Before we read that portion, let’s read verses 9-11: “There was certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great, to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, ‘This man is the great power of God.’ And they heeded him because he had astonished them with his sorceries for a long time” (NKJV). Here is a man who loved POWER and FAME, and he used sorcery to achieve them.

We also read that Philip the evangelist was preaching Christ in Samaria and performing miracles and in verse 6 we see, “And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.” Prior to this, “all gave heed” to Simon, but here was one with even greater power, so much so that they all “heeded the things spoken by Philip.” Besides that, “there was great joy in that city” (verse 8). Here was some real COMPETITION for Simon! The day came when Simon met Philip personally. How did he react to this man of God? Verse 13 tells us, “Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and WAS AMAZED, SEEING THE MIRACLES AND SIGNS which were done.” Clearly Simon saw a display of power that was beyond anything he could do and this moved him to make a profession of faith in Christ and to be baptized.

Now let’s read Acts 8:14-19: “Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the Word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as ye He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, ‘Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” Before we read on, let’s ask ourselves, “Was this a good thing that Simon desired, or was it just another ‘form of power’ that he could use to astonish the people”? In other words, did he want this power in order to “bless others,” or to “make a great name for himself”?

We get the answer to these questions in verses 20-23, “But Peter said to him, ‘Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity’.” The apostle Peter, with holy boldness and discernment, exposes Simon for what he really is, an UNCONVERTED man with wicked desires! It could never be said of a true believer, “Your money PERISH with you,” for the believer in Christ will never perish. In John 10:27-28 Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and THEY SHALL NEVER PERISH.” Peter could see from Simon’s actions that his “heart is not right in the sight of God” and thus he exhorted him to “repent therefore of this your wickedness.”

Some may be thinking, “But we read that Simon had ‘believed’ and was ‘baptized,’ so how could he be an unbeliever?” The answer is actually quite simple, for in verse 13 we read that he “believed…and was amazed, SEEING THE MIRACLES AND SIGNS where were done.” He had no real faith in Christ as a Savior from sin; his faith was merely based on “miracles and signs.” The Lord Jesus encountered people like this in His earthly ministry, people who were drawn to Him because of the miracles He performed. John 2:23 is a case in point: “Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name WHEN THEY SAW THE SIGNS WHICH HE DID.” Because of their superficial faith, we read in verses 24-25, “But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.” Jesus knew, like Peter did of Simon, that their “hearts were not right in the sight of God.” (239.5) (DO)