Bible study is important not only to grow outside our own current cultural understandings but more importantly to discern God’s will with accuracy in our lives today.
In Galatians 5:19-21 NKJV says, “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: … sorcery, …and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in the time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
In the Harry Potter movies, characters shouted “Stupefy!” with a wave of a wand to create a stunning spell or charm. If it hits, then it often knocked an opponent through the air while rendering him unconscious.
Stupefy? The real meaning is to make someone unable to think or feel properly, to stun, daze, or to astonish and shock. How many ways are we stupefied in our culture today? Coming from the Latin root of stupere meaning “to be struck senseless” and is also the root word of stupid.
God doesn’t want us paying a stupid tax for our foolishness, and there is no greater fool than one who denies the spiritual warfare like described in Ephesians 6:10-18. Knowing this, you shouldn’t waver in protecting yourself as God leads you through His Holy Spirit.
In Galatians 5:20, the word sorcery comes from the Greek word pharmakeia. According to one of my study Bibles it “originally referred to medicines in general, but eventually only to mood- and mind-altering drugs, as well as the occult, witchcraft, and magic. Many pagan religious practices required the use of these drugs to aid in the communication with deities.”
Am I saying medicines are wrong? No. At one point my dad was on 23 medications after a surgeon removed the cancerous part of his lung. The nurse said we wanted those down as quickly as possible. Was his mind affected? Yes, and it wasn’t for the better.
I’m talking about the times when our proclivity towards a habit cuts, contaminates, or crushes our passion for Christ. Some of our drugs of choice may actually produce drug-like effects like the emotion of anger (Ephesians 4:26) or activities where if we don’t follow God’s design, they become a foothold or beachhead for the devil to consistently work from in our lives (Ephesians 4:27) to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10).
1 John 2:16 (NASB) shares, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” Those are the potential beachheads.
So what are these charms being cast in our lives which may give us harm? Some are obvious. Some will surprise.
Cannabis. Marijuana. One active-ingredient, THC, is much stronger now than it ever was in the ’60s, and this strength now shows a STRONG connection of early use in creating violence and chronic psychotic illness.
Opiates. Opiates can produce euphoria as they block pain, but they can also produce confusion. The mind/body wants more and more to get the same effect until finally, the withdrawal symptoms kick in to create a vicious loop of addiction.
The reality is there are many psychoactive drugs like alcohol, amphetamines, caffeine, cocaine, LSD, nicotine, and others. But what about these and others which alter the brain/mind perceptions dealing with anxiety, etc. and/or are prescribed?
Prescribed and monitored are the keys. But when you begin to find ways to get the medication into your life without legal prescriptions or telling lies to get those prescriptions, then let’s admit this is a big red flag marking an entry point leading to a wide path of potential addiction which narrows the quality of life and health.
Where are we replacing the fullness of God on the throne of our lives with hollowness? Proverbs 3:7-8 (ESV) says, “Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.”
So what is evil? Besides the obvious sins and evil described in the Bible, I’m reminded of a prayer God brought into my life this year to refine His will for me. I simply pray and ask God for wisdom to know what I’m calling good that He calls evil and for wisdom to know what I’m calling evil which He calls good. Of course, I ask for help to change my behavior.
This refining hasn’t always been pleasant. It often leads to a question of “How am I using my time, energy, and money to better live out Colossians 3:23?” I’ll now add, “What are some things which have stupefied me?”
Immediately I am aware of how too much time on Facebook makes me less content, and studies say it’s everyone. I am aware of how binge-watching makes one feel sadder and lonely afterward. Then even a brief search brings articles like “How Giving Up TV For A Month Changed My Brain And My Life” where TV/movies are described as the roller coaster ride between seemingly constant fear and attempts to pacify.
We’re in trouble according to this article. Adam Lipson, a neurosurgeon with IGEA Brain and Spine, says one of the best studies shows these brain/mind changes. “They noted thickening of the frontopolar cortex, which is related to verbal reasoning ability, and also correlated with a drop in IQ in proportion to the number of hours of television watching. In addition, they noted thickening in the visual cortex in the occipital lobe, and in the hypothalamus, which may correlate with aggression.”
Sticks and stones may break our bones, but sound and images through stories may still hurt you and me.
Now that you know some tricks used to stupefy you, what will you do? Will you walk the wide path of the world? Or will you ask for God’s help to stay the straight and narrow path with Jesus? May your heart and mind be renewed in His Word.