Simon the Sorcerer

Bitterness has a way of staying hidden away usually covered over by pride. If left unhealed or not dealt with all sorts of problems occur. Some people who have been thought of as ‘great’ have had a secret root of bitterness which drove them to attain position and power as a way to compensate. One such person was Simon the Sorcerer who we meet in Acts chapter 8.

Act 8:12  But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.
Act 8:13  Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done.

Simon the sorcerer had for a long time astounded(moved out of their standing) the people with his powers and magic arts but he came to believe in Jesus and was water baptised. Then…

Act 8:18  And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money,
Act 8:19  saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”

When Peter and John came from Jerusalem and began praying for people to receive the Holy Spirit baptism Simon wanted what he thought was an ability or a “power” the Apostles had. But it was not a power but simply through their relationship with Jesus Christ and the authority that comes through walking in the calling of the Holy Spirit.
Peter discerned by the Spirit something wrong with this fellow and told him….

Act 8:20  But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money!
Act 8:21  You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God.
Act 8:22  Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.
Act 8:23  For I see(or perceive)that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.”

I suppose some will say that Simon had a false conversion…That even though he believed Philip’s preaching he did not have a heart conversion. There is no need to assume that. Luke says, “Simon also believed and was baptised.”..By saying “also”, he signifies that Simon’s belief was as real as the rest of the Samaritans who believed that day. Peter had no personal dealings with anyone else except Simon,  at least we are not told about it here and if he had of spoken with others he may have said similar things to them as well.
I do not think Simon received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit through the laying on of the Apostle’s hands…he seemed to be watching what they were doing and coveted the ability to do the same.
Peter through the Spirit tells Simon:

  1. You thought the gift of God could be purchased with money.
  2. Your heart is not right in the sight of God.
  3. Repent therefore of this your wickedness,
  4. Pray to God that the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.
  5. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness
  6. and bound by iniquity.“

1. Simon thought. This is an interesting word and ‘thought’ is not the first meaning of it. It is the word
Thayer Definition:
1) to hold by custom or usage, own as a custom or usage, to follow a custom or usage
1a) it is the custom, it is the received usage
2) to deem, think, suppose
Strongs Definition

From G3551; properly to do by law (usage), that is, to accustom (passively be usual); by extension to deem or regard: – suppose, think, be wont.

The Holy Spirit chose this word nomizō  to reveal more than just Simon thinking something casually.
The meaning is that in Simon’s mind was an accustomed- SET- way of thinking. His way of thinking was something he did by inner law. Not the Law of God, but his thinking was mandated by someone or something imposed or imprinted upon his mind. He was accustomed to thinking of any and every way he could still be the number one man and keep getting all the attention in Samaria.
This set way of thinking was coming forth out of a hidden root of bitterness  in his life. He was poisoned by bitterness.
Know man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man.
Peter discerned that Simon was poisoned by bitterness. May I suggest then that something had wounded Simon years before. Something had so offended him, scandalized him, stumbled him that he became bitter and angry and hurt over it?
When such things happen to us we often bury the episode/s and continue on. We don’t know how to deal with it. We don’t know how to forgive being yet without Christ. We instead cover it over the best we can and move on. But where there is an unhealed wound there comes infection. Thus Peter said that Simon was poisoned.
Simon had done his magic for a long time so we may assume that he had most likely long forgotten any early hurts in life. He was a successful Magician who had the attention of all the people who thought he was the great power of God.

 Act 8:9  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,
Act 8:10  to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the great power of God.
Act 8:11  And they heeded him because he had astonished them with his sorceries for a long time.

But to his surprise Peter could see straight into his soul and knew his troubles, knew what was hidden there, knew by the S/spirit the true condition of the man.
2. Peter said Simon’s  heart was not right. This shows us that although we may be born again, our heart can still be NOT RIGHT because of the evil thoughts we meditate upon. Simon’s motive was to take the glory of the people to himself. He wanted to be someone great, to have the attention of the people.
3. Repent – metanoio- to change one’s mind of this your wickedness. Peter narrows it down for Simon and specifically points to this particular thinking as something he needed to have a change of mind (repent) about. No one takes God’s glory, no flesh shall glory in His presence. Humble yourself and take the lowly place. But because of this iniquity operating in Simon’s heart and mind he could not easily humble himself.

your wickedness- kakia
From G2556; badness, that is, (subjectively) depravity, or (actively) malignity, or (passively) trouble: FROM kak-os’ Apparently a primary word; worthless (intrinsically such;)

The wickedness or kakia is not simply some bad things he was doing..but going deeper as God always does, his wickedness was a malignancy and depravity driven by a deep sense of worthlessness in his soul/person. Whatever had wounded Simon years before had warped his view of himself and God. Without healing he was always going to go the wrong way in life. Some who are wounded depending upon  their personality either become dangerous leaders…or oppressed victims.

Granted..Simon was acting wrongly. But his actions are coming out of a centre of worthlessness. THIS IS WHAT JESUS WANTS TO HEAL AND SEND AWAY FROM US!!

4. PRAY if perhaps the thought(epinoia)of your heart may be forgiven(aphiēmi) you.. –
aphiēmi means: to send away.
Paul uses it to say “..a husband is not to put away (aphiēmi) his wife. 1Cor 7:11

In Simon’s case Peter is saying to him, ‘If you repent of this thinking and have a change of heart about it, God will send away the power that is holding you in this kind of thinking.’ If you confess this pride and vainglory and humble yourself God will forgive–send away– and cleanse and restore your soul.
The word aphiemi is also translated as “left” as in leaving something.

Mat 8:14  Now when Jesus had come into Peter’s house, He saw his wife’s mother lying sick with a fever.
Mat 8:15  So He touched her hand, and the fever left(aphiemi) her. And she arose and served them.
Mat 23:38  See! Your house is left (aphiemi) to you desolate;

I do not think that the word “forgiven’ is a good translation of what Peter said to Simon in Acts 8:22

Act 8:22  Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be caused to LEAVE AND BE SENT AWAY OR DIVORCED FROM YOU.

It is showing that the thinking or thought is something that has a power and a nature and a substance behind it. It is a stronghold and an iniquity in the soul that a person must be separated from in order to walk pleasing to God.
It is seen more clearly in the following verse from Mark that aphiemi means to send something away.

Mar 7:8  For laying aside(aphiemi) the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men— the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.”
Mar 7:9  He said to them, “All too well you reject,( set aside, disesteem, neutralise,) the commandment of God, that you may keep (and strongly hold fast) your tradition.

The Pharisees had sent away God’s commandments from their heart and instead were holding tightly and gathering to themselves traditions of men. They had rejected God’s thinking and were bound to the iniquity of man’s thinking. If they repented of this like Simon was told to do, God may have sent the power attached to this thinking away from them, effectively setting them free to hold fast to God.
5. Poisoned by bitterness. Peter could see this. He probably could see it with the eye of faith rather than anything physically apparent. Here was a man who practiced sorcery for along time and claimed to be somebody great in order to receive the adulation of the crowd. Peter sees to the heart and realises Simon has been poisoned by bitterness somewhere in his past. This wounding he had received is leaking bitterness everywhere and it is driving him to find meaning for himself in life through magic and performing for the people. The wounding had somehow affected his identity and crushed him. At that point, Bitterness began controlling Simon and forming it’s customary set ways of  thinking in him while all the time staying hidden.
Bitterness or Greek- pikria means
1) bitter gall
1a) extreme wickedness
1b) a bitter root, and so producing a bitter fruit
1c) metaphorically bitterness, bitter hatred
Bitter roots can grow out of wounds that we receive in our lives….but they also maybe an iniquity that is visited upon us from our fathers.
6. Bound by iniquity
First we look at “bound”

Greek- sundesmos
From G4862 and G1199; a joint tie, that is, ligament, (figuratively) uniting principle, control: – band, bond.
G4862 Soon
A primary preposition denoting union; with or together , that is, by association, companionship, process, resemblance, possession, AND  G1199 DESMOS- A BAND OR BOND

This compound word sun-desmos means that Simon is bound with a uniting principle, a controlling influence through union and association and resemblance. Someone in his family tree that he resembles most likely sinned in some way and this bond or controlling principle was passed onto Simon.
Peter told him to pray God sends it away!(Forgives/ aphiemi)
Sadly we know from historians that Simon went on to be a thorn in the side of the Church for many years. He never did repent of the iniquity in his life and it took him out of the race. One day in the resurrection Simon will finally be free from that binding principle.
Many people are in Simon’s position today. It is very common for people to have been wounded as a young person or even later in early adulthood and to become bitter and disillusioned. At the point of the wounding malevolent spirits take advantage of people and attach themselves to their soul and body. Spirits of self pity and self hatred and accusing spirits begin to torment them and shape their thinking. By coming to Jesus Christ one encounters perfect love and all authority to heal these things and to send away those spirits that have become a part of our lives.
Once they have gone it is amazing how different we feel! Then the Holy Spirit will graciously reveal the thought patterns we have had that were injected into our mind by these spirits which were attached to us before. If we find that we constantly have the same bad things happen to us…or we are the cause of the same bad things happening to others….then we are most likely dealing with generational spirits..spirits of bondage.
As Peter said…we need to pray that God forgives us and in forgiving us He will send the powers away. Most importantly we need to ask God to reveal the cause of the bitter root and the iniquity that we are dealing with. He will answer in His timing and way.
The challenge for those in the iniquity and bondage of magic and sorcery is that if they truly seek to be delivered they will lose their powers. That means losing their usefulness and reputation as someone great. They will have to trust God alone as the one Who affirms them and gives them validation- not the crowds who once flocked to them.
I think of todays magicians such as “Dynamo” – Steven Frayne-  who openly admits that as a boy he was always beaten up and picked on at school and in his neighborhood. There is the wounding. Then his grandfather taught him magic and the rest is history. Now he has people claiming that he is something great…just like Simon the sorcerer above.   Frayne is trying to find his legitimacy through fame and helping people and entertaining people.
Also the same is true for those wounded ones in the Church of Jesus. It may be that a Christian who seeks to be someone great in God, someone mighty in deed, that they are driven by a root of bitterness. Of course Jesus does a good job of separating these ones out of his flock so that the majority are not defiled. (Heb 12:15)
Peter’s words to Simon are for all to hear. Here are those words again from an expanded amplified version-

22. “So change your mind and your way of thinking – away from this worthlessness (or: ugliness; baseness; badness of quality; malice) of yours – and then at once urgently ask of the Lord [= Christ or Yahweh] if consequently (or: since in that case) the thought and purpose of your heart will be caused to flow away (or: will be divorced from [you]; will be forgiven and sent away),
23. “For you see, I am presently seeing you existing (continuously being) [drawn] into [the] bile (or: gall) of bitterness as well as a close joint-bond of injustice (inequity and unfairness; that which is not in right relationship and contrary to the Way pointed out).”

Mitchells version properly points out that the forgiveness he needs is of the type that sets him free from a power of bitterness and iniquity and worthlessness and unfairness. The events of his past or that of his ancestors have brought him into bondage.

24. So, making a decided response, Simon said to them, “I am now asking for help: would you men at once urgently make a request over me (or: on my behalf; for my situation; [D: concerning me]) to the Lord   so that not even one of the things which you have said can (or: would) come upon me?” [D adds: – {He} could not cease shedding many tears.] Jonathan Mitchell amplified version

Simon asks for the Apostles to remove this problem. But it is Simon himself who needs to do the confessing and praying over his own sins and those of his fathers. Magic and sorcery are forbidden by God. Simon needs to repent , not ask someone to pray that the powers leave him.  Without personal repentance–a change of mind- the powers do not have to leave. If the Apostles did cast out these spirits, they would just come straight back when Simon continued on in the same vein of thinking and acting.
I once met an old Christian woman who claimed to be from a long line of prophets. Yet she could not say one good thing about anyone. She would especially be very critical about well known evangelists. It was very obvious that this sister had a root of bitterness in her soul.
I have struggled with this issue myself and still am.
It is easy to say all the right things, quoting Scripture and declaring the finished work of the cross over yourself. That is a good thing. But!! If the cap fits wear it. Here is a key to seeing whether you may have a bitterness problem.
A bitter root will always disallow you to stay in a group of people who love you. A bitter root will do all it can to cause some offense in your mind so that you cut people off or leave them. So that you end up on your own…outside the group.
Bitterness will make you lame in your walk. It will dislocate you from the body.
The good news is that there is healing from a Father who has not imposed Himself upon us. He has not pushed us around but has waited for us to seek Him out for healing. To recognise that we may have a bitter root which has controlled us and led us out of the fellowship of loving brethren.  Peter told Simon “Pray God(beg God) if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.”
This is a very serious thing to our Father and for us. May our Father have mercy upon us one more time. May he grant us repentance leading to life. May he heal us and restore us in Jesus Christ. May every hidden wound be healed and cleansed. May the power of His forgiveness go where it has not been before because we have not allowed it to. May we allow our brothers and sisters to love us. May we drop all our pretenses and facades and quit trying to justify ourselves. Instead may we have grace to admit that need Father to unravel all the knots and make straight the crooked places  which till now have not been touched.

4 thoughts on “Simon the Sorcerer

  1. Your message has much Truth Dennis, bitterness and resentment is like mixing poison for those who have hurt us and drinking it ourselves, it’s a Cancer that eats away all the goodness in us.
    I have been greatly hurt and felt very unloved but I asked Jesus to help me forgive and He did but we are still called to rebuke those who hurt us and to warn others of danger, yes we are to Love our enemies and if given a chance do good to them but this does not mean we have to accept the wrong they do and say as OK, Jesus didn’t.
    Luke 17:3-5 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee rebuke him and if he repent forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day and seven times in a day turn again to thee saying, I repent thou shalt forgive him. And the Apostles said unto the Lord Increase our faith.
    Not all those in Church Leadership Dennis are Loving and they can do much damage to those seeking Unity in The Body of Christ. People don’t leave a Church were they feel Loved and wanted and God tells us not to stay and be polluted when there is corruption, disobedience and False Teaching in a Church.
    Yes it is Prophesied that the Church will be in darkness in the end times and that the Shepherds will be leading their sheep astray. We have One Spiritual Teacher Jesus Christ and they need to seek Him and not Trust in their own fleshy understanding.
    When are we Born Again Dennis, the Scriptures below confirm it’s when we walk in Righteousness and show it by our Words and Actions.
    1 John 3:9 No one who is Born of God will continue to Sin because God’s seed remains in him he Cannot go on sinning because he has been Born of God.
    1 John 5:18-20 We know that no one who is Born of God Sins but He who was Born of God keeps him and the evil one does not touch him.
    Romans 6:11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto Sin but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
    1 John 3: 1-11 ( 6-7 ) Whosoever abideth in Him Sinneth not whosoever Sinneth hath not seen Him neither known Him. Little children let no man deceive you he that doeth Righteousness is Righteous even as He is Righteous.
    Romans 8 :12-15 Therefore brothers we have an obligation but it is not to the Sinful nature to live according to it or if you live according to the Sinful nature you will die but if by the Spirit you do Mortify the misdeeds of the body you will live because those who are led by the Spirit of God are Sons of God.
    1 John 2:4-6 He that saith; I know Him and keepeth not His Commandments is a liar and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth His word in him verily is the Love of God Perfected hereby know we that we are in Him. He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk even as He walked.
    Ephesians 4:23-24 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind and that ye put on the New Man which after God is created in Righteousness and True Holiness.
    2 Corinthians 7:1 Having therefore these promises dearly beloved let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit perfecting Holiness in the fear of God.
    Daniel 12:10 Many shall be Purified and made White and tried but the wicked shall do wickedly and none of the wicked shall understand but the Wise shall understand.
    Christian Love and Blessings – Anne.

  2. Dear Anne, I finished that blog after midnight last night and have just seen your comment this morning. I am at home recovering from heart surgery if you were wondering. You are my older sister in the Lord. But you are not the older sister I mentioned meeting in the blog post. My wife cleaned her home unit in Jerusalem for 6 months weekly while I mowed her lawn. For all her talk about being God’s prophet and coming from a long line of prophets, she would constantly be venomously speaking about the evil pastors and false prophets etc etc. I in no way was speaking about you, and I have forgiven that sister who has passed on to be only in spirit now.
    Every one has hurts that they have dealt with or have buried. That is life in this fallen world which is sad, but Jesus is our comfort and is right there with us. I would like to give you a great big hug Anne.
    You be blessed today and if my words have unsettled you or offended you I am sorry. Love you.

  3. I hope your feeling better Dennis, I too have suffered from Heart problems, today there is so much they can do to help but God is our only Healer regardless of the tools He uses.
    No your message did not upset me or offend me Dennis, many have been hurt in the Churches and until Men and Woman put their Carnal flesh to death and are Perfected in Love the Childishness of those calling themselves Born Again Christians will continue.
    At this time I’m experiencing persecution because of the lies of a Pastor, he is in a position where he has a lot of power, he hurt me greatly through his wrong teaching years ago, so yes your Message did impact me but it was for good not bad because it encouraged me to Trust in Jesus to work it out and not to seek revenge, so Thank you very much.
    Christian Love Always – Anne.

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