This Sunday we continue our look at the Free Life which we have in Christ and as Paul describes in Galatians. Specifically we will be looking at the first nine verse of chapter three, Galatians 3:1-9. In addressing the issues faced by the Galatians, Paul has laid forth the events and circumstances which have led to his and their current situation: some have come claiming they have greater authority and are promoting a greater gospel. Their claim, of course, is false, and if they are to be believed, it will lead to undermining the gospel and will bring about the condemnation of any who embrace it because it really is not any sort of gospel.
In Galatians 3, Paul asks a series of six questions. The first of which is “Who has bewitched you?” The word for “bewitch” refers to speaking and speaking in such a way as to slander or speak ill of someone even to the extent of giving them the evil eye. Maybe someone has looked at you angrily, and you’ve through, I can see what you’re saying. Just as you know that words can influence to harm or wound, you also know that a good, kind word has the power to turn our day around, to invigorate and strengthen us, to motivate, relieve, give joy and comfort, bring about thanksgiving. Words do have power.
The English word, “spell,” comes from an early word which means “to tell.” We get this sense when we say that we had to “spell it out” for them. In addition this gets at the more common understanding of a letter by letter telling of events or details in the way in which we might spell a word.
“Spell” is also word that describes an incantation by which a spell is cast in order to influence or bring about a desired end. It is a way to make what you want, happen — to have blessing apart from faith. Rather than praying to ask God for help, it is speaking to get what you want. When Paul asks the Galatians, “Who has bewitched you?” he is asking, Who has cast a spell on you? That spell is not the gospel, it is not good-news or a good tale.
C.S. Lewis, in his sermon, “The Weight of Glory,” seeks to draw his listeners into an awareness of the longing for more than what we have experienced or can even hope to experience in this life. As he does so, he asks, “Do you think I am trying to weave a spell?” He answers his question with this,
Perhaps I am; but remember your fairy tales. Spells are used for breaking enchantments as well as for inducing them. And you and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found to wake us from the evil enchantment of worldliness which has been laid upon us for nearly a hundred years.
Paul’s question for the Galatians is a good question for us. What words have come to influence us? What thoughts, words spoken, conversations imagined or real have set the course for day — even our life? Have they been good words? Do they speak of the love of the Lord? Do they strengthen and fortify or do they tear down and curse? It is also worthy to note that rather than continuing with the word “spell” in his above quote, he uses the word “enchantment” — a word which has at its heart, “chant” or “sing”. What songs are you listening to today? Are they re-enchanting you in the goodness of the good news, the gospel? OR are they disenchanting you and pulling you down into skepticism, cynicism, and unbelief?
One way we’re trying to help the enchantment is to create playlists of the music we will be singing each Sunday. I’d encourage you to make use of these playlists to get the good song deep into your heart. Here’s our new YouTube Playlists Page. Check it out and listen.
Lastly, you are sorely missed. The picture is of Grace’s socially distanced sanctuary set up. It will be great to have us together again. Lord willing, soon. Until then, work on your spelling.