#0086 Then the Spirit led Jesus up into the wilderness so that the devil might tempt him.
Scripture relevant to today’s posting…
10 Jesus responded, “Go away, Satan, because it’s written, You will worship the Lord your God and serve only him.” 11 The devil left him, and angels came and took care of him.
Matt 4:10-11 (NIV)
Today’s posting is part V of an excerpt from the book I am currently working on. This article looks at the difference between an hierarchy-based community and a community which is NOT hierarchy-based; this type of community would utilize concepts and principals of egalitarianism. The reason I wanted to talk about this is because, although Jesus’s message was filled with elements of the egalitarian principal, the Church continues to operate within the well-worn hierarchical structure, embracing and pushing its principles. Today we are covering a certain point in the Book of Acts that seems to indicate a shifting of the dynamic nature within the community of believers. In this scripture we see what appears to be a power play on Peter’s part to establish his and the other apostles’ authority to speak and act in the stead of Jesus—in other words—priesthood authority. This action opened the opportunity for Evil to step up and take charge while pulling the wool over the eyes of the apostles. They thought they were acting like Jesus; but in actuality they were acting like the Pharisees!
(Continued from Sunday 4-24-16)
1 Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2 With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.
3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4 Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”
5 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. 6 Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.
Acts 5: 1-6 (NIV)
Do you see how what is being said in 5 is like another commandment? Jesus didn’t do commandments; in fact He reduced the 613 laws (commandments) of Moses into only 2: 1. Love your neighbor; and 2. Love God. Let’s look at the circumstance as it is described. Peter has discerned somehow that this man Ananias who had sold his land had, upon receiving the money, decided to hold some of it back for himself. Evidently this took place in front of the people of the community; so when Peter chastises Ananias he does it out loud so everyone can hear him. I believe Peter did this intentionally to make an example of this man’s impropriety. This is exactly the type of action or public display that the Pharisees did when they caught someone in the act of contravening the Law of Moses. This was not the way in which Jesus generally operated (with the possible exception of the money changer incident) And the Holy Ghost certainly doesn’t operate using coercion and guilt to accomplish His goals. God uses love, praise and all manner of positive inducements to invoke responses from people—NOT guilt and certainly not in the guilting of someone to the point of death. The next line confirms this fact…”And great fear seized all who heard what happened.” Again God isn’t the author of fear, that’s the devil’s department. What this whole encounter is telling us is that the apostles were being tempted by the same devil Jesus struggled with while in the dessert fasting for forty days. Check it out…
Temptation of Jesus
4 Then the Spirit led Jesus up into the wilderness so that the devil might tempt him. 2 After Jesus had fasted for forty days and forty nights, he was starving.
8 Then the devil brought him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 He said, “I’ll give you all these if you bow down and worship me.”
Matt. 4: 1-2, 8-9 (NIV)
In this account Jesus was being tempted to use His divine power—the power of the Holy Ghost—to win people over to Him and His Father. Winning people over to the Kingdom of God was exactly what the apostles’ mission was also; but where Jesus was successful at rebuking His tempter here Peter wasn’t. He falls for the temptation to flex his priesthood muscle which in turn throws a monkey wrench into this whole egalitarian campaign which the Holy Ghost had only just gotten off the ground. The effects of this self-righteous action on the part of Peter and the apostles were far reaching. It served to not only quell the forward momentum of this egalitarian campaign authored by the Holy Ghost, it changed everything. I’m not saying it was this action, by itself that was responsible for this change; but it sure points to the shift in the Christian’s community dynamic from one being of a egalitarian nature to one we see today—hierarchy. If we go back to Acts 4: 33 for a moment, we can see that this self-righteous perspective was already beginning to assert itself…
“With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all”
Acts 4:33 (NIV)
Now the way this sentence is structured it’s not exactly definitive; but I think the author is saying that the power of the Holy Ghost was resident within the apostles which gave them power to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. This statement infers that it was the apostles’ preaching that inspired the body of believers to want to share their possessions and have all things in common. If this IS what the author is saying then it puts a whole different light on what was being described in the previous sentence…
32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.
Acts 4: 32 (NIV)
If you have a question or thought about this or other postings please feel free to send them in. Thanks for reading.
TBC: Wednesday, April 27, 2016