Let’s say that you are observing the trial of a man accused of theft.

The prosecutor has one of the employees of the accused on the witness stand.

He strides up to the witness box and asks him,

“Why do you think that your boss ordered you to deliberately short-weight that shipment?”

What do you suppose is going to be the next thing that you hear in that court-room?

The defendant’s attorney is going to jump to his feet and shout,

“Objection, your honor, this calls for speculation from this witness.”

In a court of law the only things which should be considered are facts, not suppositions and guesses.

There are several ways in which churches bear similarities with court-rooms.

First, we are supposed to deal in facts, not suppositions – truths, not fantasies.

Second, we are to judge people’s lives, looking for the fruits of righteousness and repentance.

And if a member is accused of sin, then the church is authorized to judge the evidence.

If the charges are true, then that member should be excommunicated from the church.

Third, at times we are responsible to judge between brethren.

If a church member feels that he has been wronged by another member,

Rather than taking the matter to civil court, the church has been instructed to settle the matter.

We should not give the unsaved any more reason to despise us than comes naturally with our faith.

If we stopped and considered it, we might be able to come up with some other parallels as well.

Can you see some of the court-room similarities as you read Acts 5?

There had been an act of fraud; and then an attempted cover-up.

The crime wasn’t a crime at all in the eyes of the civil court,

But since it was an attempted fraud against God and His church, the matter had to be brought to trial.

This court was not exactly held in the style of American jurisprudence.

Peter appeared to be both the acting judge and the prosecuting attorney,

But the fact is that he was not the judge at all.

The execution proves that.

And Ananias didn’t have the benefit of legal counsel . . . . if indeed there is benefit in having a lawyer.

Then Peter peppered the accused with questions, but it doesn’t appear that he waited for a single answer.

And then there was that first question:

“Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost?”

Objection, your honour, this question calls for speculation from the witness.

It is very unlikely that Ananias knew the specific reason that Satan had filled his heart with this lie.

But that doesn’t mean that he might not have known some more general things about Satan’s plan and program.

What is the theology about Satan which lurks behind this scripture?

First there is the fact that Christians still have much to fear in Satan.

As I said a couple of weeks ago, we have no reason to believe that Ananias wasn’t a Christian man.

He was apparently one of the members of the church in Jerusalem.

Church membership is not the same thing as salvation.

But one of the duties of a scriptural church is to look for evidence of salvation in those who would like to become its members.

So we assume that the Apostles saw what they believed to be evidence of the new birth in this man and his wife.

And then in the things that Peter said to them, there was nothing mentioned about their lost condition.

When it comes to the work of Satan toward the lost, I think that a summary is found in II Corinthians 4:4:

The lost are those “whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”

In other words the Devil does everything that he can to keep the spiritually blind, blinded to the truth.

He doesn’t want them to know of their lostness; their condemnation, their unrighteousness.

Satan doesn’t want the lost to know that they need a Saviour, or that there even is a Saviour.

So he keeps them preoccupied with just about every diversion possible:

He helps them to focus on sports and recreation, employment, health issues, politics, whatever.

Satan is even delighted in their misuse of religion, so long as it keeps people away from the Truth.

And yes, the Devil loves and promotes a wide variety of sins.

All with the purpose of blinding the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ should shine unto them.

And the Bible seems to suggest that he will even go so far as to indwell and mislead the wicked.

I don’t imagine that Satan has actually possessed very many human beings in the last 6,000 years.

It appears that he will possess the Antichrist, when the time comes.

But it’s difficult to say specifically whom he has possessed in the past.

On the other hand, he has certainly authorized his demons to occupy and abuse huge numbers of people down through the years.

Demon possession is a very real, albeit a much misunderstood and maligned phenomenon.

One question from this scripture is whether or not Ananias was possessed by Satan or a demon.

The verse says, “Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost?”

Does this mean that Ananias was filled with Satan?

It’s not saying that at all.

Ananias’ heart wasn’t filled with the Devil, but with deceit at the urging of Satan.

I don’t claim to know everything that there is to know about Satan, and I hope that I never will.

But from what I have seen in the scripture,

I am not convinced that any true child of God can be demon or Satanically possessed.

When a sinner is born again, he is indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God.

This internal presence of God is not an option; it is not an augmentation or addition to salvation.

Every child of God is sealed with the Spirit, Who then becomes the earnest of God’s inheritance.

There is not a single verse of scripture which teaches that the Spirit will ever forsake the Christian.

And there is no reason to believe that a Christian can be possessed by both the Spirit of God and one of the demons of Satan at the same time.

No Ananias was not FILLED with Satan, but rather he was filled with Satanic DECEPTION.

Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost?

When we step back and try to find the character of the work of Satan, we can see a general pattern.

First, the Bible teaches that the conflict between Satan and Jehovah, began either before or just at the time of creation.

The lust of Lucifer is not directed towards man, but rather towards God.

Lucifer, Satan, the Devil, the Wicked One, or whatever name or title that you want to give him,

Satan’s desire is to replace Jehovah, and to sit upon the mount in the sides of the north.

He wants to usurp God as God.

As you survey the activities of Satan which the Bible has described, you see that they all are designed to rob God of His subjects, His power and ultimately of His glory.

Isaiah 14:12-14 briefly describes the fall of Lucifer:

“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!

For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:

I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.”

What is the general summary of this passage?

Satan said, “I want to be exalted above the throne of God.

I will be like Jehovah, the most high.”

When you think about some of the specific temptations of men on earth, they all have that overtone.

Think about the first temptation – that of Eve.

Adam and his wife were living in joyful fellowship with the Lord.

That fellowship was based on certain simple rules and regulations.

Satan stepped in and challenged that criteria with the purpose of breaking that fellowship.

“Yea, hath God said, those shalt surely die?

For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”

Ye shall be as gods – but God will not permit rival gods.

In this case the Devil was successful in stealing away two of the Lord’s subjects, and disrupting the glory that belonged to Jehovah.

Think about the temptation of the Lord Jesus in the wilderness as recorded in Matthew 4:

“Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.

And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.

And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.

But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,

And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;

And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.”

Each aspect of this temptation was designed to drive a wedge between the Father and the Son.

Command that these stones be made bread and don’t trust your Father to feed you.

Cast yourself down from the temple and make your Father catch you.

Forgo your reverence for the Father and worship me for just a moment.

What was Satan’s purpose in his attack upon Job?

“The LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.

And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life.

But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone & his flesh, & he will curse thee to thy face.”

In Zechariah 3:1 we see the work of the wicked one.

“And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.”

Look at Matthew 13:24:

“Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:

But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.

But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.

So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?

He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?

But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.

Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.”

Now skip down to verse 36:

“Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field.

He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;

The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one;

The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.”

Judging from this parable what is the purpose and desire of Satan?

To rob the Lord of that which is His; to steel away His profits – his glory.

And why was it that Satan filled Judas’ heart to betray the Saviour into the hands of the Jews?

Wasn’t it in order to kill and remove the Christ?

Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost?

The church in Jerusalem was exploding with growth and spiritual prosperity.

The saints of God were alive with excitement and a desire to bring glory to their Saviour.

Many of the people were selling their property and giving it to the work of the Lord.

Satan had no desire to possess Ananias or Sapphira per se,

But he did have a desire to stifle the excitement and the glory that was being given to the Lord.

Satan was earnestly seeking every avenue available to bring sin into the camp.

There is a parallel between this and the history of Balaam and Israel.

Balak the king of the Moab wanted to stop the progress of the people of God.

He tried to hire Balaam to curse Israel, but the Lord refused to permit it.

Balaam, lusting after the Moabite treasures, tried to change Jehovah’s mind, but that was impossible.

So the plan was changed from cursing Israel to making Israel curse themselves through sin.

Beautiful Moabite temptresses, along with their idolatry, were introduced to the nation and when many Israelites were overcome, God judged the nation Himself, killing thousands.

Satan could perceive the eventual progress of the Lord’s church, and there wasn’t anything that he could do to stop it, so he tried to induce the Lord Himself to stop it.

Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost?

It was an attempt to rob God of His church, and ultimately of His glory.

Do Christians have anything worry about when it comes to Satan?

Much in every way.

It is impossible for the Satan to steal away one of the Lord’s true children.

They “are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

They have been given “eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man [demon or devil] pluck them out of [the Lord’s] hand.”

But there is not any child of God whose heart is beyond being filled with wicked thoughts and sins.

Ananias left the door open to this Satanic suggestion.

I would guess that he already had a propensity to greed, and Satan just used the opportunity that was given him.

And what are the sins that you might be prone toward?

Drunkenness? Then you should determine that you will never, never taste a drop of alcohol.

Greed? Then you should never, never buy a lottery ticket, or visit a casino.

Lust? Then you must determine that your computer will never be permitted to settle on a pornography site.

I am not convinced that Satan can or needs to create in any of us a weakness to sin.

The weaknesses are already there.

All he needs to do is exploit them.

And that is something which Christians have some ability to control.

“Draw nigh unto God, resist the Devil and he will flee from you.”

That was an exhortation which Ananias didn’t see any need to heed, but Brother I have that need and so do you.