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"Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Christ there. When the crowds heard Philip and saw the miraculous signs he did, they all paid close attention to what he said. With shrieks, evil spirits came out of many, and many paralytics and cripples were healed. So there was great joy in that city." NIV translation
Because of the persecution, Philip went to this town in Samaria. Keep in mind that the Jews of Jerusalem looked on the Samaritan people as lower forms of life. While he was there he proclaimed the gospel as well as met the people's needs through miracles. The people noticed that Philip was different and paid attention to what he said. We too are called to go to the people that others may look down on and boldly proclaim the gospel as well as meeting their physical needs. When they see that, they will take heed of the gospel that we preach.
"Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, 'This man is the divine power known as the Great Power.' They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his magic." NIV translation
In this passage, we are told of a man that did signs and wonders but we see a stark difference between him and Philip. We are told that Simon boasted that he was great and did it all for himself. He thrived on the accolades given him by the people of Samaria. In sharp contrast was Philip who performed miraculous signs but it was all to glorify God and to bring people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. We, as Christians, must always keep our egos in check and realize that all we are able to do is only because of the power of God that is alive in us. It is easy to get caught up when people say good things about you and your actions but we must remember that all we do is to glorify God not ourselves.
"But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw." NIV translation
When the genuine is put alongside the imposter, it s always easy to tell the real thing. That is what happened here. Simon was using sorcery but Philip had the very power of God. When the two met, it was easy to tell the difference. Philip kept his message focused on Jesus and the kingdom of God while Simon had been focused on himself. The difference is clear and even Simon himself saw it. The same thing happens today with us as Christians. When you have the Holy Spirit working in and through you, it is easy to tell. Then, when people pretending to be disciples of Jesus come along, it is easy for others to see the difference.