How is it possible for Satan to fill the heart of Ananias (Acts 5.2) if he (Ananias) was a believer? Does the presence of the Holy Spirit in a believer not make this impossible? In that case was Ananias an unbeliever?
This solemn incident in Acts 5 has often provoked the question as to whether Ananias and Sapphira were believers. Personally I think that they were. It appears that they were in the fellowship of the church at Jerusalem. So, if they were not saved they had deceived even the apostles. We suggest some points that seem to favour that they were believers. 1. It is difficult to see that Peter and the other apostles would accept any money from the world. It is hard also to conceive that two unbelieving Jews would sell land which belonged to them and bring it to the apostles. One would then have to ask the question: What would be the purpose of this action? 2. God usually leaves the world alone for future judgment (1 Cor 11.30 & 32) and yet they were both immediately judged by Him! 3. Peter refers to their lying to the Holy Spirit. This would suggest the presence of the Holy Spirit, not only in the church at Jerusalem and in the apostles, but in both Ananias and Sapphira. If one hesitates to accept they were believers we can only fall back on the Scripture: "The Lord knoweth them that are his" (2 Tim 2.19).
The filling of the heart by Satan has the idea of to instigate, excite, influence, and strongly impel. The appropriate form of the same word is found in the previous chapter in connection with the filling of the Spirit (Acts 4.31). It indicates how completely the matter had taken them over. Satan was attempting to deceive the Holy Spirit by filling the heart of Ananias with a lie. We have to face the possibility that a believer may be influenced by Satan to say and do something which is wrong, as in the case of Peter himself when the Lord rebuked him and said, "Get thee behind me Satan" (Mt 16.23).
How vital it is in our lives to be influenced by the Spirit. The incident shows us three vital facts the reality of Satan, the sanctity of the assembly, and the deity of the Holy Spirit, for Peter could say, "Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God" (v.4).
John J Stubbs
We often hear today that there is equality between men and women. Can you comment upon what the Bible teaches on this?
The principal Scripture concerning this topic is 1 Corinthians 11.2-16 where Paul deals with the subject of "Headship", particularly the headship of Christ. In the Epistles to the Ephesians and the Colossians, where the headship of Christ is also dealt with, His relationship to the whole church is in view and also vital union with Him and His maintenance of spiritual life, e.g. "he is the head of the body, the church" (Col 1.18). In 1 Corinthians 11 His headship is confined to His authority over the individual.
So Paul states the very important theological principle: "the head of every man is Christ" (1 Cor 11.3). Every man constitutionally feels the need of a head; however, only those who come into the good of redemption come into the enjoyment of Christs headship. Then he adds, " the head of the woman is the man"; it is not here a question of superiority and inferiority. In the Epistle to the Galatians we read, "there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus" (3.28); however, this refers to the judicial standing of the believer before God in Christ, it does not cancel natural relationships.
Paul maintains that both the man and the woman should act in accordance with the divinely constituted order set out in 1 Corinthians 11.3, hence the covered head of the woman and the uncovered head of the man (vv.4-7). What Paul has set out with reference to the headship of man and the subjection of the woman is seen to be in accord with the order in creation (vv.8-12). Then, in the remaining verses (12-16) of this section, the subjection of the woman is symbolised by nature itself: "Doth not even nature itself teach you" (v.14), and by natures provision for her in her long hair, "her hair is given her for a covering" (v.15).
We should be alert to the fact that the devil is doing all that he can to overturn divine order and to blur the distinction between the sexes.
David E West