You thought you could obtain the gift of God with money
Acts 8:14-40 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
14 Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. 16 For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit. 18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21 You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22 Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity.” 24 But Simon answered and said, “Pray to the Lord for me yourselves, so that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”
25 So, when they had solemnly testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they started back to Jerusalem, and were preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.
26 But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, “Get up and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a desert road.) 27 So he got up and went; and there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure; and he had come to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go up and join this chariot.” 30 Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 Now the passage of Scripture which he was reading was this:
“He was led as a sheep to slaughter; And as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
So He does not open His mouth. 33 “In humiliation His judgment was taken away;
Who will relate His generation? For His life is removed from the earth.”
34 The eunuch answered Philip and said, “Please tell me, of whom does the prophet say this? Of himself or of someone else?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him. 36 As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” 37 And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” 38 And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he kept preaching the gospel to all the cities until he came to Caesarea.
In today’s text it says: Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 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 no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity.” But Simon answered and said, “Pray to the Lord for me yourselves, so that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.” James 1:16-17 says: Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. Romans 6:23 says: The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Eternal life, salvation, redemption from sin and the Holy Spirit who we receive through salvation are free gifts from God. We can neither earn them nor can we purchase them for any price. They were already paid for in full by the blood of Jesus and the finished work of the cross. God is a fair and just God. He will not overcharge or accept additional payment for what has been fully paid. All that we can purchase or earn with our own selfish works is the due wage of sin, which is death.
Still, there is another important principle revealed within this account. While redemption, salvation and the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit are free gifts, there is a requirement on our part for us to receive the gifts we have been given. The text says: You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity. The only thing we can do, the only thing we must do to receive the free gift(s) from God, is to repent. Our heart must be right before God. It would seem that Simon wanted a good thing. He wanted the authority to lay hands on people that they might receive the Holy Spirit. But his heart was not right. Did Simon think that if he could purchase that power and authority he could also sell it? The indication that his heart was not right is that he did not do what was said. Rather than repent, he asked that Peter would pray for him. Jesus says: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6) In John 14:15-17, Jesus continues saying: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” Peter’s powerful preaching led many people to salvation. Through the power of the Holy Spirit in him many were healed. But as Peter himself said in Acts 4:12: There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved. To receive the promises and the free gift, every good thing, every perfect gift, it must come from the Father in heaven, through Jesus Christ His Son. It cannot be purchased. It cannot be earned and it cannot be granted or given by anyone else, not Peter, not your pastor, not the Pope. Jesus says: “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) Only through repenting, changing the way we believe from the ways of the world to the way of God, can we receive what God has freely given us. Repenting is first changing what we think and believe. It is changing our heart. Then having changed the way we think, having purified the intentions of our heart, we also change how we act, what we do. Jesus says that if we love Him we will keep His commandments. That too is the repentance we need to receive all that He has given us for free.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit thank You for all that You have given me. Thank You that my redemption, my salvation and even the power of the Holy Spirit was paid in full by the finished work of the cross. I believe and believing I ask that You Holy Spirit would lead me, empower me to change not only how I think, but all that I do. Amen.