“Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself?’ ” (Acts 5:3).

Born in 1813, John Sadleir never set out to become a fraudster. This member of British Parliament could have enjoyed a fine career in government. But Sadleir allowed his greed and covetousness to influence his choices. He held high positions in various banks and, early in 1856, the Tipperary Bank in Ireland was discovered to be insolvent because Sadleir had embezzled £288,000. It is said that the bank’s depositors, many of whom were humble folk with low incomes, wept in the streets when they learned their money was gone. Implicated in a number of schemes and unwilling to face the consequences, Sadleir killed himself the same year.

Another tragedy involving fraud occurred in the early Christian church at a time when members began pooling their resources to help one another and support the work of the church. Many volunteered to sell their homes or land and brought the proceeds to the apostles. One man, Ananias, had publicly pledged to give all the profit from a particular property he owned. But after it sold, he and his wife, Sapphira, decided to keep a large part of the money for themselves—money that had already been dedicated to God. Wanting to look good in front of the other church members, Ananias tried to deceive the apostles, presenting the partial amount as if it were the full gift.

Alerted to this deception, Peter confronted him for lying to God. Condemned by his evil heart, Ananias died on the spot. A short time later, Sapphira showed up and likewise lied to Peter about the money. Then she too died.

The Bible is emphatic: God hates lying. And His Word warns us that “Getting treasures by a lying tongue is the fleeting fantasy of those who seek death” (Proverbs 21:6).

Today, if we have any media contact at all, we are exposed to lies multiple times a day from every conceivable angle. In this warped environment, only God can keep us truthful.

Dear God, amid our culture built on lies, help me to hate deception and cling to truth with both hands.

For Further Study: Acts 5:1–11; Proverbs 12:22; 26:1

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