Simon was a sorcerer who had impressed the people of Samaria with his occultic powers for a long time. But when he heard the gospel and saw the power of God moving through Philip the evangelist – especially in miraculous healing and deliverance from evil spirits, he believed and was baptized. I wish the story had ended there concerning this man, but it does not. The Scripture records that the apostles Peter and John came down to minister the Baptism in the Holy Spirit to the new believers, Simon is impressed again and so he offers money to the apostles so that he could have the same power as the true apostles in order to do this “ministry of impartation”. This is what we read in God’s Holy Word:
Act 8:18 And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money,
Act 8:19 saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”
Act 8:20 But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money!
Act 8:21 You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God.
Act 8:22 Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.
This passage has become very relevant now, since we live in an age where it has become very fashionable to link money with spirituality. It is taught by some that if you only do the right things, money will come your way, even in abundance. Today, money can literally buy you an audience. I wish true preachers of the gospel understood this, because unfortunately many false and corrupt ministers of the gospel DO understand it all too well. They are taking hold of the power of media to misguide lost souls. We need to use media to preach the truth in the fear and love of God, and not for the sake of personal enrichment and building a name for ourselves and our “oh-so-important” ministries.
It doesn’t take money to preach the gospel or hold a meeting in someone’s home. But to impress people with grandiose buildings, real estate, musical concerts, sound systems and television programmes certainly DOES require money – and often quite a lot of it. These are the things you need in order to enable ONE MAN to minister to thousands or millions at one time. If God so leads, this is fine, but there are pitfalls here, and we need to be sure it is GOD leading us on and not our personal ambition or love of influence, power, money and success. I am involved in starting TV channels and I believe that the medium must be used for God. But it needs to be used RIGHT.
The potential for deception is huge when money is seen as a key element in defining fruitfulness for God – because many people assume that if someone can raise a lot of money in God’s name, then surely, “God has raised this person up”, and God must be approving of what they are doing. People also tend to assume that if miracles of healing are taking place, or power of some kind is on display in Jesus’ name, that God must be endorsing the thing. However, in both cases this is not necessarily so. Many ministers of religion with contradictory doctrines have achieved the feat of attracting followers and money. If God is a God of truth, they can’t all be right, and they can’t all be sent from God.
I am particularly concerned about teachings that encourage people to receive spiritual anointings that seem to be available chiefly to those who “sow financially” into the ministry of the person “imparting the anointing”. It as if today “the gift of God” and the power to impart it CAN be effectively “purchased with money”. The Roman Catholics offered indulgences to help your departed loved ones spend less time in the fire of purgatory. Today, people offer the grace of God, the power to impress people with miracles and anointing, in exchange for a “seed gift” of money. In particular, it seems that there are those who would tell you that if you give money to their ministry, “anyone on whom” they “lay their hand may receive the Holy Spirit”, or perhaps an anointing from some kind of angel, if you care to accept it.
Even if genuine healings are taking place, it does not mean that God is pleased with all the things going on. In fact, it can be part of a powerful delusion which God sends upon those who take pleasure not in the truth, but in unrighteousness.
2Th 2:11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie,
2Th 2:12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
The book of Acts teaches us that God gives the Holy Spirit freely to those who obey Him (Acts 5:32). Peter said to Simon “Your money perish with you, because you thought the gift of God could be purchased with money”. Strong words. Who would talk like this today? Rather than imparting a blessing, it seems God would rather impart a curse to those who think that His Holy Spirit, or the ability to minister the Holy Spirit, can be purchased with MONEY. Money represents the stored power of human effort. God will not trade His Holy Gifts for the fruit of human sweat. If you get a spirit in this way, it could be a deceptive ANGEL of light and not the Spirit of GOD.
Was Peter being a Pharisee when he rebuked Simon, a new believer? Was he operating with a spirit of condemnation? Or was Peter truly filled with a righteous zeal for the honor of God and the purity of God’s ministry? I pray that the same zeal for purity and truth that motivated Peter will live on in our hearts today.
There are warnings in Matthew 24 concerning false prophets who will rise up and DECEIVE MANY.
If you believe Jesus is coming soon, realise that before He does, MANY (not a few) false prophets will arise. Yes, they will say that Jesus is the Christ, but it does not mean that they preach the same way of salvation as Jesus did in the Sermon on the Mount.
I count myself as a Penteostal believer. I believe in and have practiced the gifts of Holy Spirit, including the gift of miracles. I tell you, these warnings that Jesus gave were given to apostles who spoke in tongues, healed the sick, cast out demons and prophesied. If Jesus told THEM to TAKE HEED that no one deceive them, how much more relevant the warning is to US, the modern day believers in the operations of the supernatural power of God.
Be very careful of any minister of the gospel who suggests that you can get his anointing by remitting money to his ministry.
Be careful of endorsing any spiritual movement in which turning away from what the Bible calls sin is not a key element in the preaching.
Be careful of any movement in which men or angels are central.