The Nemesis of an Awakening

Bible Book: Acts  5
Subject: Spiritual Awakening; Covetousness; Revival

Acts 4:31-5:10

My heart’s desire is to see God show up and show out during the next month. I pray that He will draw us so close to Him that we look like Him. Wayne Watson wrote these words,

“One day Jesus will call my name.
As days go by I hope I don’t stay the same.
I wanna get so close to Him that it’s no big change
On the day that Jesus calls my name.”

When our lives are awakened to Christ, we become like Him. Praying to this end, I ask God for direction that would point us toward this end. As I wrote down words, read scripture, and began to sense God’s leading – this word “Nemesis” came to mind. Dictionaries give different definitions for nemesis but the definition which paints a picture for us is:

i. A seemingly unbeatable rival or
ii. An opponent or rival who cannot be overcome.

One writer said that a nemesis is like a „waterloo.’ Now, we know about that term. The powerful Napoleon came to the Battle of Waterloo THINKING he was invincible.

What is it that could be the “Nemesis,” the seemingly unbeatable opponent. to a Spiritual awakening happening in every heart and life? As I understand God’s word, the nemesis, obstacle, and bottleneck for an awakening is found in our “spirit.” Please understand that sin is always the thing which separates us from God and His renewing, reviving, and refreshing spirit, but never lose sight of the fact that sin begins in our spirit. It is true Isaiah 59 tells us our „sin has separated us from God’ but it is also true that Psalm 66 speaks of the „heart sin.’

Some people will scoff at the idea that their personal & private sin can stand in the way of corporate revival, but those folk show their ignorance of God’s word. Just one, for instance, is found in the book of Joshua as he records the sad story of Achan. When God confronted Joshua, He said, “ISRAEL has sinned!” All of Israel were held accountable. Dear folks, please let’s not allow our own personal sin. Let’s learn from God’s word about the sin of the spirit.

(Read the Bible Text)

Let’s get a picture of this church, the First Century Church, in our mind’s eye. They had unity, harmony, and generosity. They prayed together, provided for each other, and presented Jesus to the lost world. Together, God’s grace flowed over them. Quite honestly, this is a picture of the post-Pentecost church as it is supposed to be. Praying, being filled with the Holy Spirit of God, and Speaking God’s message of salvation with boldness – what a church! Yet, even in this church, there was a bad apple. Honestly, I don’t see the bad apple of this church being named “Ananias and Sapphira” nearly as much as I see the bad apple infecting this couple. It is this bad apple which is the nemesis of an awakening and can be found in one’s spirit.

Whether we are awakened spiritually or not, whether or not we become God’s witnesses, and whether we fulfill His will or not, will be determined by what is going on in our spirit. In the Old Testament the focus was the letter of the Law, while Jesus in the New Testament (and today) focuses on the spirit of the law. The letter brings death and the spirit brings life.

For a few minutes consider the prevalent spirit(s) which we can discern in this story and perhaps some which could be in us.

I. A Covetous Spirit

To read verse 36 of chapter 4 and segue to chapter 5 is to understand that this couple saw Barnabas getting recognition and they decided they wanted the same.

Somehow this seems to be the one area which many people are susceptible, public accolades. This sin begins deep in one’s spirit and desires the wrong thing. Giving should never be motivated by public recognition.

Dr. David Jeremiah told a story about a farmer who truly desired to serve his king. So from his garden he brought the King a carrot. The King saw the heart of this farmer and gave the farmer a large tract of land to farm. One of the Nobles saw this and said to himself, “If he gets that much for a carrot what could I get for something bigger?” So the next day the nobleman went to the King and said, “This horse is the best I have ever bred, I want you to have it.” The wise King saw through the spirit and heart of this nobleman to his true motivation and took the horse returning nothing for the favor. The nobleman was perplexed so the King said, “The farmer gave ME his best. You gave me this horse for YOU.”

Covetousness is included in the Ten Commandments as one of the “Thou shalt not” passages and it wears ugly inside the body of Christ. Sadly, covetousness (wanting what someone else has) is the entry level sin. It is the first stop. It leads to…

II. A Corrupt Spirit

The sin of covetousness is a progressive sin which almost always leads to corruption. They wanted to have the public praise that Barnabas received, but they didn’t want to do what Barnabas did. Ananias came in and said, “Like Barnabas, we sold our land and here’s all the money.” The corrupt spirit is the selfish spirit which believes, “I can lie and get by with it because no one will ever know.” There is a lesson here. Peter didn’t see the bill of sale. He wasn’t a part of the legal transaction. Peter was God’s representative and God knew the truth. God knows what kind of spirit we have. When we possess a covetous, corrupt spirit, God knows it. The Bible teaches, “Whatever is covered up on earth will be revealed one day.” Ananias’ “one day” came and God dealt with sin like God will deal with sin. The corrupt spirit says, “It’s okay.” God says, “NO way.” Sin stands in the way.

III. A Conspiring Spirit

The sad truth about this story is that two people, who were a part of a spirit-filled church, conspired together to fulfill their selfish, sinful, and sorry desire to get attention. I don’t know how this happened. I don’t know how they fell so far so quickly. Perhaps they missed the prayer meeting. Perhaps they avoided the daily meetings and the sharing which was so prevalent in the church. Perhaps they were there for it all, but maybe Satan had already entered their hearts to watch and see how they could receive their public recognition which they, obviously, thought they were due. Whatever the case, they decided to pull a fast one because, after all, they were due; better said, they were entitled. This may be the GREAT SIN of the church in America today, the feeling of entitlement. When a person feels entitled, everything else becomes secondary. Entitlement is killing this nation.

We cannot balance a budget because everyone is entitled to governmental help. We cannot abolish abortion because we’re entitled to live recklessly & then kill babies indiscriminately. We can’t teach spiritual principles in school because we are entitled to make our own choices about life (except in the case of our favorite sport or recreation).

In the church, we’re entitled to vote, to speak our mind, and to have things like we want them. I submit to us that the nemesis to a spiritual awakening is our entitlement. It is born in a covetous spirit leading to a corrupt spirit and culminating in a conspiring spirit because we “ARE ENTITLED” so we do and say whatever we desire to receive our due. Sound harsh?

In scripture, every time a person takes this course of action, it doesn’t end well.

Lot’s wife was entitled to one final look.
Uzziah was entitled to do that which only the priests could do.
David was entitled to stay home from the battlefield.
Ananias and Sapphira – entitled?

IV. A Contagious Spirit

This is the danger and why God executes judgment.