The Magician and The Spirit
Topic: The Magician and The Spirit
Sermon Title: “The Magician and The Spirit”
Sermon Series: Acts: Kingdom Vision 20/20
Text: Acts 8:9-25
Speaker: Pastor Damian Mericka
- Introduction: Generational Sin
With the death of Stephen still fresh on everybody’s minds, the early followers of Jesus found themselves refugees fleeing out of Jerusalem into the greater region of Judea. One of those chosen by the early church alongside Stephen was a man named Philip. The Spirit led Philip to the city of Samaria to preach the Good News of Jesus.
A city long standing as a hodgepodge of Greek speaking Jews, influenced by the surrounding Gentile cultures were themselves a displaced people. Their fall from grace happened after the days of King Solomon when the kingdom divided. King after king led their hearts away from God until Assyria broke and scattered them. Later, the region of Samaria would be their abode.
It is now the appointed season that the King of Kings leads their hearts back to God by sending this generationally displaced people an evangelist who is himself a refugee. In Jesus’ Name Good News reaches their hearts and God’s Kingdom continues to grow as people continue to place their faith in Him. A Gospel of declaration and demonstration brings God’s Word with power and authority as people are delivered and healed in Him.
It is important to remember that we are called to be His Ambassadors, representing His Kingdom amidst a world dominated by sin. In this dominance comes the efforts of Satan through spiritual blindness, oppression, and deceit. Philip, such an Ambassador, is entering a city long since populated by people who turned their back on God. This is referred to as Generational Sin.
- 2 Kings 17:33-41. When Juda (Israel) was released from Babylonian Captivity and returned to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple, they refused the help of the Samaritans (Ezra 4:1-3). From this the walls of division between them were anchored until now. However, God never left them, and His Spirit slowly kept a light in the window for them to keep their eyes on home- the hope of the Messiah. Note -> John 4:19-26.
- Ephesians 6:10-12.
Going Deeper: 1) What is generational sin and what does this have to do with Samaria? Where the Samaritans waiting for a Messiah? What was Philip, and us today, up against when we go out as Jesus’ Ambassador’s to declare and demonstrate the Gospel message?
- A Magical Grip (Acts 8:9-11)
- A Captivated People
We are introduced to the spiritual grip the enemy had over this community through a man named Simon. He practiced a form of magic that captivated his audience and used this to fuel his egotistical hunger. Attributed with godlike power, Simon fed on their faith in God and Messianic hope.
- A Powerful Magician
The magical arts Simon practiced refers to an evolved order of belief and practice that would eventually become Gnosticism. Originally, the lore of the magi, were priests of the Medo-Persians. The religion was a mixture of science and superstition, combining superstition, astrology, divination, and varying occultic practices with history, mathematics, and agriculture.
- The Destructive Grip of Pride
In Matthew 24:23-26, Jesus warns of false messiahs and prophets that will come. John would warn in 2 John 7 that many antichrists were already among the church. At the heart of the issue with Simon was pride, and the path it was leading him was self-destruction. (Proverbs 16:18)
Going Deeper: 2) How much influence did Simon have over the city of Samaria? What sort of magic did he practice- juggling? How dangerous can pride be to us- how deadly can it become? Do we take this seriously in our own lives?
III. Pride will never lead us to Jesus (Acts 8:12-13)
Philip now is preaching a different sort of Messiah for this people- one who is Bringing a Kingdom that they all could be a part of! Unlike Simon who drew the attention to himself, Philip is clear to point to Jesus as the Messiah. (v.12)
Simon himself passes through the waters of baptism. He shadowed Philip watching the signs and great miracles that Jesus did through him (Remember Mark 16:20). Note- the author Luke wants us to note that Simon was focused on the demonstration of the Gospel (power) not the declaration. He was hungry for the power, not the source (Jesus). (v.13)
- Note -> Matthew 18:9-14 / James 4:6-10
Going Deeper: 3) Why would Simon have been baptized if he did not really believe or want Jesus? Why is it important to share the full Gospel- one the clearly shows the need of repentance? Will pride ever lead anyone to see and value something more than themselves?
- What is in the heart will always find its way out (Acts 8:14-25)
Word of this revival reached the Apostles who are currently underground because of Saul’s ongoing persecution of believers. Peter and John are dispatched to help Philip with this harvest. In this effort the Apostle lay their hands on these new believers as they receive a baptism of the Holy Spirit (Vv.14-17)
- A Heart without the Spirit through Repentance
Having witnessed the influence of Philip, Simon wanted to learn this ability for himself. Up to this point he had been patiently watching. But now, with the pouring out of the Holy Spirit at the hands of Peter and John, he could no longer hold back! He was willing to pay to have this power. Note: This is how magicians worked. They observed others in the trade to either learn their tricks / abilities or paid to acquire them in order to practice for themselves. In this the lack of true repentance has surfaced from Simon’s heart. (Vv.18-19)
Peter wastes no time in denouncing this evil (Remember Ananias and Saphira in Acts 5:1-11). This was necessary for two reasons:
- Simon’s soul. he was still dead in his sin. Fulfilled are the words of Proverbs 5:21-23 in Simon’s life.
- Simon’s influence. Deuteronomy 29:18-21. Samaritans were being delivered from this curse; Peter is not eager to see them snared in it again!
Despite this rebuke, warning, and invitation- Simon walks away. Fleeing the Apostles, these people- going someplace to start again. What we bury in our hearts will always grow to bear fruit. Nothing stays hidden for long; nor does our presence in any long-term relationships.
- See -> 2 Corinthians 7:9-10.
- A Heart with the Spirit through Repentance
Luke’s use of receive the Holy Spirit is not in a salvific sense, but an empowering one. The Holy Spirit was present in those who truly repented (turned from sin to Jesus).
See -> Romans 8:5-11
What happened to the Samaritan believers is being mirrored by Luke to recall the Pentecost outpouring on the Apostles in Acts 2. The Spirit is in them, however the pouring out from the Throne Room / filling / baptism refer to the measure poured upon believers to overflow the Spirit in us in ways that provide miraculous testament to the power and authority of Jesus and His Kingdom!
See -> John 7:37-39
As Believers we need the continual filling of the Spirit as we both live for Jesus and share His Kingdom message in declaration and demonstration. In the heart of our turning away from sin to Jesus for salvation, we need to continually allow Jesus to uproot the old nature and plant His Kingdom seeds for a harvest that illustrates His Message to our families, communities- the Samaria’s He leads us into!
There will be times His Baptism is explosive- outpouring in tongues, signs, and wonders! There will be times it is filling for the need, situation, and Gospel opportunity in front of us!
We wrestle against very real spiritual forces as work in this world and the lives of those outside of Jesus; let us strive to walk in His victory first in our own hearts, so that living water can flow out of us to those the Spirit has made ready! Let us be a people filled with the Holy Spirit, Grace, Power, and Truth!
See -> Galatians 5:16-26
Going Deeper: 4) What did Pastor Damian mean when he said, “What is in the heart will always find its way out?” What was in Simons heart and how did Peter respond? What was in the true believers’ hearts that the Spirit brought out? How can we nurture the fruit Jesus is planting in us so the Spirit can continually fill and overflow from our lives into the lives of others? Have you experienced a baptism of the Spirit like this before? Do you believe that He continues to baptize (fill) believers today? If you do, how does this impact your walk with Him? If you do not, how does this impact your walk with Him?