I was struck in my study of Acts 8 this week when an individual named Simon willingly chose to become re-enslaved by his sin.
Do you remember Simon from your own reading of Acts? He was a successful magician in Samaria. He was so successful, in fact, that he was called “The Great Power of God” (Acts 8:10). However, when Philip, the evangelist, preached the gospel which was validated by the miraculous (typical in the first century; atypical in every century since), Simon believed (8:13). Resulting from that conversion was Simon’s freedom from his sin (see Romans, chapter six for an in-depth discussion of this topic). If you have experienced the same, you know the joy and liberation Simon possessed. It’s a glorious thing! But that which is grotesque followed. Consider Luke’s rendering of the account:
“Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, ‘Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.’ But Peter said to him, ‘May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity'” (Acts 8:18-23).
Although Simon had been released from his sins, he appears to have been willing to become re-enslaved! “The bondage of iniquity.” Sobering words. As soon as I read those words this morning I wondered if the same is true of me. Am I choosing to become re-enslaved to sin? In other words, am I allowing sin to become my master again in any specific area(s)? Isn’t that a question we should all ask ourselves on a regular basis? Simon was a young Christian. I distinctly recall my rocky beginning as a Christian. Many of you can relate. Today finds me grateful for a very patient God! I am also thankful for the mature believers who came alongside to help me grow in my faith! We all need to be discipled! As babes in Christ, we’ve all done, said, and thought things unbecoming of children of God. That’s how we can make sense of Simon’s bone-headed request to the apostles. Simon allowed the flesh to rule, and he was taken to task for it by the leader of the entire Christian church at the time! Talk about being humbled! That’s another thing we all need from time to time!
So–take a moment with me to examine your ongoing battle with sin. Are you striving to keep yourself free of sin’s dominion? Are you guarding your heart lest sin assert its power over your members?
Men–are you passionate about sexual purity, or does your computer resemble a ball and chain more than a ministry tool?
Women–are you passionate about verbal purity, or does your tongue resemble a ball and chain more than a ministry tool?
Teens–are you passionate about honoring God by honoring your parents, or does your attitude resemble a ball and chain more than a ministry tool?
Think on it.