“For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in a bond forged by iniquity to fetter souls.” Acts 8:23 Amplified
Continuing in the book of Acts, Phillip has traveled to Samaria to teach and preach the Gospel, performing miracles as well. There was a man there named Simon who was a magician claiming to be an extraordinary and distinguished person. He began to see people getting saved and turning to the Lord, so he believed as well. As sometimes happens when people turn to the Lord their former life creeps back in. It’s as if we come to a fork in the road when following Jesus and we don’t want to separate our old life from our new one so we try to ride down the middle. Though we know that Jesus can rebuke all demons and evil spirits, we must also realize that we have to go to Him for Him to do that. He will never force anything on us, we must willingly give up our old life and ways and seek the higher road.
So now the apostles have heard of all the people turning to the Lord in Samaria, therefore Peter and John travel there. They’re laying hands on the new believers so that they could receive the Holy Spirit. Simon the magician sees how the people react when they receive Him, and turning back to his old ways he asks Peter and John if he can purchase that power. Peter, of course, rebukes him for this telling Simon that the Holy Spirit is a free gift from God and that his heart is all wrong. He continues by telling Simon to repent of this thought and to ask God for forgiveness. The key for me is our verse today, “For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in a bond forged by iniquity to fetter souls.” Simon repents and asks Peter to pray for him.
We know from elsewhere in the Bible that we are in a spiritual warfare. This verse today points to that. Peter is telling this man Simon that he is in bondage to his old way of life. For us today, it doesn’t matter if it’s the regard for the power that money brings, or any other idea contrary to God’s Word, we must repent of it or it will keep us in bondage and become a gall of bitterness.
Let’s have open eyes and ears to recognize those around us, even those in church, maybe even ourselves that are as Simon was, fettered souls, in bondage and suffering in the gall of bitterness. If you know someone who can’t seem to be happy and at peace even while going to church they may be one of these. Pray the Lord opens their eyes to this and they repent to find the peace and joy only God can give.