But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great, to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the great power of God.” And they heeded him because he had astonished them with his sorceries for a long time. But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done.
Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”
But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.”
Then Simon answered and said, “Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me.”
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.
There is nothing like the childlike faith of a new believer. They look at the world through new eyes and with a new perspective that is simply beautiful. But a new believer who is not discipled can fall into false doctrine easily as the enemy easily deceives. This often cloaked in sincerity. We can be sincere, but sincerely wrong.
Simon was an unlikely convert considering he was a sorcerer. Praise the Lord that the worst of sinners can become a child of God!. However, when Simon observed the miracles that the disciples performed through the Holy Spirit’s power, he desired the filling of the Holy Spirit. He sincerely offered the disciples money. When rebuked by Peter, Simon repented. Or, that is what some of the theologians say.
The other view is that Simon was never really a believer. He simply followed the crowd in their belief. Peter called him out saying that he was “in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.” And therein lies the debate. Was Simon a true believer or a fake? Did he repent in verse 24 or not? Fortunately, God knows all and is the Judge of all.
As a believer, we are responsible to strengthen ourselves in the faith so that we are not easily deceived. We are also to recognize that nothing good can be done through our own strength but only through the strength of the Holy Spirit. As soon as we depend on our own strength or our own sincerity, things go bad quickly. The enemy loves nothing more than to make believers spiritually misguided, and this can happen to anyone no matter how long they have trusted in Christ. So… who are you depending on?
Written by Kaye Dee Richards. Kaye Dee lives with her husband Colin in Morrison, CO. They have 4 children, Joshua, Amelia, Victoria, and Julia.