It has become extremely difficult to distinguish between the true Church of God and the false Church because as Jesus warned, there will be weeds growing with the wheat. Our Lords teaches the following parable …
Mt 13:24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’
28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”
If you read this parable carefully you will quickly get the message. Parables are earthly stories with a heavenly meaning. The basic message is that throughout the life of the Church you will have both genuine believers and imitation believers in the visible Church. At times it will be difficult to identify who is who as the imitation appears so real. The other matter is that one cannot sift the church to the point of purity. Many have tried and failed because what they attempt is expressly against what this parables teaches. Only on that final day, the Day of Judgment will God sift the real from the fake, casting the one into the fires and bringing the other into His barn (Heaven). Then, the enemy of verse 28, who depicts the devil, uses his wicked messengers to sow the weeds amongst the wheat. The reason for mentioning this is because the next passage in the Book of Acts introduces us to a man who name was Simon. Most Bibles with headings in the chapters label him as Simon the Magician. Luke deals with him from chapter 8:9-25. In getting to know this passage we will start with:
Ac 8:9 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, 10and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is the divine power known as the Great Power.” 11 They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his magic.
We have already mentioned that Samaria was inhabited by people mixed by intermarriage between pagans the Assyrians placed in the land and lower class Jews who remained in the land at the time of the Assyrian Exile. They mixed paganism and the Hebrew Religion (the Worship of the true God), so it was not a surprise to find Simon the Magician “plying” his wicked pagan trade amongst the people. We are not told whether he is a Samaritan or from another region. What we do know is that he was a sorcerer (or a magician).
1) He was a magic practitioner.
Ac 8:9 Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city.
Before the early Christians took the Gospel Message to Samaria, Simon was active with his magic. To give you a feel of how the apostle Paul felt about sorcery we need to read:
Ac 13:8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for that is what his name means) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul from the faith. 9 Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, 10 “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord?”
Whether it was Simon or Elymas, they are
(1) A child of the devil;
(2) An enemy of everything that is right;
(3) Full of all kinds of deceit and trickery and
(4) Never ceasing to pervert the right ways of the Lord.
They are false prophets with the magic done through the powers of demonic forces. The use of such magic was used by both pagan and Jews to seek physical healings, physical blessings, cursing or harming others and to guard against being cursed. They would invoke magical names of deities and demons, use potions and magic objects such as amulets, incantation bowels or figurines.
2) He boasted importance … He boasted that he was someone great. This is typical of false prophets. They give themselves credibility. Yet as fake as he was as a magic practitioner, so was his greatness. All the claims of such people are from themselves. They write their own “headlines” and “claims”.
3) Identification of false prophets like Simon.
(i) They make predictions that do not come true.
(ii) They perform miraculous signs and wonders.
(iii) They might claim to be Christ Himself.
(iv) Their lifestyle is unbiblical. They lead people away from Jesus and the Truth. In fact, if you read through 2 Peter you will find at least 22 attributes of false prophets and teachers.
4) He captured the attention of all types of people.
Ac 8:9 amazed all the people of Samaria 10 and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is the divine power known as the Great Power.” 11 They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his magic.
This is the craftiness of such evil people. They so capture the attention of the people that they indoctrinate the people who eventually believe that such false prophets are either from God or God Himself. The people were so mesmerized by Simon that they believed he was … the divine power known as the Great Power. There are a few ways to prevent falling to their deception.
(a) Make certain you are a Child of God:
2Co 13:5 Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.
If you fail here you will be seduced by those who are false.
(b) Know your Scriptures. The Child of God is able to use the Bible constructively, allowing the Spirit of God to grant understanding and confidence to recall such passages when the false prophets try to convince you.
(c) Pray through the passages you are studying. Ask God to enable an understanding into the visual and spiritual differences between that which is false and that which is Truth.
(d) Discuss passages you struggle with, with your pastor or a mature and seasoned Christians you can trust. Those who refuse to do the hard work of protecting themselves spiritually and eternally could well find themselves seduced by these enemies of the faith, who will cause them great injury, emotionally, financially and spiritually.
Merciful God of all Truth, we come to you for help and protection. Lord, graciously protect us from false prophets who target our souls with the intent of causing us lasting damage. Help us to be spiritually diligent, not permitting anyone or anything to derail our faith in the finished Blood sacrifice of Jesus. May our eye never be taken off You. Amen.