“Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed.” (Acts 8:13)
The account of the ministry of Philip in Acts 8 is filled with wonderful things. Many converts. Casting out demons. Healings. The conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch and Philip’s supernatural transport to Azotus. And the strange account of Simon the Magician in Samaria.
This Simon, the text says, had previously amazed the people in his city by performing some supposed feats of magic. Just what, we do not know. But he had a big following. And some called him “the power of God that is called Great.” Pretty big stuff. We also know that when Philip came preaching Christ, and God moved through him in some amazing ways, Simon’s interest was more than a little piqued. Many believed the Gospel Philip preached, and then vs. 13 says “even Simon himself believed.” And he was baptized to boot.
Here’s where things get interesting. You see, there is a species of belief, such as this, rooted apparently in amazement at seeing certain outward signs, which is nevertheless not a saving faith at all. It masquerades as faith, but it isn’t enduring, deep rooted and fruitful faith. It is a faith which steals some temporary life which is little more than the life of a parasite. It has no life of its own, but only that which it draws from its host. And such a faith must one day be exposed and show itself for what it truly is.
It makes the person look shiny and new at first. But in time, that new veneer proves to be a thin coating, and not a fundamental change. Like waxing your car. It looks nice, but it is just a thin coating.
Simon, it appears was simply amazed the same way His former followers were amazed by him. And as amazement at Simon’s activities could save no one, so mere amazement at Philip’s signs could not save either. Just because we might see miraculous things and be amazed by them doesn’t mean we believe Jesus has died for our sins, and are trusting in His atoning work for being reconciled to God the Father. We must trust Him and His work on behalf of our souls, not just gawk at His power.
We need to be more than “Simonized”, we need to be born again. We need to be changed from the inside out by the power of the Spirit, not merely, externally, cleaned up.
So it is we must never forget the Gospel is about Christ reconciling us to the Father – bringing about His Kingdom. It is not about getting some supernatural stream into your life to navigate YOUR life better – getting God to join your team to accomplish your dreams and aspiration. It is about leaving your life behind to join His team and be occupied with His business. Jesus’ parable in Matt. 25:14-30 is built around whether or not we are transacting His business on His behalf in His absence to accomplish His ends. We will give an account of that.
As the account goes on the demonstrate, Simon’s heart had not been affected at all. He was still motivated by greed, recognition, power and even bitterness – a lack of love for others, and certainly not love for his enemies. He had simply added Jesus to the mix. Syncretism, not salvation. Jesus was just another way to get what he always wanted. But such things can’t be the characteristics of those born again by the Spirit. While vestiges of these sins remain, they no longer do so unchallenged, and no longer carry the place of prominence.
As James will tell us in his letter, even the demons acknowledge that God is real, and has power – and they even tremble at that reality. But mere acknowledgment of God’s power is not saving faith in either men or demons. They do not love Him, serve Him or trust Him. We need to be sure we are personally trusting in the finished work of Christ on the cross on our behalf.
So how about you my friend? Have you truly been rescued from sin and death to serve the living Christ? Or have you merely been intrigued. Amazed. Picked up the lingo. Maybe even baptized. But in truth, Christianity is little more than another way to get all things you always wanted anyway.
You get to be around nice people with positive outlooks, cheering each other on and swapping positive aphorisms like trading cards. But in truth, serving Christ has nothing to do with it. Loving Him for His Cross-work is just part of the culture, but has no real impact on your soul so as to seek Christ, His glory and to walk so as to please Him and accomplish His ends. Mourning over sin? Anxious to see Christ glorified and the Father’s name restored in the earth? Wanting to know how you can advance His cause in the world? Or is He just there to help you have a nicer life?
If that’s you, you haven’t been saved my friend, you’ve just been “Simonized?”
And you need to repent can come to Christ.