Before I was saved I semi-believed in the possibility of having or acquiring magic powers. When I “evolved” through my various religious beliefs (Seventh-day Adventism, Mormonism, New age Movement) that idea gained strength and to my way of thinking back then, was much more than just a possibility.
Many of today’s Christian congregations seem to have gone through a similar path of “evolution”. It isn’t just the “name it and claim it” people anymore (remember how “we who knew better” used to snicker at their absurdities?) but it is entering into many denominations and spreading like a bad case of the flu, so that even people who seemed to have a firm grip on the truth are being led away into this parallel Christianity which is a cheap imitation of the real thing; a false religion.
I’ve touched on the topic of the falling away previously, but I haven’t really explored it from the angle of us having the power to transform ourselves from one thing to another.
Every new year we all make new year’s resolutions and quickly discover just how much power we do not possess over ourselves. So what about having the power to become saved, and thereby also the power to become unsaved? Do any of us possess such power? This reminds me of Simon the magician:
Act 8:9 But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great.
Act 8:10 They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, "This man is the power of God that is called Great."
Act 8:11 And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic.
Act 8:12 But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
Act 8:13 Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed.
Act 8:14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John,
Act 8:15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit,
Act 8:16 for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Act 8:17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.
Act 8:18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money,
Act 8:19 saying, "Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit."
Act 8:20 But Peter said to him, "May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!
Act 8:21 You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God.
Act 8:22 Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you.
Act 8:23 For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity."
Act 8:24 And Simon answered, "Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me."
With Simon it is said “he believed” but we know that there is more to being saved than simply believing. The Holy Spirit must enter into the heart of the believer and it is God, not ourselves, who changes us into His new creation from the inside out. It is much like the pattern He has shown us in nature by the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly. He made it so, not the caterpillar, although it is the caterpillar that makes the chrysalis in which this transformation occurs. So is that power in the caterpillar or in the Creator who made it so?
The book of Job has many such questions to help us understand just how puny our powers really are.
Job 38:31 "Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades or loose the cords of Orion?
Job 38:32 Can you lead forth the Mazzaroth in their season,
or can you guide the Bear with its children?
Job 38:33 Do you know the ordinances of the heavens?
Can you establish their rule on the earth?
Job 38:34 "Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, that a flood of waters may cover you?
Job 38:35 Can you send forth lightnings, that they may go and say to you, 'Here we are'?
Job 38:36 Who has put wisdom in the inward parts or given understanding to the mind?
Job 38:37 Who can number the clouds by wisdom? Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens,
Job 38:38 when the dust runs into a mass and the clods stick fast together?
Job 38:39 "Can you hunt the prey for the lion, or satisfy the appetite of the young lions?”
Job 38:40 when they crouch in their dens or lie in wait in their thicket?
Job 38:41 Who provides for the raven its prey, when its young ones cry to God for help, and wander about for lack of food?
These are good questions to ask myself next time I think I have power to save myself or others, or cause myself to lose my salvation somehow. Should this make me angry at God because He has reserved the power for Himself alone; to give or not give as He chooses? Or should that knowledge humble me (as it did Simon the magician) before Him, knowing that His power is also merciful and can save me from the destiny of annihilation that I deserve?
There's a huge difference between having a religion and having a transformed life in Christ. When I was SDA, Mormon, etc, I could come and go from one religion to the next as I pleased. When God changed me He closed a door behind me. Praise the Lord for He is all powerful and all merciful and gracious and He alone is Holy and can make holy through His power alone.