“While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” (ESV)
Ananias probably looked like a good, upstanding, and solid member of the church. The kind of guy any pastor would want as a member. Every pastor except God apparently.
A skeptic of Christianity would perhaps argue that God is a cruel tyrant Who, for whatever capricious reasons, kills people for giving to Him. A hyper-fundamentalist Christian may get strangely excited about Ananias’ death and start pointing his finger and barking about partial tithe and “cattle on a thousand hills” and “you can’t out-give God” and whatever mantras he’s picked up in the pre-offering pep talk on Sunday morning.
But, Peter, the apostolic “first among equals” seems to be both confidant in God’s judgment as well as His lack of concern regarding how much cash the people brought to the disciples. The issue Peter seems to be driving at is the lack of acknowledgment of who God truly is. Ananias made the erroneous assumption that God either didn’t care or didn’t know about the motivations of his heart. Ananias seemed to be seeing God in the same way he saw Peter of John or Matthew: powerful, but not ALL-knowing…close, but not EVER-present.
Lying to people is an attempt to live with more comfort than is deserved or has been earned. But lying to God is an assumption that it is possible for there to be one shred of information, knowledge, or motivation that you can know without God knowing. In Eden Adam and Eve tried this same thing by hiding from God. But they, like Ananias found out that God isn’t waiting for us to be honest so He can figure out what’s going on, honesty is a recognition of God’s omniscience and sovereignty.
Confession and open, honest accountability is important for many reasons, but not the least of which is its acknowledgement of who God truly is. Confession of sin “lines us up” with the reality that God already knows, we aren’t hiding anything from Him whether we try to or not.