"If the belief in the effectiveness of witchcraft is widespread in society, their will be a strong probability that certain individuals will try to use it. Observe: Acts 8:9-11 "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; To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries."
Here we see a certain individual name Simon who bewitched the people of Samaria. Based on what`s recorded it`s clear that he had done many things for the people that described the presence of wonder-working power. It is important to note that the manifestation of such wonder-working power is all the more effective when expressed in elusive, intangible, and oh yes!, even invisible forms. You see, everything he did for the Samaritan people was done in such a way that they did not and could not locate the real source of the power utilized by Simon. Obviously the results brought instant gratification to some, temporary relief for many, and held others in awe. Consequently, In error, the whole city believed that such results solidified Simon`s position as a man truly impowered by God. Subsequently, Simon had all of them following him, an paying him much homage.
Life Application Bible footnote for Acts 8:9--11 says, "In the days of the early church sorcerers and magicians were numerous and influential. They worked wonders, performed healing`s and exorcisms and practiced astrology. Their wonders may simply have been magic tricks or the sorcerers may have been empowered by Satan (Matthew 24:24, 2 Thessalonians 2:9) Simon had done so many wonders that some even thought that he was the Messiah: but his powers did not come from God."
Since Simon`s power did not come from God, its` source was evil. Get this: Evil was then working, and in working was revealing itself, but its true nature being ENMITY AGAINST GOD was mainly hidden from the Samaritan people. Oh yes! the eyewitnesses were clueless to what was really happening. Consequently they were being led astray. Consider these revelations; first, God had nothing to do with the wonder-working, signs, and miraculous displays of power. Second, they did not know if these same signs, miracles, and the exertions of power, were performed in appearance only; mere impressions upon there senses, and the third revelation reveals how they could not discern if they were real signs and miracles performed by evil spirits in effort to establish error. The second and third revelations were both diabolical in nature. I cannot overemphasize how evil was then working, and revealing itself, but its evil essence was hidden from the Samaritans.
It`s a terrible thing when first-hand descriptions from each and every person in a large crowd are all erroneous! Matthew 7:13 "Enter ye in at the straight gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat." For sure, erroneous assumptions, lead to erroneous decisions, and tragically, erroneous decisions lead to erroneous conclusions. When eyewitnesses interpret everything that they`ve actually seen; wrong, then, the evil one has achieved his goal. The person who is deceived does not know he/she is deceived. They were charmed by error. Bewitched, indeed.
You see, a miracle indicates supernatural power but this does not mean that all miracles come from God. We are warned of this truth in Revelation 13: 13-14, " He did unbelievable miracles such as making fire flame down to earth from the skies while everyone was watching, By doing these miracles, he was deceiving people everywhere..."
Let`s get back to Simon. Keep in mind that he had already solidified his position in Samaria as a wonder-worker. He achieved this by providing bewitching signs, miracles and flaunting power in the presence of large crowds whereby keeping the people spellbound. And so, while he continuously charmed them by error, in his own mind, Simon probably believed that his base would remain secure.
However, next as we reach Acts 8:13. we see Philip arrives in Samaria. It`s important to note that there was a long-standing animosity between the Samaritans and God`s people. And so, despite the animosity, or perhaps because of it, God sends Philip to this region. His evangelism ministry displayed a anointing accompanied with miraculous signs whereby many of the previously disenfranchised Samaritans were being converted and baptized. Furthermore, Acts 8:13 records how Simon himself also heard Philip`s gospel message, and believed and wondered. Witnessing the manifestation of a power that was obviously superior to his own, observing the miraculous effects of this new form of power upon many of those who had been following him compelled Simon to believe. The question, then, becomes, what did Simon really believe? Did Simon fully believe in the gospel message that Philip preached, or did he conclude that Jesus was only a really great magician and worker of miracles? We will come back to these questions shortly.
To read that Simon "wondered" is significant, because the Greek translation in this particular context means to be astounded, or amazed, and oh yes! it also expresses what it means to be bewitched.` The tables were turned, and Simon is beside himself utterly amazed. Could it be that Simon was experiencing the same type of amazement and awe which he had impressed upon the Samaritans? Was he merely reaping what he had been sowing? Or, did he stand there excited, eagerly calculating how he might be able to use this new power to advance his own influence and popularity? Furthermore, Simon had a unique point of view, because he could distinguish the difference between the effect his power had upon the people and, in comparison, he saw the faith inspiring power of the gospel truth to convert many of those he previously held spellbound.
Its of further significance to note that after Simon is baptized that Acts 8:13 also tells us that Simon continued with Philip. Although It was natural and customary for disciples to remain with their teacher, I am strongly convinced that Simon had other motives for attaching himself to Philip. I `m convinced because Simon was no "rookie", he was well educated, informed about mysteries, and ever-so calculating when it came to making things happen. Make no mistake, Simon was determined to stick close to the anointed vessel of God. Know this: Self-absorbed people like Simon see relationships as a tool for getting what they want and making themselves the center of attention. They are never complete, and always have a missing gap in their world. It`s a strong probability that Simon was trying to figure out how he could get Philip to fill that gap.
One thing is sure, at this point in the text, Simon found himself in the presence of a power that was much more greater than the power he had been flaunting. Moreover, Philip`s assignment went beyond evangelism because he operated in deliverance ministry. (rituals to cleanse people of demons and evil spirits). Recall where the Lord Jesus promised the following:
Acts 1:8 " But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem and in Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." It`s significant to note that this promise points to the real nature of humankind. This means that it is when recipients truly receive the Holy Spirit, and "dunamis" (his power), and authority that the new convert is able to return to God. We live in a fallen world, which necessitates redemption. Without redemption, it`s impossible for humans to function the way God intended us to function. However, thanks to God`s grace and mercy he has provided a way for humans to establish a authentic personal relationship with Him. The Lord Jesus is the way. John 14:6 Jesus said unto him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." Thank you Lord Jesus!
In essence, in context, the Samaritans needed to establish a genuine relationship with our heavenly Father in effort for them to do and be what God wanted each of them to do. No one can be their "Authentic Self" until they are operating as the Creator predetermined. The gospel message reveals the way for humans to return to God and conform to his divine plan. Make no mistake, as stated above, the Lord Jesus Christ is our redeemer. Through his birth, sinless life, death, and resurrection he provided the way for humankind to return to God. This was the gospel message that Philip was sent to convey. 2 Corinth. 5:17 tells us that faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. When Philip approached the people, each and every individual, (after hearing the gospel preached to them), each one had to ask earnestly by faith, and wait patiently for God to move on their behalf.
Let me be clear, as it was for them, so God`s promise remains today for all true believers. Know this: From the very beginning of our Christian journey until we leave the earth, we are to ask, seek, and knock, and then wait. if need be, we`re to repeat this process of "asking and waiting" for God. For those of you who have been asking and waiting, God is faithful, and so, hold on to his unchanging hand. Amen.
As stated above many Samaritans were being converted. The success of Philip`s powerful ministry is heard far and wide, so much so, that it reaches Jerusalem. Therefore Peter and John are sent to Samaria to confirm the uniqueness of God`s movement in the region. Observe;
Acts 8:14-19 " Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost."
The plot thickens here, you see, Simon watched ever so intently as Peter and John began praying and laying hands on those who had been converted. Scripture then records Simon`s response to what he observed. Acts 8:18-19 " And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles` hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money. Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost."
Earlier I asked, "Could it be that Simon was experiencing the same type of amazement and awe which he had been impressing upon the Samaritans? Here I say that the plot thickens because the amazement and awe that he`d experienced watching Philip`s evangelism ministry has been magnified as Simon observed Peter and John exercise yet another aspect of the apostolic ministry. I ask again, was he merely reaping what he had been sowing? Or, did he stand there excited eagerly calculating how he might be able to use this new power to advance his own influence and popularity?
I further noted, that Simon had a unique point of view because he could distinguish the difference between the effect his power had upon the people, and, in comparison, too seeing what transpired as Peter and John prayed and proceeded to lay hands upon those Simon previously held spellbound. To answer the above questions, let`s turn to a excellent biblical resource; the Believer`s Bible Commentary. Expounding on Acts 8:18-21 the Believer`s Commentary records the following. " Simon the sorcerer was deeply impressed by the fact that the Holy Spirit was given when the apostles laid their hands on the Samaritans. He had no deep sense of the spiritual implications of this, but rather looked on it as a supernatural power which would serve him well in his trade. So he offered money to the apostles in an effort to buy the power."
Getting back to the passage, we find Peter responding to Simon`s monetary offer in Acts 8: 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. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God."
Let`s return to the Believer`s Bible Commentary for further clarity. I appreciate how this commentary breaks down numerous explanations relative to Simon`s position and behavior in Acts 8:18-21. Observe: " Peter`s answer indicates that Simon was not a truly converted man.
- "Your money perish with you," No believer will will ever perish (John 3:16)
- "You have neither part nor portion in this matter: ; in other words, he was not in the fellowship.
- "Your heart is not right in the sight of God," This is a fitting description of an unsaved person.
" You are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity," Could these words be true of a regenerate person?
Believer`s Commentary records, Acts 8:22-24 "Peter urged Simon to repent of his great sin, and pray that his wicked plan might be forgiven. Simon`s reply was to ask Peter to serve as a mediator between God and himself. He was the forerunner of those who would rather go to a human mediator than to the Lord Himself. That their was no true repentance on Simon` part is indicated by the words, " Pray to the Lord for me, that none of these things which you have spoken may come upon me," He was not sorry for his sin, but only for the consequences which it might bring on him."
I believe that Scripture compels us` to confront the validity of supernatural powers.
(Good & Evil) Since our subject has been on "bewitchment" it`s important to understand that the word "sorcery" in the bible is always used in reference to an evil or deceptive practice. Relative to evil and/or deceptive practices I`m led to consider how Satan identified with Simon. Certainly, evil spirits observed Simons behavioral patterns, social interactions, work ethic, and were also familiar with the type of mind-set that Simon developed over time. Yes! they had all this information before they employed him.
Subsequently, it`s within reason to suggest that evil spirits had been nurturing, Simons mindset, and grooming him for some time. And so, don`t just envision Simon excited, and standing there in the physical realm eagerly calculating how he might be able to use this new power to advance his own influence and popularity. You see, simultaneously in the realm of the spirit, evil spiritual cunning trap-setters, with great subtly were injecting multiple kinds of ideas into Simon`s head that reinforced what Simon, in error assumed. which, in turn intensified his unquenchable thirst for power. Oh yes! the evil one knows how to bait his hook, and the diabolical bait will always be tailor-made and succulent! Could it be that in this case, the bewitcher was himself bewitched?
For me, it is Scripture that best defines my position in the field of witchcraft, sorcery, and bewitchment. For sure, it can be difficult for some who study the Word of God, to come to terms with influential forces what can`t be verified through scientific knowledge. And as stated above, academic attitudes often lead many not to believe in the force of these powers. This is one reason why Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us " Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." God is not merely full of truth He is truth and He is so merciful. When sending Philip and later Peter and John to Samaria, the intent was to bring the people out of darkness and welcome them into His marvelous light!
When Simon witnessed the manifestation of a power that was much greater than the one he was accustomed too, he hungered much more for the honor that was bestowed upon the apostles, instead of desiring to do great things for others. When opportunities were graciously provided for Simon to embrace the manifestations of TRUTH which displayed the validity and superiority of "good" supernatural influential powers over "evil" supernatural influential powers his response revealed what was in him.
2 Thessalonians 2:10 "And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved."
In conclusion, you and I can develop our ability to discern good and evil by understanding the role the moral dimension plays in linking the physical world and the unseen but just as real spiritual world. You see, it was impossible for Simon to embrace the manifestation of truth because he did not love truth. 2 Corinthians 6:14 explains it another way. "And what fellowship does light have with darkness? Matthew 7:15-20 Jesus said "Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their by their fruits you will know them." good will always prevail over evil. After the Samaritans were converted and set free, no longer bewitched, their spiritual eyes were opened.
2 Kings 6:17 The prophet told him. that their are more of them with us, than their are with them (angels of light v dark angels) "Then Elisha prayed "0 LORD, please Open his eyes , so that he may see, " Then the LORD opened the young mans eyes and he could see what Elisha saw happening in the spirit realm. My brother, my sister, Good will always prevail over evil. God is good. Amen