O America Who Has Bewitched You
Study Guide, July 03, 2016
Pastor Clay Olsen
Here’s an interesting question to ponder…If George Washington was running for President today, with the beliefs and commitments he had, and with our society and culture the way it now is, do you believe he would be elected? Here is one his commitments on governing a country: “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.” Do you think he would be elected running on that platform for President? Even to think that he wouldn’t shows how far we have fallen into the decay of humanism as a nation. Actually, all of America’s earliest Presidents believed the same thing. Again, how strange to realize the unlikelihood that any of America’s early Presidents could get elected in America today, since much of our government and power centers of America have systematically eliminated God and the Bible from the civil arenas of life in America.
In fact, the resistance against God and the Bible in our government, outside of those brave men and women of Biblical faith who are trying their best to inject some Biblical sense and sanity into our government, and who we thank God for them and we ought to be praying for them, still…apart from them, the resistance against God and the Bible in our government and court systems and power centers is so strong that it is almost like they are under some sort of spell…as though they have been bewitched by some strange power. Think about that: Actually, think about this: No doubt they have!
In a letter to the Galatians the Apostle Paul was struck by how some there were basically teaching the humanistic ideas of their own works and merits by which to have a relationship with God. They had reverted to their own human reasoning about how to live their lives. They had left the Biblical revelation of how to be free from their bondage of sin through God’s grace toward them and their faith toward Him; trusting in the merits of Christ alone and then living in the liberty of being in union with Christ. It was almost like….well, let’s take a look at it: Gal 3:1-4- “ Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?Who has cast an evil spell on you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of his death on the cross. Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? Have you experienced so much for nothing? Surely it was not in vain, was it?” NLT
The same questions could be asked today of many in leadership in our own country about why they are so determined to reject the life, liberty, and freedom that was once found in America through honoring God and following His morals and laws in the Sacred Writings. Why have so many leaders, and just citizens as a whole, reverted to the foolishness of humanistic thinking and living instead of following the clear teachings of our Founders that it is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible? Who has bewitched you? Who has cast an evil spell on you? Have you experienced so much for nothing? Surely it was not in vain, was it?
Even one of the least religious of our nation’s Founders, Benjamin Franklin, understood how crucial it was to follow the moral and Biblical virtues in this new republic. As he addressed an early convention he said: “I have lived a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured in the Sacred Writings that “except the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain that build it.” I firmly believe this and also believe that without His concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel.”1 What an indictment against our present government because of their vanity and hostility toward God and His Sacred Writings.
It is as clear as it can be that ‘unless the Lord builds the house, including everything from marriage, family, the church, and even a nation, that they who build will be laboring in vain.’ “But what about separation of church and state”, they argue? “America is a secular nation”, they proclaim. “You can’t force one religion upon a nation as diverse as this nation is”, they say. Well, give our Founding Fathers more credit than that! They were the ones who were revolting against a government that was trying to do just that. When they were proclaiming that there was to be a separation of church and state, they meant separation from a Government church that was both corrupt and morally abusive to the liberties and freedom for all. They, themselves, were fighting against that! No, what they were calling for was the separation from a corrupt government church, but certainly not separation from their benevolent God and His Sacred Writings. No, in fact, they believed that the only way that a people in a nation could be have freedom and liberty and justice for all, is if they looked to God for His ‘concurring aid’, seeking His guidance and help in all their governmental affairs. They exhorted each other and the nation to follow His sovereign guidance for building this new house called ‘America’. No again, far from removing God and His Writings from the government, they knew that the government was absolutely dependent upon God’s aid and they looked to His laws to become the laws for their new nation. Otherwise, their knew that their work in trying to build a nation apart from God and the Bible was truly in vain!
Which means that the way our present government is making decisions and creating laws and leading the nation contrary to the Sacred Writings of God are all exercises in ‘Vanity’…and also destructive and harmful to our citizens. Again, it’s like they have been bewitched…and are under some evil spell. Plus, that’s why we thank God for those few men and women in our government who are trying to honor God and the Bible and are trying to bring the nation back to the course of civil righteousness that our Founders laid out for us through the sacrifices of their own lives and fortunes.
Actually, Noah Webster, who has been called ‘The Father of American Scholarship and Education’ stated: “The moral principles and precepts contained in the Scriptures ought to form the basis for all of our civil constitutions and laws…All the miseries and evils men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery, and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible.”2
How much clearer can it be that the last thing our Forefathers wanted to do was to remove God and the Bible from the public or civil arenas of life? As Noah Webster warned, if the government were to despise or reject the precepts contained in the Bible the result in our nation would be an increase of things like miseries and evils from vice, crime, injustice, oppression, and so on. So the present problem that we are now experiencing is that so many in our government and in our court systems have rejected the counsel and the warnings of our Forefathers and have despised and rejected the precepts contained in the Bible that our country is now overcome with vice, crime, injustice, oppression, and so on. And so back to the question: “O America, who has bewitched you?”
Perhaps one of the most foolish notions of all that so many in positions of leadership in our country now believe is that if they can attain positions ‘of power‘ that they will then be the ones who are ‘in power‘. What they fail to realize is that if they reject God and His Sacred Writings to guide them in all of life, then they have also failed to realize ‘who’ it really is that is ‘in power’ over them. Look at the revelation that God has given us about the powers that are at work in our world. Eph 6:10-14- “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.” NASU
Mark it down: To be in a position ‘of power’ and to be ‘in power’ are two very different things. Our Forefathers knew that they were in positions of power, but they clearly knew that ‘the power’ that they needed to bless and guide the nation was not in themselves, but in God upon whom they were completely dependent for His benevolent power to bless them and this nation. Otherwise they also knew that if they rejected God’s aid that they would open themselves up to being subjected to these wicked powers and forces of darkness. And so they feared God for both His goodness and they feared what would happen in judgment upon the nation if they rejected His authority, or again, feared the oppression coming from the spiritual powers of wickedness that take over when God’s power is rejected.
How do we know they believed these things about God and about this nation? Because it’s engraved in stone on the Jefferson Memorial: “God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath?
Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.”
How many in positions of power in our government today tremble over removing God’s guidance or neglecting His precepts and principles for making moral and civil laws? They do so at their own peril, and unfortunately at the expense of the suffering and oppression of the American people. Another Statesman, Daniel Webster warned us about this very thing: “If we shall live in the fear of God, and shall respect His commandments, if we shall maintain just moral sentiments….we will go on prospering and to prosper. But if we and our posterity reject religious institutions and authority, violate the rules of eternal justice, trifle with the injunctions of morality, and recklessly destroy the political constitution which holds us together, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us that shall bury our glory in profound obscurity.”2
We have been sufficiently warned. The problem is, so many in our country have allowed themselves to be bewitched, and they don’t even realize it. They even think they are getting their own way…Oh, it may be their own way, but it is also someone else’s way. Recall what the Apostle said about especially the unsaved and who is really in charge in their lives: 2 Tim 2:25-26- “Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.” NLT
So whose will is actually being done in the life of an unrepentant person? ‘They are being held captive by the devil to do whatever he wants.’ That is who is ‘in power’ and ‘in charge’ in an unrepentant person’s life. And yet, they think they are the masters of their own destiny, that they are sensible, and independent, and wise. How utterly foolish they are. Of course, as those who have been rescued and pardoned from our sin and born again by God’s grace through our faith, we realize that every person’s greatest need is to be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. In fact, the Gospel was also one of the great themes that so many of our early church fathers and leaders believed was important for political leaders to publicly talk about. Can you imagine that?!
How about these words from our first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Jay: “By conveying the Bible to people…we thereby enable them to learn that man was originally created and placed in a state of happiness, but, becoming disobedient, was subjected to the degradation and evils which he and his posterity have since experienced. The Bible will also inform them that our gracious Creator has provided for us a Redeemer, who has made atonement “for the sins of the whole world,” and…has opened a way for our redemption and salvation; and that these inestimable benefits are of the free gift and grace of God, not of our deserving, nor in our power to deserve.”3 Isn’t that amazing how even Supreme Court Justices took opportunities to openly talk about and to teach his fellow Americans about what they needed most in their lives, the Lord Jesus Christ and His redemption?
But people always ask, “But what about those of other beliefs? It’s not for the government to force religious beliefs upon people.” Certainly not, but it is the government’s responsibility to honor the God who gave us life and liberty, and to esteem His laws and moral principles in order to have civil righteousness in our nation. And if they do not, then that government becomes the cause of its own destruction. That’s very clear from Prov 14:34- “Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a disgrace to any people.” NASU Note that it is not economic wealth that exalts a nation nor even military might that exalts a nation, as much as we esteem and appreciate our military. Still, what exalts a nation is righteousness; civil righteousness based upon following the civil and moral precepts and principles of the Sacred Writings of the Bible, as our Forefathers tried to help the new nation and those who followed to understand. And they made it clear that sin, or violations of God’s laws for nations, destroys both individuals and nations. They knew that the Government was responsible for promoting civil righteousness…teaching the laws of God to a nation on how to live right with each other. And they also knew that the Church was responsible for proclaiming salvation righteousness…teaching all people about the grace of God for individuals on how to be right with God for both this life and for all eternity.
The problem is, so few in our government and in the social institutions of our country today understand either one of these things. They have been ‘bewitched’ and they refuse to realize it. But pray for the remnant of those that do. And remember that God can do great things through the few when they honor God and follow His Sacred Writings.
- The American Patriot’s Bible, p 690
- Ibid, p 1429
- Ibid, p. 1052