As long as we continue to judge by the outward appearance of things, we will fail to see
the wisdom of God and dangerously line ourselves up with the world’s wisdom which God calls foolish. Paul was dealing
with a people just like us. It was the church in Galatia. In chapter 3 he says,
Foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ has been evidently
set forth and crucified among you? This is all I want to know and learn about you, did you receive the spirit (with accompanying
salvation) by keeping the works of the law or by the hearing of faith and response to it? Are you so foolish to believe that
what you began with God in the spirit, you can now perfect or improve upon in the flesh on your own? Have you suffered so
many things in vain?
The church at Galatia had a heavy duty case of religious peer pressure going on. The new life of the
spirit and introduction of the Kingdom of God preached by Jesus was revolutionary. Lines were drawn in the metaphoric sand
and the traditional views of man in his relationship to God were being offended by the new covenant that God had placed in
the earth through the sacrificed blood of His Son.
Jesus became the rock of offense and the stone of stumbling. Those who believed and received
the gift of salvation by trusting in the hope of the gospel of Christ, had to contend with those who held traditional views,
and were therefore persecuted for their new found faith. These new believers became bewitched by tradition and the pressure
of their peers to fall back from God’s grace and embrace the law once again. But now, true worship of God was solely
based upon the finished work of the Spirit and the personhood of truth. His name was Jesus.
Because of Christ, relationally to God, all things became new for us, the old was done away
with. The fact that these new believers seemed to have a new fire and fresh living joy, infuriated those who sought to keep
the law and through it, keep control of the people. This contention caused these new believers to become double minded and
once again observe the rules of the law because they were babes in Christ on the milk of the Word. In essence, these babes
in Christ were sacrificing their new found liberties found in Him, for peace, security and acceptance with the ones who were
In Galatians 3 Paul reminded them, Christ had died for us all to make us partakers of His Spirit; but
falling back to the adherence to the law publicly confessed that Christ had become of no effect for them. There was no
way to finish in the flesh or by the law what God had done in them, because the law was done away with as far as it now
pertained to them in Christ. (see Romans 10:4) The demonic melody was being orchestrated even in their day and Paul was there
to confront it. Believe it or not, following rules and regulations that dictate a persons behavior or how one should think,
can be quite soothing to someone who is not spiritually hungry for the deeper truths of the meat of life. Babes are told what
to do and how to think. Consequently, a blind obedience to rules negates intimate interaction with the Holy Spirit who searches
the thoughts and intents of everything we do.
Past hurtful experiences in the realm of religion, portray a false portrait of a God who
impersonally rules through fear and judgment. Consequently, we fearfully and emotionally run from close intimate contact with
Him. It is much easier to just follow the rules and believe we are doing right by what we see and feel, rather then live by
faith and trust in a God we can’t see, fearing a risk of being rejected or judged by an angry God. That is why many
in the body of Christ won’t take off their fig leaves and let the Holy Spirit search their hearts to be corrected and
thereby empowered with the ability to walk by faith and know His loving kindness.
Allowing God to pull off our old spiritual grave clothes of religion and legalism hurts! The Galatians
were seduced by the symphony I have talked about. It caused them to have a stupor over their minds and wills, robbing them
of their dominion to act like the kings that Christ made them.
Mathew Poole’s commentary on bewitching states: The word translated bewitched, signifies
the vitiating of the eyes or spoiling of the sight; so as that men cannot discern an obvious object in a due position. Meaning,
who has seduced you, who has so corrupted your understanding that your actions are as unaccountable as the effects of witchcraft?
Obviously, we know that God is a spirit whose person cannot be seen with the physical eye
unless He was to make it possible. But, this passage is speaking of the eyes of the spirit or the eyes of our understanding
in the hidden man of the heart. That man, who is created in true righteousness and holiness, can see God more clearly than
any physical eyes could ever hope to see Him naturally.
The vitiating of the eye in Webster’s dictionary means: To make faulty, imperfect
or impure, to spoil or corrupt, to weaken morally, debase or pervert, to make a contract or other legal instrument, ineffective
Is it just me, or is this describing the soul of our country and the church in their neglect to hold
on to our foundations according to the will of God for our lives? Conversely, in the realm of the spirit, we have become faulty
in our eyesight and understanding of His finished work on the cross which justified us in His blood, setting everything right
between us. God reconciled us unto Himself and became our Father through the spirit of adoption.
Just like the foolish Galatians, our corrupted eyes of understanding cause unbelief that
is rooted in shame, making the New Covenant that Christ established for us, null and void in our ability to experience the
benefits of it. The same thing is happening in our experience as a nation with a constitutional government that at its core
is based upon the same principles of righteousness that God ordained us to live by. We have become morally weakened and base,
even perverse in our understanding and will to follow what is moral and right. The heart of the constitution has been stripped
of its power just like the heart of the New Covenant or New Testament has to the body of Christ.
The bewitchment of leadership has filtered down to those who follow them. Why? God’s
righteousness is not imparted to the core of our spirit by affirming of our new identity in Him. Even though we are related
to Him as born again sons by His grace, in our experience we live as enslaved natural, carnal human beings, who live out the
vanity of our own minds and wills, clinging to religion and the law as our fire insurance policy. So, our passive rebellion
to the truth becomes the ignorant practice of witchcraft.
Behind the heart of this witchcraft or bewitching is a spirit of religion and shame that
makes war against the righteousness of God’s Kingdom. This must be broken off of our lives or we will end up shipwrecked
and disillusioned all our days upon the earth, surviving the days instead of living them. This bewitching is a powerful force that’s empowered and
grows more totalitarian in its execution of the soul the longer we remain ignorantly co-operative with it and shrink back
in shame from a connection to the heart of God’s righteousness and grace. Shame turns His living Word into dead letter,
killing the soul and bruising the spirit. That’s why so many neglect His Word in their lives. Who wants to live in fear
and judgment? When we are in religions grip, it grows stronger when we heap upon ourselves the wisdom and philosophy of men
that’s passed off as doctrinal truth.
Conversely, for those who stay away from being indoctrinated with “church,”
ignorance is bliss. That person has less of a crutch to pull out so that God can start to put in place a firm foundation for
life. There’s less pain involved. It is quite another thing to try and break through the bondage of someone who has
been indoctrinated with religious tradition or education that promotes human wisdom.
Like the apostle Paul before his conversion on the Damascus road, pride of self persuades
them of a righteousness wrapped up in a college or seminary accomplishment. They believe the plaque on the wall qualifies
their arrival. That person is one who apposes themselves and forsakes their own mercy as they struggle to maintain the fruit
they have gathered while apposing God’s true righteousness. It is a hard thing to come to grips with. Pride won’t
let us acknowledge the fact; we could have spent most of our lives building our own kingdom and never even came close to building
His. Education and degrees are important, but not at the expense of humility or Christ’s righteousness and advancement
of His kingdom. Unless a heart connection is made to the love and grace of God, we will end up living with a Saul of Tarsus
spirit. Ignorantly blinded zealots, who hurt, wound or even kill the body of Christ with the best of intentions, spiritually
unable to understand the language of the Kingdom.
There’s a saying, “The road to Hell is full of good intentions” Paul was Saul, without
a heart connection. He was blinded to the fact that all of his accumulation of wisdom, observance of customs and rigor of
devotion equated to a dung heap without the revelation of Christ. Upon a revelation of grace, God changed his name and changed
his character because he became connected. Through his pain of being knocked off an ass and being blinded, he had a revelation
of the heart of God. Consequently, Christ became his life and reflection. He was plugged into righteousness for the first
time in His life, and now he considered everything he had done up until that point, a dung heap.............
Continued in The Bruised Reed