TEXT: Acts 8:18-24
18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,
19 Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.
20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.
21 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.
22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.
23 For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.
24 Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.
We are in a series of messages titled “Praying Through the Bible: A Series on Every Passage and Verse Regarding Prayer in the Bible.” The purpose of this series is to encourage and motivate you to pray to the God of the Bible. We highlighted each of these over 500 verses and passages in the Prayer Motivator Devotional Bible. So far, we have completed 210 messages in this series.
This is message #211 titled, Simon the Sorcerer, a Phony Christian, and the Fake Prayer of Repentance, Part 1
Dr. Warren Wiersbe said, “It is a basic principle in Scripture that wherever God sows His true believers, Satan will eventually sow his counterfeits. This was true of the ministry of John the Baptist and Jesus, and it would be true of Paul’s ministry also. The enemy comes as a lion to devour, and when that approach fails, he comes as a serpent to deceive. Satan’s tool in this case was a sorcerer named Simon.”
In Acts chapter 8, we are introduced to Simon the sorcerer. Simon was a resident of the town of Samaria. We are told that he “used sorcery and bewitched” the people of Samaria. Many of them believed that he had power from God and honored him as a great man. But Simon’s power was shown to be nothing when the people encountered the real power of God.
This power of God came in the form of Phillip who was sent to Samaria to preach the Gospel. The Bible says, “The people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. And there was great joy in that city.”
Simon the sorcerer saw all that was happening. Perhaps, at first, he watched with envy as all the people who had once been devoted to him turned away and became devoted to Jesus. But, soon, Simon the sorcerer became Simon the phony Christian. The Bible says, “Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip.” For some time, Simon became a student of Phillip’s teaching. He followed him as Phillip had followed Jesus, learning about what it meant to live like Christ.
However, one day, we see the real nature of Simon, the phony Christian come out. When the Apostles, Peter and John from Jerusalem, came to Samaria to meet the new Christians, they laid hands on them and imparted to them the Holy Spirit. Simon saw the new spiritual vitality that came into the lives of those who received the Holy Spirit. He was reminded of his old ways of sorcery. He was reminded of what it was like to have power over others, to have them respect and fear you. To have control. He wanted to be able to do what the disciples had done. So, he asked Peter and John, “Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.” Verse 18 says he even “offered them money.”
Simon’s words and actions show us that he did not have the Holy Spirit in his life because he was trying to buy the Holy Spirit, therefore he was not saved, he was a phony Christian. His heart was not right with God. He wanted to be seen as powerful in the church. He wanted a measure of control and influence over others that was not his to have. And he was willing to spend money to get it. G. Campbell Morgan said Simon’s sin was “a desire to possess spiritual power for personal ends.” It is easy to condemn Simon, but we must wonder, if church leadership were doled out on a pay-to-play basis today, how many selfish, proud, egotistical individuals would pay money to gain some authority in the church of God? There is a word for this type of behavior in the church — it is appropriately called “simony.”
Janet Martin aptly describes the behaviour of some Christians in her poem, “Oh Hypocrite”:
With your mouth you seek to please me,
From your lip pours empty praise,
With your honor you displease me
Yet call to God to bless your days,
In vain you declare my teaching,
In vain you worship me,
And you mock me with your preaching
For your heart is not set free
Take away all your fancy words,
Your religious mockery,
You have shown me by your works
That your heart is far from me,
Strip away self-righteous gowns,
End all your vain expressions,
Take your laws and throw them down,
Cease your false confessions
Clanging bells and tinkling cymbals,
Echoes from a hollow shell,
Fall upon the ground and tremble,
God who made you knows you well,
With your lips you form my praises
With your heart you hate my way,
Your false honor, God despises,
Praising while you disobey
In closing today, we have seen the journey of Simon the sorcerer to Simon the phony Christian.
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Now, if you are with us today, and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, your first prayer needs to be what we call the Sinner’s Prayer. First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”
Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.
Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on trusting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. You have done the most important thing in life. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door, by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.