As we work out way through the actions of the Holy Spirit in Acts, let me pause to remind you the point of this series is the Holy Spirit was the chief action figure in that dynamic first century explosion of Christianity, and he still is today. Nothing – absolutely nothing – happens without the Holy Spirit
If you miss this, you have missed the link to Jesus’ promise of “the life that is truly life.” 1
The Holy Spirit’s power can affect your life dramatically. But do you realize what you say or do can affect the Holy Spirit within you?
With God’s exhortation at Ephesians 4, he is imploring us to be aware of this intensely personal relationship living within your heart and soul: “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”2
Yes, you can grieve God’s Holy Spirit within you.
The setting is Acts 5. We’ve been told that all of Jesus’ followers are banding together, and some are even selling their possessions to help the cause. They are a tight-knit group, and the Holy Spirit is moving mightily among them.
Ananias and Sapphira are part of this group, and want to help financially as well. So they sell a field they own, and get, say $1000.00 for it. They proudly walk into the next prayer meeting and present Peter with the “full proceeds” of their sale: $500.00.
Now stop and consider: who did they lie to? Peter? The rest of the group?
When we want to justify some slinky behavior, don’t we rationalize something like, “Well, it’s only Peter. And I’m sure he’s not perfect either. The group is still getting a lot of mymoney.”
But it’s not Peter, and it’s not the group, to whom we are lying, or cheating, or otherwise behaving in some fashion we know is not, “Walking in the light ….”3
Peter crystalizes this for us: “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… You have not lied to men but to God.”4
“What? ‘Lied to the Holy Spirit?’ Oh come on, I wasn’t lying to the Holy Spirit. I never even considered him in this. I was just spinning the truth for Peter and the group. This is the way one stays ahead in this rough and tumble world, right?
“I lied to the Holy Spirit … to God? Not me.”
But we live in a God-saturated world. You live in a world permeated by the Holy Spirit. And this is a good thing … a wonderful thing!
“For in him we live and move and have our being.”5
What a God we serve, that we can know he is always with us.
And yet he is indeed always with us. You can decide to take this as an encouragement or as a warning. In the Old Testament we see examples of both.
First, as an encouragement, we find Joseph – the one with the colorful coat – confronted by Potiphar’s wife, who wants to sleep with him.
Joseph refuses, reminding her of all the wonderful things Potiphar has done for him. “I can’t sleep with you, ma’am, just look at how well your husband has treated me.”6
Okay, so far I am following Joseph’s reasoning. He lives in Potiphar’s house; Potiphar has trusted him with his riches, and blessed his life abundantly. He owes a lot to Potiphar. But Joseph’s next statement catches me off guard, because it’s not so much Potiphar whom he doesn’t want to grieve:
“How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” (Bold added)
Wait a minute, Joseph. Isn’t it Potiphar we’re talking about here? It’s his wife. He is your master. Where does God come into play?
God is always in play, because we live in a God-saturated world, as Joseph knew so well. And for Joseph, this is a wonderful reality. It will be for you as well as long as you wantto walk in the light. It won’t be when you want to skulk in the darkness, as we shall see next week with King David.
I don’t want to avoid sin because I’m afraid of getting in trouble with my Father. And I certainly don’t want to grieve his Spirit within me. Like Joseph, I want to preempt sin, and all its pain and complications, because I love my Father, and see how very much I am loved by him.