But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.
This wasn’t a back-against-the-wall kind of situation. This wasn’t Ananias being forced to make a difficult choice and hastily falling into sin. This was deliberate, planned out, premeditated. And above all, it was unnecessary. He didn’t have to sell his land and give the money to the disciples or lie about how much he sold it for. It didn’t matter to anyone else either way what he gave or what portion of the total it was. He wasn’t compelled by anyone else to do any of this. This was a decision he made purposefully to deceive, and it was ultimately God that he sinned against.
The law makes a distinction between premeditated crimes and crimes that occur in the heat of the moment. The more serious ones are those that took careful planning because the person intended to commit the crime with no outside forces influencing him beside his own will. We see how seriously God takes these kinds of things by the result of Ananias’ sin: It brought immediate death upon him.
We need to keep a proper perspective on sin in our lives. When we willfully sin, we are sinning against God in a very direct kind of way. He knows our hearts. He knows our intentions and motives. He knows the truth and when we are trying to deceive, and He always knows exactly what we’ve done. So, are we trying to get away with something in our lives? Are we thinking we can mislead some people, operate with deception and no one ever find out? Because even if no one else ever uncovers what we have done, God still knows all about it.
There is great freedom in simply being honest with God, ourselves, and everyone else. Sometimes we do fall into sin, and there is mercy and grace for us. But sometimes perhaps we are more deliberate about some sin and we find ourselves conspiring against God Himself. May the Lord have mercy on us in those moments. May we truly repent of the evil we had conceived in our hearts. And may we be ever more careful to guard our hearts against the deception and sin that can spring forth from them and the influence that Satan can have upon us.