Simon the Sorcerer: Witchcraft v. God's Spiritual Power

I'd invite you to open up the Bible to

Acts chapter 8 the book of Acts chapter

8 as you know we're working through this

history book in the Bible about the

early Christians about the early

churches about how the church grew at

the time right after Jesus was taken

into heaven and so we as we read about

these early Christians we see in their

experiences principles or ideas that

apply to us as a church too and we learn

from them so last week who remembers who

we talked about last week and remember I

know it seems like an awfully long time

always two weeks ago it was a longer

time than usual and remember who we

talked about a couple weeks ago Stephen

what happened to Stephen he got stoned

and he went to heaven he was martyred

that kind of stoned and he went to

heaven and he saw the glory of God and

as Stephen was getting martyred because

of his faith in Jesus he pray God do not

hold this sin against them how about

that huh amazing story there's a saying

that says the blood of the martyrs is

the seed of the church you would think

that people getting killed for their

faith would squelch the church but it

does exactly the opposite it seems the

more real Christians are persecuted for

the right reasons the more the church

grows it's amazing I it's it's

mysterious how it happens but we're

going to look at an example of that and

how the church actually spreads as a

result of this moment so if you would

turn with me to Acts chapter 8 we'll

start in verse 1 where it talks about

how Saul was there a man named Saul who

becomes very important later and his

name is changed to Paul saw was there

guarding the coats of those who were

killing Steven it says and saw approved

of their killing him and then it goes on

to say on that day a great persecution

broke out against the church in

Jerusalem and all except the apostles

were scattered

throughout Judea and Samaria godly men

buried Stephen and mourn deeply for him

but Saul began to destroy the church the

word for destroy there is is a very

aggressive like attack her ass if you

destroy the church going from house to

house he dragged off both men and women

and put them in prison and those who had

been scattered preached the word

wherever they went Philip went down to a

city in Samaria and proclaimed the

Messiah there and when the crowds heard

Philip and saw the signs he performed

they all paid close attention to what he

said for with shrieks impure spirits

came out of many and many who were

paralyzed or lame were healed and so

there was great joy in that city now for

some time a man named Simon had

practiced sorcery in the city and amazed

all the people of Samaria he boasted

that he was someone great and all the

people both high and low gave him their

attention and exclaimed this man is

rightly called the great power of God

they followed him because he had amazed

them for a long time with his sorcery

but when they believed Philip as he

proclaimed the good news of the kingdom

of god and the name of Jesus Christ they

were baptized both men and women and

Simon himself believed and was baptized

and he followed Philip everywhere

astonished by the great signs and

miracles he saw when the Apostles in

Jerusalem heard that Samaria had

accepted the Word of God they sent Peter

and John to Samaria and when they

arrived they prayed for the new

believers that they might receive the

Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit had

not yet come on any of them they had

simply been baptized into the name of

the Lord Jesus then Peter and John

placed their hands

on them and they received the Holy

Spirit when Simon saw that the Spirit

was given at the laying on of the

Apostles hands he offered them money and

said give me also this ability so that

everyone on whom I lay my hands may

receive the Holy Spirit Peter answered

may your money perish with you because

you thought you could buy the gift of

God with money you have no part or share

in this ministry because your heart is

not right before God repent of this

wickedness and pray to the Lord in the

hope that he may forgive you for having

such a thought in your heart for I see

that you are full of bitterness and

captive to sin and then Simon prayed

said answered pray to the Lord for me so

that nothing you have said may happen to

me and after they had further proclaimed

the word of the Lord and testified about

Jesus Peter and John returned to

Jerusalem preaching the gospel in many

Samaritan villages let's pray dear God I

thank you that is your word spreads into

new and strange places some new and

strange things happen but god I thank

you that you are the God of authenticity

you are the genuine God and you send

your genuine Holy Spirit and you produce

genuine believers god I pray that this

text would be one that that we receive

god we've received the full warning that

is enclosed therein and father that what

we talked about today would even be

prophetic proclaiming a spirit of

authenticity over this ministry for

years to come so God speak to us guide

us let the the Good Shepherd speak

through us today in jesus name amen amen

so again how about Simon huh a magician

so you came in through the snow to hear

a sermon about Simon the magician how

about that gets a little unusual on snow

days here but before we get talking

about Simon I do want to talk a little

bit more about how the Christians were

being persecuted and

yet somehow the church was growing

anyway and why would that be think about

it a person has just been executed in

the town square for believing in Jesus

and then people are going out and

preaching and saying hey do you want to

believe in Jesus too yeah that's this

sounds very appealing doesn't it really

so I can end up like Stephen is that

what you mean how is it that it grows

you know it's it's a profound mystery

but people long for that which is real I

remember is a 16 year old and it does

relate to this a little bit I was

exploring different spiritualities I was

reading up on yogi philosophy and

different types of Eastern mysticism I

was exploring Transcendental Meditation

a little bit I mean I i never got good

at it but i explored it i started

studying different types of

spiritualities because i was tired of

church as usual i was looking for

something that was spiritually real a

real genuine spiritual experience and

then thank God I happened to be given a

new testament and I figured well why

don't I try reading about Jesus he's

cool you know little did I know he's

even more than cool you know reading

about Jesus and the New Testament

exposed me to the real Jesus and the

real word of god and i found the the

authenticity i was looking for the real

thing but people are longing for

something real real faith real truth and

so even if it involves sacrifice in

danger i believe people are longing for

answers and so even when there is

persecution if it's persecution for the

right reasons the church grows and so

that's what we see happening here the

church is growing and i found that he in

our church even when things get a little

unusual sometimes even with things get a

little strange and shocking if it's real

people are still attracted because they

send something genuine now if there's if

there's manipulation or something else

like that going on people also sense

that and then they're repelled and they

don't even know why they're repelled but

they just sense it but people are drawn

to that which is authentic truth is its

own best advertisement now you'll see

that there's no real

plan for evangelism here people are

running away how about that doesn't that

sound kind of wimpy what they're running

away why didn't they stand and fight and

say no I believe in well the Apostles

did but everyone else ran but you know

jesus said that he said when you're

persecuted in one place in one town flee

to the next so it sometimes it's okay to

run away when things are dangerous like

I got to get out of here this isn't

going too well this is a bad place I

don't to be in the wrong place so people

were running away to other towns out of

Jerusalem to other parts of the region

so imagine Boston at first if Boston is

Jerusalem well then they're going to

greater boston they're starting to go

out to you know dedham and and and

Newton and Chelsea and revere and

Norwood and they're going out to the to

the surroundings going out to Judea and

Samaria and as they run away what do

they do they talk about Jesus people are

saying hey what are you running from

well people are trying to kill me

because I believe in Jesus you believe

in who well Jesus you want to know about

Jesus and next thing you know even as

they're spreading and running away the

gospel is spreading with them you know

sometimes it's like that sometimes the

church grows in fact I would say most of

the time the church grows without the

church planning or programming church

growth okay now don't get me wrong I I

think it's very appropriate for a church

to think about how can we be more

accessible how can we reach new people

and to have a plan in a strategy nothing

wrong with that we need to be thoughtful

about what we're doing but here I don't

think they plan to the persecution they

say have an idea let's get one of us

killed and then we'll all run away

scared to death and we'll just preach as

we go yeah that sounds great you know

plan for church growth right so it's not

exactly a plan but God had a plan no in

Acts chapter 1 verse 8 jesus said stay

in Jerusalem for now but you will

receive power when the Holy Spirit comes

on you

and you will be my witnesses in

Jerusalem but then also out in Judea and

Samaria and even to the ends of the

earth well now in acts 8 verse 1 it says

they ran away where to Judea and Samaria

so it's kind of ironic here that x 81

points us back to acts 18 I know it's

way too early in the morning to play

games like that so please forgive me but

it's just a funny coincidence right that

it worked out that way so the gospel is

spreading because God had a plan he said

you know what these people are never

gonna go to Judea and Samaria unless I

make them run away you know i have found

sometimes that my greatest setbacks my

greatest apparent defeats are really

part of God's plan to move me on to the

next thing you ever had that experience

before sometimes you need to lose one

job in order to get another one

sometimes and it's not always that way

but persecution was part of the plan it

was part of God sending them if you

won't go well then I'm just gonna have

to scatter you right so he scatters them

God allows the precision they're going

and very often growth just happened

spontaneously because when people really

love Jesus and they're really filled

with the Holy Spirit and they're really

growing they just find themselves

talking about Jesus to people and it

just grows I remember I went to an

evangelism conference in Chicago happens

to be actually where I met kennis hadn't

seen her in years but that's another

story but I met the evangelism

conference this was 2001 and we took a

little test on how line of Judah was

doing with evangelism right and we

failed the test we've like a big f right

and then it occurred to us wait a minute

we just failed the test but the church

is doubled in the past three years you

know so something on the test isn't you

know they're missing something that God

is doing and so don't get me wrong we

need programs we need to be thoughtful

but we need off

spirit and just that spontaneous growth

that happens when people just can't keep

the gospel to themselves and that's

what's happening here so people are

running their preaching a closed door

means an open door and they end up going

to a place called Samaria okay Samaria

now you've heard of Samaria Samaria was

the region that you didn't want to go to

if you were an upstanding Jewish person

who lived in Jerusalem okay you didn't

normally want to go there it was a

region inhabited by people that were

basically hated by the Jewish people who

lived in Jerusalem at the time there was

a long history between Samaria and

between Jerusalem see years earlier

there had been a civil war in Israel did

you know that they had you know how at

the United States had its Civil War the

North fighting the south slavery all of

that and there was the big Civil War the

Union forces one so the country didn't

split well there was sort of a civil war

in the in the nation of Israel and they

did split between the North and the

South the north was called Judah and the

south was called Israel and the South

had Samaria inner was it the other way

around the other way around but Samaria

was half of the country so there was a

long-standing tension between the the

Sumerians and everyone else because they

were there was a long tension there then

there came a time were the enemies of

Israel conquered Samaria and they took

the people in Samaria into exile they

deported them and they scattered them

among other countries and this Empire

Assyria took people from around the

world and transplanted them into Samaria

from all the different countries that

they occupied now these people came from

all these different countries and they

brought with them

their priests their idols and their gods

and they would worship their idols and

things eventually things didn't actually

lyons came and started attacking people

so the ruler of a series like why don't

we figure out who the god of the land is

so we can worship him too so they

brought in some priests of Yahweh of

Jehovah of the Lord and he said you got

to worship the Lord and so they tried

worshiping the Lord along with Moloch

and key mosh and all their other demons

that also didn't go very well so what

happened is in Samaria it became a place

of ethnic and racial mixture as people

intermarried with all these different

groups and it also became an area of

syncretism which is a mixture of

religions mixing the worship of the Lord

with the worship of of different idols

and different types of spirituality so

it was considered a place that was a bad

place with strange people you don't go

there now there came one story if you've

ever read the Gospel of John I recommend

you do in John chapter for Jesus and and

his disciples had to go through Samaria

once to get from point A to point B and

now the disciples are just thinking

let's just roll up the windows and get

through as quickly as we can right Jesus

sits down at a well and he decides to

strike up a conversation with a woman he

meets it well if you're a good Jewish

rabbi you don't just start hanging out

with women on the street corner and the

well and just get but Jesus says I don't

care what I'm supposed to do the Son of

man came to seek and save that which is

lost and I don't care who was

scandalized about it and he meets this

lady and says he could I have a drink of

water and she's like what who do you

think you are a Jewish man asking me and

turns out she wasn't just any lady she

was a woman of ill repute right everyone

knew that lady oh she's into stuff she

was alone and outcast even by Sumerian

standards she was an outcast and Jesus

like I don't care I want to talk to this

lady and he gets to know her and they're

talking they get into a debate because

the Sumerian Samaritans believed all

kinds of

kind of different things they believed

in worshipping at a mountain rather than

in Jerusalem and they're expecting you

know and so Jesus gets into a little

debate and he's like you know what I'm

sick of this debate he says why don't

you go call your husband and she's like

I don't have a husband and she's like

yeah that that's right you've had like

several and the guy you're shacking up

with now I don't think there's been a

ceremony either and she just stops looks

at him and says sir I perceive that you

are the prophet and Jesus is like you

got that right basic and so she's

shocked and you know he didn't do it to

humiliate her he does did it because

okay not for this chitchat let's let's

pull out the heavy artillery and show

you that that you're talking to the Son

of God here and you need living water

okay so the Samaritan woman ends up

running into the town and tells

everybody you got to come see the guy

who told me everything I ever did I

don't know how he knew but this guy he

that she brings out everyone from the

town the disciples come by come back and

Jesus is like they're the G Jesus says I

have bread to eat that you know nothing

about my bread is to do the will of the

one who sent me and finish his work and

then he says look open your eyes and

look at the fields the crowds of

Sumerians are coming and he says so the

harvest is ripe for the harvest don't

say four months more now not somewhere

else here in Samaria now is the time of

harvest don't don't be looking somewhere

right here and so there's a big you know

multitude of people who come to believe

in Jesus now I don't know what happened

after that but apparently there wasn't a

lot of ongoing interaction with the

Samaritans because but Phillip goes

there and he's the first one of the

Apostles to go into Samaria and start

preaching now who's Phillip anyone

remember who Phillip is from like three

weeks ago if you're new here it's okay

you're exempt from this question and

remember who Phillip is Phillip was run

good someone new silk was one of them

amen he remember they had the the food

program the where some of the widows

were being overlooked and they elected

cement to oversee the food program one

of them was Steven and then another one

was Phillip now Phillip supervise the

food program and he also preached as he

was running away now look at what

happens because as he's there if you go

with me to the book of Acts chapter 8 it

says he went into Samaria and look what

happens in verse 6 when the crowds heard

Phillip and saw the signs he performed

they all paid close attention to what he

said so miracles are happening right

miracles are happening and it says for

with shrieks impure spirits came out of

many people and many who were paralyzed

her lame were healed and it was great

joy in the city when you go into strange

places sometimes strange things happen

okay there was a a spiritual warfare

component you know you'll find this when

missionaries or when we go into a new

region that debt that the devil has had

full ownership and we go to talk about

Jesus the devil isn't happy about it now

some of you are like the devil what we

believe in that I'm going to talk about

this more later we believe in spiritual

warfare that there is God and his power

and Jesus who's the king of kings and

Lord of lords but there are evil spirits

that are resisting what God is trying to

do and his Phillip is preaching and

people come to know Jesus with shrieks

demons are leaving people so there's

it's like the kingdom of God is

conquering and the kingdom of the devil

is being pushed back now as we go into

strange new worlds we may also meet some

strange new creatures and we never

watched Star Trek right

go to strange new worlds usually they

meet some strange new alien that you

know the captain whatever but you know

they go into strange new place as well

in Samaria you meet some out-of-the-box

kind of people okay the woman at the

well was it out of the box kind of lady

alright well now they're going to meet

another unusual person named Simon and

that's what I want to talk to us about

today but first I want to take a little

bit of a step back have you ever

imagined if the woman at the well who

had had several different the you know

lovers and now was living she was a

famously promiscuous in that town if she

became a Christian and then started

coming to church I mean can you imagine

I mean that's why we have discipleship

right because change doesn't happen

overnight when we come with a lot of

problems and struggles in life and

temptations sometimes it takes a long

time for things to change and we need

help and guidance along the way and and

and things are going to get can get

complicated right a church that is too

squeamish about everybody being nice and

proper and well-behaved is never going

to grow right because when people come

in to meet Jesus the can we want them to

come as they are right well and we want

them to meet Jesus and have Jesus bring

change and transformation but sometimes

that's going to be a process and we need

to flow with that process as long as we

have a destination in mind we're not

saying it's okay keep doing your crazy

stuff no we want people to grow and

change but we're willing to walk with

you through it because we know that the

the process is often along and and one

with zigs and zags and ups and downs so

anyway we meet Simon the sorcerer Simon

the magician now what do we know about

Simon here as we meet him we realize if

you look with me in verse 9 that Simon

was a magician anyone ever met a

magician before and we're never been a

magician now I'm not talking

there's different kinds of magicians

right there's ones who do tricks and

there's ones that do real stuff and

we'll be talking about that that there's

a difference between the two but if you

look with me in verse 9 it says for some

time this man named Simon had practiced

sorcery in the city and he had amazed

all the people of Samaria this is a

great gig this guy was he was people

were amazed by him he was like you know

he's like the Tom Brady of the town you

know it's like you're kidding it's Simon

look at what he can do he can do

anything he can pull victory from the

anyway let's not talk about football he

says he boasted that he was someone

great and all the people both high and

low gave him their attention and

exclaimed this man is rightly called the

great power of God they followed him

because he had amazed them for a long

time with his sorcery so being a

magician doing supernatural things

supernatural miracles not with Jesus but

just by magic power had gotten this man

a pretty good position in society right

the word amazed is used three times

people were amazed wow look at what he

does people called him someone great Wow

he was the great power of God he was

seen as as a as a mystery man Wow Simon

he'll he'll do miracles Hill he can do

anything and he and you also we learn

later he offers money so money was

probably involved in this probably there

were other perks involved involved as

well control people are coming to help

me what to do you have a direct

connection to the spiritual world and

have you ever seen psychics before on TV

just last week I was watching something

on TV right and there was a commercial

for California psychics California

psychics a buck a minute it's not a bad

deal right have

one give you a message from the other

side now I think some of this is

probably a you know a sham it's most

much of it is probably just tricks and

it's not real but there were people

saying they told me things they had no

way of knowing and they there was this

and people are giving these testimonials

and you know what I believe that some

are tricking but some people who are

mediums or spiritists or fortune tellers

or astrologers or card readers are

actually tapping into a real spiritual

power and they are telling you things

they would have no way of knowing maybe

right Simon I think was like that I

think he had tapped into a real

spiritual power and he was channeling

that and it had gotten him a great it

made him a great job a great living okay

so Simon is doing this now again I need

to take a step back here of why

christians believe in the sea we believe

that the devil is as old as the Garden

of Eden I don't believe we don't believe

in in the the idea of the yin and the

yang that the evil of the good have

always coexisted as equals and that's

okay no no we don't believe in that we

also did not believe in the star wars

force thing that well there's the good

side of the force in the bad side and we

don't know no we believe God is the

creator of heaven and earth that there

is no contest as for who is the real God

right now there is a created spiritual

being angels different types of angels

and some of them one of them in

particular rebelled and went against

God's Authority and became a fallen

angel and thus we have what are called

demons and and the devil himself which

is the word for the accuser or their

prince or their ruler we believe that

since the garden that serpent has been

seeking to undermine what God would do

on earth and there has been a battle

between the serpent or the the evil one

Satan and God as he is extending his

kingdom on earth and so we see this

throughout the Old Testament when Jesus

came and he's preaching sometimes people

would come with what they called unclean

spirits that Jesus would need to cast

of them okay and so the spiritual battle

continued when Jesus was in the desert

the devil came and tempted him so this

is an ongoing battle but praise the Lord

Jesus wins the battle because when he

died on the cross he paid the penalty

for our sin so that the devil who's sort

of like a prosecuting attorney now if we

have any attorneys in the room I'm not

saying you're not allowed to be a

prosecutor but the devil is a prosecutor

before God's throne and he is accusing

us before the throne and he's got a case

because we're all sinners right but now

because of the blood of Jesus i can say

you're right i am guilty of sin but

Jesus has paid the penalty so the

accuser is overcome by the blood shed on

the cross which is the penalty for my

sins so now when the devil comes at me

he doesn't have authority over any me

anymore not because i'm good i'm

certainly not but i believe in jesus so

legally I have been declared not guilty

he doesn't have a case he doesn't have a

leg to stand on praise the Lord Jesus

one he also overcame death when he rose

from the dead and now he's ascended to

the right hand of God and he sent out

the Holy Spirit but the world is still

enemy occupied territory the devil is

still what Jesus called the prince of

this world so God's kingdom is extending

displacing the kingdom of the evil one

spiritually every person who repents

that is they turn and believe in Jesus

they're turning from the authority of

Satan to the authority of God and saying

I worship King Jesus then they receive

the Holy Spirit that marks them as a

member of that Kingdom isn't that great

and so the kingdom is extending but it's

a conflict going on now Jesus is already

at the right hand of God but he's still

taking over the world so he's already

there but he has not yet fully set up

his kingdom on earth that's where we

come in as we preach the gospel as we

disciple and make disciples of the

nation now there will come a day when

Jesus will come back and

okay times up it's time to set up my

throne sort of like a president who's

elected but then takes his post Jesus

will come the kingdoms of this world

will become the kingdoms of our God the

devil and his angels and everything evil

will be thrown into the lake of fire

there will be no more sickness sadness

death or mourning there will be a voice

from the throne that will say behold I

make all things new it's going to be a

great day it's gonna be a great day and

until that day we are preaching we're

spreading the kingdom okay now Simon was

not just doing magic tricks but by

participating in the occult arts he was

opening up a channel for the evil one to

flow into his life and through him that

example I used right of the the psychics

on TV I believe that some of them may

genuinely be using a type of spiritual

power that opens up a sort of a window

to the spiritual dimension and the enemy

takes advantage of that and flows

demonic power through them even though

it might seem good the Bible says the

Satan himself appears as an angel of

light to deceive us that's why the whole

thing of a good witch and a bad witch

it's like well that's okay in fairy

tales okay you're allowed to read fairy

tales I'm not going to say you can't

read a fairy tale but there is no good

which the other side we have such a hard

time with our kids trying to explain

because we give all these Disney movies

where there's the Good Witch and the bad

witch and the good fair we let them

watch them and then we explain the

conflict between good and evil and what

we believe and but at the end of they

did this so they're like it's okay to be

a good witch then and like no it's not

because any witchcraft any occult taps

into a power that is not of God okay so

Simon was doing that he may have been a

really nice guy I you know I don't think

every sorcerer is some evil persons I

think some of them a really nice glowy

new-agey you know kind of people

he's tapping into the power of the evil

one right so he's doing this and he's

impressed with Philip can you imagine

why cuz Philip is doing miracles he's

praying and people are getting healed

lame people getting out of wheelchairs

demons coming out of people he's like

what this is this is the best show in

town he's like this guy's a better

magician than I am I think that's what

he was thinking I says he believed what

Philip said so he's like okay Jesus this

is this is a good thing okay I want to

be I want to be in on this so he sort of

becomes a Christian sort of and he

starts clinging to Philip the word used

for for he started following around

Philip is a word that is never used of

being devoted to a person in the Bible

it's a word that is usually used being

devoted to your career or devoted to a

task but never to be that kind of

attachment to a person so it's like an

unhealthy attachment it's almost a

professional interest he's like wow like

one magician respects another he's like

I want to see how philip does his tricks

so he's watching he's amazed Wow Philip

is doing he's following he becomes you

know it's like this guy's good I'm gonna

watch how is he doing this and then the

Apostles come right because even though

the gospel spreads outside of the

Apostles planning at some point the

Apostles do need to show up kind of like

okay what's going on here be sure

everything's kosher kind of helps

support and encourage bless and validate

what's going on just a little sidestep

in our church most of the best

ministries we got going we did not start

God just put it in a person's heart they

said hey can I try this like go for it

they do it grows wildly and then we just

come in once it's rolling or like wow

praise God and we kind of help steer it

and bless it and encourage it the holes

the whole street outreach I had nothing

to do with starting that I was all you

know Danny and some of the other guys

and then I come along and see how how we

can help and then everyone's like great

work Greg you know right

I just showed up they did all the work i

just showed up later I'm just along for

the ride i just show up and eat you know

basically then get all the credit it's

ridiculous but anyway the apostles show

up and they're like okay wait a minute

you guys didn't receive the Holy Spirit

yet you became Christians but I think

you don't like they realized that

people's understanding of what it means

to be a Christian may be genuine but it

was incomplete which again is why we

have discipleship because a person can

come to church sometimes for years that

can come to the altar they can become

Christians and still have an incomplete

understanding of what it really means to

be filled with the spirit in to follow

Jesus so there needs sometimes to be a

filling out so the Apostles come they

lay their hands on the believers and

they receive the Holy Spirit Wow now we

don't know exactly what that looked like

if they started crying if they if they

started speaking in tongues I don't know

exactly what happened but it was it was

good okay the Holy Spirit was

transferred to them through the laying

on of hands now can you imagine what

what Simon the magician is thinking it's

like wow that's pretty good I want to be

able to do that you'll find that

sometimes sometimes and if you come and

you feel a call to ministry I want you

to feel that but sometimes it can be a

little too quick right Simon you were

just doing sorcery last week like and

now he's like hey I want that power I

want to be an apostle too i wanna i want

to do miracles i want to have the Holy

Spirit you know go through the laying

out of my hands at how much how much

here I got my checkbook how much can I

pay you to purchase this power because

see that's what they do in the in the

occult world right you you pay the

astrologer to give you a reading right

you pay a dollar a minute to get the

californias like I shouldn't repeat this

so much some of you might be tempted to

call them that don't explore don't it

anyway

so they're paying so he's like how much

do I owe you I want this power he wants

to become a Christian magician how about

that he wants to become a wonder-worker

Christian who can do magic tricks and

have all the people the way they used to

pay attention to him the way they used

to revere him and the way he put on

great shows he wants to do that now as a

Christian minister pretty scary thought

isn't it he's like I want that power I

want whoo yeah and so he offers money

now thank thankfully Peter sees through

him but I want to talk here about the

danger in the temptation of something

called syncretism syncretism that's

where we take our spirituality from

before and we try to mix it with

Christian spirituality ok so let's take

what i was doing before i was exploring

yogi philosophy and transcendental

meditation and then i think well maybe

i'll try to be a yogi philosopher

christian you know let's try to mix

these things people all over the world

do this I was in Guatemala what's in it

now all every culture and every country

has their own version of syncretism i

was visiting guatemala anyone ever

visited guatemala before beautiful

country we have a good handful of

choppiness in our church who especially

they all seem to do sound too i don't

know why that is but anyway we have

people gotta I mean water mom in a town

called Chi Chi cast an angle I just love

saying that chi Chi cast an angle and

I'm there and and someone tells me I was

a young adult just traveling around the

Latin America and my mission was to see

as much as i could and learn as much as

I could about Latin American cultures

and the church and the spirituality and

just learned so that I could do what I

had to do when I came back so someone

told me well there's an interesting

thing going on up on a mountain behind

chichi want to come and I'm like sure

why not brilliant anyway so I go up this

now

and we go up there and up on top of the

mountain there's a there's an altar set

up and there's a woman who apparently

was a shaman and she had an incense and

a sensor and there was a couple there

who was a I don't know if they were

getting married but one was dressed as a

bride so it seemed like it was a a

wedding ceremony of sorts and she was

doing some sort of blessing on their

marriage and she had that in so she even

there was a bird that she had rung the

head off and we got some people who are

new just coming in and I'm talking about

this god bless you don't worry it's

gonna get better so she she rings the

head off the bird & poor's coca-cola on

it and it was it was really unusual I

had never seen a real pagan ceremony

before it was a paganism it was a type

of a cult right part of their indigenous

religions in Guatemala so I saw that I

was like wow this is fascinating I'm

getting out of here yes I go back down

the mountain about an hour later after I

had a good adult day or something they

sell there I'm sitting there and I'm

outside a church and I see that same

shaman in front of the church with her

sensor and going into the church and she

clearly had a role in the Catholicism of

that town as well in chi Chi cast an

angle so the same woman who was who was

ringing the head off a bird up on a

mountain and doing an occult ceremony

was also down in the Catholic Church

doing special incantations and

ceremonies there it's called syncretism

syncretism in Latin American cultures

it's often called Santeria because what

would happen with the indigenous

spiritualities either indigenous groups

or African groups and specially in the

Caribbean they would mix their paganism

from their culture with the Catholicism

that came and instead of worshiping a

one of their gods they would just name

it a saint and so they would set up the

statue of the saint and burn candles and

do the exact same religion but with

Catholic saints some anthropologists

have traced certain Saints back to

certain deities in Africa you know some

of them really enjoy this this is an

anthropologist dream right to be able to

trace it back and they and they see how

the two things have been synchronized

here's where I'm going with this it has

always been a temptation to mix

Christianity with whatever kind of

spirituality a person was into before

Simon the magician Acts chapter 8

decides he wants to do that he says I

think I would like to be a Christian

magician I want to put on a show I want

to do magic trips for Jesus now now

thank God the Apostle Peter and John saw

through it they said this guy is a cult

waiting to happen you ever met someone

who is a cult waiting to happen you take

ego with charisma with spirituality with

an ability to manipulate people and a

good healthy lust for for financial gain

and you've got a cult waiting to happen

I've met some people that I knew this

guy is a cult widdy's happen and sure

enough I here ten years later he's got a

cult going you know and so they knew

Simon is a cult waiting to happen he's

trying to mix the power of the devil

with the power of God for his own

self-promotion and he's trying to do it

in a Christian context in the Apostle

Peter and the Apostle John saw that this

is not of God what you want to do is

Christian magic and magic and Christian

spirituality are absolutely antithetical

their opposite even though they might

look kind of similar I want to take a

step back some Christian spirituality

that is genuine that is of God might be

strange sometimes right does God move in

strange ways sometimes the jesus i read

in the New Testament spat in the mud

rubbed it on a guy's eyes

and healed him of blindness that is

strange if I did that you might say this

is a cult waiting to happen one day

Jesus decided you know I'm not even

gonna spit in the mud I'm just gonna

spit in the eyes direct bizarre in the

book of Acts Peter would walk by and his

shadow would heal the Apostle Paul

sometimes they would take a handkerchief

he was touched him and take it to a sick

person and they would get healed bizarre

now you see that on TV today people

selling blessed hankies right and you're

like but you know some strange stuff

happened in the Bible it's really

important that I say this because in our

country today there are there are some

prominent ministries that are beautiful

ministries that I respect profoundly but

they want to say that anything strange

is strange fire all right you know in

Leviticus 10 when the priests sons tried

to offer strange fire to the Lord and

incense that God hadn't commanded and so

what some people want to say that if

something strange is going on it must be

strange fire it can't be of God

sometimes God moves in strange ways we

can't just say because it's unusual that

it's not of God we need to look at the

heart that's behind it see the heart of

a sorcerer is the desire to control and

be in control anyone ever hung out and

Salem before you know some of you some

of you may live in Salem I went to Salem

on Halloween one day when I was in

seminary don't try this at home kids not

a good idea Jeb people who are into

neo-paganism in their witchcraft have a

big festival in Salem on Halloween so

bunch of buddy buddies of mine and I we

were in seminary like hey let's go to

Salem it this preach man yeah you know

there's we're gonna go take over the

world right

so we go to Salem I get into an argument

or discussion with a with a pagan he was

he he was a druid he had he had the

whole thing and he's talking to me about

his witchcraft and and we're talking

about what it means to follow Jesus

halfway through the conversation he just

looked at me and started shaking his

head and say you know I'm really sorry

for you and your God he wants to control

you man your God wants to tell you what

to do he expects you to obey Him poor

people he says he I get to do

spirituality and and I get to be a god I

get to be in control I get to move the

spiritual powers and cast spells and do

things and you people have to submit to

your God I get to control the spirits

that I use and I was like well I can see

why you like that the only problem is

you're too dumb to really be in control

because as a person we're gonna mess up

our lives and we're gonna mess up the

world see I don't mind submitting to God

because he is really smart and he knows

what he's doing he's also really loving

and he cares about what's best for me

he's also really powerful and he can

make all things work together for good

for those that love him and I'm like I

want to submit to that God he knows what

he's doing you see you're in control but

you don't know what you're doing you

gonna mess up your life and although I

think he thought he won the debate but

what are you gonna do so but the issue

is control you know it's interesting in

the Old Testament there was a particular

king named Saul who wanted to be in

control and he wanted to be do things

his way and then offer sacrifices to God

thinking that his religious sacrifices

made it okay that he did things against

what god had told him and you know what

the Lord says to him he says does the

Lord really delight in burnt offerings

and sacrifices and religious activities

does he really like that more than in

obeying the voice of the Lord behold to

obey is better than sacrifice rebellion

is as the sin

of divination or witchcraft and

presumption is as iniquity and idolatry

being rebellious saying I want to be in

control I want to do things my way is

the heart of witchcraft because it's

saying i will use the spirit to do what

i want to do whereas christian

spirituality is based on submission

saying god I don't want to be a

Christian magician I want to be

Christian where your power flows through

me the King Jesus flows through me and

that yes we have authority in the name

of Jesus but it's for his glory and it's

in submission to him who's in charge

witchcraft wields power Christian

spirituality yields to God's power and

the power flows through to an even

greater amount because it's God's power

and God is stronger than the devil this

type of witchcraft is is something that

that contaminates Christian spirituality

if it's mixed with it now Simon church

history says he went on to form a very

significant cult called the Simone ians

and in fact even nowadays the word

simony refers to a person who wants to

buy a religious office some people

credit him with getting into Gnosticism

a heresy of the time the point is being

a Christian magician does not work the

real Holy Spirit exalts the real Jesus

not the person who was wielding that

authority right now again I don't want

to say judge any ministry okay because

the you know some of you may may see a

minister who has a certain style and you

think that person must be a phony

because I don't like them you know maybe

they're doing miracles in kind of a

flashy way or something but you know

what I don't presume that judgment but

the heart is what matters God sees the

heart and the heart is what makes the

difference now and I want to sort of

bring it bring it to a close with this

but the Apostle Peter looks at him and

says your money perish with you and then

he says I see that your heart is not

right

for God and then in verse 23 it says I

see that you are full of bitterness and

captive or bonded to sin you see even

though Simon thought he was in control

the devil was controlling him even that

that friend I made in Salem who was

talking about witchcrafts thinking he

was in control he didn't even know it

but that same lever that he thought he

was using to control spiritual power was

actually a lever that the devil was

using to control him it's called bondage

where it's like a leash that the enemy

has you on you think you're all powerful

but really the enemy is pulling the

strings in ways that you don't even know

and so it's that type of thing this man

was under the bondage of the evil one

that's why in level two we're going to

talk about renouncing spiritualities we

may have participated in before we were

Christians right so when i became a

christian i said i'm not going to keep

doing Transcendental Meditation I'm

going to renounce that and then I'll see

what does it mean to submit to Jesus and

God taught me what it means to meditate

on the Word of God which is very

different ok so we renounce the past and

we embrace the new we don't take the

past and mix it with the new the Bible

says if anyone is in Christ he or she is

a new creation behold the old has gone

the new has come bondages need to be

broken we need to renounce it we're

going to read about the how this

happened in the city of Ephesus where

they took certain magic scrolls and

books that they used to use for their

incantations and they publicly burn them

in the town square now I am NOT

suggesting we have a lion of judah book

burning okay i talk about you we don't

burn books here but you know there's

some you know amulets some symbols of

previous engagement with a spiritual

realm that maybe we just got to get rid

of I don't want us to be paranoid here

okay it's really important that I say

that

I have no problem with Christian art or

Christian statues I do have a problem

with worshiping Christian art or

worshiping a Christian statue okay

that's the difference so we don't need

to be paranoid the Apostle Paul would

even eat food that was from an animal

that had been sacrificed to idols and

you just say I give thanks to God and I

eat I don't worry about being

contaminated we don't have to live

paranoid oh the devil's gonna sneak into

me if I I don't know if I go to a

restaurant that has a buddha at the

front door no you can eat Thai food just

don't worship the statue as you go ahead

and you know give thanks to Jesus as you

go in right so we don't have to be

separatists in that way but in our

spirit we determine in my life and in my

spirituality you are in control and I

submit to you Jesus okay I don't want to

be in bondage to spirituality from the

past now there's one more component of

this that I need to point out before we

bring it home the apostles note as the

Apostle Peter sees that Simon was full

of bitterness bitterness I've never one

I've always wondered why would he

mention bitterness for Simon when I

think of Simon I think of someone who's

successful and powerful and you know

he's into the wrong stuff but but the

Apostle Peter saw that there was a root

of bitterness behind it I don't

understand all that might have gone into

that but in that moment Peter was

discerning that some anger some

unforgiveness in this man's life some

bitterness was connected to his

spirituality and I wonder if it's the

issue of control a person who's been

hurt who's angry says I will be in

control and that will never happen again

and that can lead in sometimes two

different types of evil rebellion or

witchcraft he needed to not just break

the bondage of his magician work from

before he needed to forgive people who

had hurt him he needed to let go of the

anger

and let because the enemy sometimes

grabs on to bitterness in the book of

Ephesians it says do not let the Sun go

down on your anger and do not give the

devil a foothold something about anger

being nursed from day to day allows the

devil to get a hold on us but when we

forgive the devil's got nothing to grab

on to it's an amazing thing and that's

what we can do we can be new creations

we can say god I don't want to be used

by your power in a way that builds

myself up because your power is

perfected in weakness the Apostle Paul

said that he said you know what God's

power in my life was so amazing that God

gave me a thorn in my flesh to keep me

humble so that it wouldn't go to my head

any true Christian minister who or by

Minister I mean any Christian Phillip

Stephen not just ordained pastor we're

all ministers any person who ministers

with the power of the Holy Spirit and

its really God and it happens in a

powerful way is a person who has some

sort of a thorn in their life that is

humbled them either like Moses they've

had to spend 40 years in the desert to

get humbled or like Peter they made a

big embarrassing mistake when they

denied the Lord and he was humbled or

they're like Paul who never told us what

his thorn was but anyone I will

guarantee you if you meet a man or a

woman who was used by the power of God

God has broken them in some way because

he loves them too much to let them

become proud to let them become a

Christian magician it's like no that'll

kill you and so I'll humble you and I'll

use you I'll break you and I'll lift you

up and it'll be God's power

yours and everyone will be happy believe

me the thorn hurts but it's good for you

because in the end we use God's power

it's God's power using us and not us

trying to use God amen now as no I'm

really closing here i invite you to

stand with me i'll invite the musicians

i invite us today to say god i want to

be used by your power i want to humble

myself to you i want to submit to you i

want to not try to be a Christian

magician from the past but I want to be

a man or a woman who is a channel of the

genuine authentic power of the Holy

Spirit whatever it takes Lord God and I

want us to be that kind of a community

amen can we say amen to that do we want

the real power to be manifested here the

authentic power of God that changes

lives and so let's pray together dear

God we come before you on this snowy day

that you have ordained for us to be

together Lord and lord I thank you for

the example of Simon the magician as a

negative example of what we don't want

and God I pray Lord God that you would

preserve and protect the power that is

channeled through congregation line of

Judah and that Spanish English children

youth every dimension of who we are

social ministries God that it would

always be the name of Jesus that is

exalted for God it would always be you

as the king over this community that

calls the shots and never us thinking we

can wield the power of God but you who

wield your power through us Lord God

Father keep us humble and keep us

powerful Lord God let those two things

mix together the most beautiful way God

I pray for any brothers and sisters who

are thinking about different things from

their own past maybe they've gone to see

a fortune-teller participated in

something that they know has had

connected them to the spiritual world

perhaps in a negative way lord I pray in

Jesus name that you would give each one

of us grace to renounce any alliance

with the spiritual darkness Lord God

Father that we could renounce anything

that might be a lever that the enemy

might have on us that we could forgive

any resentments and that we would be a

people of genuine power and freedom to

move forward in you I pray this in Jesus

name