21 JULY 365 Days with Calvin

Provoking Judgment

And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. Acts 5:8

suggested further reading: Luke 13:1–9

We see that God does not immediately punish Sapphira. He first thoroughly tries the matter of her deception, lest he should send vengeance upon anyone except the obstinate and those who will not be pardoned. For though Sapphira knew that she was withholding the truth, she ought to have been as stricken with this question of Peter as if she had been cited to appear before the judgment seat of God.

She is granted time to repent; indeed, given a pleasant invitation to repent. But in holding on so carelessly to her lie, Sapphira declares that she is incurable because she is untouched by fearing God.

Here we are taught to diligently labor to bring sinners to the way of truth. For the Spirit of God patiently works with sinners, but when stubbornness and the stubborn contempt of God are added to the offense, it is high time for punishment. People are too arrogant when they are displeased with the severity of God. It is rather our duty to consider how we shall in time come to stand before the judgment seat of God. We will despise his holy power and majesty too much if we freely mock him without any punishment.

Moreover, many circumstances sufficiently prove that Ananias and Sapphira were not worthy of only one death. For, first, hypocrisy is of itself very abominable to God. Second, this couple was determined to lie to God, and this arose from great contempt, for they did not reverence and fear Christ, who was the chief governor of the people before whom Ananias and Sapphira came.

The greatness of the spiritual judgment on this couple (which is as yet hid) is set before us in the bodily punishment of two, as in a mirror. For if we consider what it means to be cast into eternal fire, we shall not judge that falling down dead before others is the greatest evil and punishment of all.

for meditation: The Lord’s striking punishment on Ananias and Sapphira should be very sobering—so many of us are guilty of the same sin. In God’s mercy, we have not been struck dead for failing to tell the truth. How can this story serve to remind us of the greater punishment to come?[1]

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 221). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

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