In Acts chapter 8, a magician by the name of Simon believes in Jesus Christ, which is good; even the demons believe and they tremble! This man is not saved, his baptism has not saved him, his belief has not saved him. Peter is very clear that the intents of Simon’s heart are keeping him from salvation.
Simon does the worldly thing; he offers God something in hopes that God will give him this wonderful feeling of joy through salvation. He has tried to bribe the Owner of the Universe, and is met harshly, “Repent of this thy wickedness, and pray God that the intents of your heart may be forgiven you.” Peter went on to tell him that his bitterness was the reason for his bondage in iniquity.
What can we, as a church who recognizes that God has no interest in silver and gold or hundred dollar bills, learn from this? Is it that God cannot be bribed?
Beloved, why then do we offer the Righteous Judge of the universe our prayers in return for his glorious Gospel? Why do we offer our desperately wicked and broken down hearts for his abode? Why do we offer to sell our soul, which is not ours for bargaining since it is firmly in the captivity of the devil, to the Lord of lords in full expectation that he will welcome us into his service?
These methods of works based christianity are none more than fanciful simony. We are as guilty as the sorcerer of Samaria by putting a price tag on the gift of eternal life. Our wicked offer will receive the same admonition it did for the magician, “May your offer perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with prayer! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God.”
Paris Reidhead said it best, “Lord Jesus, I’m going to obey you, and love you, and serve you, and do what you want me to do as long as I live, even if I go to Hell at the end of the road, simply because you are worthy to be loved, obeyed, and served; and I’m not trying to make a deal with you.”
My dear reader, perhaps you feel as though you’ve made a deal with God for your soul; that you offered your bribe and he applied the price for your redemption. Perhaps you are saved, perhaps you are not; either way, your offer had nothing to do with it. God our Saviour saves for his own purposes and to his own glory, it is for his sake and through the redemption of his name you may be reconciled. At a time pleasurable to him he chooses to save, and when he does, the flood of his saving grace is inescapable.
Perhaps you have decided to believe in the Son of God in hopes that he will improve your magic act and/or other facets of your life, and the meagerness of your iniquity you have laid upon his altar seems to be a valid and fair price in your eyes. You are guilty of simony and you have neither part nor lot in the matter of the Holy Spirit and eternal life.
Repent, therefore, of this thy wickedness, and pray God that he may see fit to save a sinner like you, that none of those things which Peter nor I have spoken shall befall you.