In the 8th chapter of the book of Acts there is an amazing story of the conversion of a most unlikely candidate for the gospel. One Simon, better known as Simon the Sorcerer, a man that bewitched the city of Samaria “from the least to the greatest” (v. 10) into thinking that he “is the great power of God” (v. 10). Using the dark arts of the Magi such as spells, enchantments, drugs and deception Simon preyed on the ignorance of the people of Samaria.
The conversion of this powerful Wizard demonstrates the wonderful power of the gospel of Christ in the changing of human hearts. The gospel can take the most unrighteous, sinful, rebellious, unholy, immoral, lost soul and change them into a son or daughter of God! Simon is soon to feel the conviction that the sword of the Spirit brings to his own evil heart. It is our purpose in this study to see what this famous charlatan saw when the Evangelist Philip came to town preaching Jesus and the kingdom of God.
SIMON SAW THE DIFFERENCE IN REAL AND COUNTERFITE MIRACLES
Simon used “sorcery” to bewitch the people. He depended upon deceit and deception for his “miracles” (v. 9—11). He readily saw that the miracles and signs performed by Philip are real! Simon is amazed (v.13).
Philip comes into Samaria preaching Jesus (v. 5) and the things concerning the kingdom of God (v.12). He confirms his testimony and that he is a preacher of the word of God by performing miracles and signs that only one from God can do. (Acts 2:22; Heb. 2:3,4; I Cor. 13:8-10).
In the Bible we read of the raising of the dead, healing of the sick, opening of blind eyes, causing the lame to walk. These miracles were instantaneous. The beneficiary of the blessing from God did not get better he is well! He did not recuperate he is healed! Those raised from the dead are alive!
Modern day would be miracle workers just as Simon of Samaria deceive the people into thinking they are “some great one”. They prey upon the desperate, the sick, and the ignorant with their promise of healing. They hawk their prayer cloths, miracle oil, holy water and false promises to poor people in desperate need of hope.
Simon can see the difference in real miracles and the deception that he is used. Simon is awestruck by the power of God. “Simon WONDERED beholding the miracles and signs which were done.
SIMON SAW THAT THE KINGDOM OF GOD WAS ESTABLISHED
Philip came to Samaria preaching “things concerning the kingdom of God” (v. 12). This is good news that many today still do not realize. The kingdom of God is established during the lifetime of the apostles (Mk. 9:1). There are those still expecting the kingdom to be established some date in the future. Simon saw that the kingdom of God is in existence.
The Apostle Paul and the Apostle John declare that they are members of that kingdom (Col. 1:13; Rev. 1:9). The Kingdom of God is the church (Matt. 16:18,19). The church that Jesus refers to in these verses as “my church” is established on Pentecost day. The saved are added to the church (Acts 2:37,38; Acts 2:47).
Simon saw that the Kingdom of God the Lord’s church is in existence. Amazingly enough Simon this one time purveyor of magic is soon to become a member of this divine institution.
SIMON SAW WHAT IS NECESSARY TO BE SAVED
Simon upon hearing Philip preach Christ realized his need for salvation (v. 4). Simon believes the teaching of Philip (v. 13). Simon is baptized (v.13). When Jesus is preached it includes baptism (Acts 8:35,36).
Jesus said in Mk. 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; … That is exactly what Simon did. Simon moved out of the darkness into the marvelous light of Jesus Christ. Simon is saved! Simon is a Christian a member of the kingdom of God(Acts 2:47). Man today has the same opportunity for salvation. Upon hearing the gospel we must believe it (Jn. 8-24; Heb. 11:6).
We must repent of our past sins. This change of mind and change of life is evidenced by Simon by the fact he has given up sorcery and now “he continues with Philip (v. 13). We must be willing to confess that Jesus is the Son of God. Simon no longer considers himself some great power. The greatest power in his new life is Jesus Christ the only begotten Son of God. (Matt. 10:32; Rom. 10;10; Acts 8:37). We must be baptized to be saved (Mk 16:16). Baptism is “for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). Baptism puts us into Christ (Gal. 3:27).
SIMON SAW THAT BY THE LAYING ON OF THE APOSTLE’S HANDS THE HOLY GHOST IS GIVEN
Simon soon realizes that this ability to work miracles is the result of the laying on of the apostles’ hands (v. 17,18). This is the reason that the Apostles Peter and John come down to Samaria. Although Philip can perform miracles and wonders he cannot pass on these miraculous abilities. Philip is not an apostle. Only the apostles can bestow this gift that is necessary to maintain the church in the first century. When the gospel is fully revealed the need for these miracles is finished (I Cor. 13:8-13).
SIMON SAW THAT A CHILD OF GOD CAN FALL FROM GRACE
The devil is not long in laying a great temptation before this former sorcerer. Simon sees that the power to perform miracles is provided through God’s Holy Spirit. He offers the apostles money saying “give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Spirit (v. 17,19).
Simon once again steps back into the darkness of sin. Simon can only imagine what he can do with the power demonstrated by the apostles. The old Simon the sorcerer again takes control of this new Simon the Christian.
It is here that Simon makes a colossal mistake. He makes a brash proposition to buy the gift of the Holy Spirit to the fiery Apostle Peter. Without hesitation Peter says “Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money” (v. 20).
Simon is now an erring Christian. Notice the result of Simon’s sin. Simon is destined to perish (v. 20). His “heart is not right with God” (v. 21). He has fallen back into the “wickedness” of sin (v. 22). He is “in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity” (v. 23). You can also be assured that Peter did not waste any breath in revealing Simon’s now regression into sin!
Simon now knows that a child of God can backslide into sin. The doctrine of “once saved always saved” is a false doctrine. The false doctrine of once saved always saved is totally contrary to the scriptures and will cause many today to step off into eternity with a false sense of hope (I Cor. 9:27; I Cor. 10:12; Heb. 12:15,16; II Pet. 2:19-22).
SIMON SAW GOD’S SECOND LAW OF PARDON
Peter tells Simon “repent therefore of this thy wickedness and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee” (v. 22). Simon is an erring child of God. He is instructed by Peter to repent and ask God for forgiveness. Simon asks Peter to pray for him (v. 24).
When a Christian sins, because he is a child of God, he has the privilege to ask his Heavenly Father for forgiveness. He can also ask other Christians to pray for him (v. 24; Ja. 5:15,16; I Jn. 2:1,2).
The command for Simon to repent is farther proof that Simon is a Christian. There is no value in telling Simon to repent if he has never been in a covenant relation with God. The Christian who repents of his sins and asks God’s forgiveness will be forgiven.
From this point we do not know what happened to Simon. I would hope to think that he repented and asked God for forgiveness. He was restored and became a great leader for the church at Samaria. Simon saw many things that the religious world of today needs to see.