The monetary band wagon attracts many who have a lust for riches. There is nothing wrong with money. We all need money to exist. You can’t have a proper life without being able to buy food, clothing, medicine, accommodation, education, etc. That is the way of life and that costs money. You need money and the method God has set apart for obtaining money is employment. Consider the following three passages about the need for one to work and earn one’s way:
Pr 14:23 All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.
Pr 21:25 The sluggard’s craving will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work.
2 Thess 3:10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.”
These verses show us that it is God’s will that we work and earn money to exist. At the same time, it is true that in our country and many Third World countries, millions upon millions do not have employment. This leads to starvation and theft. I am not talking about those environments. I am talking about working for one’s living where work is available. Honest, hard work that receives a proper wage. On the other hand there are those who suffer with the “gimme disease”! They want money and lust after money and will do anything to get their claws on money. Read the following passage carefully:
1Ti 6:3 If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, 4 he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions 5 and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
(1) Verse six ends with … “who think godliness is a means to financial gain”. That godliness is not true godliness. It is a religiosity … fake … pretense! Its giving others the impression that “godliness” is flowing because of Jesus and His Lordship, but it is counterfeit.
(2) Verse ten speaks of the “love of money”. Money is not evil. It can’t be because it has no life and ability to do anything by itself. Look at the verse … “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil”. Making money a god … an idol … will drive a person into an idolater. Note what Paul says under inspiration about “greed”:
Col 3:5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.
Greed is idolatry. I feel the above passages clearly show that one needs to work hard for a fair wage and avoid lusting after money because that is wicked and changes the heart of the person into an idolatrous heart! Please read the following passage in the Book of Acts:
Ac 8:18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money 19 and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! 21 You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23 For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.” 24 Then Simon answered, “Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.”
1) Simon wanted what he saw.
Ac 8:18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money 19 and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”
At first sight this seems a wonderful idea. Imagine being able to purchase the ability to dispense the Holy Spirit to all you lay hands upon! But he reveals his heart … it was evil! He wanted to buy this ability! The receiving of the Holy Spirit was being saved by grace … being born again. God grace is a gift:
Eph 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
A gift cannot be bought, earned or deserved!
2) Simon’s motive was wicked! His profession as a magician earned him lots of money. It was a lucrative business … and if he had what Peter and John had … he would really make a financial killing. In wanting the supernatural power to be able to transmit the Holy Spirit to all he laid hands upon has given rise to the term “simony” which means the buying or selling of sacred things or an ecclesiastical office. (Britannica.com).
Again … no one can buy or sell what God gives freely to those He chose before the creation of the world. (Ephesians 1:4). Salvation is by grace alone. Those who peddle the Gospel are evil. It is dangerous to think one could sell salvation and equally so to think one could buy salvation. Some try this by thinking that if they give the Church huge sums of money their soul will be secure for a place in God’s paradise. How mistaken they are!
3) Peter’s spiritual perception. He quickly realized that Simon was a fraud and his purpose was piggy backing on the Gospel for personal gain. Under inspiration Peter condemns Simon to destruction should he not repent of his evil. See verses 20-23. Peter saw Simon wanting to purchase the gift of God which is a free gift … and more … then sell it as a business! This is an example where the “love of money” becomes “a root of all evil”. Just imagine it … taking what God gives freely to a repentant soul being soul to an unrepentant soul for money!
Sadly, “simony” is practiced in many movements that give the impression that they are Christian. Relics, amulets, statues and the like are purchased with the buyer believing that these give protection from evil and security for heaven. Sadly for them these things are not of God and those who sell them are as wicked as Simon was.
Tomorrow we will return to what Peter says to Simon. For today we need to confront ourselves with two important issues.
(i) Do I or does the Church I am in peddle the Gospel for monetary gain? If I or my Church does not offer God’s Gift freely we are into simony.
(ii) Have I received the Gospel of God’s salvation freely and appreciate God’s love for me at Calvary?
Precious Lord, thank You for free grace found only at the foot of the Cross of Jesus. Amen.