Acts 8:5 – Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.
Acts 8:6 – And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.
Acts 8:7 – 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.
Acts 8:8 – And there was great joy in that city.
Acts 8:9 – 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:
Acts 8:10 – To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God.
Acts 8:11 – And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.
Acts 8:12 – 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.
Hello all, back with a new blog today, and hopefully more regular blogs in coming days. Still haven’t got the old PC fixed which means I’m typing on an old laptop! Most likely it won’t be fixed because it is completely cooked, much harder to keep up the blogging without it sadly. Today I will be blogging from Acts 8 regarding the story of Simon the Sorcerer, I’d recommend reading it first and foremost ahead of reading this blog. Thinking this blog may be quite long, apologies, hopefully it is to the point and not ramblings! There is much to learn from Acts 8.
The Book of Acts was a time of the spreading of the gospel. What is the gospel? The gospel is the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ, his coming to earth, his person, his work, what he has done and does for us, the forgiveness and eternal life that he gives to all who simply believe and receive it. It is the message of hope, the good news of salvation, the good news, the true news, the faithful news that we have a Saviour, we have a lively hope, we have confidence and faith in that which is eternal, which cannot be moved. The gospel was spreading like fire from Jerusalem to the whole world, Jesus had sent the promise of his Father, the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, but there was persecution of the early believers. There is always opposition to the spread and working of truth, Satan and his ministers were heavily at work resisting and opposing and withstanding the gospel. However the more the early church was persecuted the more it spread. In fact throughout history this has been a theme, the more the persecution, the brighter the Light (Jesus Christ, the true and only light of the world) has shone through the lives of those saved, who are beacons in the darkness, mist and hopelessness of this dying, doomed world. God was using persecution to drive the gospel to the four corners of the earth. The news of a Saviour was spreading to all nations, to all tongues, to all languages, to all peoples. Jesus had risen from the dead, and before he ascended to his Father he told his disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel. To tell them about him, about what he did, about what he does, because Jesus is alive right now, and he’s coming back soon! People were getting saved everywhere, the Spirit was moving mightily.
Many people look back fondly on Acts as a thing of the past, something tucked back in time, something “back then”, and now think things are very stale and different today. As Gideon asked, where are the miracles? Many people want the miracles and signs and wonders of early Acts, but reject what they were pointing to – the gospel, the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ. People want emotions, feelings, thrills, the tongues of Pentecost, but even they do not realize from the Bible that tongues were given and necessary for spreading the gospel from Jerusalem into the uttermost parts of the earth. All signs, all miracles, all wonders point us to Jesus Christ, if they do not, they are lying signs and wonders. The most important thing is to be saved. The most important thing is spread and working of the word of God. But let’s get back on track! The reality is the same God and Holy Spirit of Acts is the same God and Holy Spirit of today, God is working as much today as he was back then. God is still looking for and using men and women of faith in mighty ways. The stories of Acts draw many parallels today, there is nothing new under the sun, and these stories teach us how to deal with situations today, God’s word is eternal and we will see today that there are many Simon the sorcerers at work today, who attempt withstand the spread of the gospel, who, like Jesus said of the Pharisees in Matthew 23, do not enter into the kingdom of heaven themselves, and do not suffer others to enter in either. Humans operate just like they did in Acts. People lied back then, they do now. Humans were wicked before the flood, and thousands of years later we have come full circle many times and are right back to where they were with sin and evil running rampant and unrestricted throughout the whole earth. It is no wonder Jesus said, as it was in the days of Noah, and as it was in the days of Lot, so will be the conditions of the world before he returns. These stories are more than stories, they are the sure word of God.
As much as the gospel, the news of the Saviour, of forgiveness, of hope, of the Son of God, was spreading, Satan was also working to prevent the spreading. And not just to inhibit the spreading of the good, true, pure seed of the word of God, but also Satan was working and does today to stop people from living for God, from walking by faith in his word, from living in the reality of their salvation, from letting the Holy Spirit work and move in their lives and hearts. After we are saved Satan does not stop, the warfare intensifies. We have warfare within our selves, the flesh vs Spirit, we have problems in letting go of the world and it’s system which we were part of but which at salvation we have emerged from, we have trouble from the devil and his angels, from false teachers, false prophets, from every angle, and many which we never see coming, and God allows the reality of our faith to be tested. Spiritual warfare is very real, and more real than we probably even would admit. In Daniel, the prince of Persia (a high ranking evil angel) opposed the angel coming to see Daniel, he held up the angel 21 days until Michael the archangel came and helped him. In Ephesians we read – For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. And in Acts 8 we see a spiritual battle, we see the truth that when the gospel comes, so does the enemy come. And the enemy was there first, with strongholds in our lives before the light came in, before the light shined in our hearts. Our life after we are saved is one from emerging from the propaganda of our enemy. We have deliverance, but our soul doesn’t live in that reality yet. We are saved, but our life is one of being sanctified unto God. Satan doesn’t want to let us go. We are free, but just like Pharaoh pursued the children of Israel once they were gone out of Egypt, so Satan comes after us. But he is drowned in the Red Sea. Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. And in Acts 8 we see a clashing of kingdoms. Phillip preached the kingdom of God, but Simon the sorcerer was not of that kingdom. He had opposed the people, he had deceived them, bewitched them, fooled them, defrauded them, manipulated them. But then the light came. Phillip lifted Christ up, and the people of Samaria came to the light. Jesus drew them unto him. Simon was dealt with, and Simons must be dealt with today, do it God’s way and Simon will be solved.
There are many Simon the sorcerers today. We kind of think of sorcerers, of witches as an extinct species. We think of a witch as an old hag with a wart on her nose riding a broom or brewing a cauldron. But witchcraft is prevalent in society, in lives, in families, in homes today. Witchcraft is one of the works of the flesh. It is everywhere, we all do it to some degree. The goal of witchcraft is power, control, manipulation, getting people to behave and do as you want them to. How witchcraft manifests and works is displayed for us in the life of Jezebel, she used witchcraft to control Ahab, to control Israel. She ran the whole nation. She brought Israel to it’s knees. It was her that devised cunning plans, that stirred the king, her husband, to do evil, who had Naboth, a faithful, truthful Godly man, killed through lies and deception of the highest order. She had all the prophets (who were false prophets) in her hand. She put a religious veneer on her dealings. She was very bold, her wickedness knew no limits. She had it all sorted out. Witchcraft is prevalent in all false religion, because witchcraft is all about “doing something” to achieve a desired result.You must “do” this and that. Witchcraft brings bondage, darkness, oppression, dominion, it is cruel and hurtful and incredibly dangerous. That’s why Paul in Galatians when addressing the legalism, the works based religious system that had seeped into the church, referred to them as being bewitched. Paul asked, Who hath bewitched you that you should not obey the truth? Someone had tripped them up. They had begun in the Spirit, but were now trying to be made perfect by their flesh. They said you had to be circumcised, you had to do this, that and everything else to be “truly” saved, to be “more” saved, to “stay” saved, to “prove” they were saved. Witchcraft is employed by those seeking control, power, to manipulate, and it leads down a dark, confused path. It is the blood of Christ that breaks hexes, that shatters spells. You can walk under a ladder and be fine. A black cat can walk across your path and you are fine. Satan’s power is absolutely nothing compared to the power of Jesus Christ. Emerge from a system with witchcraft, it is bondage, it is horrible, and those who are bewitched live sad lives, they don’t know where they are heading, who is leading them so astray. When you are bewitched by someone, you have literally “been witched”. And it doesn’t always manifest itself in a negative sense, witches can be the most beautiful women, those using witchcraft can appear noble, true, and right. Satan can appear as an angel of light. This is why we need the word of God, and his true Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, who is our guide in the darkness, the light to our path, who makes it very clear what the truth is.
Simon had bewitched the people of Samaria a long time. It can go on for a long time.He had the people of Samaria under a spell, in a trance, under a hex. They were unable to break free. They had been brought under Satanic oppression, and become hopelessly entangled in his web of deceit. He was fooling them and they were powerless to find their way out of that web. We can look at some of the aspects of Simon which help us to distinguish a Simon. It was all about him. He made himself out to be a great one. Simon’s today point to themselves, not to God. They glory in the flesh, not in the cross of Jesus Christ. They resist the gospel, they take away, deny, subtract from the word of God. It is about them, their word, it is about performance and show. Simon’s bring bondage, not liberty, they bring coldness not comfort, they bring darkness not light. They want people looking at them, they want people to follow them, not to follow God. Simon wanted the Holy Ghost for his own gain. The power of the Holy Ghost trumped his power easily, people turned away from Simon, so he went after the “truth” in an effort to continue to legitimize himself. And similarly Simon’s today want the power, the show, the performance, but only to further themselves. Simon wanted to stay in the game, he was in danger of becoming totally irrelevant. Simons’ today flirt with truth, they play with holy things, they may align very closely to truth, they may appear to be approved of God, but do not be fooled. Simon’s may want aspects of the truth, but not the whole truth. Simon’s may appear to be great, godly men – but the reality is missing, the truth is absent, the power is devious. They may talk you up, they may flatter you, they may say the right things, but there is no substitute to truth and reality. We see that there were many unclean spirits possessing the people of Samaria. Where Simon’s are, there is also increased uncleanness, increased spiritual suffering, increased bondage. People deceived, defrauded, fooled, duped, double crossed. It took truth, it took the entry of the word of God, which brings light, to shine clear through the darkness of Samaria. Satan had used Simon as a puppet to oppress the people, but who Jesus makes a claim to, just like Jesus with the man possessed with Legion, Satan has no answer. Will you receive truth?
We will talk more about Simon, but let’s look at the solution at this stage. Because it all looks very messy, and can be messy, but there is a simple solution to a messy situation. The solution is the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Unless the gospel hits your heart, this seems foolish, how can the word of God change anything? Is it possible just to have faith in the word of God and it’s that easy? Surely there is something more I must do. However it was the simple preaching of Christ that totally broke Simon’s hold. The word of God was with power, and the Spirit of truth trumped the spiritual power that Simon had established and was exploiting against the people. This is the only way the sorcerer’s hold is broken. It is the power of God alone that breaks the chains of bondage. Believe the gospel. Just believe. Have faith in what God says. It is God that does it all, all you have to do is believe it in your heart. The light flames in the dungeon and the darkness disappears, the chains fall off, the gate swings open, just as the heavy iron gate did before Peter when the angel of the Lord set him free from a seemingly hopeless situation in prison. It’s not magic words, it’s not a complex process, it’s just simply believing in the Lord Jesus Christ. Have faith in him, just do it. Jesus said all power is given unto him in heaven and in earth. And he is alive today and forevermore. He is sufficient. You and I aren’t the power source, he is. Every day, all the time. Jesus said “I” am the the way, the truth, the life. We can rattle that off, but think about what Jesus was saying. We often think it’s all about our faith in him, but really it is his faith toward us which is the great faith. Because he is faithful, the Bible calls him Faithful by name. He is faithful to us. So you ask him, and he is faithful, he promises to answer. And we know his will. His will is to set us free, to make us free indeed, to give us life, and to give us life more abundantly. We pray according to his will, he promises to do it. It was the will of God for Samaria to be freed from Simon’s demonic oppression, and the gospel smashed his power in pieces.
Simon had claimed to be a great one, and he did stuff which seemed to prove he was. What answer did they have for that? Nothing. The people had mistaken his power for the power of God! But it was a Satanic imitation. Do you want an imitation or the real thing? He wanted the Holy Ghost, he offered money for the Holy Ghost. False prophets make you pay don’t they. They make you pay. Do we pay to be saved? No, we simply receive what Jesus gives. Salvation is a free gift. There is nothing you pay, there is nothing you give in order to receive. What shall I render the Lord for all his benefits? Nothing, we simply take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord. Simon resisted the gospel. He didn’t like it. He believed also, but it wasn’t true saving belief. We know the devils believe and tremble… are they saved? No. Mere intellectual assent, ie. believing that Jesus Christ lived and died isn’t enough. Heart belief is belief that appropriates ie. receives what Jesus has done for you. Satan has his ministers that do his work, they are everywhere, high up, and often in positions of authority, even in so called churches. They oppose the preaching of Christ, a life of faith in Christ, a life that follows the word of God alone. They don’t like freedom, grace, liberty – it reduces peoples reliance on them, it makes them irrelevant, it can make them even angry, how can God make it so easy for sinners to be saved? It offends their pride and self righteousness. Jonah was angry at God for being merciful and longsuffering with Nineveh. He was angry about the grace of God. He was possessive of it. Mean with it. He didn’t want Nineveh to get away with it, for God to show mercy on them. It sounds crazy, but people like that exist. God’s grace offends their pride. They are self righteous, they dedicate their life to legalistic pursuits, and then there is this “sinner” that gets saved. Wow that’s offensive. My whole life of being “good” and God saves an adulterer? A harlot? People getting away too easily? I live so righteously and I have to share heaven with someone I turn my nose at!? Peter said to Simon that he was in the gall of bitterness and bond of iniquity. Simon was bitter and sinful. He had been usurped, he was just a standard bloke after all, he was not a great one, his power was snapped. All his tricks, all his devices, all his baloney devised to further himself, to elevate himself, to make them come under him came to nought.
What broke it? The preaching of Christ, the gospel. Jesus came to set the prisoners free. He gives forgiveness. The multitude asked in John, from whence has this man this power? Jesus is God. He is the Son of God. He is God in the flesh. He forgives and gives eternal life freely and fully. Take it if you want it. There is freedom for anyone reading this who has been under some spell, a hex, a curse, bondage to someone. You needn’t be. The kingdom of God trumps the kingdom of man, trumps the kingdom of Satan. Light conquers darkness. Satan is defeated. Light flames in the dungeon that humanity creates for itself. Simon can be kicked out of his position of elevation. Glory in the cross, not in man. Get rid of the things and stuff that once controlled you, which once tricked you. The people of Ephesus forsook their curious arts, they burned their books, they were done with all the false, fake imitation rubbish. They wanted the true Spirit, they wanted truth to reign. Jesus sets the prisoners free. If you are free, don’t go back. If you go back the latter end will be worse than your beginning. As Peter said in 2 Peter, many people who are set free go back to wallowing in the mire of their old life, they are like a dog returning to its vomit. Maybe these people were not truly saved to begin with. False conversion, false salvation, does not produce lasting results, a new leaf withers away, you must be planted by Christ, the seed of the word must find good soil in your heart. We can let go of all that we think we possess. We do not carry the burden for knowing everything, we do not need to amass and rely on our own resources. We are dead and our life is hid with Christ in God. In HIM are found all treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Empty self, and let God fill you up, we are just simple earthen vessels which can bear great treasure. Simon had sorceries, but Phillip had the word of God. Simon had false imitation power, Phillip was backed by the power of the true Spirit of God. You may be in a position just like Elijah in your life. You may know the truth, and you are contesting others who claim truth as well. Which one is truth? Whoever does what they do at the word of God. When Elijah prayed before God sent the fire, he prayed and said that he had done it at God’s word. God had told him what to do. And that’s why the fire fell. It was Elijah that was the true prophet, he had the true God, and the true power of God was shown. You can go to Mount Carmel today and contest Simon, because there is one true God, and one true power. God honors his word. The Bible says he has magnified his word above his name! The word of the LORD is everything. The excellency of the power is of God, we don’t bring anything to the table, let God do it. Let God send the fire. It is not a formula, it is a reality, we serve a REAL God.
There will always be opposition to the gospel, to truth. The devil wants your life, he wanted to sift Peter like wheat. But Jesus is alive, in heaven, at the right hand of the Father. He is greater than all, he is the author and finisher, the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the Almighty. He can change you life, transform your life, he can bring light where there is none. He said in Genesis, let there be light. And there was light. He is the Light, the true Light. The Light of the world. He gives us his Spirit when we are saved. The Spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit, the Holy Ghost are all the same, and the Holy Spirit works in our hearts, bearing witness to truth, teaching us all things, pointing us to God’s word, comforting us with truth, confirming in our heart that we are the sons of God. Right now, not later. We ARE the sons of God. As 1 John says, it does not yet appear what we shall be, be we know that, when he does appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. False prophets, false teachers do not give freedom, they want their assemblies, their converts, their followers, their disciples, bound hand and foot, lying in a cave, with a great stone shutting them lifeless in the darkness, like Lazarus was. But the day Jesus came, the stone was rolled away, the dead lived, the dead came forth emerging from the darkness, and was loosed and set free. Jesus wants that for all of us. We can all be Lazarus, we can all live, and live indeed. The solution is the kingdom of God, the cross, the blood of Christ that breaks the hold of sin on us, the forgiveness and life that he gives freely to all who believe. The solution is so simple, we think we must do something, but we don’t, just believe. No matter how tangled up it is, believe, follow God alone, have faith in his word. It is the light in the darkness, he is the Light of life.
We read there was great joy in the city of Samaria. The gospel had arrived, the light had shined so brightly in the darkness. It was the word of the Lord that broke his hold. The word of the Lord is alive, eternal. It is the faithful word. If you are on the Word’s side, you will never fail. Jesus is the Word of God. The sun had arisen with healing in his wings. They were growing up as calves in the stall, they now knew their master’s crib. Their new master was the Lord Jesus Christ, their old master was history, and then the joy, comfort and peace came – for which there is no substitute. John wrote in 1 John, and these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. Your joy can be full today.