We’ve been studying the story of Simon, a magician who becomes a Christian, then tries to pay for the power of the Holy Spirit, perhaps to bolster his magic act.  Here’s what Peter, one of the apostles (early Christian leaders) said to him:

…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.”

Simon was trying to use God.  Like the Mafia members who the Pope excommunicated, he’s been primarily pursuing his own goals in life, and finds the Christian church a useful way to legitimize or even improve his activities.

And the message from Peter was to repent.  Even this man, trying to play Peter and the Apostles for fools, is not beyond salvation.  Repent and pray for forgiveness.

Now you may not be a Mafiosi.  You may not be a magician looking to use the Holy Spirit in your act.

But you are not that unlike Simon.  We all try to use God, forgetting it’s meant to be God who uses us to build his kingdom.

We are like Simon when we ask how it is we got sick, when we’ve been such good Christians.  Surely God owes us good health?

We are like Simon when we join a church to meet a girl, to make business contacts or impress someone.

Simon is the reason that churches don’t charge money for baptisms or communion – that would be a serious crime named Simony.

The list could go on.  But Simon is present in each of us.

But that is our greatest hope, not cause for despair.  It means we have the same opportunity as Peter gave Simon – we can repent and ask God for forgiveness.    Simon is described as wicked, in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity.  He’s described as completely chained up by sin.  And he gets a second chance.

He says, pray for me…   He finally shows some submission to God and the Apostles.  They aren’t just potential business partners anymore.  He needs God, and he needs the apostles to teach him and pray for him.

So do you.

However you’ve tried to use God, you’ve probably been disappointed anyway.  This is your chance to repent.  Truly submit to God.  What have you been holding back?

Challenge: List the ways you’ve tried to use God.  What would it look like to repent and go a different way in life?  Who can you ask to pray for you?

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

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