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Is this possible? More importantly, is it scriptural?
By Malcolm B Heap, Midnight Ministries
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t is commonly taught in charismatic circles that you have authority to bind (tie up or restrict) demons. That authority, it is said, comes from Jesus.
While I don’t dispute the latter – that Jesus has given us authority in His name, and that authority can be exercised over demons (Luke 9:1) – I do not subscribe to the former claim. The Bible does not teach that we have power to ‘bind’ demons, in the way that is suggested, as I will explain.
I have been in meetings of charismatics to hear them command various demons: "I bind you in the name of Jesus...!" And I have done it myself in the past, when I knew no better.
But the scriptural injunction is not to bind them – whatever that means. It is to cast them out!
The Biblical Texts
This erroneous teaching about binding demons comes from a misunderstanding and misappropriation of some biblical texts. What Jesus said has been misconstrued:
And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven (Matt 16:19).
Assuredly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven (Matt 18:18).
If you took those texts the way some believers take them, you could bind Satan in the symbolic ‘bottomless pit’ and confine him there with all his demons. You could command Satan off earth with every demonic power, and there would be no more wars, no more suffering, no more sickness and disease, no more famine, no more catastrophes, no more car crashes and other disasters, and all people would begin to be receptive to the Gospel. Oh that it were that simple! Fighting demons is far from simple!
What Jesus was referring to in those texts from Matthew quoted above, I will explain in a moment.
One other passage oft referred to on this topic is in Luke 11:
When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace. But when a stronger than he comes upon him and overcomes him, he takes from him all his armour in which he trusted, and divides his spoils (Luke 11:21,22).
Jesus was likening Satan to a strong man guarding his possessions. People who do evil are his possessions, and Satan jealously guards them. To free those possessions, you have to first overcome or conquer (literal meaning of ‘overcome’ in Luke 11:22) the ‘strong man’.
Bill Subritzky produced a video entitled Binding The Strongmen, recording some of his exploits in casting out demons from various people. The title is based on these two texts:
How can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house (Matt 12:29).
No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. And then he will plunder his house (Mrk 3:27).
These accounts are allegoric. They use vivid imagery to convey what needs to occur for a person to be delivered – you need the greater power of the Spirit of God to help you conquer. In no way did Jesus mean to infer that you are to literally bind Satan or demons, whatever that ‘binding’ could mean! He was giving an illustration.
Too many have drawn a wrong assumption from what Jesus said, where deliverance ministries have wrongly taught about ‘binding’ demons, and now we have a church full of people who speak to demons to ‘bind’ them instead of casting them out!
It is significant that in Luke’s account of the same command of Jesus, the term ‘bind’ is replaced with ‘overcome’ (NKJV), meaning literally ‘conquer’, proving the point I am making.
Jesus had just cast out a demon (Luke 11:14), which impressed the ones who saw Him do it. He didn’t say that He bound demons. He said He cast them out (11:20).
If you look up the various New Testament texts about deliverance from demons, you do not find any that say you are to ‘bind’ demons. They all with one voice unanimously refer to casting them out! For instance: Matt 8:31-32; 9:33; 10:1; 12:27-28; 17:18; Mrk 1:26, 34; 3:23; 16:17; Luke 8:2; 11:14-20; 13:32; Acts 16:18; 19:12.
In Luke 10, we find the well-known account where Jesus affirms that He has passed authority onto each of His followers who has faith and resolve to cast out demons:
Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.’ And He said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions [symbols of demonic spirits], and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.’ (Lk 10:17-20.)
The power Jesus confers upon us, while it makes demons subject to us, is not to bind THEM. It is to ‘bind’ their effects upon us.
Loosing People From Demons
Jesus did not bind demons, but He did loose those whom demons had bound. As an example:
Behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity for 18 years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up. But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her: ‘Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.’ And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God (Lk 13:11-13).
In the explanation overpage, you will see that the binding principally relates to people, and agreements that bind people together in harmony.
"The words ‘bind’ and ‘loose’ are rabbinic terms meaning ‘to forbid’ and ‘to permit’..." (Footnote on Matt 16:19, in NKJV Believer’s Study Bible.)
Matthew 16:19 is similar to Matthew 18:18 in content.
When Satanic Spirits Will Be Bound
He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for 1,000 years... (Rev 20:2).
That millennial prophecy tells us when Satan and his demonic spirits under his command will be ‘tied up’. For now, they are loose to do their dirty work of temptation and evil. Of course, they are all under the ultimate control of God. But He lets them do various wicked things, as they serve God’s overall purpose with mankind, and with each person’s life. (Explained more in The Devil’s Role in Why Church Divisions?)
Satan and evil spirits lure people into sin. Their temptations can be intense. It is your duty to bind the power they try to exert over you by resisting them (Jas 4:7). Only by your own individual effort, coupled with help from the Holy Spirit as you submit to God’s will, can you bind the effects of demons. Obedience to God is the key to cause demons to flee!
God’s Church – Whose Authority? (GC)
The Dreadful Damage Demons Did To One Family
Casting Out Demons (Dem)
Are You Driving Out Your Demons? (Dms)
Why The Devil and Demons? (WDD)
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