Bewitched Believer? – Beware!
It’s easy to do, isn’t it? You begin to learn a new thing… the expert demonstrates it, you get it, and begin to anticipate where the steps go next. You might say, “Oh, now I see… and then you do this and that, right?” But you are wrong. You do not next do this and that, you do something altogether different! Indeed, doing “this or that” would destroy you. What’s more, you cannot even do the first thing—you do not have that ability. If you believe you can, you are deceived.
The Galatians had come to Christ. They had received the Holy Spirit and taken the first steps of faith. But now they had begin to think they could add to it… they could do something more, something further to gain the favor of God. But they were wrong. Long ago Isaiah said it, “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isa. 64:6).
Paul is amazed at their deviation from the truth — the truth that we can add nothing. The work of redemption is entirely the work of God. Paul uses an odd word. He says they have been “bewitched.” He writes, “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?” (Gal. 3:1). He asks, “Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?” (v. 3).
Typically the word bewitched means to fall under the spell of someone or something else. It appears twice in scripture. Acts 8:9–11 tells how the Samaritans had fallen under the deceptions of Simon Magus. In this passage the original Greek word is ἐξίστημι and means “to throw out of position, displace, amaze, or astonish.” It can mean “to be out of one’s mind, besides one’s self, insane” Today we might say Magnus simply “blew their minds!” In Galatians the Greek word is βασκαίνω and means “to charm, bewitch, or fascinate by false representations.”
These days people are bewitched by many deceptions: materialism, hedonism, asceticism, science, sex — and yes, witchcraft- doctrines of demons and philosophies of man. A person bewitched of course cannot see they are bewitched. The one bewitched, by very definition, “cannot think about anything else,” anything other than the object off their bewitchment.
This is why despite countless testimonies of the vanity, the inability of these things to bring lasting satisfaction, peace or purpose to one’s life… one’s soul… bewitched persons remain transfixed in their idolization and pursuit of these rewards of emptiness. Jude poetically describes such emptiness: “clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead.” (Jude v.12). He says not only are such pursuits or man-made false doctrines ultimately empty but they also keep the mesmerized so focussed upon them that they miss the true Way, the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Ultimately, for them, writes Jude, “blackest darkness has been reserved forever” (v.13).
Don’t be bewitched! Don’t be hypnotized by falsehoods. Be shaken awake!
Just as you came to Christ by faith, continue to walk that one straight path day by day by faith. As scripture says, “…we live by faith, not by sight.” (2 Cor. 5:7). “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him” (Col. 2:6).