“And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.”
What eventful days these were for the church at Jerusalem! Thousands were being saved; miracles were being performed; and the opposition from the religious establishment was intensifying. The church was enjoying great unity as well, expressing tremendous love and generosity to each other. Some were selling their property and giving the proceeds to the apostles to distribute to those in need. A man in the church named Ananias, along with his wife Sapphira, sold a possession and gave a part to the church, while deceitfully holding back part of the profit. Peter’s words to Ananias were, “why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?” (Acts 5:3) and “thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God” (Acts 5:4). Because of their hypocrisy, God killed both Ananias and Sapphira. One immediate result of this instant and serious judgment of God upon their sin was that “great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.”
This is something that is woefully lacking in most of the churches of our day. The fear of God has fallen by the wayside. Reverence and respect for God in the congregation of the saints have been replaced by frivolity and familiarity. God is holy and He is to be feared. The attitude of most modern worshippers is casualness rather than conviction. This is in stark contrast to what is expected in the Word of God. Notice what the Psalmist said in Psalm 89:7, “God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him.”
There will be serious consequences for such neglect in worship. One does not have to wonder about the effect of such compromise on our children. Will they fear our God if we do not? What might contribute to this abandonment of the fear of God? Perhaps one answer can be found in our text. The church feared God after they saw the judgment of God on the sins of their peers. When sin is not judged as it should be, the result will be the loss of godly fear. If we would consistently judge our own sin, and the church body would discipline its rebellious members, we might see the fear of God restored to the Lord’s churches.