Adrian Rogers - Counterfeit Christianity
Be finding the Book of Acts, chapter eight. We've been going through the Book of Acts, "Living supernaturally". But we know also that, when God works, Satan works also. Here's a question, true or false: Satan is against religion. Don't answer it out loud. Some say true, some say false. Of course, the answer is false. Satan is not against religion. You're gonna find out that Satan uses religion: it is one of his chief tools in his bag of tricks. As a matter of fact, if you study the Bible, you're going to find out that the very first temptation in the Garden of Eden was a religious temptation: it was a temptation not to be ungodly but a temptation, would you believe it, to be godly. He said, "Look, Eve, if you do this, you'll be like God". It wasn't a temptation to fall down: it was a temptation to climb up, to be as God. But do it my way. The devil, you see, is into religion up to his ears.
Now there was a revival, in Samaria. Let's read about it. Look in verse five, "Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ unto them: and the people with one accord gave heed to those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing he miracles which he did, for unclean spirits crying with loud voice came out of many that were possessed with them, and many taken with palsies and, that were lame were healed. And there was great joy in that city". There's always joy when Jesus is present. There's always joy when there is real revival, "Joy unspeakable and full of glory". But notice in verse nine how the subject changes, "But," just underscore the word but.
You know, when, God opens the windows of heavens to bless us, the devil opens the doors of hell to blast us. And whenever there is revival, you can expect Satanic opposition. "But there was a certain man called Simon which beforehand in the same city used sorcery and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, 'this man,'" talking about Simon, "'is the great power of God'. And to him they had regard, because that of a long time he had bewitched them with sorceries. But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the Kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
Then Simon," now this is Simon the sorcerer, "Then Simon himself believed also, when he was baptize, and when he was baptized he continued with Philip and wondered, beholding the miracles and the signs which were done". I'm going to stop right there and we're gonna pick up the reading, and, in just a moment, and actually we're going to go right on down, this morning I hope right on through verse 25 of this chapter: but I want to talk to you about counterfeit Christianity. There're three things I want to lay on your heart as we think this morning about, counterfeit Christianity, and believe you me, these things are very real, and if there were ever a generation that needs to hear what I have to say, this is the generation that needs to hear of the dangers of counterfeit Christianity.
Three things I want to warn you about. Number one: don't be dazzled by the Satanic force of false religion. Now I chose the word dazzled, carefully. Don't be dazzled by the Satanic force of false religion. False religion has great force. Uh, look in verse 10. It speaks of this sorcerer and the Bible says, "To whom they all gave heed from the least to the greatest, saying, 'this man is the great power of God'". There was force in what this man was doing, and they were all dazzled by it. Notice verses nine and 10, "There was a certain man called Simon which before time in the same city used sorcery and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest saying, 'this man is the great power of God'".
Now, here was a man who was using sorcery. Sorcery's just another word for witchcraft. And by the way, witchcraft is alive and well in the world today. Witchcraft is alive and well in America today. Witchcraft is alive and well in many churches. You say, "Oh, no". Yes. And many people are dazzled by this. And, they, they fail to understand that there is supernatural power. What Simon was doing was not just a bag of cheap tricks. It's not just that he was an illusionist: he was in league with the devil. You know, sometimes people will get into sorcery, witchcraft, whatever, and they say, "Well, it, there's really something to it, pastor," as if that exonerates it, ha, ha. As if that somehow indemnifies it, if somehow that substantiates it. There is something to it, but friend, what there is to it is devilish.
Now again, during the Great Tribulation, demonic forces are going to be loosed on the earth and leading the nations of the world toward Armageddon. Put this verse down, revelation chapter 16 verse 14. The Bible describes some unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mes, out of the mouth of the beast, and the dragon, the false prophet, and here's how the Bible describes these in verse 14, "For these are the spirits of devils," now listen, "Working miracles which go forth unto the kings of the earth and to the whole world, to gather them to the battle of the great day of God Almighty". Demonic spirits leading the kings, the rulers, the potentates of this world, bringing them to Armageddon. The key verse is, "The spirit of demons working miracles".
We've already seen, that Samaria was a place where people were demon-possessed. And, when Philip came to the revival, many unclean spirits or demons came out of people. There is a deadly demonic force in the world today. Now, don't be deceived. Don't be deceived, don't be dazzled, friend, by the power of false religion. It is real. Pharaoh's magicians performed miracles when Moses performed miracles of God. So as we think about counterfeit Christianity, the first thing I want to write on your heart is this, don't be dazzled by that. If some magician, some soothsayer, some astrologer, some, necRomancer, some, fortune-teller comes and does things that you cannot understand, don't go trailing after him because you say, "Well, I know it's real"! That is the point. It is real. That doesn't mean to follow after it: it means to flee from it.
Now here's the second point. First of all, don't be dazzled by the Satanic power of false religion. Number two: don't be deceived by the superficial faith of false religion. Not all false religion is in, in the occult. Sometimes it moves right into the church. Now begin to read in verse 13. Now remember Simon, now, has been a sorcerer, he's been practicing witchcraft. But now notice verse 13, "Then Simon himself believed also". Huh, well Philip has been preaching Jesus. And now here is this sorcerer, this man full of demons, who has been practicing witchcraft and the Bible says, "He believed also".
"And when he was baptized, he continued with Philip and wondered," underscore this next phrase now, if you don't mind writing in your Bible, "Beholding the miracles and the signs which were done. Now when the apostles," uh, "Which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the Word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John, who when they were come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Ghost, for as yet he was fallen upon none of them, for they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus".
This is the progresh, progression of Pentecost. Now these people in Samaria are receiving the Holy Spirit as they did at Jerusalem. Now notice in verse 17, "Then laid they their hands on them and they received the Holy Ghost". Now watch verse 18, "And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, saying, 'give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay my hands he may receive the Holy Ghost'. But Peter said unto him, 'thy money perish with thee because thou hast thought that the gift of God might be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter, for thy heart is not right in the sight of God'".
Now I'm gonna stop reading there just simply to say this. That Simon, quote, believed, end of quote, but he was an unbelieving believer. He was not a true Christian. His faith was superficial, not real faith. He is believing not in the master: he's believing in the miracles. He sees the power being manifest there by that, New Testament church, and so he wants to be a part of it. But he never has met the Lord Jesus Christ. You say, "Pastor, it says he believes, wasn't he saved"? Read verse 21 again and look at it, "Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter, for thy heart is not right with God".
Now, I wrote a book. The title of the book, Believe in Miracles, But Trust in Jesus. Trust in Jesus. God works miracles: Satan counterfeits miracles and works devilish miracles. Never put your faith in miracles: put your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Simon never did really truly believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Not all belief is saving belief. Uh, you may be a member of this church, you may give mental assent unto the facts of the gospel, but you have never met Jesus Christ.
Now I want you to put in your margin, John chapter two, and I want to begin reading in, verse 23. John two verse 23. Let me give you the background of this passage of scripture. Jesus had done some miracles in Jerusalem and in Cana of Galilee and other places, and people saw it. And when people saw the miracles that Jesus did, they began to follow him. Not because they wanted Jesus, not because they repented of their sin, but they just saw the miracles and they followed him for the miracles' sake. They were what I call miracle Monga, mongers.
Now listen to this, John two verse 23, "Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover in the feast day, many believed on him," there's our word again, "Believed on him when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus," now listen, "Did not commit himself unto them". Now you don't see it in the English, but in the Greek the word believe and the word commit is the same word, just translated differently. You could say, "Many committed themselves to him, but he did not commit himself to them". Or, "Many believed in him but he did not believe in them". Ha, ha, ha, they, quote, "Believed in him like Simon the sorcerer, but he did not believe in them".
Now listen to it, let me read it again, "And many believed in his name when they saw the miracles which he did, but Jesus did not commit himself unto them, for he knew all men and needed not that any should testify of man, for he knew what was in man". Jesus knew these were not true believers. Let me read this to you, "It's crucial to understand that what unites most of the people who call themselves born-again Christians is their claim to have had a highly personal experience that has changed their lives".
"You are born again because of certain feelings and emotions and experiences. Not because you believe any particular set of doctrines, or because you share certain beliefs about moral issues. Born-again Christians are increasingly becoming part of ameri, of the American mainstream. A third of America's seventy-seven million baby boomers call themselves born-again Christians. Many born-again boomers believe they have made a spiritual decision that is right for them, but not necessarily for everyone. Half affirm that the various religions of the world are equally good and true. And the younger the born-again Christian, the more likely he or she was to say this. A third of the born-again believers said they believe in reincarnation and astrology".
Now what, what is this article saying? These are people who say, "Oh, yes, I'm a believer". But they don't believe necessarily the doctrines of the Bible. Now we have today a generation of people who are, quote, very spiritual, but they do not believe the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. Listen, friend, you had better beware of the superficial faith of false religion. This man, Simon, was a believer but he wasn't saved. Now here's the third and final thing. Uh, we're talking about counterfeit Christianity today. Remember the force of false religion, the, the Satanic force. Remember the superficial faith of false religion. Here's the third thing, don't be destroyed by the selfish focus, the selfish focus of false religion. Do you know what the, the fuel that, false, that empowers false religion is? It is selfishness.
Now you don't have to, think too hard as you read this story to see that Simon is full of himself. He is focused on himself. Read verses nine and 10, "There was a certain man called Simon which before in the same city used sorcery and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out," now underscore this, "That himself was some great one". And then, eh, skip on down to verse 14, "Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the Word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John, who when they were come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Ghost," and so forth. Now notice verse 18, "Then when Simon saw that through the laying of, on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, saying, 'give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay my hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost'".
Here was a man who was so full of himself. What did Jesus teach us to pray? "Not my will, thine be done". What did Satan say? "Not thy will, mine be done". All false religion is self-centered. It focuses on self. How do you think that Satan got eve to take of the forbidden fruit? He apPealed to her pride. He said, "Huh, you'll be like God: you can be like God". All religion that is false religion, put it down big, plain, and straight, the focus is selfishness. Uh, first Timothy chapter six beginning in verse three: Peter was talk, ah, Paul was talking to Timothy about truth and wholesome doctrine. But then here's what he says, "If any man teach otherwise and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the doctrine which is according to Godliness, he is proud".
What drives liberalism in seminaries? Pride. What causes unbelief the Word of God? Pride. What made the devil the devil? Pride. What is the root, the fuel, the source of all false religion? It is the focus on self, it is selfishness, it is pride beyond the shadow of any doubt. It's obvious that Simon was in this thing not for what he could, give, but for what he could get. Look in verses 19 and 20. Uh, he said, "'give me this power, that on whomsoever I lay my hands he may receive the Holy Ghost'. But Peter said unto him, 'thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God might be purchased with money'".
False religion and self-centered religion brings two things. Let me tell you, the root is pride. Let me tell you the fruit. You want to know what the fruit of all false religion is? Uh, Peter says to him, in verse 23, "For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity". That's a good verse. Learn this about false religion. The fruit is bitterness and bondage. The very word gall means poison. False religion is a poison. Peter said, "Look, Simon, I'm gonna diagnose your heart, you are bitter and you're in bondage. I perceive that there is in you this bitterness and this bondage because your heart is not right in the sight of God". Bitterness and bondage, verse 23. That is so true.
Now, even in his repentance, so-called repentance, this man is full of self. Notice Peter says, "Look, you are in the bond of iniquity". And notice what Simon said in verse 24, "Then answered Simon and said, 'pray ye to the Lord for me'". Now why didn't he pray? Heh, why didn't he pray? Cause he didn't know the Lord. "Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which you have spoken come upon me". Huh, he didn't say, "Pray for me, I'll get my heart right with God". No! All he is doing is wanting to escape trouble, difficulty. There's no change in this man's heart. There's no change in this man's life. It is self-centered, even repentance. There is the Satanic force, there is the superficial faith, and there is the selfish focus of false religion.
And I want to tell you again that the devil, ha, ha, my friend, the devil is not opposed to religion. He's in it up to his ears. It'll be a great day in America when people stop enduring religion and start enjoying salvation. Huh, to come to know the Lord Jesus Christ. A woman was in her house. A knock came on the door. She opened the door and there was a man there, and he said to her, "Lady, do you know God"? She was flustered, taken aback. She stuttered and stammered, was embarrassed, she just stepped back and shut the door. Man bowed his head and walked away. Later her husband came home.
She said, "Darling, let me tell you what happened today". Said, "A man knocked at the door of our house, and he asked me a question. He asked me if I knew God. Huh, I didn't know what to say. I shut the door in his face. I'm so sorry: I wish I could find him and apologize to him". "Apologize"? He said. "You should've slammed the door in his face. What right did he have to ask you such a question? Why didn't you tell him we are members of the biggest, most influential church in our city"? She said, "Husband, he didn't ask that. He asked if I knew God".
"Well, why didn't you tell him we're reputable people, we have a good reputation, we're well-known in this community". "He didn't ask that. He only asked if I knew God". That's what I want to ask you today. Not are you a member of Bellevue Baptist Church. Not do people think that you are fine. Not do you have manners and culture. Not even do you have religion. Do you know God? Are you saved? Oh, my friend, you can be. You should be.