But there was a certain man called Simon…
(Acts 8:9, NKJV)
Simon could amaze people by demonically inspired tricks that made them believe that he was the power of God. After the martyrdom of Stephen and subsequent persecution by Saul, Philip went to Samaria to preach the gospel. While there, the Spirit moved upon him in powerful ways. Those who were paralyzed by demons were healed. The demons would cry out in agony as they were forced to leave. At this display of grace many Samaritans believed in Jesus and were baptized.
When Simon saw Philip’s display of great power and authority, he realized the power behind Philip was greater than his. Therefore, Simon decided to believe in Jesus and be baptized.
Peter and John were sent to help Philip in Samaria and realized the new believers had not received the Holy Spirit yet. As Peter and John laid hands on the people, they received the Spirit with outward signs. Perhaps there were bold declarations of the truth, words of knowledge, tongues and the like. Simon saw this power and wanted it for himself. He offered to buy the ability from Peter.
“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.”” (Acts 8:20–23, NKJV)
It is scary to think that someone whom the Bible says, “believed,” and was “baptized,” also had a “heart that was not right in the sight of God!” It takes more than simple mental ascent that there is a God in heaven, and even a religious observation to be a true believer. Simon missed saving grace, even though he practiced external religious duties. He asked Peter to pray for him. Was he convicted by the the thought of losing his standing before God? I don’t know. But I do know that we all have a choice and that we can miss heaven by the slightest degree of the motive of our hearts. Is your heart right before God? If not, it can be. His grace is sufficient. His mercy is great.