Acts 8: A Free Gift
In Acts 8, we see the story of Simon the sorcerer. When Simon heard the gospel, he started following the disciples around because he was interested in what was going on. When he saw the disciples pray and give people the Holy Spirit, he wanted that power as well, so he offered the disciples money to show him how. Peter did not hold back.
Act 8:20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.
Act 8:21 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.
Act 8:22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.
Act 8:23 For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.
Act 8:24 Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.
There is an important truth here. We don’t really know the motivation of Simon. Maybe he was really sincere and wanted to be able to do good for God. Maybe he just wanted power. In either situation, he fundamentally misunderstood what God is about. God cannot be bought off.
How many times do we do something similar though? We think that we can earn our salvation by doing volunteer work. Maybe we can earn our salvation by doing more good things than bad things. We feel like the balance is in our favor.
Unfortunately, just like Simon, that really doesn’t make us any better in the sight of God. Yes, I do believe that good works are the natural consequence of a true Christian, and I am not saying that we should not do good works. However, I am saying that if we are trying to earn something like the Holy Spirit, it is not going to work. It is a free gift from God to all who believe in Him.