Ananias brought a “certain part” of the “proceeds” and “laid it at the apostles feet.” No doubt he anticipated a grateful handshake, words of affirmation or even a write-up in the church newsletter. Instead, Peter asked a penetrating question, “Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost?” God had revealed to Peter the devious scheme of this attention-seeking couple.
He further specifically asked why they had chosen to “keep back part of the price of the land.” You could have probably heard a pin drop. Ananias’ jaw probably hung down to his knees! He stood helpless, convicted and condemned by his own sin before the mighty Apostle.
Peter further condemned Ananias with questions in verse 4. Was the land not his own? Were the profits not under his control? Finally, Peter pronounced the truth of the situation, “thou has not lied unto men, but unto God.”
It seems as though just as this searing indictment sounded in the room that Ananias “fell down and gave up the ghost.” The writer, Luke, added this footnote in verse 5, “and great fear came on all them that heard these things.”
Verses 6-11 tells of how Sapphira came in “about three hours later.” She was unaware of her husband’s death. Peter asked her specifically about the price and she told him a bold-faced lie (verses 8-9). She too fell dead that day and verse 11 again says “great fear” came upon everyone.
“Fear” should come upon us as well. God deals seriously with those who try to use His church for their own glory.