The gift of salvation confronts not only the pride that assumes God’s gifts can be acquired for personal status, but also the deceiving spirit seeking such free gifts for egoistic purposes.
When Simon, a magician from Samaria, heard the gospel and believed in the preaching of Peter and John, he was baptized and followed them (Act 8:14-23). He however he felt compelled to pay them some money so that he could participate fully into the life of salvation; “he offered them money,19 saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” To this Peter answered harshly, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money.”
Was Simon of Samaria not grateful that he had just been delivered from the bondage of the demonic oppression and could now live a free life? Or was his past public life, characterized by being appreciated and honored as a “great” person, still dominating how he understood himself? In other words, salvation for him did not mean total surrender, dependence and trust but only a means towards further self-exaltation? Is it this that really constituted the demonic from which Simon of Samaria needed salvation?
Indeed, the gift of salvation confronts not only the pride that assumes that the gifts of God can be acquired into one’s personal social, economic and political status. Salvation also confronts the deceiving spirit that seeks to receive the free gifts of God for egoistic purposes. Such egoism can manifest itself in many self-centered agendas accomplished as if for or in the name of Christ. Salvation that is totally dependent on the accomplished act of Christ has its beginning and end in John’s confession about Christ: “He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30). That this salvation is not for sale does not mean it is cheap; for “you were bought with a price…” (1 Cor 6:20) in order to be free from all forms of slavery (1 Cor 7:23).