“For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.” – Acts 8:23
In the Book of Acts we read the account of Simon the sorcerer’s sin. When the apostles heard of a revival taking place in Samaria, they sent Peter and John to minister the Word of God there. Many had believed the gospel under the preaching of Phillip and were water baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. But none had received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. So the apostles laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit (with the evidence of speaking in tongues).
Among those who supposedly had believed in Jesus was a Samaritan sorcerer by the name of Simon. Keep in mind, that a sorcerer in those times was the equivalent of what we would call today “an occultist”, “New Ager”, or “wizard” – one who tries to control others by practicing witchcraft, conjures up spells, and traffics with demons. They were generally God-haters who sold their souls to Satan in order to gain supernatural powers from the devil.
Apparently, Simon the Sorcerer attended the Samaritan’s revival meetings, saw people giving their lives to Jesus, and witnessed all manner of supernatural signs and wonders that God began to do. Miraculous healings were taking place and demons were exorcised, as well as people getting baptized in the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues, and living transformed lives.
As it often happens, when people start seeing the awesome move of God in a church or town, the word gets around and large crowds begin to gather. Many in these crowds genuinely commit their lives to following Jesus, while others only make a superficial profession of faith. Those who genuinely are saved will give evidence of changed lives and bear the good fruits of salvation. Others profess to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord, but, either never demonstrate changed lives, or after a time they forsake Him and return to their old ways.
Peter discerns Simon to be a false professor.
Having the gift of discernment from the Holy Spirit, the apostle Peter saw right through Simon the Sorcerer and realized he was a phony. Peter told him, “Your heart is not right in the sight of God…For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.” (Acts 8:21-23). The word Bitterness in the original Greek (pikria – pik-ree’-ah) means an embittered, resentful spirit.
Peter rightly discerned the root of bitterness in Simon the Sorcerer’s heart and his desire to deceive and manipulate others. This prompted his eagerness to purchase the gift of the Holy Spirit from Peter and John. Although Simon had believed in Jesus and had been water baptized, the residue of an evil heart continued to govern his life as he still sought power to control others for selfish or self-exalting purposes.
Peter confronted Simon to repent and be delivered. However, Simon refuses and continues to follow the dictates of his bitter heart. If only Simon had willingly forgiven those who he had become embittered to, he could have been saved and set free from his bondage to the demons that controlled him. Forgiveness is the only remedy for bitterness. It flushes out all “poison” from the heart with the power of the cross of Jesus Christ.
Remember that unforgiveness has destroyed the faith of many believers in Jesus Christ. If you have any resentment or bitterness towards anyone in your life, get rid of it today.
– Luis Josephus