Items posted on 17 August 2010
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Acts 8.14-24 – Pride and false motives
Posted: 17 August 2010 in Acts

Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the LORD for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.

It is disturbingly easy to imagine Simon’s state of mind in the above encounter. For somebody to be told that some gift of God is a privilege, available only to those whom God has sovereignly chosen, and that they have not been so chosen, is a severe affront to human pride. However, in Simon the Magician’s case, it went even further than that, and he mistook a divine gift for a human skill – a skill which, perhaps, Peter might be persuaded to impart in exchange for a payment. In so doing he demonstrated that he was still occupying the thought world of the magician, where everything operates in the human plane, and without any reference to God. So Simon gets a severe lecture from Peter about the need for humility. I am left with the impression that it was the hope of being able to get his hands on the apostles superior “magic” which provided the real motive for Simon’s nominal conversion.

Pride is a sin because it betrays a greater concern for self, and one’s own status, than it does for God, and for doing his will. Elsewhere in the New Testament, it is two of the disciples who appear to be concerned more with status than with anything else, and who are reminded by Jesus that the Christian life is one about serving God (cf Mark 10.35-45).

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