A Bewitching Power

Davi P. Silva
June 26, 2017
“O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth crucified among you?” Galatians 3: 1.

“O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth crucified among you?” Galatians 3: 1.

 

“Those who present a doctrine contrary to that of the Bible are led by the great apostate who was cast out of the courts of God.…  

 

“With such a leader—an angel expelled from heaven—these supposedly wise men of earth may fabricate bewitching theories with which to infatuate the minds of men. Paul said to the Galatians, ‘Who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth?’ Satan has a masterly mind, and he has his chosen agents by which he works to exalt men, and clothe them with honor above God. But God is clothed with power; He is able to take those who are dead in trespasses and sins, and by the operation of the Spirit which raised Jesus from the dead, transform the human character, bringing back to the soul the lost image of God. Those who believe in Jesus Christ are changed from being rebels against the law of God into obedient servants and subjects of His kingdom. They are born again, regenerated, sanctified through the truth. This power of God the skeptic will not admit, and he refuses all evidence until it is brought under the domain of his finite faculties. He even dares to set aside the law of God, and prescribe the limit of Jehovah's power. But God has said, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness: but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.’” —Fundamentals of Christian Education, pp. 331-333.

 

“Paul inquires, ‘Who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth?’ Satan is the bewitcher, and he has wrought, that Christ may be expelled from the soul, and that he himself may be there enthroned.” —Sons and Daughters of God, p. 336.

 

“He who holds the truth in unrighteousness, who declares his belief in it, and yet wounds it every day by his inconsistent life, is surrendering himself to the service of Satan and leading souls to ruin. This class holds intercourse with fallen angels and is aided by them in gaining the control of minds. When Satan’s bewitching power controls a person, God is forgotten, and man who is filled with corrupt purposes is extolled. Secret licentiousness is practiced by these deceived souls as a virtue. This is a species of witchcraft. The question of the apostle to the Galatians may well be asked: ‘Who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?’ There is always a bewitching power in heresies and in licentiousness. The mind is so deluded that it cannot reason intelligently, and an illusion is continually leading it from purity. The spiritual eyesight becomes blurred, and persons of hitherto untainted morals become confused under the delusive sophistry of those agents of Satan who profess to be messengers of light. It is this delusion which gives these agents power. Should they come out boldly and make their advances openly they would be repulsed without a moment’s hesitation; but they work first to gain sympathy and secure confidence in themselves as holy, self-sacrificing men of God. As His special messengers they then begin their artful work of drawing away souls from the path of rectitude by attempting to make void the law of God.” —Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, pp. 142, 143.

 

“The truth has been opened before us, and yet the words of Paul to the Galatians are applicable to us. He says: ‘O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Have ye suffered so many things in vain? If it be yet in vain.’” —Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 196.

 

“When Satan’s bewitching power controls a person, God is forgotten, and man who is filled with corrupt purposes is extolled. Secret licentiousness is practiced by these deceived souls as a virtue. This is a species of witchcraft. . . . There is always a bewitching power in heresies and in licentiousness. The mind is so deluded that it cannot reason intelligently, and an illusion is continually leading it from purity. The spiritual eyesight becomes blurred, and persons of hitherto untainted morals become confused under the delusive sophistry of those agents of Satan who profess to be messengers of light. It is this delusion which gives these agents power. Should they come out boldly and make their advances openly, they would be repulsed without a moment’s hesitation; but they work first to gain sympathy and secure confidence in themselves as holy, self-sacrificing men of God. As his special messengers they then begin their artful work of drawing away souls from the path of rectitude by attempting to make void the law of God.” —The Adventist Home, p. 330.

 

“Another source of danger against which we should be constantly on guard is the reading of infidel authors. Such works are inspired by the enemy of truth, and no one can read them without imperiling the soul. It is true that some who are affected by them may finally recover; but all who tamper with their evil influence place themselves on Satan's ground, and he makes the most of his advantage. As they invite his temptations, they have not wisdom to discern or strength to resist them. With a fascinating, bewitching power unbelief and infidelity fasten themselves upon the mind.” —Ibid., p. 413.

 

“The world is deluged with books that might better be consumed rather than circulated. Books upon Indian warfare and similar topics, published and circulated as a money-making scheme, might better never be read. There is a satanic fascination in these books. The heart-sickening relation of crimes and atrocities has a bewitching power upon many youth, exciting in them the desire to bring themselves into notice, even by the most wicked deeds. There are many works more strictly historical whose influence is little better. The enormities, the cruelties, the licentious practices, portrayed in these writings, have acted as leaven in many minds, leading to the commission of similar acts. Books that delineate the satanic deeds of human beings are giving publicity to evil works. The horrible details of crime and misery need not be lived over, and none who believe the truth for this time should act a part in perpetuating their memory.

“Love stories and frivolous and exciting tales constitute another class of books that is a curse to every reader. The author may attach a good moral, and all through his work may weave religious sentiments; yet in most cases Satan is but clothed in angel robes, the more effectually to deceive and allure. The mind is affected in a great degree by that upon which it feeds. The readers of frivolous, exciting tales become unfitted for the duties lying before them. They lead an unreal life, and have no desire for useful employment, and no desire to search the Scriptures, to feed upon the heavenly manna. The mind is enfeebled, and loses its power to contemplate the great problems of duty and destiny.” —The Colporteur Evangelist, pp. 75, 76.

 

“God hates sin. Satan’s work is to allure to works of evil. How adroitly Satan worked with his bewitching power to fascinate the mind to choose sin rather than righteousness. The influence of one person on another had become dangerous because of Satan’s leading and controlling the mind and pressing this influence of one over another in his own service. But the Lord Jesus, by the agency of His Holy Spirit, changes the order of things and takes the sins and guilt of the human race upon Himself, and draws people to Himself, and sanctifies and employs the human agent as His instrumentality to engage his powers to do an entirely opposite work than Satan advised.” —Christ Triumphant, p. 164.

 

The Bewitching Power of Satan

“It is the purpose of Satan to make the world very attractive. He has a bewitching power which he exercises to allure the affections of even the professed followers of Christ. There are many professedly Christian men who will make any sacrifice in order to gain riches, and the more successful they are in obtaining the object of their desires, the less they care for the precious truth and its advancement in the world. They lose their love for God, and act like men who are insane. The more they are prospered in material wealth, the less they invest in the cause of God. 

 

“The works of those who have an insane love for riches make it evident that it is impossible to serve two masters, God and mammon. They show to the world that money is their god. They yield their homage to its power, and to all intents and purposes they serve the world. The love of money becomes a ruling power, and for its sake they violate the law of God. They may profess the religion of Christ, but they do not love its principles, or heed its admonitions. They give their best strength to serve the world, and they bow to mammon.   

 

“It is alarming that so many are deluded by Satan. He excites the imagination with brilliant prospects of worldly gain, and men become infatuated, and think that before them is a prospect of perfect happiness. They are lured on by the hope of obtaining honor and riches and position. Satan says to the soul, ‘All this will I give thee, all this power and wealth with which you may do good to your fellow men;’ but when the object for which they seek is gained, they find themselves with no connection with the self-denying Redeemer; they are not partakers of the divine nature. They hold to earthly treasures, and despise the requirements of self-denial, self-sacrifice, and humiliation for the truth’s sake. They have no desire to part with the dear earthly treasure upon which their heart is set. They have exchanged masters, and accepted the service of mammon instead of the service of Christ. Satan has secured to himself the worship of these deceived souls through the love of worldly treasure.    

 

“It is often found that the change from godliness to worldliness has been made so imperceptibly by the wily insinuations of the evil one, that the deceived soul is not aware that he has parted company with Christ, and is His servant only in name.” —Counsels on Stewardship, pp. 214, 215.

 

 Rebellion and Witchcraft

“Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry,” 1 Samuel 15:23.

 

“Rebellion originated with Satan, and all rebellion against God is directly due to satanic influence. Those who set themselves against the government of God have entered into an alliance with the archapostate, and he will exercise his power and cunning to captivate the senses and mislead the understanding. He will cause everything to appear in a false light. Like our first parents, those who are under his bewitching spell see only the great benefits to be received by transgression.   

 

“No stronger evidence can be given of Satan's delusive power than that many who are thus led by him deceive themselves with the belief that they are in the service of God. When Korah, Dathan, and Abiram rebelled against the authority of Moses, they thought they were opposing only a human leader, a man like themselves; and they came to believe that they were verily doing God service. But in rejecting God’s chosen instrument they rejected Christ; they insulted the Spirit of God. So, in the days of Christ, the Jewish scribes and elders, who professed great zeal for the honor of God, crucified His Son. The same spirit still exists in the hearts of those who set themselves to follow their own will in opposition to the will of God.    

 

“Saul had had the most ample proof that Samuel was divinely inspired. His venturing to disregard the command of God through the prophet was against the dictates of reason and sound judgment. His fatal presumption must be attributed to satanic sorcery. Saul had manifested great zeal in suppressing idolatry and witchcraft; yet in his disobedience to the divine command he had been actuated by the same spirit of opposition to God and had been as really inspired by Satan as are those who practice sorcery; and when reproved, he had added stubbornness to rebellion. He could have offered no greater insult to the Spirit of God had he openly united with idolaters.    

 

 “It is a perilous step to slight the reproofs and warnings of God’s word or of His Spirit. Many, like Saul, yield to temptation until they become blind to the true character of sin. They flatter themselves that they have had some good object in view, and have done no wrong in departing from the Lord’s requirements. Thus they do despite to the Spirit of grace, until its voice is no longer heard, and they are left to the delusions which they have chosen.” —Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 635.

 

“Samuel informed Saul that his rebellion was as the sin of witchcraft. That is, when one commenced to travel in the path of rebellion, he yields himself to be controlled by an influence that is in opposition to the will of God. Satan controls the rebellious mind. Those who are thus controlled lose a calm trust in God, and have less and less disposition to yield loving obedience to his will. Satan becomes more and more familiar with them, until they seem to have no power to cease to rebel. In this respect, rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.” —Spiritual Gifts, vol. 4a, p. 76.

 

“I question whether genuine rebellion is ever curable…. Rebellion and apostasy are in the very air we breathe. We shall be affected by it unless we by faith hang our helpless souls upon Christ. If men are so easily misled, how will they stand when Satan shall personate Christ, and work miracles? Who will be unmoved by his misrepresentations? Professing to be Christ when it is only Satan assuming the person of Christ, and apparently working the works of Christ? What will hold God’s people from giving their allegiance to false Christs? ‘Go not ye after them.’ —The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1114.

 

“Every man, woman, and child that is not under the control of the Spirit of God is under the influence of Satan’s sorcery, and by his words and example he will lead others away from the path of truth. When the transforming grace of Christ is upon the heart, a righteous indignation will take possession of the soul because the sinner has so long neglected the great salvation that God has provided for him. He will then surrender himself, body, soul, and spirit, to God and will withdraw from companionship with Satan, through the grace given him of God. He will, like the Ephesians, denounce sorcery, and will cut the last thread that binds him to Satan. He will leave the banner of the prince of darkness, and will come under the bloodstained banner of Prince Emmanuel. He will burn the magical books.” —Messages to Young People, p. 278.

 

“My brethren, God is grieved with your envying and jealousies, your bitterness and dissension. In all these things you are yielding obedience to Satan and not to Christ. When we see men firm in principle, fearless in duty, zealous in the cause of God, yet humble and lowly, gentle and tender, patient toward all, ready to forgive, manifesting love for souls for whom Christ died, we do not need to inquire: Are they Christians? They give unmistakable evidence that they have been with Jesus and learned of Him. When men reveal the opposite traits, when they are proud, vain, frivolous, worldly-minded, avaricious, unkind, censorious, we need not be told with whom they are associating, who is their most intimate friend. They may not believe in witchcraft; but, notwithstanding this, they are holding communion with an evil spirit.” —Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, pp. 224, 225.

 

“Rebellion against God is as directly due to Satanic influence as is the practice of witchcraft. Like witchcraft, it exerts a bewitching, deceptive power almost impossible to break. Those who set themselves against the government of God have entered into an alliance with the arch-apostate, and he will not lightly lose his prey. All his power and cunning will be exercised to captivate the senses and mislead the understanding of his victims. Everything appears to them in a false light. Under his bewitching spell they can, like our first parents, see only the great benefits to be received by transgression. To achieve the desired object, they will stop at no means, however great the danger to another or the sin to themselves.

 

“No stronger evidence can be given of Satan's delusive power than that many who are thus led by him deceive themselves with the belief that they are in the service of God. The Jewish scribes and elders in the days of Christ professed great zeal for the honor of God, and yet they rejected his Son. Jesus gave them the most conclusive evidence that he was the Promised One. Upon one occasion, the Spirit witnessed so powerfully to his claims that the hearts of all who were in the synagogue responded to the gracious words that proceeded from his lips. Here was the turning-point with that company. As Christ's divinity flashed through humanity, their spiritual sight was quickened. A new power of discernment and appreciation came upon them, and the conviction was almost irresistible that Jesus was the Son of God. But Satan was at hand to arouse doubts, unbelief, and pride. They steeled their hearts against the Saviour’s words. As they yielded to the control of Satan, they were fired with uncontrollable rage against Jesus. With one accord they would have taken his life, had not angels interposed for his deliverance.” 

 

“The same spirit still exists in the hearts of those who set themselves to follow their own perverted judgment in opposition to the will of God. The struggle between truth and error will reveal the same pride and stubbornness, and the same unreasoning hatred against the advocates of truth, as was displayed by the unbelieving Jews.

 

“He who could cause all the glories of earthly empires to pass before Christ in his hour of temptation, exerts a wizard-like power upon the minds of all who do not implicitly trust and obey God. It is this moral infatuation which steels their hearts against the influence of the Holy Spirit. It was this that led Korah, Dathan, and Abiram to rebel against the authority of Moses. Satan deluded them with the idea that they were opposing only a human leader, a man like themselves. But in rejecting God's chosen instrument, they rejected Christ, their invisible leader. They insulted the Spirit of God; and judgments followed close upon their sin. They were deceived by Satan, but by their own consent; because they placed themselves in his power."  —The Signs of the Times, September 14, 1882.

 

Demon influence and possession

When Lucifer was expelled from heaven, so was a third part of the angels. These beings, created in the image of God, became instruments of evil to destroy, corrupt, and degrade humanity.

 

We have no idea how many evil angels inhabit this planet, but they are numerous. Considering that our world has more than seven billion human beings, and everyone is tempted by many evil spirits, we suppose that there are billions of evil angels working hard to fight against God’s purpose to save and benefit humans.

 

“When Adam sinned, man broke away from the heaven-ordained center. A demon became the central power in the world. Where God’s throne should have been, Satan placed his throne. The world laid its homage, as a willing offering, at the feet of the enemy.” —Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 33. 

 

In the time of Christ, a demon-possessed man said to Jesus that, in one single man, there was a legion of demons. Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary defines "legion" as: “a military body consisting of from three to six thousand foot soldiers, besides from three to seven hundred cavalry [in ancient Rome].” Even though it is not exactly clear how many make up a legion, it is a great number.

 

“Jesus has not changed; He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and He still loves and pities the erring, seeking to draw them to Himself, that He may give them divine aid. He knows that a demon power is struggling in every soul, striving for the mastery; but Jesus came to break the power of Satan and to set the captives free.” —My Life Today, p. 300.

 

It seems that those perverted creatures become experts in different lines of sin, vice, and works of destruction.

 

In the writings of Ellen White, some expressions make clear that there are different demons who tempt men in different areas. Let us consider some expressions with this sense:

 

Demon of Intemperance

“Intemperance is on the increase, in spite of the efforts made to control it. We cannot be too earnest in seeking to hinder its progress, to raise the fallen and shield the weak from temptation. With our feeble human hands we can do but little, but we have an unfailing Helper. We must not forget that the arm of Christ can reach to the very depths of human woe and degradation. He can give us help to conquer even this terrible demon of intemperance.” Child Guidance, p. 401. 

 

“In dealing with the victims of intemperance we must remember that we are not dealing with sane men, but with those who for the time being are under the power of a demon.” —Ministry of Healing, p. 172.

 

“The demon of intemperance is not easily conquered. It is of giant strength and hard to overcome. But let parents begin a crusade against intemperance at their own firesides, in their own families, in the principles they teach their children to follow from their very infancy, and they may hope for success. It will pay you, mothers, to use the precious hours which are given you of God in forming, developing, and training the characters of your children, and in teaching them to strictly adhere to the principles of temperance in eating and drinking.” —Child Guidance, p. 408.

 

Demon of Ambition

“Christ came to a people who were deceived and deluded by the demon of ambition. At that time they were under the Roman yoke, but they expected One to come who would establish a kingdom from which would be excluded every other people on the earth. He was to break the heathen yoke, to lift up His people, and set them with princes. All nations were to be summoned to appear before the One sent by God, and there called upon to surrender themselves or be consumed.” —Lift Him Up, p.  135.

 

Demon of Strife

“If the law of God is obeyed, the demon of strife will be kept out of the family, and no separation of interests will take place, no alienation of affection will be permitted.” —The Adventist Home, p. 106.

 

Demon of Selfishness

“Selfishness contracts the heart; benevolence expands it. Selfishness is a demon whose name is legion; in every age it has seemed that this demon would drive Christ and the spirit of self-sacrifice out of the world. Through its influence the church is weak when it ought to be a power. Who shall tell how many souls have been robbed of the gospel of Christ by the apathy of Christians in withholding means and personal effort? The church has thus put out her own light, and has become the by-word of infidels.” —The Bible Echo, February 12, 1894.

 

“The Saviour read the heart of Judas; He knew the depths of iniquity to which, unless delivered by the grace of God, Judas would sink. In connecting this man with Himself, He placed him where he might, day by day, be brought in contact with the outflowing of His own unselfish love. If he would open his heart to Christ, divine grace would banish the demon of selfishness, and even Judas might become a subject of the kingdom of God.” —The Desire of Ages, p. 294.

 

Demon ofGreedd

“Mercy’s pleading resisted, the impulse of evil bore final sway. Judas, angered at an implied rebuke and made desperate by the disappointment of his ambitious dreams, surrendered his soul to the demon of greed and determined upon the betrayal of his Master. From the Passover chamber, the joy of Christ’s presence, and the light of immortal hope, he went forth to his evil work—into the outer darkness, where hope was not.” —Education, p. 92.

 

Demon of Jealousy

“When Saul and David were returning from battle with the Philistines, ‘the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of music.’ One company sang, ‘Saul hath slain his thousands,’ while another company took up the strain, and responded, ‘And David his ten thousands.’ The demon of jealousy entered the heart of the king. He was angry because David was exalted above himself in the song of the women of Israel. In place of subduing these envious feelings, he displayed the weakness of his character, and exclaimed. ‘They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom?’” —Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 650.

 

Demon of Unkindness

When a man professes to be sanctified, and yet in words and works may be represented by the impure fountain sending forth its bitter waters, we may safely say, That man is deceived. He needs to learn the very alphabet of what constitutes the life of a Christian. Some who profess to be servants of Christ have so long cherished the demon of unkindness that they seem to love the unhallowed element and to take pleasure in speaking words that displease and irritate. These men must be converted before Christ will acknowledge them as His children.” —The Sanctified Life, p. 16.

 

Demon of Heresy

“Jesus is rich in grace. Draw, constantly draw from Him, for you may have rich supplies. The demon of heresy has mapped out the world, and has resolved to possess it as his kingdom. Those who are in his army are numerous. They are disguised, and are subtle and persevering. They resist every divine influence, and employ every instrumentality in order to compass the ruin of even one soul. They possess a zeal, tact, and ability that is marvelous, and press their way into every new opening where the standard of truth is uplifted.” —The Upward Look, p. 275.