God's Gifts Cannot Be Bought
"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?
Truth In Real Life
“Hell is the highest reward that the devil can offer you for being a servant of his.”
Born November 19, 1862, on a farm in Ames, Iowa, Billy Sunday would become one of the most popular American evangelists in history. His father was a Civil War soldier who died when Billy was one year old. At the time, Billy was cared for by his mother and grandfather. When he was twelve, he was sent to an orphanage to live.
From an early age, Billy Sunday was a great athlete. He was a fast runner and a good baseball player. He played sports, no doubt, to help keep his mind off of the hard circumstances in his life. The owner of the Chicago White Sox saw him play one afternoon and – even though Billy did not have shoes – invited him to play in the big leagues. Billy Sunday was able to run the bases in less than 14 seconds! In the eight years that Billy Sunday played professional baseball, he played incredibly – stealing 92 bases, setting national records, and making quite a name for himself.
During this time, Billy met a group of Christians from the Chicago Garden Mission who told him about Jesus Christ. He was downtown partying with his baseball buddies when the witnessing wagon pulled up and started preaching the gospel. God got a hold of Billy Sunday’s life that day and he accepted Christ as his Savior. From that day forward, Billy Sunday was a changed man. Everything about him was different.
Billy Sunday became “the baseball evangelist” and gained huge popularity when he preached. Huge crowds gathered to hear his sermons, and he won many souls to Christ. By 1914, he was holding huge revivals around the country. He preached on many important topics, including the sin of drunkenness, and told nearly one million people about God.
Has your life changed since God saved you? In what ways?
2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.