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Counterfeit Christianity

Acts 8:9-25

 

Last time:  city wide revival w/ Philip the Evangelist.  Miracles were performed, souls saved.

        And here’s a scriptural principle which follows:  wherever God sends genuine revival, Satan attempts to send counterfeit revival.  God sows some saved souls, and Satan sows his tares among that wheat.

 

For example:  John the Baptist preached a message that centered on repentance… “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”. 

        Repent=change of mind which leads to change of life.

When I got saved, God gave me a new heart, new desires, and set my feet in a new direction!  The idea that you can be genuinely saved and not turn, but continue to plow iniquity, is foreign to the Bible.

 

2 Cor. 5:17

    Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

 

Well, the Pharisees and Sadducees came to be baptized, but they had not repented of their sins, and there was no evidence they had been truly converted, and their lifestyle was the same wicked one it had always been. 

 

Matthew 3:7-8

    But when he [John] saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? [8] Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:

 

“You bunch of counterfeits, fakes, pretenders!”

 

And it’s a fact w/out exception.  Where there is the real thing, Satan will plant counterfeits, and make them look real.  And if the Rapture occurs at church time it matters not how Bible-based the church, there will be left behind some sitting, wondering, scratching their heads!

 

In the movie “Left Behind” it was the actual pastor of the church left behind!

This is not at all inappropriate…it also happened in the ministry of Paul.

False teachers had come in and were leading people astray, saying they had divine authority [super apostles, even above the apostles!], which was bogus.  They claimed to be true servants of God, but were impostors.

2 Cor. 11:13-14

    For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. [14] And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

 

“You bunch of counterfeits, fakes, pretenders!”

 

For all God has, Satan has a counterfeit.

Ex.—The Gospel—the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

 

Satan has a counterfeit gospel:

Galatians 1:6-9

    I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: [7] Which is not another [of same kind, that is]; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. [8] But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. [9] As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

 

Counterfeit righteousness:

Romans 10:3

    For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

 

Big difference between righteousness and self-righteousness! [filthy rags]

 

Counterfeit church:

Rev. 2:9

    … I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.

 

They gather in buildings locally and all over the world today, thinking they know the true and living God, and realize not they bow before Satan himself!

        It may be politically correct, but it’s dead wrong to say “we all call God by different names, but we mean the same thing!”

 

Counterfeit preachers:

2 Peter 2:1

    But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

 

Some do some things in the name of Jesus, but what they do is contrary w/ the Word…[healings, etc.]

 

Satan is a master counterfeiter!  He will go so far as to even create a counterfeit Christ during the tribulation…the antichrist.

1 John 2:18

    Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.

 

        By the way, some counterfeit preachers soften/alter their message so much to this world that they inadvertently create a counterfeit Jesus of their own!  They preach another Jesus…not the literal God-Man of the Bible, but a more tolerable Jesus that you’d think He just stepped right out of pop-culture and into their church!

        No one in this room would ever accept Buddha or Mohammed, but I dare say that many regular American churchgoers this very hour accept and follow another Jesus than the One whose precious feet walked this earth 2k years ago!

 

Counterfeit gospel, righteousness, church, preachers, Christ…and along w/ all of this, yes, Satan has:

 

Counterfeit Christians:

Such is the case of Simon here in Acts 8.  A great revival occurs w/ untold numbers being saved, and along comes a man named Simon, a reminder that Satan attends true revivals and leaves his business card behind!

 

Simon is a classic example of a counterfeit Christian—we could call him “The Great Pretender”. 

 

1.     Simon’s Pretension

v. 9          he was his own best publicist

                bewitched=people were astounded/amazed

        Simon did indeed work miracles.  2 verses earlier Philip worked miracles…but his were of God, and the sorcerer does his miracles by the power of Satan.

 

Did you know that the Bible strictly forbids having anything to do w/ sorcery and the like:  such as astrology, horoscopes, fortunetelling, psychics, tarot cards, palm reading, séances, Ouija boards, spirit-channeling, divinations, enchantments, incantations, witchcraft, wizardry, charms, spells, or anything else invented by the occult world.  God goes so far as to call these things an abomination.

Deut. 18:10-12

    There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, [11] Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. [12] For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord: and because of these abominations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee.

 

        …and they all have their roots in Satanism/Demonism. 

 

Some say, “You don’t understand, it’s real, they really did tell my fortune or that board really did move or that table really did hover!”

        I don’t doubt it for a second!  The spirit world is real, Satan is as real as my God is real…and surely as I believe in Heaven’s Angels I believe in the fallen angels of hell!

 

Satan fills and empowers today, and in the tribulation both the antichrist and his sinister minister the false prophet will rise to power on a platform of miracles they work!

        And people will say, “They do miracles/healings, they must be of God!” 

[not necessarily!]

1 John 4:1

    Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

 

These occult practices ran rampant in the 1st century.

 

Here’s something to consider when it comes to the occult:  Supply is regulated by demand…that’s economics 101.  Why are 4 out of 5 restaurants fast food based and why can’t you get close to one around noontime?  Because of the high demand today for “heart attack on a bun!” 

        Demand creates supply!

It’s why all hotels now offer porn, and all convenience stores/grocery stores sell liquor.

 

The only reason Simon could have a following was because of the sad spiritual state of Samaria!  There was a famine in the land…not a famine of food, but of the Word of God!

        They needed a sweeping revival and praise God they got one! 

 

You tell me…does America need a revival?

        W/out the truth people believe a lie…and if the church doesn’t stand for something the people will fall for anything.

 

That’s Simon’s pretension…he was putting out that he was some great one.  And people didn’t realize that he was energized by Satan himself!

 

2.     Simon’s profession [of faith]

v. 13        Think w/ me, when it says Simon believed also, does that mean he got saved?  Not necessarily!

        Are we saved by believing?  Yes, by believing on.  But look at

James 2:19

    Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

 

The demons of hell believe…they believe in God, not on Him!  [His existence/deity]

Mark 3:11

    And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God.

 

The demons also believe Jesus is the final judge w/ power to send them to hell.

Matthew 8:29

    And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?

        “Don’t send us to hell right now!”

 

Ah, the demons believed with their head but not fully w/ their heart.

 

And not just demons, but the gospels and Acts both record others…like the rich young ruler who believed in Jesus but wasn’t willing to accept Him as his Savior!

 

Ill.

Intellect           head        dead faith

Emotion          heart                demonic faith

Will                 hand                dynamic faith

 

Simon believed in his head, maybe it touched his heart…but he never submitted his will to the will of God…he was a pretender, a counterfeit, his faith wasn’t based on the Word of God, but on the miracles he saw and was so interested in…he had no intention of following Christ, simply wanted to be able to work miracles.

 

v. 18-19   Listen!  It’s one thing to walk an aisle or “pray this prayer”…it’s another thing to be truly born again!

 

Final proof:

v. 21-23   sound like a saved man?

v. 24        still no evidence of salvation…just didn’t want these bad things to happen to him!

 

Often I pray for sinners who ask me to pray for them to be saved…but when they get saved is when they pray for themselves!

 

This passage shows us just how close someone can come to salvation w/out being genuinely converted!

 

Simon followed others down the aisle, made a profession of faith, was even baptized, but he was never born again.

 

Simon’s pretension, profession…

3.     Simon’s presumption

v. 18-19   walked in w/ a big bag of money to apostles and said, what will you take for the Holy Ghost?

 

Spurgeon, the Prince of Preachers, started pastoring at age of 16…by the time he was 25 he led his church to build a 5k seat auditorium that would never be big enough.  And he preached all over Europe as well.

        At the same time, there was a great circus builder prominent:  P.T. Barnum…he heard about Spurgeon and the great crowds coming out to hear him…he sent him a telegram w/ an offer of a large sum of money to come and preach in his circus tents.  [charge admission was the idea]

        Spurgeon sent a short reply:  Dear Mr. Barnum, you’ll find my answer in Acts 8:20. 

[I’d love to have been there when he read those words…]

 

Money can buy a lot of things, but money cannot buy salvation!

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