“Simony” means using money to acquire a place of leadership in the church or some kind of religious/spiritual privilege or blessing. The word is derived from the action of Simon Magus, who offered money to the apostles in order to acquire the ‘power’ to lay hands on someone and bestow the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:4-25). Simon was roundly rebuked for his attitude and offer, and called to repent; it is immoral, evil, and false to the gospel to try and acquire a spiritual ‘power’ by money in order to influence other for your own personal gain.
The sin of simony has occurred in different ways throughout history in the church. It was particularly a problem in the Roman Catholic Church in the Medieval Ages, as individuals offer money to purchase a position as a bishop or other places of prominence in the church. It also happened in indulgences, where cash was offered to the priest so that a deceased loved on might spend less time in purgatory. The Reformers particularly spoke out against these.
The sin of SIMONY remains with us today. It takes place whenever we seek to use Christianity as a means for our own personal gain (relational, monetary, notoriety) instead of the gain of knowing God and doing good. It does not just happen through trying to gain a position or a blessing through money—though that does happen—it also shows itself whenever one acts in mercenary way in the name of Christianity. It happens when we try to exert some kind of ‘power’ or ‘influence’ in the name of Christianity (dynamic personality or teaching; great works of social change) in order for fame or money or comfort. If we lust for some kind of religious power in order to influence others or mere personal gain, then we have fallen into simony.
But God has his ways of exposing the hypocrisy manifested in simony. Religious Charlatans and those who engage in simony are often exposed in this life—and certainly in the life to come.
If we find ourselves an attitude or posture of simony, surely the answer is to repent and pray to the Lord for help and mercy and grace (Acts 8:20-23), coming back to good news of the gospel (1 Cor 15:1-3).