Not For Sale
Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is rightly called the Great Power of God.” They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his sorcery. But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.
When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”
Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”
Then Simon answered, “Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.”
After they had further proclaimed the word of the Lord and testified about Jesus, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many Samaritan villages.
Simon the Sorcerer thought he had stumbled onto something that was priceless.
Who wouldn’t pay a tidy sum to buy the right incantations; learn the secret words that would allow one to do the kinds of things the apostles were running around doing. Then people would really give him their attention” and call him “the great power of God.” Anything that could gain him such recognition was priceless indeed.
But he was only partially right.
The grace of God was priceless alright but only because it’s not for sale, it’s a gift.
People make a similar mistake these days, though perhaps not in such a dramatic way.
Still, they think that if they do the right “religious” things; say the right pious words; prove how “righteous” they are – they somehow figure they will be able to tap into the power and blessing of God in a way that others cannot. This is what is at the core of the “health and wealth” gospel – to “claim” how God wants you to be “prosperous” – especially if that prosperity is defined in monetary terms.
But the powerful message of the apostles to Simon the Sorcerer should fall heavy on our hearts as well.
God is a God of amazing grace – of that there can be no mistake.
But to ever believe we can somehow buy that grace, by any means, for any reason, is a terrible mistake indeed.