And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.” Then Simon answered and said, “Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me.” (Acts 8:18-24)
Mistakes Of Newborns
Babies are perfect, but that does not mean they will not make mistakes. When a child is small, he does not understand the world’s complexities and can often find himself in a difficult place. His knowledge does not prepare him to realize what he is doing may be harmful or a habit that is not appropriate. The characteristic of an infant is used in scripture to describe the child of God. Jesus told Nicodemus a man must be born again to enter the kingdom of God. This suggests a new birth as an infant who has realized the grace of God but still knows very little about the word of God. Peter exhorts the disciples to desire the sincere milk of the word like babies long for milk. Clearly, a man who obeys the gospel has much to learn in the years to come. It is just as crucial for older siblings of the new child of God to realize the process of growth in a new Christian.
The evangelist Philip brought the good news of Jesus Christ to the city of Samaria, and there was great joy in that city. One of the converts was a prominent magician named Simon, who had done great things before all the people. Hearing the preaching Philip, Simon himself believed and was baptized. He continued with Philip being astonished at the miracles and signs which Philip was doing. Later, Peter and John came to Samaria to pass along the spiritual gifts given to them by the Holy Spirit. Simon was impressed by the power of Peter and John to pass along the Holy Spirit. Through the laying on of hands, he saw the Holy Spirit was given, allowing some to perform miracles and work signs. As a former magician, this intrigued Simon, and he wanted to have that power.
In the world of Simon, the sorcerer, offering money to learn the craft of another artist was common. With his background, Simon went to Peter and John and asked for the Holy Spirit’s power, offering them money. He wanted the ability to give the Holy Spirit to others. He was a babe in Christ with little understanding of what the Holy Spirit did and how the power was given to other men. Peter’s rebuke was with a specific purpose to correct the false notion Simon had about the Holy Spirit. Peter did not condescendingly rebuke Simon but, as a newborn babe in Christ, he needed to know and understand the importance of the Holy Spirit. The apostle tells Simon that money cannot buy the Holy Spirit because Simon’s heart was not right before the Lord. There were still remnants of the old world in the heart of Simon, and it needs to be purged out. Peter told Simon to repent of his wickedness. The heart of Simon had obeyed the gospel, but he had many things to rid himself of to perfect himself in the image of Christ.
Simon is often viewed with disdain for his desire to buy the Holy Spirit’s power. Peter rightfully rebuked the new Christian for his action, and sin should be addressed in the manner that is needed. But what is often overlooked in the story of Simon is that he did have a good heart begging Peter to pray for him to help him be forgiven for his sin. Luke leaves the story at the appeal of Simon for forgiveness which can only be assumed Peter then prayed for Simon, and in the hope of God’s grace, Simon became a productive and vital part of the church in Samaria. Simon did a terrible thing, but how many new Christians have found themselves following the old man of sin in the early days before they could learn deeper lessons from the word? The mistakes of new Christians should not be viewed in the same manner as one who is a seasoned soldier of the cross. New Christians will make a lot of mistakes. Sometimes they make some pretty big mistakes – like Simon. He asked for something that was not possible – motivated by the wrong things with the wrong intent. Peter correctly rebuked him for his sin and challenged him to repent. The strength of the story is that Simon did repent and beg forgiveness. He did not get mad and turn away. Luke leaves the story with Simon seeking the Lord, and that is the kind of man Simon proved himself to be.
It takes a lot of patience to train young children. They have curious minds and often find themselves doing things, saying things, and going places they should not. There is a need for gentle correction and sometimes harsh discipline to drive the point home. Such is the case for young Christians that often say and do the wrong things because they have not grown up in Christ yet. It is easy to rebuke a young Christian, who is often doing what an older Christian does. Both should be rebuked, but hope should be given to encourage and exhort them to be better disciples of the Lord and learn how to walk in Christ. Thank you, Simon, for your faith and example of repentance.