Chapter 8:18-25 (ESV) - Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”
Now when they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.
Question to consider: Why did Peter tell Simon his heart was not right before God?
Some paint Simon out to be some kind of purveyor of demonic sorcery. I honestly think of him more as a con artist. I think he had some illusions that he did which impressed the Samaritans into thinking he had some kind of great power. He then probably used it to make money off of them. The reason I say this is because of his reaction to Philip. Instead of seeking to destroy him for preaching about Jesus, he was amazed at the signs and believed his message enough to be baptized.
However, it appears that he was more interested in what was on the master’s table rather than the master Himself. He was amazed by the healings and wanted to be able to profit off of them. When he saw people receiving the Holy Spirit after Peter laid hands on them, he assumed that this was an ability he could purchase for himself.
This is why I’m against preaching empty messages like, “Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” It entices people to “give Jesus a try” in order to receive some personal, earthly benefit or emotion. Once that emotion fades, or they face some kind of personal trial, they renounce their faith. Jesus referred to this in His parable of the sower (Matthew 13) where seed was sown on rocky ground. Simon received Philip’s message with joy but for the wrong reasons so his faith was not genuine.
Peter recognized this and confronted Simon about it saying his heart was not right before God. Simon was a con man who lied for a living, and now he had lied to himself in thinking he’d become a Christian. Nobody likes confrontation or to hear that their heart is not right with God, but this was truly the most loving thing Peter could have done for Simon.
Like the rich young ruler had to be made to see that he had put his riches before God, so Simon needed to see that the Christian faith was not about earthly healing and spiritual experiences. Like David sang in Psalm 51:10-12, all of us need to proclaim, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” I hope Simon’s prayer request was granted and that he received that heart transplant he so desperately needed.
Dear heavenly father, we confess that we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves. Help us to be honest with ourselves and our need for a clean heart and the righteousness that only Christ can give. Amen.