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by Jacob Ninan
"If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know" (1Co.8:2).
If we think we know something, we do not know it in the right way.
Simon the sorcerer was one of those who listened to the preaching of Philip, and responded by getting baptized. He had been used to doing magic tricks because of which people thought that he had some power from God. When he saw that Peter laid hands on people and they received the Holy Spirit, he thought that this was a good 'trick' to acquire, and offered money to Peter to teach him the technique. Peter took one look at him and declared that Simon's heart was not right with God, and that he had no part in the work of God (Acts 8:9-24). What was it that made Peter come out with such strong words?
Although Simon knew about Jesus and 'believed' in Him, he did not know Him in the right way.
How can we know whether we know in the right way? One mark of those who do not know in the right way is that they are proud, conceited, self-confident and certain that they know what is right. One who knows Jesus in the right way can never be proud.
There is no one who has come face to face (spiritually speaking) with Jesus who can ever think that he knows something or is somebody. Having seen himself in the light of the glory of Jesus, he will now loathe himself. He will realise that there is nothing good in himself, and that whatever good there is has come from God (Ro.7:18; Jas.1:17). He will not trust his own opinions or capabilities any more (Php.3:3). Jesus Himself was like that when He was on the earth (Jn.5:19,30;Is.11:3).
Simon's knowledge of Jesus was only at the level of human reason - merely intellectual. He must have agreed with the facts about Jesus and the doctrines of the apostles, and taken baptism. But he was still in the bondage of sin, especially bitterness (Acts 8:23). He had not really seen himself as a sinner or repented. Therefore he was not really born again, and he had not received any spiritual understanding. The doctrines he understood with his mind had not entered his heart through revelation by the Holy Spirit. In this way, he did not know as he ought to know. Philip was not able to see through this, but Peter could. In other words, if Peter had not come along. Simon would have carried on in the church in Samaria and perhaps even been considered as a gifted brother!
"The proud man's heart is not right within him. But he whose heart is right lives by faith" (Hab.2:4). While such a man has no confidence in himself, he has confidence in God.
Because of faulty preaching of the gospel, many do not come to Jesus in the right way. Many assume that they are born again because of a merely intellectual acceptance of the facts of the gospel. Many have come to Jesus with some need in their lives (e.g. healing, solution for some problem), without having seen themselves as sinners facing the wrath of God, and repenting. Many have recognised themselves as deserving hell and repented in order to be saved from hell, but have not really had any sorrow over their sins. The result of all such partial conversions is that they have not come to the place where they are willing to learn and to be corrected. Their knowledge remains at the soulish level - intellectual and emotional. They do not know as they ought to know.
The good news is that partially converted people can be properly converted. All we need to do is to acknowledge our lack. As we receive more light, our sorrow over sin can increase and our repentance can become deeper. Our knowledge of God can then become better and deeper too. Then our spiritual senses will be awakened so that we begin to know as we ought to know.
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