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The Make-Believe Christian

Acts 8:5-25; The Great Controversy, p. 516; Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 253


The Message

Knowing, trusting and obeying God changes my life.

Memory Verse

“If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Pierre and Marie caught a creepy, crawly caterpillar and put it in a big glass jar. Marie added a little stick for it to crawl on. Each day Pierre and Marie brought in leaves to feed it. One day they watched the caterpillar wrap itself in silky threads. After a while it was all covered up and hanging from the stick. Mother told them that the caterpillar was in a cocoon. After many days Pierre and Marie saw something very special. The cocoon opened, and out came a beautiful butterfly! What a change from the creepy, crawly caterpillar!

Our Bible story today tells about people—some people who changed, but one man who did not.


Philip took a deep breath of the fresh early-morning air. It was good to be alive! It was good to be working for the Lord! He looked around. The merchants were setting up their stalls in the marketplace. Soon the women would begin shopping for the day.

Men and women smiled at Philip and greeted him as they passed. He smiled back. The city was a different place now. The people had listened carefully to the message Philip had preached. They had listened, believed, and were baptized. They had seen miracles done in the name of Jesus. Many, many evil spirits had been driven out of people. And many weak and crippled people had been healed. The town was different, all right. People now had hope, and joy, and a reason for living!

Philip glanced up and saw Simon approaching. Simon had lived in the city for a long time. He had been a magician, amazing the people of Samaria with his tricks. If Samaria had had television, Simon would have been a star.

Simon had joined the crowds listening to Philip. He had seen the miracles. He wanted to be a part of this too. So Simon was baptized and stayed close to Philip. He was amazed at the great wonders and miracles that Philip did in Jesus’ name.

One day Peter and John arrived from Jerusalem. Philip greeted them with big hugs. It was so good to see his brothers in the Lord! Peter and John joined Philip in his work. Together they asked the Holy Spirit to come to the new believers just as He had the believers in Jerusalem. Then Peter and John laid their hands on the believers. And the Holy Spirit came upon everyone—except Simon.

Simon thought this was the neatest trick he had ever seen! He wanted to lay his hands on people like that! He pulled Peter and John aside and showed them his fat purse. He whispered, “I can pay. Give this power to me, too.”

“You have no part or share in this ministry,” Peter exclaimed. “Your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps He will forgive you for having such a thought.”

The Bible does not tell us what Simon did. But we know that Simon did not understand the gift of the Holy Spirit. He did not want the Holy Spirit to help him know God. He wanted the Holy Spirit so that he could have power over other people. That is why he wasn’t changed. Knowing God changes lives!