Summary: Simon the Magician looked pretty good. But his behavior after his "conversion" experience left a lot to be desired. We can find some pretty clear characterisitcs of those who look like believers, but are not.
Passage: Acts 8:9-25
Intro: Researchers in Denmark have discovered how one of the deadliest known toxins invades and kills human cells.
1. it is the toxin that causes diseases like diphtheria, cholera and pneumonia.
Il) read from news release
2. since Satan is a great counterfeiter, it should come as no surprise that he would seek to infect the church in the same way.
3. great joy when someone comes to Christ, but if this passage teaches anything, it is that some can look the part, but be unchanged.
4. this penetration of the gospel into Samaria had a great deal of emotional baggage.
5. Samaritans were descendants of Northern Kingdom of Israel, which broke from Judah after Solomon died.
6. in to captivity to Assyria, came back and established center of worship with their own temple near Mt. Gerizim. Destroyed in 128 B.C.
7. both Jews and Samaritans thought they were superior, argued over version of Pentateuch, Temple location.
8. so to them, a guy like Simon was great!
9. he convinced them of their closeness to God, because he had power. (deceptive)
10. but as we saw last week, a different power came from Jerusalem in the form of Philip, and it was a power that overcame what Simon could not.
11. great evangelistic response, many believed and were baptized.
12. in light of religious conflict, a tremendous miracle. Even Simon believed and was baptized.
13. but this passage is a powerful example of the words of Jesus
PP Matthew 7:21
14. the church needs to be aware that there are false believers.
15. and we also need to be aware that if we see these signs in ourselves consistently, we might be as well.
1) Stuck on Signs and Wonders.
1. signs and wonders are part of the evangelistic plan. Jesus did them.
2. but notice something in v13. That’s where Simon got stuck.
3. after profession and baptism, Simon followed Philip around, fascinated by the miracles.
4. professional interest?
5. form of same word in v9 about peoples amazement with Simons miracles.
6. word=”to cause one to be beside oneself.”
7. Simon’s “faith” was in the miracles,
PP John 2:23-25
8. the signs point to Christ, but the faith is in Christ, not the signs.
9. some people today follow a preacher because of signs. Where is the gospel?
2) Non-Comprehension of Spiritual Realities
1. Peter and John made the 30 miles journey after hearing.
2. 1 week at least between event and their arrival seems reasonable.
3. gave Holy Spirit. Not a second blessing, but a unifying experience between these two groups who did not trust each other.
4. notice Simon’s response to the giving and receiving of the Spirit in v18-19
5. blind to spiritual nature of the event, focused on the only thing he could see.
6. like some onlookers at 1st Pentecost
PP Acts 2:13
7. Simon says, “I’d like to be able to make people have that experience”, probably speaking in tongues.
8. the non-believer cannot understand spiritual realities.
9. interesting that Simon is mentioned as believing and being baptized, but is only listed as an observer of the receiving the Spirit.
3) A Wrong View of Money
1. interesting that both times Peter has issued stern corrections, it concerned money.
2. first with Ananias and Sapphira, and now here with Simon.
3. and in both cases, money was being used to gain power, not to serve others.
4. the bottom line was greed in both cases.
5. Simon wanted $ so he could sell the experience.
Il) to him, it was like going to the Magic store and buying a trick.
6. I’m seeing a disturbing pattern in the church.
7. bringing people in with a big show, then putting on high pressure to pay the big bill and maybe even enrich the performers.
8. for the church, money is something we give, not something we pursue. Peters response in v20 says it all
9. when money becomes the pursuit, it becomes a false god, and the church is dead
10. money is a tool for outreach, a gift to be given, not a source of power.
4) Interest in Personal Power
1) when we break down Simon’s statement in v19, it becomes clear
2) “give me this ability (authority, power) so that when I lay my hands …
3) power is addictive, but if anyone demonstrated the use of power for the benefit of others, it was Jesus Christ.
4) God gives power to those who will use it for others.
5) the nonbeliever seeks power for selfish reasons.
6) my experience in churches is that those who seek personal power ruin the church
1) another sign is the tendency to blend my old ways with the gospel message.