Guard Against Jealousy
When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that the people of Samaria had accepted God’s message, they sent Peter and John there. As soon as they arrived, they prayed for these new believers to receive the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them, for they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Then Peter and John laid their hands upon these believers, and they received the Holy Spirit.
When Simon saw that the Spirit was given when the apostles laid their hands on people, he offered them money to buy this power. “Let me have this power, too,” he exclaimed, “so that when I lay my hands on people, they will receive the Holy Spirit!”
But Peter replied, “May your money be destroyed with you for thinking God’s gift can be bought! You can have no part in this, for your heart is not right with God. Repent of your wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive your evil thoughts, for I can see that you are full of bitter jealousy and are held captive by sin.”
“Pray to the Lord for me,” Simon exclaimed, “that these terrible things you’ve said won’t happen to me!””
Acts of the Apostles 8:14-24 NLT
This passage of scripture shares a very intriguing story of the spread of the gospel to Samaria. Because of the persecution led by Saul, the believers scattered, and wherever they went, they began to preach the good news about Jesus. Philip went to Samaria, began to preach, and perform miracles.
In that area, there was a sorcerer named Simon who had significant influence among the people who considered him a powerful man. Simon was amazed at the miracles performed through Philip, actually committed his life to Jesus, and was baptized in water.
Then Peter and John came to town and began to teach on the fullness of the Holy Spirit. As they laid hands on people, they were filled with the Spirit and evidently had some form of external manifestation as evidence of the infilling. I believe this evidence was tongues, although, in this particular passage, it doesn’t specify.
Simon, the former sorcerer, was really amazed at the power flowing through Peter and John and offered to purchase this gift with money. While many attack Simon, I prefer to think that he is just a baby believer who still has baggage from his past. In his past, you could buy special powers or tricks with money.
Peter confronted Simon and pointed out the jealousy and sin that was still in his heart. Simon’s response indicates to me he was repentant. He didn’t deny what Peter said.
Now for the application to us. We should always guard our hearts against jealousy. When we see God using someone else, we should rejoice and learn from what God is doing. The enemy loves to bring division in the church through jealous Christians.
Secondly, we should want to have the discernment of Peter and not be afraid to confront sin when it tries to enter the church. There have always been, and always will be, those who want to use their money or influence to control people and the church. God will not move in a place where people are allowed to purchase control.
Holy Spirit, please work in and through me. Help me never to allow a spirit of jealousy to control my life. Help me also to have a discerning heart and not be afraid to speak the truth in love.
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