What does the Scripture mean when it speaks of binding and loosing?
I’m referring particularly to those who “bind” Satan or “bind the works of the devil”. Prayer is also offered up to “loose people from a spirit of hatred, murder and unforgiveness”. Further they would “break the spirit” of the various maladies that affect society.
If this was biblical, or in anyway effective, there would be merit in it. Not only is it unbiblical, it is inaffective. Satan cannot be bound. As a friend of mine says, “If Satan is being bound, I want to know who keeps letting him go.” One pastor put it like this, “When we bind Satan its as though we wind him and he becomes incapacitated a while.” None of these particular actions calling for the binding of Satan or the abitrary loosing people from strongholds is biblical. Scripture does though tell us that Satan will be bound during the millennial reign of Messiah.
“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;”
Any attempt at binding Satan in this present age is simply unbiblical. It comes from a corrupted exegesis of a biblical passage where archaic English language makes for a wrong application of the text. The word rightly divided using the original Hebrew allows one to see the error.
Here are two passages dealing with Satan’s role in the lives of men, as he operates in the heavenlies and in the earth, during this age. First we see in the account of Michael, the most powerful of Gods created angelic beings, that he had to come to Gabriel’s aid as he battled the demonic principalities over Persia, Iran, while bringing God’s revelation and understanding of Babylonian events to Daniel.
“But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia. Now I have come to give you an understanding of what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision pertains to the days yet future. “”
Clearly the power these demonic principalities enjoy is immense. Secondly we read about Satan and the position he holds. While not being all powerful he is a foe not to be taken lightly. After all, he determinedly desires to cause the fall of as many people possible.
“And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
2 Corinthians 4:3-4
He is the god of this age. Nowhere are told, as believers, to engage with Satan. We are though told to stand firm and resist any attempts to derail our faith or walk. There are biblical ways given us, in the armor of God, as to how we deal with them.
Jude, Yeshua’s half brother, warns people not to take lightly the power possessed by these demonic entities. Thinking we can disdain them, shows an abject lack of biblical knowledge. It is not for us to trifle with them.
“Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties. But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!””
As far as taking any authority over Satan we are told to leave well alone. This is Gods territory – Let the rebuking be done by the Lord. We petition the Lord and He will undertake on our behalf.
The term to bind and loose come from Matthew 16:19 , where Yeshua is talking to the disciples corporately, not Peter per se, in my understanding.
“And I will give to you the keys to the kingdom of heaven and whatsoever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatsoever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Yeshua gave the keys to the kingdom to the disciples and told them that whatever they bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever they loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
The Syriac version uses the words “asar” and “hitir” which are legal terms found throughout the Mishnah and represents forbidding and permitting. The council of sages and rabbis of the Sanhedrin were granted the authority (by man) to asar (bind) and hitir (loosen) Jews to aspects of the law. It was believed that whatever the rabbis bound on earth was bound in heaven and whatever they loosened on earth was loosened in heaven. The word “heaven” was just another term used to represent God and used so one would not speak the sacred name of God. It was believed that what the Sanhedrin ruled whether to bind or loosen, was automatically ratified by God. It would seem that Yeshua used this same popular expression to grant similar authority to Peter and the disciples to resolve future disputes in the establishment of the ecclesia.
We find one such example of this binding, (forbidding), and loosening, (permitting), take place in Acts 15 where the apostles and elders convened a sort of “Church Sanhedrin” in Jerusalem to address the issue as to whether Gentiles were bound to the law. In Acts 15:10 we find Peter exercising his “rabbinic” authority of “binding and loosing”. He declares that the Torah commandments were too heavy for the Gentiles, and that they should be “loosed” from the obligations of the law. In other words, they were permitted, as followers of the God of Israel, to ignore the Jewish Law. They were not bound to them.
In verse 20 James says that he agreed, but the Gentiles should still be bound by laws that the Jews considered universal prohibitions, such as murder, adultery and idolatry etc. Gentiles were forbidden to act in this way. In verse 22 it appears everyone agreed what Gentiles were permitted and forbidden to do. They then sent Paul and Barnabas out to spread the good news. Another example is found in Matthew 18:18 where it has to do with Church discipline.
From this I believe the issue of the law, and our obligation to the law, was resolved and later confirmed by the Apostle Paul in the first century, under the authority of forbidding and permitting granted the disciples by Yeshua.
We as, Gentiles, are not bound to the Judaic laws that are indigenous to Judaism, such as the dietary laws, laws of festivals, etc. But we are bound to those laws that are considered universal laws such as murder, adultery, idolatry, etc. It helps to look through Jewish literature to find out what the universal laws are, but the Holy Spirit does a better job at that within our own hearts. This is biblical binding and loosing, realizing what we can and cannot do. It is not taking authority over Satan’s kingdom.
Nowhere do the Scriptures speak about us binding Satan or demons. Neither do we have the power to “loose” people from a spirit of murder or whatever else. This is something every individual is responsible for, and he can only be set free by the Lord, if his desire is to be free. I cannot take a decision for you to stop committing murder, adultery and having an forgiving heart – that is your responsibility, my responsibility. There is no short cut in the Christian life. We are to work out our salvation in fear and trembling. The idea that we can simply take authority over flesh and spirits, that are the source of worldly sorrows, is not biblical. It cannot done. If we are to change society it will be the Lord’s way – “Go into all the world and make disciples.” Society cannot be transformed by attempting to bind Satan or command he loose his grip on particular areas of societal ills.
In light of this subject, the question may well be asked, “What about the casting out of demons, if the binding of them is unbiblical?” That is a different topic requiring its own teaching.
Dolores Testerman says
Very good, Mark.
This is a common belief and practice by people who follow a certain group that has many other unscriptural teachings as well.