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. 17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. 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! 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 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.”
25 Now when they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans. – Acts 8:14-25
I have very seldom had the experience of confronting someone, calling him or her to repent, and seeing the kind of dramatic response that Simon offers to Peter on this occasion. This is a come-to-Jesus-moment gone good. Too many other times in the New Testament Jesus confronts Pharisees, Scribes and other teachers of the Law only to be rebuffed, rejected, ridiculed, and resisted.
Certainly this is partly true due to the difference between immature disobedience (out of ignorance and a lack of character development), and mature resistance (out of willful rejection, self-righteousness, and opposition to Jesus).
Immature disobedience flows from a heart and mind that is not founded on the deeper truths of God’s word. It comes from an ignorance of what is truly good and right. Immature ignorance is the reason for much of the writings of Paul in the New Testament. A church would be founded in a new city. New believers would be baptized. They might have little knowledge of the commandments of God, and the ways of the Christian walk. So they would err – sometimes grievously. Paul would write letters such as 1 & 2 Corinthians on such occasions.
When the time came, however, for Paul to advise Titus about how to handle his spiritual leadership in the church he had to tell him, “Warn a divisive man once or twice, then have nothing to do with him” (Titus 3:10). Ugh. I don’t want to be that guy. As such, I want to stay teachable, humble, and willing to hear someone who speaks even a challenging word to me.
The question for you: Are you approachable? Are you willing to take correction? Do you realize that the most dangerous attitude toward God is not doubt, nor even thinking you can buy spiritual influence or powers, but rigorous self-righteousness which prevents one from repenting? Thankfully Simon recognized the truth of what Peter was saying, and repented, asking for Peter’s prayers, desiring not to forfeit the favor of God for the sake of saving face.