Acts 8 (NIV)
Simon the Sorcerer
9 Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, 10 and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is rightly called the Great Power of God.” 11 They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his sorcery. 12 But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.
14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. 15 When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money 19 and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”
20 Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money!21 You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23 For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”
24 Then Simon answered, “Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.”
25 After they had further proclaimed the word of the Lord and testified about Jesus, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many Samaritan villages.
Simon becomes a believer and is baptized. But that doesn’t mean he has it all worked out.
The old patterns are hard to break. We all have default settings. Simon’s was seeing spirituality as a transaction.
This makes sense. Sorcery is like that. Say this spell, get this result.
God is not a genie or a magic potion.
Simon isn’t the only one who has made the mistake of thinking the kingdom of Jesus is about money.
Simon listened to correction. He turned away from his mistaken path. He learned.
What we can learn from his story:
- God gives us gifts. He doesn’t ask us to pay Him back.
- We have to let the Spirit reset our defaults.
- When we get it wrong, we can still make it right.
- Have you ever “gotten it wrong” by misunderstanding something about God, Jesus, or the Bible?
- What are your “default settings” – patterns of belief or behavior you have a hard time breaking?
- Is it possible to change those defaults?