But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. 10 They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” 11 And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. 12 But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed.
14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. 18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21 You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are in the gall[c] of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” 24 And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”
25 Now when they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.
Prepare To Be Amazed
The last chapter in our book, 20 Things … , is called Prepare To Be Amazed. Simon the Sorcerer and the people of Samaria were amazed at the work of the Spirit in Philip. Philip was performing miracles and preaching with power. Samaria knew about God, but they were guilty of religious syncretism. Syncretism is when one doesn’t replace false belief with true belief but one creates a new set of beliefs that holds on to the precious beliefs of the past and adds onto the belief the new teaching. Simon the Sorcerer illustrates this principle. He has a belief in God that wishes to add the teaching of Philip. However, his motives are impure. He desires the Spirit for his own ends.
We do not know whether the apostles prayed for Simon, I assume they did, but we do know that Simon was an example of no compromise. We can not have a heart that enlists God to affirm our own agenda. We need contrition, compassion, and a longing for God. If we allow ourselves these three things we will be amazed. The Holy Spirit will take new ground and we will be victorious.
Dear God, I am discouraged by the way the world is turning against faithful people. I am saddened when people of the faith disagree and bicker. I want people to put themselves aside and follow you. However, I start with my own heart. I want to be undivided and clearly focused. I do not want to try and add the faith to my own agenda. Oh God, we need you. May we be amazed at all you are going to do.
- Why is Samaria significant as a detail in this story?
- How does Simon represent religious syncretism?
- Why do the apostles reject Simon’s request so vehemently?
- How do people today add Jesus to their lives without letting go of false belief?
- How are we to address the tendency to add Jesus to our lives rather than make Jesus our whole life?
Read Tozer on the 3 wounds http://www.studylight.org/devotionals/toz/print.cgi?d=0122