18Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19saying, “Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could acquire the gift of God with money! 21You have no part or share in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22Therefore, repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart will be forgiven you. 23For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of unrighteousness.” 24But Simon answered and said, “Pray to the Lord for me yourselves, so that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”
18And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, 19Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. 20But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. 21Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. 22Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. 23For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. 24Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.
Can people do anything to save themselves? Are all good deeds really worthless? In this sermon on “Simon the Sorcerer,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones proclaims the powerful gospel from Acts 8:18–24, showing that it does not matter how many good works one does or how religious they are: human effort is powerless to save. The severity of sin cannot be undone by good deeds and righteous works. Those who believe it can do not understand the reality that sin absolutely corrupts. Dr. Lloyd-Jones describes sin’s impact on humanity as every aspect of a person, their heart, will, and soul is corrupted. The message of the Bible is not good religiosity but it is one of supernatural regeneration and new birth. Salvation is obtained by Christ’s death on the cross and His resurrection from the grave. It is applied to everyone who believes by the Holy Spirit, giving them new life. Those like Simon the magician who see salvation as something that is simply a choice fundamentally distort the biblical notion of salvation. They detract from the supernatural aspect of salvation and from the work of God. The church must preach both the necessity of the new birth, as well as the supernatural aspect of salvation. They must make clear that desires alone do not save, but it is the Spirit working to give faith that saves.
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.