I woke up this morning, turned on my computer and the monotonous voice of a man whom I've never met informed me with detached hubris that I had mail. I never did like that voice, for some reason it always sounded conceited to me.
After riffling through a few comments from the web log, as to how I can erase my zodiac sign, already done, I happened upon a limited time offer, a once in a lifetime opportunity of joining a 'school of prophets' wherein for only $495 I would not only learn how to prophesy, but I would get a personal word from the grand poo bah himself.
I've been in ministry long enough to have developed thick skin, so there aren't many things that get to me anymore. One thing that still gets to me, and I believe will always get to me, is men taking advantage of God's sheep, using the Holy Spirit or prophecy as bait. Today's post will deal with this issue in a roundabout way, since I prefer for those reading this web log to reach understanding on their own, and not be spoon fed wisdom. My purpose in taking time each day and posting some teaching or thought is not to give anyone a fish, to feed them for a day, but to hopefully teach them how to fish, so they can eat a lifetime. I know, even when you give some a fish, they wrinkle their nose because it's not cooked, then you take the time to cook it, and they're unhappy with the fact that you fried it rather than baked it. But I'm getting off topic here.
The power had descended, and the church had been scattered abroad due to the tireless persecution of a man named Saul. Each went wherever they felt led, but the truth that burned in their hearts would not allow them to be silent. Although they were as hunted men, for whom being caught amounted to either prison or death, everywhere they went they preached the Word.
Among the many who fled the wrath of Saul, there was one by the name of Philip, whom I believe by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, was led to the city of Samaria, that he may preach Christ to them. In Samaria Philip was met with great success, the multitudes with one accord heeding the things spoken by him, and witnessing the miracles which he did. The paralyzed and the lame were healed, unclean spirits came out of many, and this drew the attention of a certain man called Simon.
Simon was used to being in the limelight, for he had previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished many. Although the citizens of Samaria had unanimously said that he was the great power of god, Simon knew that what he did amounted to nothing more than parlor tricks, and slight of hand, so when he saw what Philip was able to do by the power of the Holy Spirit, Simon was amazed.
Simon followed Philip long enough to know that what he was witnessing was not illusion, but truth. Philip wasn't pulling on legs, or punching humps on people's backs yelling 'you see, you see, the leg got longer, the hump got smaller!' Lame men were being healed, those who had been paralyzed now had mobility, there was a power there, evident to someone even as jaded as Simon. So moved was Simon by what he witnessed and heard, that the Bible tells us he believed, and was baptized.
News of Philip's success in Samaria traveled fast. The apostles in Jerusalem heard that there was an awakening going on, that the people of Samaria were accepting Jesus in large numbers, so they sent Peter and John to see if they could be of any assistance.
As soon as they arrived, Peter and John saw the reason for their being sent to Samaria, for although the people had been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, the Holy Spirit had not fallen upon any of them.
Peter and John began to pray and lay hands on the people, and they received the Holy Spirit. When Simon saw this, he started reeling from the potential ramifications, and quickly offered them money, saying, 'give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.'
Herein lies the folly of Simon, once a worker of sorcery, who came to believe in Jesus and be baptized.
Simon wanted the Holy Spirit to give him power, to perform signs and wonders, but he did not want to submit to the Holy Spirit, that it may search his heart, change his life, and be led by it is light throughout his journey on this earth. He wanted to posses the Holy Spirit, to use it, not to be used by it in God's work.
The spirit of Simon is alive and well in the church today, and men of lesser character than Peter and John, are more than happy to offer their services in this area for a very small fee.
The Holy Spirit cannot be purchased with gold or silver, it cannot be taught, or made to manifest by fulfilling some tradition, or religious ceremony. The Holy Spirit comes and dwells in a heart, only after the heart in question has by faith and true repentance surrendered to Christ, recognizing Him as Lord and Savior.
Simon believed, Simon wanted liberty, he desired to be free of the shackles that bound him, but his request betrayed his intentions. He wanted to use the power of God at his leisure and pleasure, at his discretion, to give it to whom he saw fit, and withhold it from who he deemed unworthy.
Simon had not realized that Peter and John were not the ones giving out the Holy Spirit, but rather that it was God who baptized in the Holy Spirit.
Because Peter and John had the Spirit, they were led as to whom they were supposed to lay their hands upon. I will guarantee one thing, when Peter and John laid hands on the people of Samaria, it was nothing like the prayer lines we see in some churches today. Masses of people, coming up to the altar, and without any caution or sense of accountability, hands are laid on everyone, whether sinner or saint being an irrelevant issue, as long as enough get 'slain in the spirit' to make for good television.
As I read the passage in Acts, I realize that I could write a book just from the few verses that describes Peter's interaction with Simon.
First, when the offer of financial support was made in exchange for the power, Peter didn't ask, 'how much money are we talking about, what size seed were you thinking of sowing into my ministry?'
His answer was stern and unyielding: 'Your money perish together with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money.'
That answer doesn't leave much room for debate, does it? This should be a lesson to us all, everyone whom God has called into ministry, that there is zero tolerance for compromise when it comes to the work of God, and the Spirit of God.
We must labor with clean hands that we may receive our reward, for if our hands become dirty, or worse yet the blood of innocents is found upon them, all our labors will be for naught, all our travails, all our sermons, all our writings and essays, all our books and tape series, will amount to nothing at all.
I will end this first part of the story of Simon, by reaffirming the following thoughts:
The Holy Spirit is a gift that comes from God, and God alone.
The Holy Spirit, the gift of prophecy, or any other of the gifts of the Holy Spirit cannot be purchased for any amount of money.
No gift that comes from God can be taught by men. It's like trying to teach a fish to fly, soaring above the clouds, when he has no wings.
Without true repentance, and an emptying out of our old selves, the Holy Spirit cannot dwell in us, or work through us.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.