Philip has traveled to Samaria, preaching the gospel and even helping convert a magician named Simon. “Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit”(Acts 8:14-15). The Jerusalem church supports this new effort by sending two apostles to help ground the disciples and help them receive the Holy Spirit. They lay hands on some of them to transmit the Holy Spirit. “Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, ‘Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit’”(Acts 8:18-19). Simon surely sees great earning potential here and wants the power to pass on this gift to others.
The most striking thing about this text is how Peter talks to Simon (a new convert) after his offer. Read it carefully: “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity”(Acts 8:20-23). Peter tells Simon unequivocally that he is wrong and needs forgiveness. His plan is wrongheaded, his heart is wrapped up in sin, and he has committed wickedness. The good news is that Simon responds well to the rebuke, asking Peter to pray for him.
There is a place for tough talk about sin. Sometimes we need to call evil what it is. By beating around the bush, we are not helping our brother. Certainly there is a place for tact and gentleness, but when my brother’s heart is not right, I must pull out all the stops.
One thing to think about: Is there sin I know about that I need to address--like Peter?
One thing to pray for: Forgiveness--for myself and others
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