you have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you.for i see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” and Simon answered, “pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.” [acts 8:21-24]
our culture is a tangled web of relativism and post-truthism. we live in a day where the mantra is “your truth is for you, and my truth is for me”, and worship of self is the highest value and the chief religion–our highest doctrine is our own beliefs, our feelings and our preferences are supreme–we have set ourselves up to be god. as followers of Christ, we must refute this false religion.
Jesus clearly articulates that his way will be offensive:
“do not think that ihave come to bring peace to the earth. i have not come to bring peace, but a sword. for i have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. and a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. [matthew 10:34-36]
Jesus does not come to assuage people in their sin, but to call them into the light–even when strong words are used, Jesus is perfectly loving people to call them to repentance, take some time to read matthew 23, where he pronounces the woes to the pharisees, but closes with the lament:
“o jerusalem, jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! how often would i have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! see, your house is left to you desolate. [matthew 23:37-38]
Jesus loves the city and her inhabitants-even his enemies the pharisees and must speak to her strongly because of her rejection of him, because they are in continued, unrepentant sin, so that some of them might repent and believe (and we know that some of them end up doing so).
we also must be people who speak love and truth–peter does not mince words–he calls what simon is doing wickedness, the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity. he also calls for simon to repent. he is saying all of these things for the love of simon and the love of the church–he knows that it is his responsibility to protect Christ’s bride, to make sure to preserve true doctrine and true practice, and he knows that simon’s sin will mislead many because he already has a following, and he seeks the gift in order to increase his fame.
pray for boldness to speak into the places where you see sin–not just preference, not just disagreement–where you see true wickedness and a violation of God’s law, where his holy Name is defamed–love the sinner rightly, and call them to repentance so that God’s glory might be lifted high!