8:18 And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”
20 But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! 21 You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. 22 Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.”
24 Then Simon answered and said, “Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me.”
Simon meets Simon. Before Peter met Jesus his name was Simon. Peter is the name Jesus gave him. Follow Peter's life closely in the gospels and you will find that whenever Peter is off track Jesus calls him by his old name - Simon. Why?
Simon means "God has heard". The most revealing time that Jesus calls Peter Simon is when warning him about his coming betrayal. In fact he calls him by his old name twice "Simon Simon the devil has asked for you... but I have prayed for you..."
God has heard everything. He hears words we don't speak. He hears the thoughts and motives of our hearts. Peter insisted and believed that he would never deny Jesus but he did. God had "heard it all" before it ever happened.
What does this have to do with Simon the sorcerer? God has heard him as well. God knows all about his self obsession. He knows how Simon craves attention and power. He knows how Simon longs to be superior and "above" the people. So powerful is the Spirit of God in Philip that Simon has no choice but to marvel. None of his tricks and/or demonic gifts could compare to what Philip had. When Simon saw Peter and John laying hands on "the commoners" and them receiving God's Spirit he couldn't contain himself. He longed for the power and position he had before Philip showed up. He wanted that power!
Peter was given a glimpse into the heart of Simon for "God has heard". His diagnosis was quick and firm: poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.
I once read the tragic life story of a serial rapist. As a child he had been raped forcibly by an adult. He was powerless to free himself. Powerless to escape. In that moment of terror he vowed that when he was able he would make others feel his pain and helplessness. He became poisoned by bitterness which in turn made him bound by iniquity. He became that which he hated.
We don't know the back story of Simon’s life but somewhere along the way he was made to feel small, inferior, and inadequate or something of the sort. The bitterness grew and he became determined to become powerful. He found his solution in the occult. He made a name for himself. He became "someone", that is until Philip showed up. Now he wants to buy the power from Peter so he can again become "someone" again.
Here's the sad reality: If our worth or identity is tied to anything but who we are in Jesus we are going to crash. If we are a runner someone else will inevitably run faster or further. If we are a mother our children will grow up and not "need" us anymore. If we are trying to extract our value as a person from something we do or from a position we hold we are bound to lose that thing and then what?
Simon was suffering from bitterness, bitterness from his past, bitterness against Philip, Peter, and John. Bitterness because the thing that gave him worth had been taken away.
Somehow he saw the miracles but missed the Story. He missed that God so loved Simon that He gave His only begotten Son to die for him.
There is our worth. We have been bought with a price - a priceless price.
Don't get caught in the trap of seeking your value as person anywhere else.