Yesterday we learned about a man named Simon, who became a Christian and was baptized.  He’d been a magician before that, and people called him the Great One.  He amazed people all the time, but today he was amazed himself by Philip, who was preaching the good news about Jesus, and decided to join Philip’s travels.

[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, [19] saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” [20] 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. [22] Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. [23] For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” [24] And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”

This is where Simon’s true colours are revealed.  He’s joined a movement that is about following Jesus.  It’s about what Jesus stood for – sacrifice, generosity, humility, truth.  The list goes on.

But he’s in it for personal gain, maybe fame, wealth, all through dishonesty.

He made his living as a magician, conning people through illusions and perhaps even some sorcery.

It may well have been common place to pay a teacher in order to learn one of their tricks.

And he tries to pull that with the apostles, offering them money so they will teach him how to lay hands on people and have them receive the Holy Spirit.

He fundamentally misunderstands the movement he just joined.  Being a Christian is about opening ourselves up to God, submitting to him as Lord of everything in our lives.  It is about being used by God.

Simon wants to use God, though.  He wants to channel the Holy Spirit and zap people.  Maybe he even sees this as an investment – he can charge people for this amazing new service.

Here is someone who decides to follow Jesus and be baptized, but for all the wrong reasons.

And the reaction from the apostles is swift and powerful.  Peter basically curses him and his money, may they perish.

And he identifies the problem.  It’s not the outer actions.  The same things could have happened as an honest mistake.  The problem is that his heart is not right before God.

Question: What did Simon’s actions reveal about his heart?

Meeting with a Group?  Your discussion questions are in this week’s Group Study Guide

[permalink append=”#comments”]Discuss the Challenge[/permalink]