Still not sure that I have Simon pegged (Acts 8:9-24). It’s recorded he believed the good news, but did he really? Truly a sheep? Or a wolf in sheep’s clothing? Saved guy with just a heart problem? Or still a sinner guy with a heart of stone. The iniquity that binds him, due to him being but a babe in Christ and new to the ways of the kingdom of heaven? Or an indicator that he was still blinded by the ruler of this world and pursuing his kingdom?
What I do know is that Simon liked being the center of attention. He made a living with displays of apparent power. He was a self-promoter; if people couldn’t recognize it themselves, he wouldn’t hesitate to let them know that “he himself was somebody great.” And people bought it . . . literally! They paid him good money to be amazed by his magic and power. He had it all! Or did he?
Philip the evangelist came to town and Simon heard the good news proclaimed. He listened as the evangelist declared the kingdom of God and the power of Jesus’ name to save. And like so many in Samaria, he too believed, was baptized, and followed after Philip. So far, so good.
But then it gets interesting. Peter and the apostles come to Samaria when they hear that revival has broken out. And in order to confirm that this outbreak of grace-provoked belief was of God, they seal the deal just as it had been sealed at Pentecost–with the outpouring of the Spirit of God. The apostles lay their hands on these new believers and they receive the Holy Spirit. And it’s evident to everyone that great power has come down from heaven. Simon included.
And the magician sees the opportunity to add to his “Simon the Great” bag of tricks. Not only is the gospel good for his soul, but the power that comes with it might be good for his career. And so he makes Peter an offer. He offers the apostle a sum of money saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” And Peter’s response is swift and sharp:
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.”
(Acts 8:20-21 ESV)
Was Simon still in a state of “perishing” or was Peter using words that would adequately indicate the degree to which he abhorred this baby believer’s sin? To be debated.
But was is beyond debate is this: Money can’t buy me love.
The gift cannot be purchased. Not the gift of the Holy Spirit. Nor the gift of God’s eternal salvation of which the Spirit testifies.
Not that our salvation is without price. In fact, it has been purchased at great cost.
. . . you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.
(1Peter 1:18-19 ESV)
But the love God offers to a lost world is beyond the means of any man or woman to afford, even the richest of the rich. To think otherwise is to think foolishly. To act otherwise is to act wickedly. To reason that we can offer anything or do anything to merit God’s favor is an indicator of a “heart not right before God.” To entertain any thought that we have any means with which to bargain to profit from God’s abundant grace is a heart-attitude to be repented of. It is sin to be confessed that it might be sin which is forgiven.
Having believed, beware lest we somehow think that anything we have to offer God might obligate Him to bestow greater power or prestige.
Instead, let us rejoice in the gift. Free to all man, secured at great cost by Almighty God.
Let us walk in the power of the Spirit. Freely imparted. Our means of adoption (Rom. 8:15-16). Our agency of sanctification (2Thess. 2:13). Our guarantee of ultimate deliverance (Eph. 1:13-14).
And let us bow down and worship the Giver of every good gift.
By His grace. For His glory.