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What does it mean to be bewitched?

Question: "What does it mean to be bewitched?"

We often use the word bewitched to mean “affected as if by a magic spell”; bewitchment can refer to the effect another person or experience has on someone. For example, we may say, “He was bewitched by her beauty,” meaning that he was smitten by a pretty girl. The Bible warns of another kind of bewitching.

There are two Greek words in the New Testament translated “bewitched.” The first means “amazed, astonished, or overwhelmed with wonder.” The King James Version translates this word as “bewitched” in Acts 8:9–11 to describe the effect that Simon the sorcerer had on the people of Samaria. They were overwhelmed with wonder by his magic spells and gave great credibility to his words because of his seemingly supernatural abilities. The Samaritans were bewitched by Simon Magus’s powers and activities.

The other Greek word sometimes translated “bewitched” means “under an evil influence” or “to be charmed by error.” Paul uses this word in Galatians 3:1, which says, “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.” Paul was trying to shake some sense into the Christians in Galatia who were adopting false doctrines about salvation by works. It was as though, after they had received the true gospel of grace, someone had bewitched them to make them change their minds.

In the Bible, bewitching is often directly related to witchcraft, a practice strongly forbidden by God (Leviticus 20:6; 1 Samuel 15:23; 2 Kings 23:24). God despises everything having to do with witchcraft or sorcery, because it replaces Him in people’s affections. When we allow ourselves to be bewitched by worldliness (1 John 2:15–16), witchcraft (Deuteronomy 18:14; Revelation 9:21), or false doctrine (1 Timothy 1:3–6), we are forsaking the true God for a counterfeit (Jeremiah 2:13).

God created us to be living temples for His Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19–20). We are to be filled by Him (Galatians 5:19), walk with Him (Micah 6:8), and worship only Him (Matthew 4:10). To be controlled or bewitched by anything else is contrary to our design. The only “bewitching” we should experience is in the first sense, to be overwhelmed with wonder at the beauty of the Lord and amazed at the majesty of God Almighty (Isaiah 6:1–5).

Recommended Resource: Wicca’s Charm: Understanding the Spiritual Hunger Behind the Rise of Modern Witchcraft by Catherine Sanders

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