As word of the Christians’ power in the name of Jesus spread, a man named Simon who practiced ‘sorcery’ heard of it (Acts 8:9). He had been using local traditions and pagan religions to remove demonic influence but with limited success. The powers he contacted to overcome the demons were demonic themselves, and therefore all of this was forbidden by God (Leviticus 19:26; Deuteronomy 18:10; 2 Kings 16:5; 17:17).
The word translated ‘sorcerer’ in the Bible is the Greek word ‘magos.’ Our word ‘magic’ comes from this but the real meaning does not refer to sleight of hand tricks which we associate with magicians today. It refers to those with supernatural abilities. It can be translated magician, sorcerer, wizard, enchanter, astrologer or even wise men (‘Magi’ in Matthew 2). Actually, the word started with the ‘wise men’ of the east, especially Babylon. These were men with learning and education that far exceeded anyone in their culture. This superior knowledge caused others to look up to them as something ‘supernatural’. Daniel was one of these learned men who had great wisdom and insight (Daniel 2:12-48; 4:6, 18; 5:7-8, 15). As Greek culture spread into this area they picked up this word and applied it to anyone who did special acts or had special powers.
Simon used his demonic connections to impress the people around him (Acts 8:10) but when Philip came with his greater powers many came to Jesus and were baptized, including Simon himself who followed Philip everywhere because this new power was greater than anything he had seen (Acts 8:13). Simon, acting from his sin nature, tried to buy the power Philip had (Acts 8:18-19). Peter, who had come up from Jerusalem to help with the great working of God’s Spirit that had broken out in Samaria, sternly rebuked Simon who immediately repented (Acts 8:20-24). God was teaching His followers that He bestows His powers freely and not to the highest bidder.
LESSON FOR TODAY: Unfortunately there are still many like Simon in the church today, those who want to use God and His power for their own benefit. Many are overly impressed with works of power, sign gifts and the like. They want the most and the best for themselves. They focus on the supernatural instead of the God behind the supernatural. Pride lures them in dangerous directions like it did Simon. God’s message is the same as it was then – repent and stop trying to use God for your own glory!
Today it is easy to find those who are impressed with the power behind spiritual warfare and bringing deliverance to those who are demonized. They are in awe of demonic powers and spend way too much time and energy focusing on them. Instead our focus must go to God and His glory. Don’t let demons, or those who are gifted to fight them, impress you or distract you from giving your attention and glory to Jesus alone. Don’t make a god of spiritual warfare. It is a means to an end, not an end in itself!
(If I can answer questions or offer personal counsel, or if you would like a free copy of my Spiritual Warfare Handbook, email me at Jerry@ChristianTrainingOrganization.org or download it from http://sw.christiantrainingonline.org/. My next book, Spiritual Warfare in the Bible, which is a more advanced treatment of spiritual warfare, is also available there for free.)