Before the gospel came to Samaria, Simon was a minor phenomenon with a major ego… not unlike attention-seekers of our day and culture.
But, Simon seems to have been drawn more to the power than to the Source of that power. He was willing to settle for the fringe benefits rather than the abundant life at its source.
I. The Circumstances (Acts 8:14-17)
When Peter and John came to impart the Holy Spirit to the Samaritan believers, Simon was beside himself.
II. The Confrontation (Acts 8:9-13,18-25)
– The Pride of Simon (v.9)
Simon was a magician/sorcerer; he was arrogant, boastful, and claimed to be great.
Pretending to be someone important – maybe even claiming to be God Himself (Acts 8:10) – Simon wowed the people with his sorcery, convincing them he had power over the spiritual realm.
– The Popularity of Simon (v.10,11)
In a time when many people assumed the existence of a spiritual world – and believed it was probably out to get people – magicians like Simon were in hot demand.
– The Profession of Simon (v.12,13)
Until Philip arrived on the scene, the man famous for taking the gospel to unexpected places. As a follower of Christ, Philip had a power within him that made Simon look like a conjurer of cheap tricks by comparison. Even Simon was impressed – so much so that he “believed and was baptized” (Acts 8:13).
– The Perversion of Simon (v.18,19)
Desperate for his former glory, he offered the apostles money in exchange for the ability to dispense God’s Spirit. After all, he had spent years pretending to do that very thing…
– The Punishment of Simon (v.20-23)
How wrong he was. Enraged, Peter reduced Simon to a whimpering wreck, denying him any part of their ministry and warning him to beg God’s forgiveness before it was too late.
– The Plea of Simon (v.24,25)
Nothing more is said of Simon, except that he humbly begged Peter to pray on his behalf – now afraid to even speak to the God whose power he had just tried to buy.
Only God knows whether his salvation was a true conversion… or just another attempt at manipulation.
Serving God is not a franchise operation. We don’t pay a fee and get a proven product to market to others for our personal gain. There are too many modern examples of people who are using God’s name for their own fame and financial benefit.
Listen to your own prayers. Are you asking God to give to you – and do for you – for your own gain? Do you go to church expecting to get something for yourself, or to give worship to God and encouragement and service to others?
It can be a great temptation to use church, connections made with certain people, or even God Himself for our own ends. Or to think we can somehow buy Him. We can’t.
* God does not exist to serve us; we exist to serve Him.
You can read Simon’s story in Acts 8:9-25.