Acts 8:14–25 (NKJV)
14 Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, 15 who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. 16 For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.Acts 8:14-25
18 And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”
20 But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! 21 You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. 22 Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.”
24 Then Simon answered and said, “Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me.”
25 So when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.
After Philip’s evangelization of Samaria, the church felt the need to send Peter and John to assess and minister in Samaria. Upon their arrival, they saw the need to teach on the Holy Spirit and pray for them to receive this great gift of empowerment. As they laid hands on the disciples in Samaria, they received the Holy Spirit, presumably in the same manner as the disciples in Jerusalem. Simon, who had been saved under Philip’s ministry, was formerly a sorcerer, and was convinced that these men had some great power to convey the Holy Spirit to the Samaritans. In His ignorance, he asked them to sell him the ability to use this “spell” or “magical power,” if you will, to convey the Holy Spirit to other believers. No doubt, Simon’s ignorance was real, and his approach was a product of his previous life and vocation. Nevertheless, the power of the Holy Spirit is not a commodity able to be purchased with money, and to treat Him as such is sinful. Peter quickly condemned his actions and called him to repentance, which he accepted with contrition. They continued their ministry in the city of Samaria then began their journey back to Jerusalem, preaching in many other Samaritan cities along the way.
What things may you or I have done in ignorance that were still displeasing to God? Perhaps God’s displeasure is less intense toward those who sin in ignorance. Yet, sin still exists. It is our responsibility to learn the ways of God and grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. When others lovingly, if sternly, warn us against the sins we commit, we should respond as the powerful former sorcerer of Samaria did, with contrition and humility. Learn the lessons that come while growing in the Lord, for those lessons will help each of us avoid sin, ignorant or otherwise, in the days to come. And that is the goal of every believer, to avoid sin and glorify God in all that we do, and to repent when we miss the mark. The grace of God forgives, keeps, and helps us glorify God every day if we will but hear and respond to the Holy Spirit. Lord, help us today to outgrow “Simon sins” and be mature in you!