Just yesterday, I read a comment someone had made, suggesting that Ananias and Sapphira didn’t go to hell (their story is in Acts 5:1-11).  I didn’t give it another thought.  Today, as I was pondering something completely different, I believe God showed me the answer to that question.

Immediately after giving the children of Israel the Ten Commandments, the Lord called Moses up on Mount Sinai, to speak with Him.  While he was up on the mountain, the children of Israel made a golden calf and began to worship it.  God was so angry that He told Moses He would wipe them all out and begin again with him.

‘They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These [be] thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it [is] a stiffnecked people:  Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.’  (Exodus 32:8-10)

But Moses interceded for the people, and then he went down and did some purging.  First he destroyed the calf, ground it to powder, mixed it with water, and made the people drink it.  Then he took Aaron to task for what he had done.  After that, a lot of people died.

‘Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who [is] on the LORD’S side? [let him come] unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him.

And he said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, [and] go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour.

And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.’  (Exodus 32:26-28)

We have to understand, the people had JUST made a blood covenant with God . . .

‘And Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the LORD hath said will we do. . . And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient.   And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled [it] on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD hath made with you concerning all these words.’  (Exodus 24:3)

They had entered into The Covenant of their own free will.  Yet they broke the blood covenant they had sworn to uphold.  Surely after watching Moses destroy the golden calf, and being forced to drink the water that the powder was mixed with . . . and most likely hearing some choice words from Moses . . . they HAD to understand the gravity of what they had done.

And God gave them space to repent.  Before anyone was killed, Moses called on them to decide whether or not they were going to follow God.  This is where we see that very few had truly repented.  Very few chose to follow God.  The rest who had been involved were then put to death.

This was a very important lesson.  This was the first time, after receiving The Law and making The Covenant with God, that men had rebelled and broken The Covenant.  God HAD to demonstrate the seriousness of what they had done.  He was establishing a foundation for how the Israelites would view The Covenant.  Was it going to be a matter of utmost seriousness, or was God a pushover and the whole thing of little consequence?

Likewise, the rebellion and deception of Ananias and Sapphira was the first time that a ‘Christian’ had broken The NEW Covenant with God.  Again, God HAD to demonstrate the seriousness of what had been done, to establish a foundation for how Christians would view The New Covenant, that had been sealed with the blood of Christ.

Just as with the children of Israel in the wilderness, no one had twisted the arms of Ananias and Sapphira to get them to become Christians.  It was a covenant they entered into, based on their own free will.  Just as the children of Israel, Ananias and Sapphira were caught red-handed and confronted about their sin.  They were also given space to repent yet, like most of the children of Israel who had worshiped the golden calf, their hearts were hard and they didn’t repent.

At this point, it is important to understand that God still expects us to keep His Commandments.  If you believe the ‘easy grace gospel’, you’re not going to grasp the rest of this.  Ananias and Sapphira were Jews.  They had been raised with the Law of God.  They understood the Ten Commandments.  They knew that it was wrong to lie.  They knew that it violated the Commandments of God.

Ananias and Sapphira sinned.  Peter cut right to the heart of the matter, when he confronted them about their sin . . .

‘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.’  (Acts 5:3-4)

As Peter explained, their sin was not that they had not given all the money from the sale of their land, as they had vowed . . . they had the right to change their minds.  Their sin was that they had lied, and not just lied, but lied to God!  This was a VERY serious matter–and the fact that it was going to set a precedent for The Church meant that it had to be dealt with correctly.

Surely, if everything were only about grace, this would have been the perfect time for Peter to give a little lecture about how we shouldn’t insult the Spirit of grace.  But that’s NOT how he dealt with it.  Knowing that they already knew God’s righteous commandments and what was expected of them, he dealt with them as people who had WILLFULLY sinned.  Peter confronted each of them separately.  Each of them had the opportunity to repent.  But neither of them did.  And then God struck them dead.

I believe what Paul wrote in Hebrews 10 was written with these precedent-setting events firmly in mind . . .

‘For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:  Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

For we know him that hath said, Vengeance [belongeth] unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.  [It is] a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.’  (Hebrews 10:26-31)

Ananias and Sapphira lied to God–wilfully, knowing that they were violating God’s Commandments–then they refused to confess, and died without ever repenting of their sins.  If God was merely going to take them home to heaven, what would have been the point?  It would have set the precedent that God rewards defiance, and the willful sin of those who claim to be His children–and that repentance is not necessary for salvation!

(Which IS the gospel that many are preaching today.)

But, of course, that isn’t true!

Until today, I really didn’t know whether or not Ananias and Sapphira went to hell.  But now, I am certain they did.

‘And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that [is] wisdom; and to depart from evil [is] understanding.’  (Job 28:28)

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