“Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.” (Acts 8:17-23)
At a glance, it may seem as though Peter is being a bit harsh on Simon–someone who claimed to be a brand new believer. While it is good to be gentle in spirit toward anyone who is wrong spiritually, it is also most important to point out the seriousness of a sin against the Holy Spirit’s testimony.
There was nothing wrong with Simon’s desire to be a part of sharing the Holy Spirit, but Simon believed he could purchase God’s gift with money. One may think that could be a simple mistake of a new believer, but it goes deeper than that. Simon was showing that he really did not yet have a good understanding of God. Peter even says “May your money perish with you” so that leads us to believe that Simon was not truly saved from his sin, even though he claimed to believe in Jesus. To truly understand and accept the gift of salvation, you need to realize there is absolutely nothing you can do to get it!
Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” This verse says you cannot do any good deed or work in order to “earn” your salvation from God. It is only through God’s gifts of grace and faith that you are able to receive anything good from God!
Paying money, donating time, helping the poor — all those things are good, but you cannot expect to receive God’s blessings and gifts because you do those things. Doing good things to get good things is the absolute opposite of what God desires! You should do good things, but you should do them because of your understanding about who He is and what He did for you — and our Lord Jesus Christ did not live a sinless life, die, and rise again so that you could try to “earn your own way” to heaven by good works.
Because Simon believed he could buy God’s gift from Peter, he revealed a dangerous view of God. Trying to work for good things will have you constantly wondering if you’ve done enough to earn God’s approval. God wants us to know He paid it all for us to have our sins forgiven and have a right relationship with Him. He wants us to be sure that there is nothing we can do to work our way to salvation. He wants the glory He deserves for being so gracious to give us salvation as a free gift!
Recieve God’s gift and serve Him in humility because of what He’s already freely given.
We cannot “earn” God’s gracious gifts.
» Do I ever try to work my way into pleasing God?
» Am I ever tempted to forget Who gets the credit for changes in my life?
» How can I help others learn the lesson Simon learned about God’s free gifts?