Acts 8:9-11 Now for some time a man named Simon had practised 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 the divine power known as the Great Power.” They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his magic.
This man, Simon, is an important warning to us about the danger of allowing ourselves to be impressed by outward ‘signs and wonders’ without testing the source of them! As the postle Paul warned the Church at Corinth, “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14), and the Church at Thessalonica, “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, …” (2 Thessalonians 2:9). Satan’s most effective influence is NOR achieved by coming to us in his ‘red suit’ wearing his ‘horns’ and ‘tail’ and carrying his ‘pitchfork’, but by giving the impression that he is the ‘real deal’!
As a spiritual being he has the power to exercise counterfeit spiritual gifts at the ‘signs and wonders’ end of the spectrum, but not at the ‘humility and self-giving service’ end. This becomes clear in Simon’s case as we read further in Acts 8. When he saw what the Holy Spirit was doing through the true apostles, he was keen to ‘buy’ his way into what they had (verses 13-14, 17-19). But, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit Peter was able to recognise him as a fraud (20-23).
We don’t hear any more in the canon of Scripture about what became of Simon, but much speculation about him and his subsequent followers in the Early Christian Apologists, while conflicting and far from conclusive, at least demonstrates how effective a tool ‘signs and wonders’ can be in Satan’s armoury and in his determination to contaminate the Church’s witness with heresy.
Let us pay due heed to Paul’s warnings to Corinth and Thessalonica, and let us be careful of proclaimed ‘Signs and Wonders’ movements in the Church today! Let us rather be on the look-out for evidence of the humble fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control – Galatians 5:22-23) which Satan can’t counterfeit, and not allow ourselves to be led astray by the more ‘spectacular’ and ‘seemingly impressive’ gifts of the Spirit which Satan can counterfeit!
– Bruce Christian