April 22, 2022 – Friday
Acts 8:22-23 NIV
22 Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart.
23 For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.
Acts 8:22 NASB
22 Therefore, repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart will be forgiven you.
23 For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of unrighteousness.
I have provided these two verses out context in the hope that when you read them questions will come to your mind. First, who is speaking? Second, who is he speaking to? Third, what is the wickedness that is so bad that if this person repents, he may be forgiven (NIV) or if possible be forgiven (NASB)? Fourth, what kind of thought or intention in the heart could cause such a statement? Fifth, does this have anything to do with the man being full of bitterness and captive to sin or in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of unrighteousness.
If we look at the prior verses, we may easily discern Peter is talking to a man named Simon. And it was all taking place in Samaria where Peter and John had been sent by the apostles because many there had accepted Christ. Then we discover why they were sent in v15-17, 15 When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. But wait a minute, who was this man Simon? Verses 9-10 tell us his background, 9 Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, 10 and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is rightly called the Great Power of God.” Simon was a sorcerer with an enormous ego (He boasted that he was someone great) and the people fed his ego when they said, This man is rightly called the Great Power of God.
Still, what happened for Peter to speak such harsh words to him? After v17, we read, 18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money 19 and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” Uh-oh … Simon thought he could purchase the ability to lay hands on people to receive the Holy Spirit. I can only imagine Peter’s response was both immediate and indignant, 20 Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! 21 You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God.”
Then we come to our verses for today and our questions in the first paragraph. All have been answered except the fourth and fifth. We know the answer to the fourth, “what kind of thought or intention in the heart could cause such a statement” from Peter. Simon thought he could purchase something from God. This leads to the answer for the fifth question, “does this (his heart thought or intention) have anything to do with the man being full of bitterness and captive to sinor in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of unrighteousness.” The answer is, “Yes!” One would have to be full of bitterness and captive to sin in order to see the blessings of God as something to be purchased. Such a person would also be blind to the blessings of God that are all around for everyone. Jesus stated as much in Matthew 5:45, He (your Father in heaven) causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
Simon realized his error, and replied to Peter v24, Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me. This is obviously repentance, but it is unclear whether it is authentic or simply an attempt to avoid punishment. Earlier in v13 we find Simon believed and was baptized. MacArthur writes, Although he was certainly fearful, he was unwilling to repent and seek forgiveness, wanting only to escape the consequences of his sin. Maybe, maybe not, we cannot know. But the evidence of his attempting to purchase the power of laying on of hands after a declaration of belief and baptism indicates something terribly amiss. The Wiersbe Study Bible says, This episode shows how close a person can come to salvation and still not be converted. Simon heard the gospel, saw the miracles, gave a profession of faith in Christ, and was baptized, yet he was never born again. Simon was one of Satan’s clever counterfeits, and, had Peter not exposed the wickedness of his heart, Simon would have been accepted as a member of the Samaritan congregation. Again, maybe, maybe not, as only God can truly seen in Simon’s heart and know if he had truly repented.
Bottom Line: Repentance needs to be real. It cannot be faked before God. You may fool others or possibly even yourself, but you cannot fool God and He gets the final say.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Please keep me from all deception, especially self-deception as I seek to follow You and Your Son. – In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Riley D. Driver – Pastor
Calvary Chapel of Dayton