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Discernment to Defend Unity in Christ

Pastor Dan Donohoue's Sermon for Saturday July 14th, 2018

· Teaching

The disciples were here listening to him pray. This is Jesus' heart:

John 17:9–26 (ESV) — 9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. 20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

Acts 4:32–5:16 (ESV) — 32 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35 and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. 36 Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, 37 sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 1 But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, 2 and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? 4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.” 5 When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. 6 The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him. 7 After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” 9 But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” 10 Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things. 12 Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico. 13 None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem. 14 And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, 15 so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them. 16 The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed.

Full number of those who believed(Heart and Soul) One!

Go back to the prayer! This is a Spirit thing. But there are things that quench the spirit and I can’t think of anything more quenching then lying to the Holy Spirit. Will we allow this to take place to sacrifice the unity of witness and power that God intends for the Church. We must by God’s grace embrace our weakness, acknowledge our shortcomings and repent regularly that God may restore unity by the Power of His Spirit and impart oneness of heart and soul. This is the only way. There is no other option! I pray the fear of the Lord come upon us all in this manner. Not that we would walk afraid to come to God, but that “duplicity would be deplorable” This will take a strong move of discerning of Spirits because as much as the father is about unity the enemy is about division. Why is it that the church is thought of as one of the most disunited institutions, because the enemy has a foothold.


This is a message for those who are inside the church. So if you are outside the church today, if you have not decided to follow Jesus and receive him as Lord, the message I want to remind you of is this. The unity that you desire can only be found through Jesus, and that we are at odds with God until we receive Jesus and invite the Holy Spirit to guide and direct our heart and soul.

"Sold some property." There was such unity among the church. They wanted to make sure that all needs were met. This was established not at the bidding of human dictators or at the behest of a humanistic philosophy... It was done as a move of God on the people's hearts. God was doing something and it was earth-shattering and unity-producing. We need to call on God for such moves to occur in our hearts. It needs to happen.


With great moves of God and unity in Christ the enemy longs to taint it. And selfish hearts are ready to fall into the hands of Satan for his evil devices. With his wife being privy of his actions, Ananias held back some of the proceeds for Himself.

He looked as though he was being pious. He was trying replicate what Peter’s power and Barnabas's generosity was coming from. It ended it ruin due to God's plan and Peter's dependence on God to shepherd the church.


An Exegetical Summary of Acts 1–14 5:1–2

  What is indicated by the conjunction δέ ‘but’ at the beginning of the verse?
    The conjunction ‘but’ indicates the contrast of what Ananias and Sapphira did from what Barnabas did in Acts 4:36–37 [TNTC, TRT]. They too sold a piece of property, pledging the proceeds to the community of believers. But they held back some of the proceeds; and a terrible judgment followed, resulting in both their deaths [NAC].

An Exegetical Summary of Acts 1–14 5:3

  QUESTION—How did Peter relate a Satan-filled heart to lying to the Holy Spirit?
    Peter reasoned that it was because Satan had filled Ananias’ heart that Ananias lied to the Holy Spirit. Although influenced by Satan, Ananias was responsible for what he himself had done since he had left himself open to follow Satan and try to deceive the Holy Spirit [BECNT]. Satan filled Ananias’ heart just as Satan had filled Judas’ heart (Luke 22:3) [AB, NAC]. Like Judas, Ananias was motivated by money (Luke 22:5) [NAC].

Why has Satan filled your heart? Putting responsibility on Ananias not Satan.

Peter was full of discernment at what had been done. He had been aware of information that had not been openly shared with him by Ananias and Sapphira. This allowed Peter to defend the church and keep the rats of the enemy out.


God dealt then and there with their hearts. They fell down dead at the conviction of their sins. The power of God was present and would not allow them to live any longer. Some would say that these deaths occurred at a vulnerable time in the church to keep it moving and so that it would not be tainted in the beginning. Some would say it was because the power of God was so present that they could not help but die at the manifest presence of the victim of their lies. We do not know why they died and so many others who lie to the spirit today live. All we know is that God is not pleased with those who lie to Him and that He does not want that in the church. 


Today we need discernment like Peter's to separate the lies from the Truth in the church. We need to have the gift of discernment running fluidly over the body to make sure that we do not fall prey to the enemies schemes and then end up an enemy of God. We need to "expel the wicked from among us." 


You may feel that you are always frustrated with what is going on around you. You may feel God is leading the church a different way than were it is going now. We need those people to speak out what they are feeling because it may be something that is leading us down a wrong path. Obviously we can do so in an orderly manner in which we bring things to leadership but we need to have open communication so that no stone is left unturned in our pursuit of grace and Truth manifest in churches. 


If you are longing for discernment today and you want to have God give you wisdom. Pray! God will surely give it to those who ask. He is a generous God. He is full of love to those who seek Him out. Let's ask for discernment not only for our own lives but for the life of the church. 


Let us know if you have any questions or comments. Or if you would like prayer. God bless you!

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