July 7, 2014

Bound to Work: 3 reasons you should not try bind Satan

by Clint Archer

ropeSpiritual warfare is real. It might not make the news; but it ought to. Paul acknowledges this in Ephesians 6: 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

But the weapons of this warfare are often somewhat misunderstood. In some church circles, for example, it is commonplace to hear pastors and their people talk of “binding Satan” or “renouncing the devil’s presence” or some such display of confidence.

Here are three reasons I believe this is misguided.

1. Satan is (most probably) not in earshot

There is a pernicious paranoia that permeates churches today: folks think Satan can hear them speak. Some people unwittingly pad Satan’s résumé to include God’s unique attributes of omniscience and omnipresence. Yes, Satan certainly is ambulant (1 Pet 5:8), but he is confined to one place at a time. He can’t read your mind, and he doesn’t perk his ears when he hears his name mentioned in your prayers.

I have heard a pastor who was praying to God, lapse into addressing Satan! “Lord we pray against the forces of evil in this place today, and Satan we bind you in the name of Jesus, we denounce your efforts to distract us by messing with the PowerPoint projector again, and we rebuke your presence here today. You are not welcome here!”

First, Christian should pray to God, and not Satan (even if what we are saying to Satan is meant to irk him). Second, I doubt Satan is loitering around your church anyway. So unless he has demons recording our prayers and then e-mailing him the transcript, Satan would have to be in the room.

As one who understands the very basics of time management (I have read Kevin DeYoung’s Crazy Busy) I am confident that fiddling with my church’s sound equipment has got to be a lower priority than say, what happens at the UN or a North Korean nuclear testing facility.

 

2. Binding Satan is above your pay grade

Satan can be bound, just not by you. The task of binding Satan is given to an angel. (Rev 20:1-3). It’s a pretty important task, and a lot of eschatology depends in it being done properly.

Jude sternly warns precocious people who presume to venture above their pay grades and malign angelic beings.

Jude  8 Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. 9 But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” 10 But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively.

The archangel Michael himself didn’t pull rank on Satan the way many swaggering televangelists do.

Even invoking the name of Jesus is no guarantee that your exorcism would work. Sceva’s boys tested that hypothesis…

Acts 19:13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” 14 Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. 15 But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” 16 And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.

Next time you are tempted to start bossing an evil spirit around in the name of Jesus, make sure you have a change of clothes in the car.

 

3. God has a better idea

The Bible is not written in code. There are sections written as descriptive narrative, which record what happened in history. And there are other narrative sections written as prescriptive commands that apply to you and me.sword

The only instruction Christians are given about how to confront the spiritual forces of darkness is Ephesians 6. Note the conspicuous absence of what you’ve seen on TV.

Eph 6: 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. …13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

He then lists: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, readiness given by the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, and praying at all times in the Spirit.

No holy water required.

On an unrelated note, my apologies for any typos that crop up this week. The devil is in the details.

Clint Archer

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Clint is the pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church. He and his expanding troop of Archers live near Durban, South Africa (and pity anyone who doesn't). When he is off duty from CGate, his alter ego blogs at Café Seminoid, clintarcher.com
  • Matthew Manchester

    Cessational article.

    • http://www.clintarcher.com/ Clint

      Funny.

  • Latayne C. Scott

    Concise and helpful. Thank you.
    Latayne C. Scott
    http://www.latayne.com

  • Latayne C. Scott

    May I make copies of your blog post for my students at Oak Grove Classical Christian Academy? I teach both Screwtape Letters and Dante’s Inferno.

    • http://www.clintarcher.com/ Clint

      Totally. Blogs are fair game for al to use.

      • Latayne C. Scott

        Great. Posted your article on my FB page too, where it’s being discussed.

      • http://coalicionporelevangelio.org Jairo Namnún

        Can I get an email address? Would love to have this translated for coalicionporelevangelio.org

      • DanGman

        So…what if my name isn’t Al? Or is that one of those “details” in which the devil is lurking? :-)

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  • Jason Winter

    One of my son’s teammates was hurt recently at a tournament between games on some playground equipment. As a result he was going to miss the final game. His mom asked those of us who are believers to gather around and lay hands on him. Her prayer sounded much like what you mentioned in the article. She blamed the devil for the injury and told satan he would not not not be allowed to take this final game away from her son. It was a very awkward moment. End result was he was not miraculously healed but was able to play (barely) with some with some heavy taping/wrapping.

    • http://www.clintarcher.com/ Clint

      All too common. And sad when confusion is the source of rattled faith.

      • Little Bright Feather

        Before my eyes I watched my 3 year old grandson pray a dead cat back to life ! It’s all in the faith, which most of us lack. You only get what you ‘fully’ expect You can only see with the light you have.

        • http://www.clintarcher.com/ Clint

          Amazing! I once saw a guy do that with a possum.

          • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

            LOL!

          • http://thecripplegate.com Mike Riccardi

            Clint wins the comment thread.

  • http://NotreEglise.com Stéphane Kapitaniuk

    Good work on an original topic Clint. Would it be possible for me to translate the article into French and publish it on my blog?

    I blog with a friend at http://www.NotreEglise.com

    • http://www.clintarcher.com/ Clint

      Mais oui!

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  • brad

    Great points! Since being on mission, I have run into a lot of very strange situations that I never experienced at a normal evangelical church like Grace Community. At first I went to the extreme and saw everything as Satanic. Now, I see my job as bringing light into the darkness, and I have realized that demons aren’t really that scary!

    • http://www.clintarcher.com/ Clint

      Missions in dark places certainly encounter more demonic activity. The secret is to use what we learn in the Bible to combat it, i.e. Eph 6.

      • brad

        Agreed! But there is a clear difference between reading about demonic activity and experiencing it!!

    • Little Bright Feather

      “Rebuke the devil and he shall FLEE from you.” So glad that you have stopped feeding the devil’s food to him = fear. He thrives on it. Take that away and he stays away because he would starve around those who refuse to fear him. Evil ALWAYS feeds and gains strength from FEAR. He also cannot stand the Name of Jesus – the devils tremble when they hear that Name. Now you know why DC is doing all they can to eliminate the Name of Jesus from everything. Evil FEARS it.

      • Monsoon Harvard

        Actually that is “RESIST the devil and he shall flee”. NOT REBUKE.

  • http://www.melissacollins.biz/ Melissa Collins

    Thanks – good information!

  • http://almostreadytogoamish.blogspot.com/ Johnny

    I’m pondering point #1 in light of Luther throwing his inkwell at the devil…

    • http://www.clintarcher.com/ Clint

      If there were one person in church history Satan probably was trying to haunt, it would be Luther!

  • tovlogos

    Good one, Clint. You hit some of the common misunderstandings. You didn’t neglect to include Ephesians 6. It is interesting what you said about the devil not knowing as much as we might think he knows/hears, though he might appear ubiquitous by his army of demons.
    I see the two states of sin — the act of sin, and the state of sin. The devil obviously has influence in the lives of people who hate God, directly or inadvertently.
    Ephesians 6:16 talks about “attacks” from the devil, which makes a lot of sense. However, your conclusion, Ephesians 6:11, is the point for believers; though we must be able to discern between good and evil.

    Thanks,

    Mark

    • http://www.clintarcher.com/ Clint

      Thanks for the comment Mark.

  • http://stowellbrown.blogspot.com/ stowellbrown

    What about Matthew 16:23 But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”

    Should we tell Satan to get behind us?

    • Eugen

      We’re not Jesus – it might be hard to know just where Satan is (and considering the earth’ scour rent population, he might never get around to you). Might also be awkward misinterpreting somone’s words and blurting out, “get behind me, Satan!”

    • http://www.clintarcher.com/ Clint

      Well, I never said that Jesus couldn’t rebuke Satan. In fact Michael the archangel said “The Lord rebuke you” to Satan. But I wouldn’t feel comfortable calling someone Satan for trying to dissuade me of my intentions. Would you?

    • John Kr

      I think Jesus is calling Peter “Satan” in a less than directly literal sense, and not addressing Satan directly, illustrating that what Peter was telling him was from a “Satanic” point of view.

      • Little Bright Feather

        Jesus was speaking to the evil SPIRIT.influencing Peter. Jesus always dealt in the spiritual.

        • Fibber MaGee

          Please define “spirit” in your context

    • elainebitt

      Typical example of the gross misunderstanding (or total ignorance of) of what is descriptive narrative and what is prescriptive commands.

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  • Dennis HC

    Thanks for this great article, Clint. On a related note, have you seen this from Mars Hill/Mark Driscoll?

    http://marshill.com/2008/08/26/spiritual-warfare

    • http://www.clintarcher.com/ Clint

      I have now. Thanks for the link.

  • Enrique Scarpa

    Sorry but you theories do not match reality.

    • Fibber MaGee

      Don’t leave us hangin!

      • elainebitt

        I know eh Fibber? Don’t you just love comments like that?!

    • http://www.clintarcher.com/ Clint

      No need to apologize. This is a blog after all, so you may disagree.

    • Scott

      Do tell.

  • Enrique Scarpa

    Maybe before writing anything you shold take a look at this website: http://www.greatbiblestudy.com/spiritual_warfare.php

    • Jeff Schlottmann

      That site has no credibility. They have an obsession with fighting Satan and demons, with inner healing, prosperity gospel, and seem to have a strange twisting of the Bible and the believer’s role. Thats just from skimming a few articles. The site is loaded with this stuff.

      • Enrique Scarpa

        I have had many experiences with God and demons. My mother was a witch

  • BibleScholar

    Whatsoever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven…Matthew 18:18

    Also – the ” itinerant Jewish exorcists” you mention had no relationship with Jesus and therefore no authority to use his name.

    • DorkDonFrog

      See, I even thought this was stupid while I was still yet a believer. Saying “I bind _______” isn’t really binding something. It’s just words. Useless prattle. Religious LARPing. Binding something on earth would actually require action. The verse doesn’t say to say that something is bound, it says to bind it. Act. And so I began to see those prayers full of bombast and bluster as just that.

      • Little Bright Feather

        You are confusing the material with the Spiritual, as many humans do. We have been made so materialistic we seem to forget that we too are a trinity of our being as God made us in His image – we were made body, soul and spirit. We tend to neglect our spiritual part.

    • http://www.clintarcher.com/ Clint

      The context of Matthew 18 is church discipline. Jesus is talking about the church dealing with sinning members, not Satan.

    • http://www.clintarcher.com/ Clint

      While that is true about them not being believers, I don’t see where having a relationship with Jesus means we have “authority” to cast out demons. It seems in the NT that it was a privilege given to the Apostles and other sent ones, like the 70. It is not normative for all believers.

      • http://NotreEglise.com Stéphane Kapitaniuk

        Clint, this is the only place where I hesitate about the article. The sons of Sceva were not believers and that is the point of the story: you can’t call on Jesus’ name for power if you’re not known by him.
        I won’t answer the cessationnist aspect you mention in this comment. But I don’t feel that the passage from Acts strengthens your argument.

        • http://www.clintarcher.com/ Clint

          Good point, but I still think that when believers use the “name of Jesus” like some magic formula, they are making the same mistake that the (presumably unbelieving) sons of Sceva were making.

          • Little Bright Feather

            Don’t forget the most important element – the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:8 makes it clear that you only have this power AFTER you receive the INDWELLING of the Holy Spirit, Then basically you are the hose and God is the powerful water flowing through that hose. It is still God doing it, while we are just the conduit. But unless we receive the Holy Spirit AS GOD SAYS TO, (not man), we do not have this power. And God is very firm on this as He also states that you are none of His unless you DO RECEIVE this INDWELLING of the Holy Spirit. Rom 8:9 ; Eph 6:11,13 KJV
            His words not mine.

  • uncomfortable

    Thank you so much–I needed this TODAY–I work for a Christian non-profit, and every week at our staff mtg, the ED speaks loudly to God, claiming what we will “do,” and more loudly to Satan, binding him and telling him what he can’t do because of our authority. It makes me very uncomfortable, so I do not join in that prayer but praise God for who He is in my private prayer and ask Him for grace for this prayer time.

    • http://www.clintarcher.com/ Clint

      I’m sorry to hear your predicament, but it is quite common in some circles. Your response is appropriate. It might not be a good idea to challenge the boss on his beliefs unless you have a relationship with him/her that would make that appropriate.

  • John Kr

    While I appreciate the overall thrust, I don’t think the first point is a strong point, except in a very technical sense. Satan is probably not within earshot, but one of his demons could very well be, and they certainly wield some kind of spiritual power. All those who do this would have to do then would be to change the wording to the binding of “the forces of Satan” rather than just “Satan.” Or maybe they mean “Satan” as referring to “the forces of Satan”, rather than just the “main man” himself.

    • http://www.clintarcher.com/ Clint

      Sure. And I do address that. But surely you concede that many Christians think of Satan as being present where they are? I have encountered many who address Satan directly because they believe Satan is present.

    • Little Bright Feather

      You would love the thriller novel ‘POWERS IN THE AIR’ – it is based on Eph 6:12
      http://www.authorhouse.com/BookStore/ItemDetail.aspx?bookid=18118

  • elainebitt

    This is a question that I always wanted to ask people who believe they can bind satan. At what point, or why, satan gets loose? I mean, there are an awful lot of people around this planet binding satan on a daily basis! Why is it that they cannot get him to stay bound? Maybe it’s a problem of faith on their part? Yea, I see where this is going now… smh.

    Excuse me while I go bind satan before the game Brazil vs Germany. I should have thought of that when Brazil played against Colombia. Oh well… ;)

    • Little Bright Feather

      Because Satan himself still is in God’s prophetic plans for Satan’s end time OWG (One World Govt). God allows Satan to keep going until Jesus returns and puts an end to Satan’s Tribulation reign. But you CAN bind and cast out his demons, who are also very powerful, make no doubt about that.. But if you believe it is Satan himself that is taunting you, which is most likely one of his top demons anyway and not him, you can rebuke him and send him away from you. And you do not need to go through the casting out process – all you need do is begin to praise Jesus LOUDLY and the devils/demons are gone. They cannot take that kind of praise or the Name of Jesus. They hear that and they are gone ! God LIVES IN the praises of His people he tells us. Ps 22:3 If You want a direct link to God – just begin praising Him !

      • http://www.clintarcher.com/ Clint

        Yeah, I wonder how often people who are trying to bind Satan are actually praying against God’s prophetic plan to use Satan. Imagine Job or his friends just bound Satan. We would have a much shorter book of Job.

  • Little Bright Feather

    That is not correct or Biblical. Jesus ordered us to do as HE did AND TO DO EVEN GREATER THINGS THEN HE DID BECAUSE HE WENT TO THE FATHER. Those are His words and command ! WE do to do half the things Jesus did – we are failures. WE are suppose to be doing “GREATER THINGS” – so are we ? ARE we casting out demons and raising the dead back to life ? Jesus did ! And true Satan is not omnipresent like Jesus/God is, but yes he CAN HEAR US SPEAK He canNOT read our minds like God can.But he does hear us which is how he finds out so much about us and our fears and weaknesses that he then uses against us. A great book on this very thing in a thriller novel form is a good book to get – POWERS IN THE AIR by Carrie Taranova – a very prophetic book for all ages written in 1997 is a thriller novel with action on every page. Very educational as well as entertaining. IT is the REAL supernatural. It shows how to identify the enemy and how to deal with him and how to keep him away from you and how to thwart his attacks.. Everything in the book is real and actually happened and is still happening and some of it will have you holding onto your seat. http://www.authorhouse.com/BookStore/ItemDetail.aspx?bookid=18118

    • Jeff Schlottmann

      I must be hopeless because I haven’t done anything Christ has done. Haven’t changed water to wine, or walked on water, or healed withered hands. There a so many more i havent done. Hopeless.

      Also, I think the bible has all the info we need to have on Satan and demons. A thriller novel may be entertaining in some way, but not authoritative in any way.

    • http://www.clintarcher.com/ Clint

      Or you could read the chapter on demons in “Things that Go Bump in the Church” :) It’s not a novel, but might be useful in the places where it quotes Scripture in context.

      • Jeff Schlottmann

        That was one of my favorite chapters Clint. Along with the ones on christian liberty and free will. I loved the whole book, but those were the standouts for me.

    • Jane McCrory Hildebrand

      Yes, what failures we are. All we’ve done is preached the gospel and watched those who were spiritually blind and deaf now see and hear and thereby be raised from death to life in Christ. Shame on us for not doing greater things than that.

    • Senorita Daffy

      Twice, in this thread I’ve seen you to point to a novel as a source of truth. I am sad for any professing Christian who would put a work of fiction above the absolute truth of the holy bible-God’s word.

      Binding, stomping, shouting…nonsense.

      Suit up for the battle and trust God.

      • http://www.clintarcher.com/ Clint

        What a novel idea.

  • http://www.truegraceinstitute.webs.com Jeff Hagan

    I like this. Concise, true, some humor – although I wouldn’t quit your day job – and a quick read. I’m not necessarily cessationist (see comment posted from someone else “2 days ago”), but I have been preaching the same thing for years. Why, for the love of Pete, would anyone pray to Satan??? Anyway, Hank Hanegraaff has a short, little book (great for gifts) that goes into this in a bit more detail but with the exact same position. Enjoyable article/blog (if I have to read a Baptist author). ;-)

    • http://www.clintarcher.com/ Clint

      Wait, comedy is my day job. The pastor thing is just a front.

  • 4Commencefiring4

    Finally–some common sense about our adversary. Yes, he certainly has more important places to be than in my neck of the woods. I’d have the same advice for my Catholic friends: how did Mary or Peter or [fill in the blank] become omnipresent? When they were here in the flesh, they were just in one place at a time. Does death confer special powers on us? Don’t think so.

    If I thought the dead could be of comfort to me, I’d be calling on Jane Mansfield.

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  • William L Gwynn

    Realizing now, how foolish I was, parading around, boasting of my strength with my new faith. I realize I was tempting the lion…. yeesh! I was blessed that Lord conveyed to me, not to contend with others, more powerful than I! Humbleness is key in armor in up – of course, all fit seamlessly together as one… awesome article!!

    • http://www.clintarcher.com/ Clint

      Thanks William. At least you didn’t have the demon in Acts 19 teach you the Sceva lesson!

  • Liz

    You said: “On an unrelated note, my apologies for any typos that crop up this week. The devil is in the details.” Don’t you think the devil gets blamed for a lot of things that may be our own undoing? For those who don’t know 1John 4:4 they have every reason to fear the extent of Satan’s power to kill, steal and destroy.

    • Jeff Schlottmann

      So you didn’t find the joke in there, huh?

      • http://www.clintarcher.com/ Clint

        And I wasn’t even trying to be subtle!

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