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Friday, October 12, 2012

Simon and the Holy Spirit

Monday’s post, The Bible and the Holy Spirit, gave a list of questions often asked regarding the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. The link provided in that post offered an excellent article to answer all of those questions and more. To end the week, I wanted to focus on a Biblical example of why someone had not received the Holy Spirit, even though he really wanted to receive. The issue was not related to his accepting Jesus and the Gospel message; he had believed and had even been through the waters of baptism. The issue spoke to his motivation.

This is the situation we find in Acts Chapter Eight:

It was the day they stoned Stephen for proclaiming the Gospel message. While the church leaders were burying Stephen and mourning his death, Saul of Tarsus joined in the persecution of the Believers. Saul went from house to house, dragging the Believers out, and throwing them in prison. Only the apostles remained in Jerusalem, the rest of the Believers fled to the rest of Judea and nearby Samaria.

Phillip went to the region of Samaria and began preaching. God anointed his words and signs and wondrous miracles were demonstrated as Phillip prayed. People were healed of long-time illnesses and delivered from evil spirits. Many, many people responded to the Gospel message and were baptized.

One man in the crowd was especially fascinated by all he had heard and seen. This man was Simon the Sorcerer. The fact was that people used to show that stunned amazement and awe whenever they watched Simon perform his miracles and tricks. He had walked among the people of Samaria for a long time and declared his own greatness. The people had to agree when they watched his magic and called him a great man and said that he had divine power.

However, when Phillip preached, the people listened and believed. The miracles performed during the preaching times and wherever Phillip went, turned the people’s attention away from Simon and on to Phillip. Actually, even Simon was fascinated at Phillip’s words and God’s power working through him.

As it turned out, though, it was not just the works Simon saw that grabbed him. Philip’s message also gripped Simon and soon he, too, joined the ranks of the Believers. Simon was baptized with the rest of the people when they all were immersed in the waters of baptism.

Seeing what was happening when Philip prayed, well, Simon couldn’t help but be drawn to Phillip. Simon stuck like glue to Phillip’s side. Everywhere Phillip went, there was Simon, tirelessly attentive.

When news of Phillip’s ministry reached Jerusalem, the apostles sent Peter and John over to Samaria. When Peter and John learned that the new believers had been baptized with water but had not yet received the Holy Spirit’s in-filling, Peter and John began to pray for the people to receive. One by one, the newly baptized Believers began to receive the in-filling (Baptism) of the Holy Spirit through the laying on of the apostles’ hands.

Simon saw the change come over the people who received the Holy Spirit and he longed to have the power to do the same. Herein, the heart of the man was exposed. He didn’t want the wondrous joy of the Holy Spirit in his own life. What Simon wanted was the power to pass it along to other people. Since he had made his money doing magic tricks for a long time, Simon saw the real potential for financial gain should he also have that power.

Acts 8:18-19 reads: When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”

Simon was a businessman and thought everyone the same. He offered to pay the disciples for the power to do what they were doing. Not a good idea. Here is Peter’s response:

Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.” (verses 20-23)

Boy that would have had me on my knees repenting big time! Not Simon, however. He just didn’t’ get it. Instead of repenting, he begged the disciples to pray for him that God wouldn’t do anything to him. What a thick skull this guy had! All he had to do was repent himself and God would forgive him. Why not just do it? Because repenting for Simon would have meant that he could no longer make money by sorcery. He was not willing to repent, which means turn around and fly right, in the vernacular of today. Sin was just too profitable to Simon; he refused.

Of course, having the wrong motive doesn’t just mean things as obviously wrong as wanting to make money off the Holy Spirit. It can be more along the lines of wanting the Baptism in the Holy Spirit because someone else has it and you don’t want to be left out. The only reason a person should seek the in-filling or Baptism of the Holy Spirit is to have more of God. It says I am fully surrendering my life to God, to use in any way He chooses. The Holy Spirit is given to help me do what it is that God wants me to do. If a person is not really interested in following God to the fullest, God will know and the giving of this gift will wait until the motives are right.

If you didn’t get a chance to read the article “About the Baptism in the Holy Spirit”, here is the link again. It is the best article I have read on the subject and should answer a lot of questions. Again, I do not know this pastor and have never been in his church. All I know is that he has written a terrific article that is full of truth, giving explanations that are easily understood. Okay, here is the link:

If you are just joining the posts concerning the Holy Spirit and my own experience, you might like to get caught up by reading the following posts:

The New Men
Learning More About the Holy Spirit
Midnight on the Second Pew
A Concert to Remember

Well, that should give you something to read this weekend!

****Have a good weekend!

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