Summary: The truth about Jesus will have a powerful effect on those who receive it and live it.
Amazed by Grace
Intro: These Samaritans had been amazed and seduced by magic and sorcery for a long time and had become addicted to Simon and his deception. However, they were even more amazed by the straightforward truth of the good news, and they believed on Jesus. Simon himself longed for something real, because he of all people knew how empty his pagan magic really was. So, he believed also, and he was amazed at the power of God. We will see next week how he got off track and wanted to buy God’s power to use for his own selfish purposes. Nevertheless, the powerful simplicity of the gospel resonated with these people, and for once in their lives, they were amazed by the truth, rather than mesmerized by deception.
Prop: The truth about Jesus will have a powerful effect on those who receive it.
Interrogative: How can we back up such a claim?
TS: We are going to be talking about power and how it affects people. I’d like to make 3 observations about power that will help us recognize how amazing it really is to have a living relationship with the Son of God.
I. Power Attracts People (8:9-11)
-People like power! Don’t we usually want the most powerful cars, pickups, chainsaws, rifles, power tools, powerful fireworks, powerful muscles, and so on? Some of you may like spending power. Most of us would probably like a little more of that. We are impressed by sports teams and athletes who show their power to excel and win. History has also shown us that some people have very powerful personalities and charisma. They attract people who are willing to follow them because people want to be around power. Leaders like this have accomplished amazing things because people were attracted to their power and helped carry out their wishes.
-Today, politicians are generally elected on the basis of their power to lead and to get things done. If they can convince the people that they have the power to change bad situations into good ones, then they will probably get elected.
-Simon had a following because he had convinced people that he had power. Perhaps he had been able to perform some miracles through his sorcery. This really shouldn’t surprise us because when Moses confronted Pharaoh and performed miracles, the magicians of Egypt were also able to perform certain miracles. It would appear that Simon’s magic was along the same lines. It was not just magic tricks, but it was witchcraft, which the Bible speaks strongly against. So, whether Simon had some kind of supernatural powers or just convinced people that he did, there was no doubt that he had power and influence over the people. V.11 says, “They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his magic.”
-If you study the history of religious revivals, you can see that people are attracted to spiritual power. Healing crusades have drawn millions of people over the years, because God’s power was at work in those places. Aside from facing times when our only answer must come from a higher power, there is something within us that wants to see something supernatural happen. In its purest form, I believe that something is a genuine hunger for the living God. However, in its fallen form, it can become an unhealthy infatuation with spiritual forces that are out to do us harm.
-TS: That leads us to the 2nd point.
II. Power without Truth Is Dangerous (8:11)
-Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Simon had seduced these people for a long time with his sorcery. His desire for power over others was corrupt and evil. He enjoyed being the center of attention. He enjoyed being a person of power and prestige. And no doubt he enjoyed the money he received for his spiritual services. It is probably safe to say that Simon was addicted to the approval and attention of the people.
-Now some would argue that there are neutral powers in our world today that we do not understand. In fact, it is popular to believe that many religions are good and moral, and that we should not say anything bad against them. Those who say this will usually add that all roads lead to God, or that it doesn’t matter what God you believe in as long as you are sincere.
-The Bible teaches us differently. We have one Creator who is Lord of heaven and earth. He has explicitly told us not to have any other gods in our lives, and not to make any kind of images or substitute gods to worship. Ephesians 6:12 also tells us that “our struggle [on this earth] is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” So, we know that there are other powers and spiritual forces around, but Paul tells us to be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. He goes on to illustrate the spiritual armor every believer must have in order to be strong. The very first piece of armor he mentions is the belt of truth. They are all important, but for now we are going to focus on this one.