I read about a man who wanted to be a doctor so badly that he decided to impersonate one, and was arrested for doing so! There’s a big difference between someone who says they are something and someone who really is what they claim.
When we read the fourth and fifth chapters of the book of Acts, we read words like, great faith and great power that came over the Christians. I can just hear their joy as they had all things common and were laying their gifts at the apostles’ feet so that the ministry of the Gospel could press forward.
How invigorating! How exciting!
But in my head, I can almost hear the music of the movie, Jaws beginning to play as Chapter 5 begins. It’s that eerie music that tells you that something really bad is getting ready to happen.
Sure enough, you turn to chapter 5 and we meet Annanias and Sapphira, a husband and a wife. The chapter starts with the word, BUT, which tells us that after the joy, fellowship and sacrifice that we read the believers had, this couple is experiencing something completely different. What did they experience? They simply imitate what they saw.
“Oh, others are giving money from land they sold? We will, too!”
But they connived together to only give part of what they received, but to say that they were giving it ALL. They each came, one at a time and told their lie to Peter. They were both buried that same day.
Their sin was not that they didn’t give it all – their sin was that they lied about it. Where did that sin get its root? In their heart. Why did they lie? Because they only professed that they had the same thing these early Christians truly possessed. They didn’t have a true love for God and the risen Savior.
You and I can imitate this dead duo simply by saying with our mouths what is not truly in our heart. I believe there are many people in the church who profess they are Christians, but they’ve never possessed Christ as their own personal Savior.
We can look at this couple and learn whether or not we are possessors or only professors of a true relationship with Christ Let’s look at the differences between the two.
- Possessors pray. Professors talk about prayer. A relationship with the Lord begins with prayer. We confess our need for Christ. We confess that we are sinful and unable to save ourselves. We surrender our lives to Him. People who don’t really know Christ can say a lot about praying, but they don’t have an intimate, close relationship with the Lord so that they are in constant communication with Him.
- Possessors give sacrificially. Professors give sparingly. A true believer realizes that everything he owns came from the Lord, so he opens his hand and gives it back with a thankful, generous heart. A professor is more concerned about looking like a giver and is fearful of giving away too much, so he gives what he thinks he can afford to give.
- Possessors love the fellowship of other believers. Professors isolate themselves. A true believer enjoys the fellowship of the saints. Time to worship, pray and communicate with other believers invigorates and strengthens him! A professor gets irritated at the length of time a church service goes. They complain about “having to pray” in a group. They can’t wait to get our the door.
- Possessors speak out of their own personal witness. Professors can only say what they have heard someone else say. A true believer has a walk with God that is fresh. They are constantly learning as they dig into God’s Word. They share what God taught them today. A professor doesn’t have a continual understanding of the Word of God because He doesn’t have the Holy Spirit in him to teach the Truth. Therefore, they can only echo things they’ve read or heard from others.
- Possessors operate with great grace. Professors operate out of the their flesh. A true believer has God’s grace to be able to give, to pray and to tell others what God has done for them. A professor has to pull up from their flesh the willing and the doing.
- Possessors have the evidence of spiritual life. Professors show evidence of spiritual death. True believers produce good works out of the spiritual life – not to gain it, but their works prove their spiritual life. Professors can only reveal dead works because they are dead people, just as we literally see in Ananias and Sapphira.
We need to remember that a believer who is out of fellowship with God can imitate an unbeliever. That means that if we are living with unconfessed sin, we haven’t lost our salvation, but we will look just like the professors that were just described.
I don’t want my “dead corpse” to be my testimony. I long to live a life that is alive and vibrant, giving, praying, learning, and enjoying fellowship all with great grace!
Which are you? A possessor or a professor? It’s your choice.