Why do you do the things you do? It is easy to go through the motions of life and not know the reason behind the actions that you do. Why do I react this way when a person does this particular thing? Why am I angry? Why am I friends with this person? Why am I studying so hard? Why am I following God? The list goes on and the question of “why” can be so annoying but it is so powerful because it will shed light to the reason behind our actions. When we know the motives, we can then ask ourselves in midst of revelation of whether we need to stop and reshift our motives or continue on as normal. Today, let us, take some time to really ask ourselves one of the most important questions in our lives that will pop up from time-to-time.
NOTES ON THE PASSAGE
14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit 16 for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Now this can get confusing as some of the questions that can come from this are the following:
Does it require an apostle for people to receive the Holy Spirit?
Does simply believing not enough to be saved?
Do we need a second ritual after baptism to make things official?
These are legitimate questions and the answer to them all is “no.” To be saved, one only needs to believe and confess that Jesus Christ is both Lord and Savior. Throughout the New Testament we see that the way the Holy Spirit drops changes from the norm because something new is being introduced. The Samaritans were people that the Jews hated a lot as they considered them traitors to God as people who worshipped falsely. The fact that God was moving in Samaria was a controversial event because in the mostly Jewish based Christianity of the time, they couldn’t imagine that their God would move in such a “Godless” place.
To help validate this new move of God to the young church that has its HQ in Jerusalem, the people needed the Apostles to validate what is going on as they are the central figures that God has noticeably moved through. As Peter and John who are one of the most important figures in the early church come and validate the movement. We see that people are now aware of and accepting to the fact that God is moving in areas beyond them and is establishing a new definition of who are considered the people of God. It is no longer going to be the Jewish nation alone but all who call upon the name of Jesus!
TAKE AWAY: God can move in different ways to meet particular situations but we must know that to be saved, one must believe and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior. God is expanding the Kingdom and we must realize that God will go to areas where we believe God does not move because the power of the Gospel can save anyone who is exposed to it. In the areas where you thought God could not move is actually the areas that God wants to move most of the time.
18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!
Simon offered the apostle money to gain the ability to lay hands on people to distribute the Holy Spirit. To pay for “powers” and magical abilities was nothing new in ancient culture and Simon was acting as if this was the same situation! What he doesn’t realize is that the Holy Spirit cannot be bought and manipulated into doing man’s will but that man is to bend his will to the guidance of the Holy Spirit!
Simon wanted power and was seeking to manipulate the situation to get it and this is Simon from the past who was a man who used dark arts to gain fame. Simon’s motives were all off and Peter rebukes him for the false desire of wanting more of God because it was not for God’s glory but his.
TAKE AWAY: The Holy Spirit cannot be manipulated for our gain! When we pray we must ask ourselves why we are praying and why we are asking for certain things from the LORD.
21 You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God.22 Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are in the gall[a] of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” 24 And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”
Since the heart of Simon was not right before God, he had no right to engage in the ministry that the Apostles were doing. The motive of the heart is one the most crucial things to check constantly for our actions mean nothing if our hearts are not in the right place. To know our hearts when we serve is important because false motives of self-glory can lead to our disqualification from ministry. To serve the Lord is an honor and we are not doing God any favors by serving Him. God empowers and lets us serve alongside of Him.
What is encouraging and a light of hope in this situation is that Peter calls Simon to repent and pray. Despite the impure motive that Simon had, he still had the opportunity to change his mind and get it right before the Lord.
Finally verse twenty-three reveals to us the source of Simon’s actions. The source of the motivation for Simon is that he is bitter. Maybe bitter at the fact that the disciples and Jesus have “stolen” his show and his former lifestyle where he was the main attraction in the region. Because of this, he is in the bond of iniquity. His bitterness led to wrong motives which bound him to iniquity and iniquity is a slight twist on a good thing so that the good no longer is good but bad because of it.
TAKE AWAY: Check the heart! Ask yourself the “whys!” If you find that you don't have the right motive, the answer is not to simply do nothing but to change your mind before the LORD through repentance so that you can participate. A lot of times we do nothing because we are not in the right place but the answer is to get to the right place so that you can participate!