A Great Deception
Inspired from study of Acts 8:9-19
Hey! I feel good... *duh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh*
The iconic legend James Brown left us with more than hit singles as his impact on music and the
world at large offers us insight into the topic of today, idolatry.
Here we have “Simon”. How conveniently ironic that his name be the same as one of the three who
walked closest with Jesus. This great deceiver is cited by the text to be a practicioner of the magical arts (what we now consider occult practices) who used that ability to captivate, amaze and literally blow the minds of the people of Samaria. This happened to such a great degree that it was generally
acknowledged that “[He was] the great power of God” (8:10). Can you smell the sin in that already? The depravity and audacity to think that anything we can become or come into knowledge of even marginally equates us to the Power of God can only come from deception and yielding to temptation.
Before Jesus and your relationship with Him think of who or what sat on that throne of deity in your heart. What motivated you to action; to truth; to hope? Samaria at that time was akin to that season in your life, and this “Simon” is the deceiving spirit that led you to willingly accept that lie and enter into the bondage it consequently brings.
Though we learn that this particular Simon repents and believes and becomes a disciple of Christ, we have no such certainty for the spirit that is doing the deceiving, nor can or should we for they exist in a completely different realm than us, witnessing an entirely different yet interwoven epic as God yet still reveals Himself to them, more perfect beings (yet, not God perfect beings).
Against this spirit we must wrestle through clutching tightly to the Truth of the Word of God. When
we accept it and the repentance it brings, we become disciples of not just a better way, but the Perfect Way; not just a more perfect being, but the Perfect I AM that leads to discipleship that allows a closer revelation to the wonders, miracles, and signs of God. This went on for a season in the historical context before Simon fell into deception/temptation and sinned again, but, in parallel, there are seemingly alternating seasons of walking closely under the discipleship of God and being gracefully carried through the trials of temptation. The Footprints in the Sand poem is brought to mind here.
The first season Simon experienced was the season between truly accepting Christ as your Lord and Savior and receiving the evidence of the Holy Spirit in which he fell by the tempting lure of the same spirit under which he was previously bound. I don't think it is coincidental at all, but rather believe this echoes the reality Christ described during the cycles of deliverance mentioned in Matthew 12:43-45. Upon our “deliverance” from anything, the real test begins. Were we looking from deliverance of the bondage the spirit caused us to fall into or were we looking for deliverance from the consequences of our sin? This is a deep question that sits at the fundamental core of the difference between successful rehabilitation and repentance from sin and the bondage it creates, and a season of cleanliness that is ultimately interrupted by relapse.
Don't be deceived, true repentance isn't just freedom from the error but the establishment of the right; not just graduation to a new level, but the faith, strength and wisdom to walk successfully in it knowing that it, too, is only a temporary station in the trek of salvation and growth towards our homecoming.