The Sacrifice of Praise: Entering the Presence of the Lord
When we enter God’s presence, we seem unaware that the Holy Spirit is also present (Acts 5). With the couple, Ananias, and his wife Saphira both planned to deceive the Apostles. They were looking at man who is equal to them and who cannot read minds, and failed to understand that there is always a greater than man, who is the Holy Spirit Who reads minds and intents (Jeremiah 17:10; Hebrews 4:12). The couple wanted to be like the other givers who sold their possessions and gave the proceeds to the Apostles. They also sold their possessions, but conspired to deceive the Apostles. They made a gross mistake by ignoring the presence of the Holy Spirit. There are times we enter the presence of the Lord and behave in ways unbecoming of Christians. We fail to understand that God is present everywhere Who sees, hears, and knows everything; even what is in here hearts before we are aware of those thoughts (Psalm 139:4).
Although the couple had a good intention, their efforts were marred by deception which grieved the Holy Spirit. They were fatally struck down immediately as reality confronted them (Acts 5). This is a lesson for every believer to remind us that the Holy Spirit is constantly present, and if we do not yield to His warnings, then we will suffer the consequences. While there are people who seem to be getting away with their sinfulness, God is patient and gives them time to repent (II Peter 3:9), but their time will eventually expire. Others are clutching grace as a panacea for their sin. Grace is powerful, but we do not want to abuse this great gift to help us live lives which are reputable as believers in Christ. Grace is not to be exploited or taken casually. “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (I Corinthians 15:10). Those who seem to abuse the gift of grace are no longer conscious of the presence of the Holy Spirit. What they have is a form of godliness, with no power (II Timothy 3:9).
When we present ourselves before God, our sacrifice must be with sincerity and truthfulness. God will judge us concerning the condition of our hearts when we bring our offerings to Him. He may not respond immediately, but our lives will continue to go downhill. If the heart is not right, the sacrifice will be rejected similar to the rejection of Cain’s sacrifice (Genesis 4:1-5). With Ananias and Sapphira their offering was rejected because it was tarnished by the sin of deception, despite their intentions of helping with the work.
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