On reading this passage, I observe that Simon the Sorcerer started showing signs of believing in Jesus when his followers started following Philip who did signs and wonders. With money, Simon wanted to buy the ability to give the Holy Spirit to people. Peter was offended because Simon thought he could buy out God.
Simon the Sorcerer’s name is now used in the word “simony,” the act in which people try to buy church positions, which happened notoriously in the Reformation era. He went on to be known in history as Simon Magus, or the Magician, and he led many people into a false Christianity based on health and wealth.
Luke tells Simon’s story in Acts because Christians need to know that there will be people who call themselves Christians who do not really believe. They may be attracted to the church because of the people or the music or the good programs, but if they do not truly get to know Christ, then they are false believers, and true Christians need to be aware of them.
Jesus's first two parables in Matthew 13 deal with false believers in the church.
Verses 1-23 deal with the parable of the Sower and its meaning. What kind of people are described by the path that received the seed/Word? (People who never got the word because it got eaten away by the devil)
What kind of people are described by the rocky soil? (People who got the word, but who did not stick around when times got tough)
What kind of people are described by the thorny soil? (People who like the church but are worried about the things of this world)
What kind of people are described by the good soil? (The people who hear God’s word, become true believers, and grow in the Lord)
The parable of the Sower shows that the church will have many people come and go. The church is where people hear God’s word, and different people react differently. Among those hearers are people who will look like Christians and appreciate different aspects of the church, but because they to not place their faith in Jesus, or because they love the things and attention of the world more than the Lord, they will eventually leave and not return. But before they leave, they will come to your church, get involved in the ministries, and seem like genuine believers. They may even hold leadership positions. Let’s read Jesus’s next Parable.
He tells the parable in verses 24-30 and then explains it in 36-43. Here is the text:
In agriculture, wheat and tares look identical when they sprout. But when they reach maturity, the wheat produces a fruit that can be made into bread while the tares become a poison to the wheat and produce nothing beneficial to the farmers. What did the owner say to do with the weeds in verse 30? (Let them grow together until harvest)
The Church as we see it today will have true and false believers sitting next to each other until Jesus returns. And some of those weeds will come into leadership positions and hurt the congregation causing people to leave the church.
I once knew of a man who went to church and then went into business with a trusting friend. He seemed to love the Lord, and he wrote songs and told about how much he cared about people and God. But years went by, and he embezzled from his friends, and many affairs, and soon showed that he was not a true believer.
There was a well-known preacher in the Atlanta area who used his position to tell the women in his congregation that it was the Lord’s will for them to sleep with the pastor. This created a huge scandal and caused many to leave the church.
What is a person to do when people in the church and even in its leadership hurt other people? (rhetorical question)
The first thing is to pray for the hurt people, that they do not fall away from the faith on account of the false believers.
The second thing is to pray for the abuser. They are people who need the Gospel of Jesus to save them from their sins. The blood of Christ forgives all kinds of people from their sins, including abusive church leaders.
The most important thing, however, is to continue to follow Christ and belong to his Church. You go for Him, and not for the people. You go for the message, not the messengers.