It never ceases to amaze me how a leader can pretty well say and do anything he likes, including blatant hypocrisy and lies – and be rocked by numerous scandals too – and yet people still fawn all over him.
It doesn’t matter if he’s a fat slob living in luxury, or if he presents himself as a caring person while making it obvious he cares for nothing but his own quest for power and control. It’s as if he’s cast a spell on people, bewitching them into sycophantic flattery and total submission.
There are many such leaders littered through history, but they’re just as real today. So how is it that these abhorrent and tyrannical leaders are able to command such power and devotion, and make people so fearful that they daren’t say a word against them?
Two clues from Scripture came to mind to explain how. The first was Simon the sorcerer in Acts 8 who “amazed (mesmerized) the nation of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great,” verse 9. What drove Simon was wanting god-like status, and he was given the power of magic to make it happen, which very much fits the definition of sorcery as “the use of power gained from the assistance or control of evil spirits.” Well, with that kind of power behind him it’s no wonder that Simon could hypnotize people into total adoration (verses 10-11).
The second clue is Elymas the sorcerer in Acts 13, a deliberate deceiver and liar, who knew what was right and true, but twisted it into making it seem evil instead (verse 10). And that, to Paul, made Elymas “a child of the devil.” Elymas’ ability to so convincingly deceive and lie clearly revealed that he too had the “assistance of evil spirits.”
But Paul did warn us that such devilish people would exist, even “masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light,” and “his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness,” 2 Corinthians 11:13-14. Which can feel very frightening, having people wielding such power over us, but Paul did add in verse 15, that “Their end will be what their actions deserve.” Rest assured, there’s a power far greater than the most cunning deceivers, who won’t let their evil go on forever.
Peter advised Simon the sorcerer in Acts 8:22, therefore, to “Repent of this wickedness” and “Perhaps God will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart.” Drop the facade, Simon, in other words, and admit who and what you really are, because the power that’s so much greater than you does forgive, so that you won’t have to receive what your actions deserve. But be advised to get that repentance done soon, so there’s no need to worry when the axe will inevitably fall (Matthew 3:10).