Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.
Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.” When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.
About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?”
“Yes,” she said, “that is the price.”
Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”
At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.
I spend (probably too much) time reading comments and posts on subjects of interest to Christians, and in one of them a few days ago, someone pointed out that this passage doesn’t say that God put them to death.
It doesn’t even say that Peter told them they would die (“carry you out also” is said to Sapphira), let alone instantaneously. Though I think Peter knew what was about to happen.
This person went on to posit the possibility that the shock of being impossibly discovered drove one or both Ananias and Sapphira to sudden, fatal cardio events — heart attack or stroke.
I would accept that as a possibility.
But I would also posit the possibility that Ananias and Sapphira simply could not live with what they had done.
In allowing “Satan to fill [their] heart[s]” and thereby rejecting the Holy Spirit, they had conspired to lie to him, judging what was selfish and evil (secretly keeping some of the money) to still somehow be generous and good. They had called evil “good.” They were lying to themselves. They were lying to the Holy Spirit.
By lying to the Holy Spirit, to human beings and to God, they had in a sense blasphemed the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:31) within them, who gives life to the believer (John 6:63; Romans 8:10; 2 Corinthians 3:6). In that moment when convicted by the truth, the Spirit-who-gives-life, the Pneumatos, was done with His work and gone.
They rejected the Spirit. They rejected life.