Summary: Don’t be misguided on where you will spend eternity. Only true faith, will set you free.
One of the most fearful realities in all of scriptures is that some who think they are saved will be eternally lost. They think they are on the narrow path that leads to heaven, but in reality they are on the broad path of religion that leads to destruction. Once day they will hear the Lord Jesus Christ tell them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.” To there horror it will be too late.
Whenever the gospel is preached, it will inevitably produce both genuine saving faith and false faith. The seed of the Word that is spread will fall on both good and bad soil. There will be those branches that abide in the vine, and those that are cut off and burned. There will be wheat and there will be tares.
In the text we have before us today, we have the first known satanic attempt to sow a tare into the church, Simon Magus. Simon appeared to be genuine believer; even one as discerning as Philip accepted him as such and baptized him. Simon even followed Philip, showing the three marks of a genuine believer. He believed, he was obedient in baptism, and he continued with Philip. He illustrates the difficulty of telling the wheat from the tares. It wasn’t until he attempted to buy the authority to confer the Holy Spirit that he was unmasked as a tare.
Where did Simon go wrong? How did one who came so close, miss out on true salvation? Faith must be grounded in truth, and his was not. This passage reveals four glaring, massive faults in Simon’s theology. He had a wrong view of self, salvation, the Spirit, and sin. Those faults kept him form genuine faith and left him in the position to perish eternally.
I. A Wrong View of Self (vv. 9-11)
a. The view that man is essentially good is as pervasive as it is damning.
i. It lulls people into a false sense of security causing them to think that God applauds their good deeds.
ii. In reality, God views the supposed good works with which they clothe themselves as “a filthy garment.”
iii. Those who fail to see themselves as sinners will see no need for a savior.
b. Simon had an egotistical view of himself.
i. Practicing magic in the city and astonishing the people led him to claim to be someone great.
ii. He saw in Philip’s teaching a means to gain more greatness for himself.
c. Simon had a hold on the people of Samaria
i. They referred to him as “This man is what is called the Great Power of God”
ii. Simon views himself as God
1. Simon’s perverted view of himself gave Satan an opening to sue him to spread false doctrine through the church.
2. His false teaching elaborated into full blown Gnosticism.
d. Pride is a universal and deadly sin
i. It is the most characteristic and controlling sin in all human fallenness.
ii. Pride is an easy sin to indulge in, since it does not entail the loss of public reputation or prestige.
e. Only the humble, aware of their inadequacies and short comings, have the sense of lostness that drives them to God.
i. It is the poor in spirit, not the proud in hear, who experience saving faith.
II. A Wrong View of Salvation (vv. 12-13)
a. A revival broke out in Samaria through the preaching of Philip.
i. He preached the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ.
b. Because of Philip’s preaching, people believed and Simon saw his following dwindle.
i. His declining popularity drove him to desire to learn this perceived power that Philip had.
ii. He followed Philip for three perceivable reasons.
1. He wanted to sustain contact with the people following the preacher, his old crowd.
2. He had, so to speak a professional interest in finding out the source of Philip’s amazing powers.
3. He wanted to figure out how to acquire that power for himself.
a. Magicians often sold each other their tricks.
c. Simon viewed salvation as a purely ritualistic, external mater, an additional act in his life.
i. Faith that does not transform the life is not saving faith.
ii. Simon believed in the signs, but not in the One whose power was behind them.
iii. True salvation is not mere profession or ritual act. It is the divine transformation of the soul from love of self to love of God, from love of sin to love of holiness.
III. A Wrong View of the Spirit (vv. 14-19)
a. Peter and John had a three fold mission when they came to Samaria.
i. They came to help Philip with the spiritual harvest.
ii. They came to give apostolic sanction and blessing to Philip’s work.