1. A PERPETUAL PROBLEM
a. What is often the subtle, underlying reason why many believers today become “bewitched,” as the Galatians were? 1 Samuel 15:17–23 (first half).
“It is the bewitching power of Satan that leads men to look to themselves in the place of looking to Jesus.”—Faith and Works, p. 27.
“Our cases are pending in the court of heaven. We are rendering our accounts there day by day. Everyone will be rewarded according to his works. Burnt offerings and sacrifices were not acceptable to God in ancient times unless the spirit was right with which the gift was offered. Samuel said: ‘Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.’ All the money on earth cannot buy the blessing of God nor ensure you a single victory.
“Many would make any and every sacrifice but the very one they should make, which is to yield themselves, to submit their wills to the will of God. Said Christ to His disciples: ‘Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.’ Here is a lesson in humility. We must all become humble as little children in order to inherit the kingdom.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 84.
2. LOVESICK BLINDNESS
a. What snare often fosters a bewitching power today—sometimes even among professed believers? Proverbs 6:23–26; 7:4, 5; 2 Timothy 3:5, 6.
“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.
b. How can certain types of books, videos, websites, and even musical styles trigger thoughts that gradually lead to such problems? Proverbs 23:6–8.
“Love stories and frivolous and exciting tales constitute [a] 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 live an unreal life and have 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.”—Ibid., vol.7, p. 165.
3. OTHER INFLUENCES
a. Besides those promoting frivolity or romance, what other types of reading, listening, and/or viewing materials can bewitch us? Name some lures the enemy uses to hook us. 1 John 2:15–17, 21 (last part); Acts 17:21.
“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. . . . 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.”—The Colporteur Evangelist, p. 75.
“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. . . . With a fascinating, bewitching power unbelief and infidelity fasten themselves upon the mind.”—The Adventist Home, p. 413.
b. Describe one ploy of the enemy and how it was targeted at Jesus without success—yet too often succeeds with us. Luke 4:5–8; John 14:30.
“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. . . .
“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. . . .
“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. 213-215.
4. FATAL DECEPTIONS
a. Why must we earnestly contend for the Christian faith? Jude 3, 4, 8, 11.
“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. . . .
“[King] 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.
“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.”—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 men . . . 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 and apostasy are in the very air we breathe. We shall be affected by them unless we by faith hang our helpless souls upon Christ.”—Lift Him Up, p. 21.
5. TAKING ACTION
a. In the days of the early apostles, what danger lurked in Samaria and how was it solved? Acts 8:9–13. Why can we especially be inspired by the step taken by some believers at Ephesus? Acts 19:17–20.
“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.”—The Youth’s Instructor, February 7, 1895.
“The path to freedom from sin is through crucifixion of self, and conflict with the powers of darkness.”—Our High Calling, p. 321.
“Could a large share of the books published be consumed, a plague would be stayed that is doing a fearful work in weakening the mind and corrupting the heart. None are so confirmed in right principles as to be secure from temptation. All this trashy reading should be resolutely discarded.”—The Colporteur Evangelist, p. 76.
“The infidel, when converted, will abhor the books that led him to doubt the word of God. The dissolute man who has purified his soul by obedience to the truth, will not venture into the haunts of dissipation, from curiosity or habit. Neither will he permit his mind to dwell upon such scenes, portrayed in the pages of the sensualist. He will be awake to his danger, shunning temptation himself, and earnestly warning others of its bewitching power. Whatever the idol previously cherished, the converted man will not only resist evil, but will, so far as possible, place himself beyond the power of Satan. Again we would ask the followers of Christ, ‘Have you burned the magical books?’ ”—The Signs of the Times, May 18, 1882.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Why would the enemy seek to stir up rebellion in Sabbathkeepers?
2. What must we realize about how adultery is portrayed in society today?
3. How can I follow more closely in Jesus’ steps when facing temptation?
4. In what areas of life might I be vulnerable to becoming bewitched?
5. What items of mine perhaps may best be discarded or even destroyed?