Summary: Simon the Sorcerer, contrary to many theologian's views, was a true believer. But being immature, he was seduced to go back to the old ways of thinking. It took a truth-telling believer (Peter) to set him straight and tell him the path to forgiveness.
When Believers Fall
June 28, 2015
NOTE: A PowerPoint presentation is available for this sermon upon request at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TEXT: Please turn in your Bibles to Acts 8.
Illus.– I remember when I first came to Christ. I had decided to follow Jesus—“No turning back; no turning back,” as the song says. However, my actions and thoughts did not always match what I believed and had committed myself to. All too often, I gave in to temptations; thought unkind things about people; got angry without cause; was vain or selfish; wanted my own way; or was materialistic. I discovered from experience that believing in Christ, or even committing ourselves to follow Christ as Lord does not automatically mean we always do right.
In our text today, we’re going to see what happens when a believer falters in His walk with God, and what the solution is.
I. FIRST, IN VERSES 9-11, WE MEET SIMON—A MAN WHO DECEIVED AND INTIMIDATED PEOPLE BY THE POWER OF SATAN. – “But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: 10 To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. 11 And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.”
Simon was a sorcerer, and he boasted about himself and his abilities. He thought he was someone really great, according to verse 9. Today, magicians are slight-of-hand illusionists, not really sorcerers.
But Simon was the real thing, and he was a very dangerous man, as are all people who delve in the occult, and he was good at it! We’re told he had bewitched the people of Samaria, and they “all gave heed”—that is, they made sure they didn’t cross him, because they knew his demonic power.
The Bible forbids us to have anything to do with witches, sorcerers, astrologers, mediums, horoscopes, Ouija boards and ANYTHING dealing with the occult. Why?—Because Satanic power IS real, and because the realness of that power IS NOT FROM GOD, but from the other side—from Satan and his demons.
Simon had genuine demonic powers, which is why the people were bewitched by him, blasphemously calling him “the Great Power of God” (verse 10). Satan wanted the people to think that Simon had power from God. But the truth is that his power came from the ENEMY of God. And so it is with the mediums and astrologers and fortune tellers and New Age leaders today who falsely claim their gifts are from God.
II. NOTICE SECOND IN VERSES 12-13 SIMON TURNS TO CHRIST AS SAVIOR. – “But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.”
In light of the fact that Simon tries to buy from Peter the power to bestow the Holy Spirit upon others, many Bible teachers have concluded that Simon was not truly saved. The thinking goes that a TRUE Christian would never do such a thing, and therefore Simon had a deficient faith that fell short of true saving faith.
However, this kind of thinking stems from the tendency of those who are of a Calvinistic or a legalistic persuasion to filter every Scripture through the sieve of their theological position, instead of letting the Word simply mean what it says. Luke says three simple things about Simon that show us he was truly saved.
• First, verse 12 says that when Philip preached in Samaria, many believed.
Here’s a question for you: Does this mean that these Samaritans were saved? Isn’t that how we ordinarily take this term? In fact, the New Testament is consistent that when one believes the Gospel or believes in Jesus, he’s saved by God, and the idea that there’s a kind of faith that does not save is foreign to the New Testament. If someone fakes belief, that’s one thing; but when the New Testament says that someone “believed,” it uniformly means they were truly saved.
Now when we come down to verse 13, Luke says, “And Simon also believed.” There’s no difference made between the belief of the SAMARITANS in verse 12 and SIMON’S belief in verse 13.
• Second, Luke tells us that Simon was baptized.
Baptism is the first step of the believer to obey Christ as Lord. In the New Testament, baptism is a natural follow-up of believing and there is no instance in the New Testament of a non-believer being baptized.