Who’s Fighting for You?

Whitney Capps

Day: 6 | Plan: Acts

Today's Reading: Acts 5

Acts 5:38-39 (NIV) “‘Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.’”

I learned in journalism school not to bury the lead. So let me give you the lead right up-front. If your activities are from God, when others oppose you, they are fighting against God. But there is a flip side to this truth; if our activity is not from God it will fail. You see God gives us these principles to save us from failure.

In today’s passage we meet a married couple, Ananias and Sapphira, conspiring to deceive God by giving Him only a portion of money they received from a land transaction. 

Now giving God only a portion of our income isn’t wrong. Peter’s indictment of their actions tells us the great grievance against God: “You have not lied just to human beings but to God” (Acts 5:4b). Apparently, Ananias and Sapphira boasted that they were giving the full profit. They were judged rightly and severely for their pride. At Peter’s words, they fell down dead. Their planned deception was from human origin, and they paid with their lives.

We move from the judgment of Ananias and Sapphira to an intense confrontation between the religious leaders and the Spirit-filled apostles. Their authority and power angered the Jewish religious leaders. The Bible says specifically that they were jealous.

Their jealousy led to intense persecution of the apostles. During a debate to decide what to do with the “trouble-making” apostles, one of the members of the Sanhedrin, Gamaliel, says that if the apostles’ work is merely human activity, it will not succeed. Like Ananias and Sapphira, selfish motives rarely lead to success. But, Gamaliel says, if their work is from God, it cannot fail.

Now maybe like me, you can think of individuals who are less than honest, all about themselves, lacking integrity yet attaining success. In today’s passage, the Holy Spirit informed Peter of Ananias and Sapphira’s deceit, and it was made public. You and I both know this isn’t always the case. Others may not know the whole story, but God does. When we try to please ourselves and deceive God (which is impossible by the way), we fall outside of His protection and under His judgment. 

However, when we obey God, when we let Him drive and direct our lives, His plans for us and through us cannot fail. This is a true principle that may not always feel true. The rest of Acts will unpack what failure and success look like. The apostles will be persecuted and imprisoned, eventually martyred. We will learn “failure” isn’t decided from a human perspective. And “success” isn’t earned from a human perspective. We must let the Holy Spirit infuse our works and define our success. If the gospel is lived out and God is glorified, we win.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, there are areas of my life where my efforts are failing. Help me to examine my motives to see if “they are of human origin.” I want to have Your power saturate my attitudes and actions. I want to be successful not for my glory but for Yours alone. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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