Summary: The devil does not mind a person having a faith, going to church, being religious, doing deeds of service, using Christian vocabulary as long as that person does not experience saving faith in Jesus Christ and His merits.
A Close Look At A Phony
Several years ago, in Long Beach, California, a fellow went into a fried chicken place and bought a couple of chicken dinners for himself and his date late one afternoon. The young woman at the counter inadvertently gave him the proceeds from the day—a whole bag of money (much of it cash) instead of fried chicken.
After driving to their picnic site, the two of them sat down to open the meal and enjoy some chicken together. They discovered a whole lot more than chicken—over $800! But the man was unusual. He quickly put the money back in the bag. He and his date got back into the car and drove all the way back. Mr. Clean got out, walked in, and became an instant hero.
The guy with the bag of money looked the manager in the eye and said, “I want you to know I came by to get a couple of chicken dinners and wound up with all this money. Here.”
Well, the manager was thrilled to death. He said, “Oh, great, let me call the newspaper. I’m gonna have your picture put in the local newspaper. You’re the most honest man I’ve heard of.”
To which they guy quickly responded, “Oh no, no, don’t do that!” Then he leaned closer and whispered, “You see, the woman I’m with is not my wife...she’s uh, somebody else’s wife.” Here was a deceptive honesty.
Dr. Adrian Rodgers after arriving slightly late to a prayer meeting one time said, "I’m sorry I’m late, I had lost track of time. I’ll have you know that even though I was in a hurry to get here, I didn’t break any speeding laws, although I passed a number of people who were!"
There are some who go through life with a false faith, though to them it may be a sincere faith. Yet it ends in hell and not heaven. A false faith may appear good to most onlookers. It may even appear good to the one who possesses it.
Our text helps to answer some pertinent questions on how a person can have a false faith and what is its remedy. The devil does not mind a person having a faith, going to church, being religious, doing deeds of service, using Christian vocabulary as long as that person does not experience saving faith in Jesus Christ and His merits.
A person can have a false faith right in the midst of
God’s church and His working. How can this happen?
I. A DEFICIENT VIEW OF SIN
There are many speculations throughout Christian history of this man named Simon. Some of the earliest church fathers claimed that he was the founder of Gnosticism, a second century heresy, which later affected the church by denial of the deity of Christ and a belief that salvation came by illumination rather than the new birth and the atoning work of Christ. Others would suggest that Simon eventually developed a cult following that extended all the way to Rome. At best, we can only speculate about him, so we are best served by confining our understanding of him to our text.
At the heart of what takes place in this narrative is the matter of Simon’s sin. He was involved in magical arts and sorcery, both of which are condemned in both the Old and New Testaments. He obviously had not repented of his sin after his profession of Christ, since Peter told him that he had no part in the Holy Spirit, that his heart was not right with God, and that he needed to repent of his wickedness (vv. 21-22).