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"The Perils of Fake Conversion" - Gary Cass

March 13, 2022 Preacher: Gary Cass Series: Acts

Topic: Self-Righteousness, Judgment, Holy Spirit, Gospel Renewal Passage: Acts 8:9–25

Acts 8:9-25


God loves you enough to bring the truth to bear on your conscience.

SPURGEON:  … there could be no hypocrites if there were no genuine Christians. 

Matthew 13:29-30  29 But he said, 'No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them.  30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'" "


Vss.9-13; But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. 10 They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” 11 And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic.

The occult is forbidden not because its fake, rather because it is very real.

Sorcery is not some charitable enterprise or benevolence society.

It’s all about the money.

Simon was looking for customers, not converts.

Acts 19:19; And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver.


Vs.12: But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

No pride, no power, no money was being aggregated for Phillip.

In contrast to the motivations of the occult, it (Philip) was all about trusting the good news and trusting Jesus.

Acts 20:29-30: … after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.

Vs.13: Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed.

As far as we can tell and at this time in the account, Simon is in good-standing in the church.


Vss.14: Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. 18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands he offered them money saying, 19 “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”

For true conversion God must first regenerate you!

We see some that attend some kind of revival meeting and get excited, but they don’t follow though because they were not first regenerated.

The Apostles do not come and re-preach the Gospel to them.

In an unguarded moment Simon demonstrated his old pagan/occultic mindset was still at work.

Simony (/ˈsɪməni/) is the act of selling church offices and roles or sacred things. It is named after Simon Magus,[1] who is described in the Acts of the Apostles as having offered two disciples of Jesus payment in exchange for their empowering him to impart the power of the Holy Spirit to anyone on whom he would place his hands. The term extends to other forms of trafficking for money in "spiritual things".[2][3] -

NOTE TO SELF: God is not for sale

Warning: We can be self-deceived, and Simon certainly was.

Two kinds of suppression of the truth:

  • Conscious (aware)
  • Habitual (sub-conscious or pre-disposition)

Vss.20-23: But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21 You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God.

Simon had “believed,” but it was the belief of devils!

We deny baptismal regeneration in all its forms.

Peter declares that Simon NEVER had any portion or inheritance in God’s Kingdom.

Vs. 23: For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.

Dt. 29:18 “Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the LORD our God, to go an serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood;

Matt 25:1-13; “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

Mat 13:20: As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, 21yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. 22As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.

Simon received the word with joy, but it did not grow up because of the deceitfulness in his heart of riches.

When the pressure and persecution are strong and the temtation is hard, then your faith in Christ is fully revealed.

Whitefield: “For I am verily persuaded the generality of preachers talk of an unknown and unfelt Christ; and the reason why congregations have been so dead is, because they have had dead men preaching to them.”


Vss. 22-25; Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. 24 And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”

Simon was expecting the Apostles to use their spiritual power on His behalf, rather than falling to his knees and crying out to God for mercy.

Ps 51:17: The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

An example of true repentance:

Psalm 51:1-12  ESV Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.  2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!  3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.  4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.  5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.  6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.  7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.  8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice.  9 Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.  10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right(1 )spirit within me.  11 Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.  12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Do you merely want to avoid hell, or do you long for a relationship with the Father?

We must never let the most extravagant gesture of love the Cosmos has ever known become some abstract theological platitude- that disposition is ultimately of the devil.

1 John 1:6&7: If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.


Vs. 25: Now when they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.

Our natural “tribalisms” are broken.

Vs 12: …they were baptized, both men and women.

The inclusion of women in the sign of the covenant of grace was very significant.

Women are co-heirs of the grace of God and fellow image bearers of God.

Honor your marriage, men love your wives, wives respect your husbands for in your God-honoring marriage the Good News is seen, your children are blessed and God’s Cosmos is transformed!


Note: notations in green are added by this listener.