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Simon the Magician (Acts 8:9-25)

July 30, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon soberly evaluates the mixed results of faithful Gospel preaching, namely, true and false conversions. Pastor Carter implores all who profess Christ to examine their heart to see whether they are following Christ for temporal or eternal gain. The focus of this sermon is on Simon the Magician, who gave the outward impression that he believed the Gospel, was amazed with power of God, yet exposed his heart’s lust for this world rather than eternity.

Simon Believed

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…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. Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip (Acts 8:9, 12, 13; ESV)

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Magic is the art of deception, the sleight of hand, the skill of illusion and distraction. Simon the Magician was man who believed that he was someone great. The people followed him, worshipped him, and adored him unto the point that Simon deceived himself into believing that he was someone worthy of praise (cf. Galatians 6:3). However, when the people (i.e. the followers of Simon the Magician) believed Philip as he preached Christ, then Simon believed, was baptized and followed Philip. Was Simon the Magician saved?

Simon Amazed

And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed…Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:13, 14-17; ESV).”

Peter and John came to Samaria for two significant reasons. First, they had to see that God’s dealings with the Samaritans were not different from His dealings with the Jews. Second, the Samaritans needed to understand that that leadership in the church was invested to the Apostles, so that they would know that there was only one faith, one Lord, and one baptism, before they decided to start their own church (Ephesians 4:4-6). Meanwhile, Simon was amazed not by the Gospel, which is the power of God, but in Peter and John (Romans 1:16-17). Simon lusted after the power of God without acknowledging his need to submit under the Word of God, Jesus Christ (cf. 2 Timothy 3:1-5).

Simon Exposed

Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles ‘hands, he offered them money, saying, Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit. But Peter said to him, May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God (Acts 8:18-21; ESV).”

Simon assumed that Peter and John wanted to be rich or wealthy, he had a price, so he thought everyone else did also. Simon’s request showed his heart (cf. Matthew 12:34-36; 1 John 2:15). He always wanted to be great, this was his agenda from the beginning, to prosper at the expense of the others. Peter quickly, publicly, and boldly rebuked Simon. If Peter had not done so, others would follow Simon and false teachers are dangerous (cf. Titus 1:9, 3:10-11).

Are you saved today?

Simon had all the outward markings of the followers of Jesus Christ, but people profess Him for various reasons – trials/hardships, emotions/feelings, going along with the crowd, looking for love, and a desire to be accepted (cf. Cain & Abel, Jacob & Esau, David & Saul, Peter & Judas, etc.). Simon was sorry that he offended Peter, but not that he offended God. False teachers, who seek to make themselves rich at the expense of others, shipwreck people’s faith and lives (cf. Balaam).

Do not be deceived into being a fan of celebrity or impressed with the outward showings of men and women. Only Christ is worthy of our adoration, anything less than Him leaves us unfulfilled and devastated. You cannot buy the power of God, you cannot buy the gift of God, God is not for sale, and His blessings and favor are not for sale. The only option we have is to submit under the power of God – the Gospel of Jesus Christ – and trust in Christ to provide His gift as He wills (Matthew 19:16; Mark 10:17; Luke 10:25).

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

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