Acts 8:24, 25
Then answered Simon, and said, Pray you to the LORD for me, that none of these things which you have spoken come on me.…
I. THE MISSION OF PETER AND JOHN. Samaria - there is an emphasis on this word - had received the Word of God. There was something significant in this conversion. The gospel was already proving itself a power to reconcile and break down distinctions long rooted and deeply felt. So important an occasion called for the services of the two leading apostles, Peter and John. These go down and pray for the new converts, that they may receive the Holy Ghost. Power and purity, the joy and freedom of the Christian life, are associated with this baptism; as repentance or a preparatory change of life was associated with that of John the Baptist. It is difficult to understand how such gifts as those we associate with spiritual religion could be conveyed by the physical act of imposition of hands. Nor are we required to believe that the imposition of hands was in any way causally related to the spiritual result, or even instrumentally. It was an external association, an apparent not a real connection, such as might well deceive the unspiritual observer.
II. THE SELF-DECEPTION OF THE UNSPIRITUAL MAN. Simon perceives the solemn act of laying on of hands; he perceives that something follows - a spiritual power in the converts, and he mistakenly infers that the apostles are magicians, who can bestow at their pleasure supernatural gifts. What man can bestow may be bought from man Had the apostles been like Tetzel, the friar who went about in Luther's time selling indulgences, it would have been natural to offer them, and for them to receive payment for the communication of the power. But spiritual things are spiritually discerned; and "the carnal mind understands not the things of the Spirit of Gee" When the heart has not been awakened, when the man has not been born into the kingdom of God, there is constantly the danger of confounding things that differ. Money cannot buy thought, nor feeling, nor inward power; though it can buy action and the imitation of reality, but not reality itself. Simon confounds the outward phenomena of the Spirit with the essence and meaning.
III. THE UNSPIRITUAL MAN'S ERROR EXPOSED.
1. The sin of Simon is that of the money-loving man. His faith is in it; he believes that it "answers all things," not only in reference to this world, but in reference to the kingdom of God. He is the type of a class. There are those who secretly believe they can patronize the ministers of Christ, and purchase for themselves an interest in the kingdom of God. The power of wealth so subtly mingles with all Christian work, and profusely used may so readily acquire for its possessor the reputation of sanctity. But the immortal antipathy of the spirit of the gospel, as the free energy of the holy God in men's souls, casts off in one word of the apostle these vile counterfeits, which ever obtain currency side by side with it in the world. The apostle whose word has been in the very act of healing, "Silver and gold have I none," exclaims, "Thy money perish with thee!"
2. A bosom sin will separate a man from the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is within. It is a spiritual state and a spiritual system of motives. He has no part or lot in it who does not see that it aims at the fulfillment of our life by the subjugation of the lower motives and the instatement of the higher in the rightful empire of the soul. Simon's heart was not "straight" before God. He was trying to juggle with him who searches the heart; to keep the lower passions in full action, if possible, under the mask of piety. His is the type of perhaps the deadliest sin that Christianity has occasioned in the world. As the shadow follows the sun, so does hypocrisy follow close on the heels of genuine piety. Insincerity is the sin of sins. What filth is in the bodily habit, that untruth is in the soul. The man is aware of his sin. It is no blindness of passion, but the deliberate admission of an habitual lie to the feelings and the thoughts. It is a poison or gall infusing its influence into the whole life of the mind. It is a bondage, and no liberty is possible under the tyranny of inward falsehood. Thus is the character of the impostor exposed by the pure light of the truth. He is seen to pretend a faith of which his heart knows nothing; he regards the gifts of the Holy Spirit as the means of base gain; and he knows no higher motive to repentance than slavish fear of punishment. The spirit of the gospel is illustrated in St. Peter by the strong contrast. It sternly points out man's sins and tracks them to their source in the heart; chastises the sinner, but at the same time holds out the duty of repentance and the hope of forgiveness to the worst. - J.
Parallel VersesKJV: Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.