Summary: When some people look to Christianity, they see potential profit and miss the blessing of Christ.
Some Things are Just Not for Sale
Ballard Assembly Pastor Bob Briggs Acts 8:9-24 Lesson 20
I. How do you view Yourself?
Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boosted that he was someone great, and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is the divine power known as the Great Power. They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his magic. Acts 8:9-12
Here we encounter Simon the magician, a sorcerer who seems to really be into himself, boasting he is someone great. This is someone with an ego who had a hold on the people of the community, getting them to agree to his greatness. In postapostolic writings, Simon is considered the leading heretic of his day. Justin Martyr who died in A.D. 165 said that nearly all the Samaritans regarded Simon as the highest god. Irenaeus speaks of him as being the father of Gnosticism.
When people are too much into themselves, they open the door for the devil to come in an begin to deceive. Simon was so deceived he thought himself to be the great power of God and no doubt was so duped as to actually believe his own press. Cults get started this way. And most cult leaders are found to believe themselves to be sincere in their elevated deity, except they are sincerely wrong.
Jim Grady has been witnessing to a couple of Mormans. He and Julie have been meeting with them for several weeks and Jim told me the sad part for these folks is they actually believe very sincerely what they have been indoctrinated with and even when the falsehood is shown through the Scriptures, they have changed the biblical interpretations to fit their own deception.
Self-sufficient people are the hardest to bring to Christ. People need to first see they have a need before that need can be filled. If you believe you can take care of all your needs, then you have no need for a Savior.
Several years ago the news was asking famous people at Thanksgiving what they had to be thankful for. Kevin Costner said he was thankful for himself and went on to elaborate how he can take a nobody and turn them into a somebody. I thought as I watched the interview, how prideful, how much into himself is this guy.
A. Pride Blinds the eyes of the sinful.
First pride, then the crash—the bigger the ego, the harder the fall. Proverbs 16:18 (The Message)
Pride is also listed in Proverbs 6:16-19 as one of the seven deadly sins and Simon was caught in its web of deceit. Pride blinds the eye to truly seeing where one stands in comparison to the world around them.
Paul wrote in Galatians 6:3 If anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. James writes how God is opposed to the proud. And pride is such an easy sin to indulge oneself in.
B. Proud People Cannot be Saved.
Jesus told a parable in Luke 18:9-14 concerning the proud. To some who are confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, robbers, evil doers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God have mercy on me, a sinner.’ I tell you that this man rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
When you recognize your standing, a sinner saved by grace, this allows room for God to work in your life. When you elevate yourself above your standing, God either has to humble you, or if you will not be humbled, then you determine your lack of standing with God. We all have to make a choice as to whom we will serve, the god of this world, Jesus Christ, or ourselves. Only serving Christ will bring us eternal reward and habitation in heaven. Simon was far from making the correct choice.
Sadly, when someone is headed down the slippery slope of destruction they don’t make the journey by themselves. Simon had deceived the people around him and they looked to Simon and his magic and attributed divinity toward him instead toward God. Whether it is Joseph Smith and Brigham Young leading their followers to hell through a cult claiming to be Christian, or Marilyn Manson leading a group of young people that way through his music, the truth is, they never head that way without followers. People who don’t want to admit their need for a Savior and instead elevate themselves to savior status cannot be saved.