Read Acts 8:9–24. Simon the magician was accustomed to incredible displays of power. He used his magic arts to amaze people and convince them that he was someone great. But when he saw the miracles performed through Philip, he himself was amazed. Clearly Simon knew that something out of the ordinary was happening. When someone who spends his life conjuring up powerful displays is left in awe, something special is going on. He was intrigued by the Holy Spirit, drawn by the incredible power he was witnessing.
1. Think about Simon’s response in verses 18–19. Why do you think he wanted the Spirit?
2. Try to transfer this situation to our modern day. What would Simon’s motivation look like if it were played out in the American church today?
The Holy Spirit works to glorify God (John 16:14), but too often, the people who talk the most about the Spirit are the ones who receive all the glory. There is no hint of what Jesus describes in Matthew 5:16: “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” When God truly shines through us, the supernatural is clearly manifested in us, but God gets all the glory.
3. Have you seen a person accomplish something amazing, yet receive all the glory for himself? What does that look like?
Sometimes we fixate on the really flashy manifestations of the Spirit, but when a proud person exhibits humility, is this any less supernatural? When a person patiently loves and prays for a grouchy neighbor or coworker for years with no results, does this not show the Spirit’s power?
4. List a few of these “less glamorous” ways that the Spirit’s power can be manifest in a person’s life.
5. Why should these things be seen as powerful manifestations of the Spirit?
Read 1 Corinthians 12:4–11. According to Paul, the Spirit works in individual lives “for the common good” (v. 7). First Corinthians 12—14 describes the proper function of the church. God has placed each of us in a specific location. Our task is to build up the Christians around us and reach out to the rest of the world. It is actually the Spirit who empowers us to fulfill this calling by giving us supernatural abilities. The flashiest of these are things like prophecy and speaking in tongues, but we shouldn’t overlook the fact that encouragement and service are also miraculous manifestations of the Holy Spirit.
6. Describe the difference between someone who pursues the Spirit for their own sake and someone who does so out of love for other people.