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Thursday, January 10, 2019

“The Heavens Torn Apart”

Acts 8:9-13

This passage makes it abundantly clear that magic is opposed to the gospel.  Philip is proclaiming the gospel in Samaria.  Inevitably Philip comes in contact with the spiritual leader of the city.  He is known as Simon Magus and he amazes the people with his magic. He had a huge following.  We read that everyone from “the least to the greatest listened to him eagerly.”  This however all changes when Philip brings them the gospel.  The people believe and are baptized.  Even Simon believes and is baptized.  However as we will see later there is a legitimate question of whether or not he has become an actual believer.

The confrontation between magic and faith occurs early in scripture.  When Moses and Aaron come to Egypt to ask for the deliverance of the Hebrew slaves they demonstrate God’s power through signs and miracles.  The problem with this is that the magicians of Egypt can apparently duplicate Moses and Aaron’s miracles (Ex. 7:8-13, 22; 8:7).  Eventually the magicians’ power runs out (Ex. 8:18). However for a time the magicians appear to be equal to Moses and Aaron.

Several things need to be noted here.  First, magic is real.  The vast majority of magicians are simply practicing illusions.  Yet there are and always have been those who have genuine spiritual power.  They may well be able to perform “signs and wonders.”  Jesus himself warns of the deceptive power of such figures (Matt. 24:24).  Second, magic can masquerade as the power of God which we see in this passage (v. 10).  How then can we tell the difference?  Magic exalts the magician.  However the gospel only exalts Christ.

Faith and magic can be confused.  Magic offers power and gifts based on following a set series of requirements.  If you perform certain practices you will get your wishes fulfilled (wish upon a magic star).  Faith in the gospel doesn’t guarantee that our wants and wishes will be fulfilled.  What it does promise is the power and forgiveness found in Jesus Christ alone.

Christ is real.  Magic is the substitute.  The choice is obvious.

Merciful and loving God keep me from the false gospel of magic.  Strengthen my faith in you.  I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.