9For some time a man named Simon had lived there and had amazed the people of Samaria. He practiced witchcraft and claimed to be somebody great. 10Everyone, rich and poor, crowded around him. They said, “This man is the power of God called ‘The Great Power.’ ”
11For a long time, Simon had used witchcraft to amaze the people, and they kept crowding around him. 12But when they believed what Philip was saying about God's kingdom and about the name of Jesus Christ, they were all baptized. 13Even Simon believed and was baptized. He stayed close to Philip, because he marveled at all the miracles and wonders.
14The apostles in Jerusalem heard that some people in Samaria had accepted God's message, and they sent Peter and John. 15When the two apostles arrived, they prayed that these people would be given the Holy Spirit. 16Before this, the Holy Spirit had not been given to any of them, though some of them had been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17Peter and John then placed their hands on everyone who had faith in the Lord, and they were given the Holy Spirit.
18Simon noticed that the Spirit was given only when the apostles placed their hands on the people. So he brought money 19and said to Peter and John, “Let me have this power too! Then anyone I place my hands on will also be given the Holy Spirit.”
20Peter said to him, “You and your money will both end up in hell if you think you can buy God's gift! 21You don't have any part in this, and God sees that your heart isn't right. 22Get rid of these evil thoughts and ask God to forgive you. 23I can see that you are jealous and bound by your evil ways.”
24Simon said, “Please pray to the Lord, so that what you said won't happen to me.”
25After Peter and John had preached about the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem. On their way they told the good news in many villages of Samaria.
We might call Simon a ‘shaman’ in our culture. He used evil powers to gain wealth and status in Samaria. But amazingly he becomes a baptized follower of Jesus. The man who was called “the power of God” recognizes in Jesus and the Gospel the true power of God.
But as with most Jesus followers he struggles to understand the implications of this transformation and so he is tempted to slip back into his old ways. He was one of those for whom Peter and John prayed that he would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This happened when they laid their hands on the believers. Simon wants to have this same “power” for giving the Holy Spirit. He offers Peter and John money if they will give him this ability.
Peter sees the spiritual issue within Simon. His heart is not right and he does not understand yet some of the fundamental realities of the Gospel. Peter says he is “jealous and bound by evil ways.” He needs to repent of his evil practices of witchcraft. Simon is repentant and asks for forgiveness.
When people become Jesus followers sometimes old habits and desires are removed immediately, but in other cases it takes considerable time and persistence to get rid of evil ways. Satan’s grip is hard to break in every instance. The sin needs to be identified and confessed. Defenses have to be put in place to resist Satan’s temptations to let the old sinful practices dominate.
Dear Father God, Thank you for bringing into my life your Holy Spirit and other Christians who help me understand your ways more perfectly. I acknowledge that I do not always discern how my sinful habits continue to mar my life. I pray that your Spirit will reveal to me my “evil ways” and break these habits that bend my Christian life out of shape. Amen.