Simon the sorcerer. Believed the gospel and was baptized. Yet asked to pay money so that he would be able to do the same that the apostles were doing.
What’s going on here? Have we ever followed Simon’s example in our walk of faith?
I once heard a friend pastor about how he “admired” Beni Hinn for the “power” that Beni Hinn “has”. It was out of a sermon.
You and I probably have never been a sorcerer, exposed to demons and doing transactions with demonic spirits. But Simon had. His thoughts of being able to purchase the Holy Spirit were founded on his previous life as a sorcerer. And maybe he believed the Holy Spirit to be more powerful than his demonic spirits, and thus was baptized as some initiation to receiving the Holy Spirit. But God knows the heart. He knows the motivations of men.
Jesus knew the heart of everyone who believed in him to overthrow the Roman government, but not as the Son of God. Simon was interested in becoming a greater miracle worker and continue his lifestyle before he heard the gospel. What Simon was missing was understanding and cherishing the meaning of the gospel to his life.
Many of us, even after having been baptized with water, we struggle to pay for the power of the Holy Spirit with religious works, fasting, hoping that we could maybe convince God that we’ve made ourselves ready to pour Himself into us.
Simon did exactly what every babe in Christ does at some point: trying to obtain God’s favor by our own means whether it’s our time, money or human efforts. A side note, when Peter prayed that Simon perish with his money (Acts 8:9-25), it was no different than Paul asking that the body of a certain man perished in the hands of Satan while his spirit be saved in the day of the Lord (1 Cor. 5:5). What Peter wanted to see perish was not the spirit of Simon, but the very thoughts that sought to convince Simon that he could offer money for the Holy Spirit. It was the destruction of the sinful flesh, the sinful mind, and not the spirit of Simon. For Christ came not to condemn the world but to save the world.
Was Simon saved? Some of us would ask. He did believe and was baptized. Had the blood of Jesus not been shed for his sins as well? When God was reconciling the world unto himself through Jesus Christ our Lord, was Simon left out?
Coming to the full knowledge of our salvation is the work of the Holy Spirit. It starts with grace and ends with grace. The preaching and hearing of the gospel, both by the Holy Spirit causing what we heard to remain and grow within out hearts. While Simon was saved from God’s wrath through the blood of Christ, his mind was still trapped in the lifestyle he once professed. When Simon stumbled as he did, one thing he surely learned is that he was nowhere ready for ministry and his money could never be his way into ministry.
The ministry is the ministry of the Holy Spirit. He works through us. He takes us through several journeys, working out the soil, getting the soil prepared before we’re ready to even hear and receive the gospel. It’s like a vessel being washed of all false beliefs before the truth can settle in.
Simon stumbled. Big time. We too have stumbled. Big time. Only knowing the meaning of the gospel to Simon’s life could set him free from the false expectations that he had concerning the power of God. And that takes the teaching of the Holy Spirit and time.
Only understanding the meaning of the gospel to my life grew me to maturity to start living Christ not as a baby but as an adult. Only the Holy Spirit had made that possible. The mind, our mind, certainly needs to be renewed every single day by the Holy Spirit.
Simon had conformed to the pattern of this world by offering to pay for the Holy Spirit, and in doing so, stumbled. He did not know what God’s will is. And that’s the will the Holy Spirit is reminding us off every single day. The will that details out everything that is ours because of the death, the burial, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)
“At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:3-7)