When I was just a lad of four years old and my younger brother was less than a year old, my parents went as Seventh-day Adventist missionaries to Burma, now called Myanmar. We arrived just before the civil war in what was a dangerous situation, with soldiers committing many crimes and atrocities against the civilians. However, the Lord was very merciful to our family and though there were some close calls, the Lord protected us from harm.
A common practice in market places at that time was snake charming. People have been charming snakes for thousands of years and it is even mentioned in the Bible several times. Ecclesiastes 10:11 says, “A serpent may bite when it is not charmed …” Psalm 58:4, 5 says, “Their poison is like the poison of a serpent; they are like the deaf cobra that stops its ear, which will not heed the voice of charmers, charming ever so skillfully.”
In Jeremiah, 8:17 the Lord says, “ ‘For behold, I will send serpents among you, vipers which cannot be charmed, And they will bite you,’ says the Lord.”
Snakes can be charmed or they can charm other creatures just before they strike for the kill. A snake is charmed by what we call enchantments. The Bible talks a lot about enchantments. In Isaiah 47:10–12, it says, “You have trusted in your wickedness; you have said, ‘No one sees me;’ your wisdom and your knowledge have warped you; and you have said in your heart, ‘I am, and there is no one else besides me.’ Therefore evil shall come upon you; you shall not know from where it arises. And trouble shall fall upon you; you will not be able to put it off. And desolation shall come upon you suddenly, which you shall not know. Stand now with your enchantments and the multitude of your sorceries in which you have labored from your youth—perhaps you will be able to profit, perhaps you will prevail.”
To “enchant” means “to cast under a spell, bewitch, or attract or delight completely,” so that a person is totally engrossed in or by something. To “bewitch” means “to place under one’s power as if by magic, to cast a spell over, to captivate completely or to fascinate.” To “charm” means “to attract, delight greatly or irresistibly, to fascinate.” To cast a spell on someone is to render them into a state of compelling attraction, fascination, a bewitched state or trance.
In the book Maranatha, 220, is a description of what happens to a person who has been enchanted. It states: “There are those who have the blazing light of truth shining all around them, and yet are insensible to it. They are enchanted by the enemy, held under a spell by his bewitching power. They are not preparing for that great day which is soon to come to our world.” These people may be religious and go to church, but their mind is occupied with something else. By the way, that “something else” may not necessarily be bad. It may be something which is all right, but takes so much of their attention that they neglect getting ready for the close of probation. It is true that everyone must make a living but we are not in this world for simply that purpose. However, there are some whose every waking moment from early in the morning until late at night is consumed by making a living. They are so totally engrossed that they neglect spending time with the Lord, preparing for the close of probation. They are enchanted with the affairs of this world and are preoccupied. They often seem utterly insensible to religious truth.
Others are enchanted with useless entertainment. “Many are on the enchanted ground of the enemy. Things of the least importance—foolish social parties, singing, jesting, joking—engross their minds and they serve God with a divided heart. … Excessive love and devotion to that which in itself is lawful proves the ruination of thousands upon thousands of souls. To matters of minor importance is often given the strength of intellect that should be wholly devoted to God. We need always to be guarded against carrying to excess that which, rightly used, is lawful. Many, many souls are lost by engaging in those things which, properly managed, are harmless, but which, perverted and misapplied, become sinful and demoralizing.” Our Father Cares, 94, 95.
We must ask ourselves if we have been distracted from our spiritual journey and fallen on enchanted ground. It is bad enough to be on enchanted ground, but worse still to be asleep while there. Ellen White tells us that this is a problem for God’s church. She says, “All things are ready, but the church is apparently upon the enchanted ground. When they shall arouse and lay their prayers, their wealth, and all their energies and resources at the feet of Jesus, the cause of truth will triumph. Angels are amazed that Christians do so little when such an example has been given them by Jesus.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 475.
Everything is ready. The Lord has been ready to come for over 100 years, but we are on enchanted ground, and the devil is working hard to keep us there.
“Satan is continually at work to rock our people to sleep in the cradle of carnal security.” Ibid., 600. It is possible to be on the enchanted ground, and to be totally over-involved and engrossed in things that are good. However, it is also true, and we need to recognize this, that many people are charmed with the pleasures of sin in some form. If we do not find a way to escape from them we are going to lose our souls.
In Numbers 25, just before the children of Israel entered the promised land, they were in danger, mesmerized by the beautiful Moabitish women who led them to transgress the law of God. In the chapter in Patriarchs and Prophets entitled “Apostasy at the Jordan,” Ellen White gives approximately twenty different things that the devil uses to get people to break the seventh commandment, “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14).
You cannot break this commandment by just walking along and then all of a sudden accidently fall off a cliff. Before the fall, a long process has taken place in the mind which has become allured with the pleasures of sin. We are counselled, “This courtship and marriage is the most difficult to manage, because the mind becomes so bewildered and enchanted that duty to God and everything else becomes tame and uninteresting.” Testimonies on Sexual Behavior, Adultery, and Divorce, 20.
Marriage is not wrong, but some people are so consumed with it and the pleasures it brings that they become too preoccupied and fail to prepare for the close of probation and the return of Jesus.
A Christian should be careful to avoid situations where they can become entangled in the sophistries of the devil. There are people who deliberately place themselves on dangerous ground and become captivated by events that under normal circumstances they would avoid. The Lord is not going to work a miracle to protect you if you do something presumptuous.
“Many place themselves on the enchanted ground by frequenting scenes of amusement where fallen spirits congregate.” The Signs of the Times, May 18, 1882. Thus you can find yourself in the midst of an army of evil angels.
Where are these scenes of amusement? Years ago, to watch a play or movie meant you would have to go to the theater. Later, drive-in theaters were built where you could drive your own car and park in rows and watch movies on a big screen while not having to leave your car. Then, in the 1950s, television sets were invented and people brought the entertainment right into their living rooms.
When I was a child the Seventh-day Adventist Church believed and taught that it was wrong to visit theaters to watch plays or movies, as did other conservative churches. My father once won a television set but it did not find its way into our home. He quickly figured out there was no difference going to the movies or having a television set at home and decided he did not want that distraction in his home.
As Christians we cannot afford to enter enchanted ground. “Professing Christian, when you resort to the theater, remember that Satan is there, conducting the play as the master-actor. He is there to excite passion and glorify vice. The very atmosphere is permeated with licentiousness. Satan presides, also, at the masquerade and the dance; he throws around the card-table its bewitching power. Wherever an influence is exerted to cause men to forget their Creator, there Satan is at work, it matters not how innocent the guise under which he conceals his purpose.” The Signs of the Times, May 18, 1882. A masquerade is like a costume party where people wear masques of disguise or play pantomime games.
All of these games and entertainments are designed to preoccupy you so there is no time left to seek after your Creator. Often the same people who spend hours in front of their television set will tell you how hard it is to spend 15 minutes a day in their private devotions. But you can’t stay alive spiritually on 15 minutes a day. It is impossible. The reason we do not have time is because the devil has lured us into his enchanted garden of entertainment.
The devil has many ways to seduce you and if he can’t get you on entertainment he may charm you with science, falsely called so. Science encourages us to extol human reason above divine revelation, to exalt nature and forget the God of nature.
The devil also uses all kinds of works of philosophy, skepticism and infidelity to cause people to lose their confidence in the Bible. Science can be dangerous and many who have been involved in it often carry the scars on their mind and religious experience, making their spiritual walk difficult. The more sin indulged in, the more avenues and greater the ability the devil has to tempt you.
Why make it more difficult for yourself to overcome sin and to be saved? Why? In addition to skepticism and infidelity Ellen White says, “There are treatises on money-making, that fill thousands of minds with fancies and follies, that fire thousands with an insane desire to amass wealth.” The Signs of the Times, May 18, 1882.
“There are fascinating volumes, that portray with all the power of human eloquence the lives of those who have made fame their god.” These volumes provide examples of how people have become famous or well-known. And then she says, “And outnumbering all other productions of the press, like the swarms of locusts that darkened the whole land, comes the flood of novels and romances, to cultivate in the youth a love-sick sentimentalism, to teach them that courtship and marriage are the great object of their existence …” Ibid. It is a trap, and many are charmed by it.
“There is a great work to be done in our colleges, a work which demands the co-operation of every teacher; and it is displeasing to God for one to discourage another. But nearly all seem to forget that Satan is an accuser of the brethren, and they unite with the enemy in his work. While professed Christians are contending, Satan is laying his snares for the inexperienced feet of children and youth. Those who have had a religious experience should seek to shield the young from his devices. They should never forget that they themselves were once enchanted with the pleasures of sin. We need the mercy and forbearance of God every hour, and how unbecoming for us to be impatient with the errors of the inexperienced youth. So long as God bears with them, dare we, fellow sinners, cast them off?” Testimonies, vol. 5, 34.
What is the solution? First of all, if the Holy Spirit is telling you that this is a problem, that you are charmed by something so that it has just got you totally engrossed in it, you are going to have to wrench yourself loose and say, “Lord, deliver me from this and help me to start living.” If the attraction that you are involved with is something good, you have to ask the Lord to help you so that you are not totally engrossed in it so that you can prepare for the close of probation.
“There is only one remedy; that is, to become conversant with the Scriptures. We cannot study the Bible too much. Christ said, ‘Search the Scriptures’ (John 5:39); but the natural heart would search everything else rather than the Scriptures.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 6, 260.
So, the church is on dangerous ground. The members are being seduced, and then we wonder why we have the spiritual troubles that we have. Proverbs 26:2 says, “… the curse causeless shall not come.” Whenever there is a curse, there is always one. We may not know what the cause is, but we can be sure that there is always one.
What is the devil’s goal for your life? In 1850 Ellen White wrote, “I saw Satan would work more powerfully now than he ever has before. He knows that his time is short and that the sealing of the saints will place them beyond his power; he will now work in every way that he can and will try his every insinuation to get the saints off from their guard and get them asleep on the present truth or doubting it, so as to prevent their being sealed with the seal of the living God.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 8, 220.
The devil does not care what it is that distracts you as long as he can keep you from being ready to be sealed. If you do not receive the seal, then you will be destroyed when the judgments come. The only people who will be secure and safe at that time are those who have been sealed. Everybody else will either be dead or destroyed in the final destruction.
“Satan is ever on the alert to deceive and mislead. He is using every enchantment to allure men into the broad road of disobedience.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 1120. He is the master of his craft but Jesus came to break the spell.
A young Adventist girl in the 1950s was riding on a bus sitting next to a man with whom she spoke. In the course of the conversation she found out that this man practiced hypnotism. She told him that it would be impossible to hypnotize her. Somewhat into the journey the bus broke down and was unable to continue so the bus company arranged for accommodations that night for all of the passengers.
Fortunately, this girl had a habit of always studying her Sabbath School lesson before she went to bed. As she opened her Bible to study her Sabbath School lesson, she suddenly came out of the trance that she was unaware she had been in. To her amazement she was in a motel room with this man who then admitted that he had indeed hypnotized her.
Because she had developed a habit of studying her Sabbath School lesson before retiring, when she opened the Bible, the Holy Spirit broke the trance and she came to her senses again. Sometimes I have said to myself, “Lord, what can be done so that your people can come to their senses?” They are charmed and unaware of it. They are just like that girl, in a trance, and unless it is broken, they will be lost.
My dear friend, if the devil has you enchanted, I cannot break it for you. There is nothing I can do to break it, but Jesus Christ can break it. If you would pray, “Lord, am I on the enchanted ground? Am I charmed by something down here and I don’t even realize what’s going on?”
Have you ever said, “Lord, please wake me up.” It wouldn’t be wrong to say it. Maybe you are asleep and do not know it. That is the way it is with a person who has been hypnotized. They are unaware of their situation. Our High Calling, page 285 says: “Christ came to break the satanic enchantment, counterwork the work of Satan, and charm the mind away from the earthly to the heavenly. He alone is able to break the enchantment. …”
I can’t do it, but Jesus can do it. In fact, we just read, He is the only One that can break the spell. Very soon, friend, your name will be coming up in the judgment. If you have remained on enchanted ground, you will lose your soul. It will be your responsibility. The question we need to be thinking about is,
“What does God think about the life that I am living right now?”
As I was thinking about this, here are a few questions that I put down.
- Am I spiritually awake, or am I spiritually paralyzed by some enchantment of this world?
- Do I see clearly the spiritual war that is taking place in this world, or am I spiritually blind?
- Am I an active Christian, actively involved in God’s work in the world, or am I passive?
- Am I daily preparing for the judgment, or am I enchanted by the pleasures of sin?
- Nobody’s going to heaven alone. Am I working with an organized group of Christian workers, to finish God’s work? If not, am I sure I am not paralyzed and enchanted by one of the devil’s devices?
Ellen White wrote to a young Christian lady in 1861 and you can read part of this letter in the book Upward Look, 300. She wrote, “None—no not one—can go alone to heaven.” Did you understand that? How many people are going to go alone to heaven? Not one. God has a people whom He is leading, guiding, and instructing. “They must be subject one to another.” Ibid. This thought is very unpopular, but is inspired writing. “If one undertakes to go alone, independently, to heaven he will find he has chosen the … path that will not lead him to life.” Ibid.
If you think that you can go to heaven alone, you are not going to make it. God has a people and they are subject to one another, working together to finish God’s work.
If I am not an enthusiastic Christian, actively involved with God’s people to finish His work, then something is dreadfully wrong. I must have stepped onto the devil’s enchanted ground.
I cannot wrench you free. Only the Lord can deliver you. Only the Lord can deliver me. And my friend, I am also praying that the Lord will save me from the devil’s ground. Preachers also have all the temptations that are common to everybody else. They too have sinful natures and the same battles to fight. They also must gain the victory over selfishness and lust.
We must gain Christ’s victory and get off the devil’s enchanted ground if we are going to go to heaven together.
(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New King James Version.)
Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church of Free Seventh-day Adventists in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: email@example.com, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.