The terrifying story of Ananias and Sapphira is found in the book of Acts, chapter 5. It describes how two people were struck dead for lying. No wonder my daughter yelled, “I don't want to be Sapphira!” when we were re-enacting the story. “I'm glad that you don't want to be Sapphira,” I said to my daughter, “because you always want to be truthful. Lying is something that God takes seriously.” My daughter decided that she never wanted to lie, based on this story.
She was willing to act it out, for the sake of other children learning how important it was to tell the truth. “I'll drag out the dead bodies!” shouted my 12-year-old. We were set, then. Stephen would play the part of Peter, and Nathaniel was willing to be Ananias.
Ananias and Sapphira sold a piece of land, kept some of the money for themselves, and then came to Peter, giving him the remainder of the money. Instead of saying, “Here is some money we would like to give to you,” they lied about it and said, “This is all the money we got from selling our property.” There was no reason for them to lie, unless they wanted to be seen as more godly because they had given everything.
Back at the beginning of the church age, with the huge outpouring of the Holy Spirit and miracles happening right after Christ ascended to heaven, people were selling all their belongings and giving the money to the church. It was almost like a commune, except they weren't hippies. They just wanted everyone to have enough money to proclaim the gospel, and they didn't want any of the money to be wasted on their own personal gain, especially because they believed that Jesus was returning within their lifetimes. They wanted their time left on earth to count, and why hoard money?
Nowadays if you started a commune like that, human nature would cause the leaders to take advantage of the money for personal gain, to the harm of everyone else. Plus, when you can't keep your own money, you stop working. But for some reason it worked right at the beginning of the church age because people were full of the Holy Spirit instead of being full of themselves.
So Ananias came in first, laying the money at the feet of Peter, telling him that was all the money he received from the land he sold. “Why are you lying to the Holy Spirit?” asked Peter. Ananias was struck dead on the spot by God, and men dragged out his dead body.
Then Sapphira walked in and said the same lie. “The men that carried out the dead body of your husband are coming to bury you, too,” replied Peter to her. She fell down dead and was dragged out of the building.
Because of this incident, the fear of the Lord fell upon the people, and nobody dared to lie for a long time. At least they tried not to, for fear of being struck dead...