The two Ananias's.

When we discuss how God deals with man in this age after Jesus's death and resurection, according to his grace and by our faith in Jesus' finished work, some people may think of apparent anomalies and wonder if God is consistent.

It's well known for instance that from the time of Adam up till the giving of the Law at Sinai, no-one that God was working with was condemned and executed. They rebelled against God, they sinned, they broke the Sabbath, but none of them was executed! They were corrected by God's word, but nobody died!

Then the Children of Israel whom God rescued from Egypt and would have continued to treat in the same way as their fore-fathers (correcting them in love as they lived under His grace), boasted that everything God said, they would obey!

Ex 19:8 And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses reported the words of the people unto the LORD.

They had not been particularly obedient up till that time, in fact quite the opposite, yet they had great faith in themselves to live righteous lives! So God gave them the ten commandments and a new covenant to go with them, so they could see for themselves if they had a right to boast. And when they failed to keep the covenant the penalty came into force and people died.

Unlike the previous era (pre-Sinai), now when the people rebelled and worshipped the golden calf, three thousand people died. When they rebelled on other occasions more died. They died by the sword, by pestilence, by the ground opening up and swallowing some, by stoning when someone broke the Sabbath, by captivity, and even by snake-bite at one location. As the apostle Paul pointed out, there was a lot of death under this (new to the Israelites) administration.

Then Jesus came and rescued us from death under the law covenant provided we put faith in Him and allow Him to live His life through us. We rely on His obedience not on our own and as Paul put it, 'we boast only in Christ Jesus'. Now God has reverted to His original system of His people living by grace through faith.

All this is standard stuff, but the question that comes into some people's minds is, "What about Ananias"? "Wasn't he condemned and executed"? "So why did this happen if there is now 'no condemnation' for those who are in Christ Jesus"?

Well, to answer this, lets take a close look at what Holy Spirit wants us to learn from this incident.

If we look at the scripture in Acts, Chapter 5, we see that Holy Spirit inspired Luke to introduce Ananias in this way :-

Act 5:1-2 But a certain man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife's knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles' feet.

They brought a partial gift and pretended that it was the total thing, but what I want you to notice is that Holy Spirit inspired the introduction - "There was a certain man named Ananias".

He then follows on with the rest of the story.

Now if we go on to acts, Chapter 9, we see another Ananias coming on the scene whom God is able to work with in order to bring Saul into the fold. Now when Holy Spirit inspires Luke to introduce this second Ananias, he pens these words :-

Act 9:10 Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias." And he said, "Here I am, Lord."

Here you will notice that Holy Spirit inspires Luke to write - "There was a certain disciple named Ananias"

The second Ananias was a believer; one who put his faith in Jesus' finished work and allowed Jesus to live through him. He was living under grace, unlike the first Ananias.

The first Ananias was not a disciple. He was not living under grace. He was a Jew living under law and because of his self-serving actions he was condemned and died.

Act 5:3-5 But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart for you to lie to the Holy Spirit, and for you to keep back for yourself from the price of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain yours? And after it was sold, was it not in your control? Why have you purposed this thing in your heart? You did not lie to men but to God." Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and died. And great fear came upon all those hearing these things.

Ananias and his wife gave a partial gift to God while pretending that it was a total gift. They lied about this to Holy Spirit and it brought their death.

The lesson we can learn from this is that WE cannot make God a partial offering while pretending it's the whole. We cannot offer God 'partial righteousness' or 'partial obedience' while pretending it's the equivalent of the total righteousness and total obedience that Jesus gave. The principle here tells us that it's not acceptable to God.

We should also realise that the Old Covenant is not removed or 'done away'. Rather, Paul tells us that it is obsolete.

Heb 8:13 When God speaks of a "new" covenant, it means he has made the first one obsolete. It is now out of date and will soon disappear.

It's like going to buy a computer. The salesman offers you the latest model which you just switch on and use. You are to never turn it off and it will always be there, ready and able to help you in fulfilling your life's work.

On the other hand there is an obsolete model on the shelf which you can have. Only watch out that if YOU don't use it perfectly it will crash and destroy ALL your work!

Both are available. You choose! New or Old. Life or death. But pick the new one. The point of showing you the old one is to make you realise that the way to go is to choose the new!

The only way we can be accepted by God is to be accepted in the beloved. It's to accept Jesus' death and resurection on our behalf, and to let Jesus cloak us in His rigteousness and live His life through us so that His obedience is imputed to us. When we do this we will actually live more holy, righteous and obedient lives than if we tried to do it ourselves, because Jesus has the track record for living life pleasing to God.

We have a track record for rebellion and sin! We will even think that WE can be obedient to the Law and consider our 'Self-Righteousness' to be 'Righteousness'! But God tells us in His word that all OUR righteousnesses are like filthy, blood-soaked rags.

As someone once said, "If OUR obedience is the 'criteria' for salvation, or if keeping the Law is the 'criteria', then Jesus will be very lonely, all on His own, in the Kingdom!"

God's plan, fulfilled in Jesus, is for us to live our lives through grace by putting faith in Jesus' finished work, for 'the just shall live by faith'.

Isn't it great when a plan comes together!

Attlee.


Holy Spirit's Role In our Christian Walk. Click Here.
Grace and Law in Ancient Israel. Click Here.
What do you mean - Grace? Click Here.
The Heart Of God Click Here.

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