Summary: Peter’s response to Simon seems a bit harsh... until you realize what Simon really needed in his life.
For a long time, Simon fooled people into thinking he was more than he was. And he made a good living by deceiving people.
BUT THEN, someone “real” came to town. Someone who didn’t fake it. Someone who didn’t try to deceive people. Someone named Philip.
Now (like Simon) Philip did miraculous things too. We’re told in Acts 8:13 “ Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.”
You can’t kid a kidder. Simon was a man who made his living by fooling people, and he obviously realized that these miraculous deeds that Philip did were NOT magic
… they were NOT slights of hand
… they were NOT deceptions
When Simon saw Philip… he realized this was the real deal.
And Simon – along with hundreds of other Samarians – believed and were baptized into Christ
Upon hearing of this great Revival in Samaria the Apostles sent Peter and John to lay hands on these new converts so that they would “receive the Holy Spirit”
Acts 8:18-19 tells us that “When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money and said, "Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit."
At this, Peter rebuked Simon and told him "May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin." Acts 8:20-23
II. Now… before we get into issue of Simon “selling his soul” we need to explore a couple of misleading concepts here in the text
If you didn’t look real close at this passage you might not see the most obvious problem. Has anybody seen the problem in this text I’m talking about?
That’s right… it tells us here that “When (Peter & John) arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 8:15-16)
Now… for those of you who don’t understand WHY that would be a problem, it would help for us to go back to Acts 2 and read what Peter told the crowd at Pentecost:
Acts 2:38 says: "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
In other words:
If you want to be saved:
Repent of your sins
And be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ
AND – when you do that
You shall receive forgiveness of your sins
AND the gift the Holy Spirit
BUT… in Acts 8 we have hundreds of people who responded to Philip’s preaching
They believe… they’re baptized and yet they don’t seem to have the Holy Spirit yet!
What’s the deal?
What complicates this is that… IF the Samaritans didn’t have the Holy Spirit until Peter & John then they would not have been saved.