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Simon the Sorcerer in Samaria
“But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great, to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, ‘This man is the great power of God.’ And they heeded him because he had astonished them with his sorceries for a long time. But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the Kingdom of God and the Name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done. Now when the Apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the Word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the Name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, ‘Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.’ But Peter said to him, ‘Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.’ Then Simon answered and said, ‘Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me.’” Acts 8:9-24
Religious Racketeer Becomes a False Convert
In Acts, we read of Simon the sorcerer of Samaria. Here we see the dangers of counterfeit Christianity. Simon the sorcerer claims to be “someone great.” We read that everyone in Samaria, “from the least to the greatest” gave heed to him, saying: “this man is the great power of God!” His acts of magic had astonished them for a long time. When Philip preached, Simon was amongst the many men and women who believed and were baptized. Yet, the Apostle Peter declared to Simon the sorcerer: “You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this your wickedness and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.”
The Root and Fruit of False Religion
The root of all false religion is pride. The fruit of false religion is bitterness and bondage. Many have met religion, but not the Redeemer. Satan is not against religion. Satan specialises in counterfeiting. His first temptation to Adam and Eve was “to be as God.”
Collusion or Collision
Whenever there is Revival, we should expect satanic opposition. Where God moves mightily, we can expect satanic opposition to also move mightily. Simon bewitched people with his sorceries. Rather than denying the Faith, satan seeks to counterfeit the Faith. We are either in collusion with satan, or in collision with satan.
We should not be deceived by the superficial faith of false religion. Simon the sorcerer believed, but what did he believe? It appeared that he believed in the miracles, not in the Master. God works miracles, satan works counterfeit miracles.
In John 2:23-25, we read: “Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His Name when they saw the signs which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.” In Jerusalem, many people believed in Jesus, but He did not believe in them. They trusted in Jesus, but He did not trust in them. Jesus knew their hearts. He knows all men.
Motives and Miracles
He knows our heart motivations. They believed when they saw the miraculous signs He was doing. Many followed Jesus when miracles were performed, when people were healed, when food was multiplied and when Jesus rode in triumph into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. However, now many of them were in the same mob screaming to Pontius Pilate: “Release Barabbas! Crucify Christ!”
As the Cost of Discipleship Increases the Numbers Decrease
It is easy to follow Jesus in the days of blessings and popularity. It is an entirely different matter to stand with Jesus when He was betrayed, condemned, humbled, stripped, whipped, bleeding and dying a disgraceful criminals’ death on a cross. Where were the thousands of people that Jesus had fed, the many hundreds He had healed on the Day of crucifixion? As the cost of Discipleship increases, the numbers of committed followers decrease.
The Heart of the Matter
You may know the plan, but do you know the Man? Many who describe themselves as believers, do not actually believe the doctrines of the Bible. Many who claim to be Christians actually believe in anti-Christian doctrines and practices, such as reincarnation, abortion, evolutionism and Marxism. As Peter said to Simon: “Your heart is not right with God!”
Satan can transform himself into an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). We read in Revelation 13:13-14 that satan and his false prophets can perform great signs, “…And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs…” Witchcraft and sorcery are real dangers. Simon the sorcerer was in league with satan. Revelation 16:13-14 tell us of unclean spirits coming out from satan and the false prophet: “…for they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world…”
Do Not Be Deceived
Do not be dazzled by the satanic force of false religion. There are devilish and demonic magical powers. There are many warnings in Scripture against being deceived and falling into bondage to demonic and satanic forces.
The Apostle Who Became an Apostate
Do not be deceived by the superficial faith of false religion. There are false brethren. Even Jesus had a Judas amongst His chosen twelve Apostles. Judas was the apostle who became an apostate. Judas kissed the door to Heaven and still ended up in Hell. There are those who were very close to the Lord physically, yet far from Him spiritually. Like Judas, or like the blaspheming, reviling thief on the cross who used his dying breath to curse and mock Christ.
Do Not Be Destroyed by Self-Centered Pride
Do not be destroyed by the selfish focus of false religion. As we learn in Isaiah 14:12-14, the archangel, Lucifer, fell from Heaven and became satan through his pride and self-centeredness. Five times he declares: “I will...!” but Jesus taught us to pray for: “Thine will be done on earth as it is in Heaven…” “If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the Words of our Lord Jesus Christ and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.” 1 Timothy 6:3-5
The Sin of Simony
The Name-It, Claim-It and Frame-It crowd, who proclaim the Health and Wealth prosperity gospel are actually guilty of the sin of simony, attempting to buy spiritual power, healing, or wealth, through money. The prosperity cult is a false gospel and needs the firm rebuke that Peter gave Simon: “Repent therefore of this your wickedness…”
Pride is the Religion of Hell
The root, source and foundation of false religion is pride. The fruit of false religion is bitterness and bondage. Even after the rebuke given to Simon the sorcerer by the Apostle Peter, his response lacks an appreciation of the grievousness of his wickedness. It is still “Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me.” It is still self-centred, self-focussed and self-obsessed. A true Christian is grieved by how his wickedness has offended a holy God and violated His Law.
Selfish, Superficial and Satanic
Beware of satanic forces, superficial faith and selfish focus.
Do you know God?
Are you Saved?
Are you right with God?
Has your life been transformed by Christ?
Have you repented of your sin and surrendered your life to Christ Jesus?
Are you trusting in Christ alone for Salvation?
Are you witnessing for Him?
Dr. Peter Hammond
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa
Do Not Be Deceived