The Astonishment of Sorcery

I assume that Simon was sincere when he became a Christian. When Philip preached Christ, performed miracles, and expelled unclean spirits, the Great Sorcerer of Samaria knew this was for real. One greater than he was had arrived.

“But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great, to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, ‘This man is the great power of God.’ And they heeded him because he had astonished them with his sorceries for a long time” (Acts 8:9-11, NKJV).

Simon saw his followers abandon him. He, too, was baptized and “continued with Philip,” which leaves us to believe he stuck to Philip. Perhaps he could appreciate better than the multitude what was being done.

But when he saw that Peter and John had the ability to impart miraculous gifts to others (v. 17), he couldn’t contain himself. His old aspirations to greatness resurfaced, and he offered them some of his gains from sorcery for that power.

What is the attraction to sorcery and witchcraft? Twice our text affirms that Simon astonished the Samaritans with his sorcery. He used it to claim he was great, and as a result, he must have made a good deal of money (v. 18).

Fame, power, and money have always been prime motivators. As in Simon’s case, sorcery is one tool to those ends. Magic made him important, powerful, and wealthy.

If he had not been repentant, Simon might have become one of the first false miracle workers as he swapped sorcery for miracles. But we trust, by his reaction to Peter’s rebuke, that he learned to quell his ambition, reject sorcery completely, and humble himself before God.

All those who would, in some form, employ sorcery, witchcraft, and magic must do like Simon.

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