Simon of Acts Chapter 8 vividly reflects the flesh driven desire to be fixed at no cost and to be disobedient at any cost. Instead of responding in obedience to God, we are tempted to default to pleading with our fellow Christian to pray off the consequences of our behavior. In response, driven by the desire ranging between compassion and wanting a fix for the sufferer we usually comply. How many times have you been asked to pray for someone with a failing marriage or a self destructive behavior when you knew there was clearly something that person needed to deal with God about? Ditto for Simon the magician. Peter was silent to his plea and rightly so.
Fresh to Christianity, Simon the renowned magician tried to buy the right to administer the Holy Spirit. In this first recorded attempt to pioneer the concept of franchising, he crossed Peter and the will of God. Peter forcefully responded with a diagnosis of what was wrong in Simon’s heart and predicted it would lead him to destruction. This is where Simon’s heart angst began.
Peter then called for Simon to repent as the only way out of reaping the predicted destruction. He encouraged Simon by letting him know that God wanted Simon’s heart healed and pleaded with him to do the right thing. Simon responded by rejecting the opportunity for absolute healing through obedience. Instead he took the “low road” in begging Peter to pray off the consequences of his sinfully motivated heart. We can only conclude that Peter said “no”, because the next passage after Simon’s plea simply reports that Peter left town. Thus proving evidence of the ancient origins of tough love!
Amazing! Simon did not repent, and Peter did not pray off the consequences. Peter did implore him to do the right thing and reminded Simon that God loved him and wanted his heart healed of its evil intent. Repentance is the necessary process of having our heart transformed to reflect the image of God. To pray off the consequences would have gone against God’s will for Simon. When ministering, we need to pray for God to reveal the necessary repentance and mercy in the process. However, to pray off the God-allowed heart pain that results from disobedience is to attempt to pray off the very will of God. Probably better to leave town.