusting something other than Him?

You don't need to tell me, but please don't lie to yourself.  I truth, no man has ever come before God with a pure heart.

You can't lie to God, and when you try you break His law

But many do lie to themselves, because they will not acknowledge the true God.  They create an image of God in their minds, to suit themselves.

They create a god in their own image, one that winks at their sin, accepting them as they are

But this is idolatry, and scripture tells us that idolaters will not inherit the kingdom of God

Or are you going through the motions of religion to please your family, or for cultural acceptance?   

Are you claiming a faith that you truly have no interest in?

They you are failing to love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, as we are commanded to

Or are you covetous, loving the things of this world more than God, as Ananias and Sapphira, along with many so-called preachers on TV?

If you are guilty of breaking any of these or other laws of God, than you are guilty before Him.  And all of us are guilty of breaking His laws

Every one of us, myself included, deserves nothing but death and hell as punishment for our sins, our moral crimes against a holy God

Ananias and Sapphira were killed instantly for their sin, and God would be perfectly right in doing the same to us.

But there is good news!  Gospel means good news, and the reason we share the bad news of sin is so the good news of Christ’s gift to us will make sense. 

Our hope is this.  Even though we have all broken His law, His broken body, and His spilled blood, satisfied the demands of that law.

On a Roman cross, 2000 years ago, Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man, was crushed by His Father (Isaiah 53), so that we could be forgiven  

Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins, so Jesus Christ, God in human flesh, spilled His own blood for us.

And through that perfect sacrifice our debt was paid, justice was satisfied, and now we can go free.

So I pray that today you will receive this gift

I pray that God will take out your heart of stone, and give you a heart of flesh, one prepared for His word

And I pray that through repentance, turning from sin, and through faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone, you too will be saved, made right with God.

Someday I will be in heaven with God, though I don’t deserve it.  I deserve nothing but His judgment.

And when I get there I hope to see you there too.

So, today, turn from your sins and trust in Christ alone.

Don’t delay.  None of us is promised a tomorrow, and the fate of Ananias and Sapphira could be yours.

So, while He has graciously given you time, turn to Christ, and live!

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