We left off with Peter's rebuke of Simon's request, a rebuke that was not sugar coated by any stretch of the imagination.
In my study of God's word I've come to realize that the apostles were more cordial with those that did not believe, taking the time to explain Jesus and the cross, in the hope that they would be swayed, that their hearts would be pricked,and that they would be brought to the faith.
When it came to people who should know better, or people who had a false faith, they were not so amicable.
I have often said I would rather preach to an 'unchurched' soul, than attempt to point out and expose false teaching or doctrine in one who has been warming a pew for decades. Because we often hold to the traditions and teachings of men more than the word of God, we reject His counsel, and His Word, thinking ourselves wise in our own eyes, and missing out on the fullness of Christ in our lives because we think we have already attained, we have already reached the top of the mountain, there is no more knowledge to be had, and no one can teach us anything more.
What I bring is not new teaching, but Biblical teaching as old as the Word itself that has been overlooked by today's church because it is uncomfortable, challenging, because it compels people to get off the spiritual fence and either commit to righteousness, submit to the authority of God, or acknowledge if only to themselves that they are but sounding brass, and clanging cymbals. We cannot walk in shadow, we cannot live in the perpetual dusk that is so readily offered from today's pulpits. Either we walk in the light, or are consumed by the darkness. In this supernatural, and spiritual battle for men's souls there can be no neutrality, no conscientious observers, no man can be Switzerland. Whether by our total commitment, or toxic indifference, we have all chosen a side.
Peter continues his rebuke of Simon, and explains that due to the fact his heart was not right in the sight of the Lord, he had neither part nor portion in this matter.
Yet another gem of wisdom, widely overlooked by many today. You can believe, you can even be baptized, and your heart can still not be right in the sight of God.
So much for the theory of throwing a hand up in the air, saying, I believe, and repeating a sinner's prayer being enough to ensure eternal security. (I realize new topics are popping up like mushrooms after a spring rain. I am of course referring to my mention of eternal security, not my vernacular, but the buzz words of many preachers today. We will be discussing this as well sometime in the near future.)
Back to the topic at hand. Simon believed and was baptized. Too few understand the full gravitas, the crushing weight of this revelation.
Although this is yet another topic for another post, one that will surely come about in due season, some food for thought: Why is it that salvation by faith, or salvation by works have to be mutually exclusive in Christendom today? I realize I just clubbed a bee hive with a baseball bat with that one, but I will let it marinate for a few days, and return with Biblical documentation, that faith and works are two sides of the same coin, that we as individuals must strive to do what we can, and allow God to do what we cannot, in our restoration and sanctification.
If the heart is not right in the sight of God, no amount of begging, pleading, or offering of monetary recompense will cause the Holy Spirit to dwell therein.
We can fool men with a form of godliness, quoting scripture in the King James, wearing shiny shoes and silk scarves, singing loudly albeit off key during every service, and having the appearance of piety, but God knows the heart.
As an old time evangelist in my country was fond of saying before every sermon he preached at crusades, 'He sees, He sees, tremble ye sinners and hypocrites, He sees!'
Acts 8:22, "Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you."
There is only one path to the grace of God, and that is the path of repentance. Repentance is not just a feeling of remorse for past sins, but the absolute abandonment of the old flesh, the old life, the old desires, the old vices, and the acceptance and pursuit of a new life in Christ. God forgives the repentant heart, and reaches down to the darkest abyss to pluck one out of desperation if repentance is found. Absent of repentance and faith, and faith that leads unto repentance, there is no forgiveness, or eternal life with Him.
Acts 8:23, "For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness, and bound by iniquity."
Here was a man who followed Philip, a man who believed, and was baptized, but the inward truth of a matter isn't always what the outward appearance pretends to be.
Although Simon had followed the steps, in fact he followed more steps than many people who call themselves Christians today follow, he was still bound by iniquity, and the poison that is bitterness still nestled in his heart.
Peter saw with spiritual eyes what eyes of flesh could not discern, that Simon had not repented, but merely believed. (James 2:19, "You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe - and tremble!") He was still bound by the shackles of sin, because true repentance had never stirred him. Simon, with all his good intentions was still Simon, no repentance, no purification, no rebirth.
Acts 8:24, "Then Simon answered and said, 'pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me.'
At least Simon knew the value of prayer in a man's life, but notice that the Scripture never says that either Peter, John, or Philip prayed for him. There is a difference and a large one at that, between thinking like a Christian, and living like a Christian. What good, and of what benefit would the prayers of the apostles have been on behalf of Simon the unrepentant?
Simon was terrified when he heard the sentence that had been passed down, but he did not repent. He pleaded with the apostles to pray for his sins, but why didn't Simon pray for himself? We cannot ask others to pray for the sins of which we can repent ourselves. At best, we can pray together, and confess the sin publicly that we may be forgiven, that God would show His mercy and grace, and answer the cry of our heart.
Simon asked the apostles to pray that none of the things which Peter had spoken would come upon him. He wanted to escape judgment and punishment, but he did not want to escape the sin that kept him shackled in the dungeons of darkness and death.
There are many Simons walking about today, many Simons attending service every Sunday morning, many Simons with 'Jesus loves you' bumper stickers on their cars, men who want the fullness of grace, forgiveness, salvation, but at the same time continue to be of this earth, living for the now, still bound by sin, unwilling to come to that place of brokenness and repentance at the foot of the cross.
God receives the sincere prayers of those with a heart of repentance. The Simons among us however, always need for someone else to pray for them. The forgiveness of sins, cannot be brought about by the prayers of saints, nor by the prayers of Peter or John, it is an intimate and personal experience, wherein only the person in question, and God are present, with Christ as the only mediator. I cannot repent on your behalf, and any man who says they can is a liar.
The Simon mentality always avoids asking forgiveness of God, and repenting before God personally. Whether due to pride, or the fact that he finds sin too pleasurable, the modern day Simon will not bend his knee in humility, will not cry out for forgiveness, will not surrender wholly and completely to the will of God.
If you pander to the Simon mentality, and advocate a zero accountability policy, chances are you will have a flourishing ministry, with countless supporters singing your praises. If however, you follow in the footsteps of men such as Peter, and with conviction speak truth saying, 'repent therefore of your wickedness', it is a certainty that you will be hated and reviled, because the flesh will never go gently into that good night, it will fight to survive, to thrive, and to dominate.
There is an upside to speaking truth however, you get to sleep well at night, knowing there is no blood on your hands, and that you will not one day be called to account for the souls who perished in darkness because you chose to omit the truth of God's holy word.
The Bible is unclear as to what happened to Simon, it remains a mystery that will only be unraveled when we all get together in the Home that has been prepared for us. Though Simon is long gone, the spirit of Simon is thriving, and too many today have no difficulty in making the impossible connection that an easier path is somehow synonymous with the right path.
Having the Word eliminates the possibility of excuse when we stand before God, no matter how elaborate or well conceived the excuse might be.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.