Today’s reading is Acts 8:9-25 which provides the account of Simon the Sorcerer.
Sorcery is a means of working magic with the assistance of the devil or evil spirits – which is specifically forbidden by God in the Old Testament. Simon the Sorcerer had bewitched the people of Samaria for a long time. The people of that city mistakenly thought that he had the power of God. Simon’s probably felt like his “celebrity status” was at risk when Philip came and people starting believing in Christ and following Philip as he preached. So, Simon ended up joining in the crowd and being baptized. We read that he was “amazed” at the miracles being done through the power of God.
Specifically, Simon saw the apostles laying hands on those being baptized and them receiving the Holy Spirit. He offered them money, trying to buy that power. Peter wasn’t fooled. He knew Simon wasn’t truly seeking God. Following Simon’s offer is a fairly harsh reaction by Peter. Simon’s reaction to that was to simply ask to be prayed for so that he would be okay from all that Peter had said he deserved for his instead of actually repenting of his sin, he just asked Peter to pray for him that “none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me” (verse 24). In correcting Simon, Peter told him, “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”.
What Peter knew, that Simon didn’t, is that God expects us to serve Him FULLY – in thought and deed. We cannot expect to have the full benefit of salvation while not truly repenting or changing our behavior. Saying the words and going through the motions is not enough. God isn’t looking for us to be perfect – He knows we can’t be. But he does know our hearts, and if we truly repent, salvation is freely given.