Series: The impact of the Jewish roots of Jesus
Have you ever been in a prayer meeting where someone loudly binds the devil? Perhaps you have done this? I don’t want to be offensive but I do want to pass on some helpful information. Apart from the fact that prayer is to God and not to the devil, the practice of binding demons has no biblical support whatsoever.
The Pharisees accused Jesus of performing miracles by the power of the devil and he responded by pointing out how ridiculous such an accusation was. He used the analogy of someone breaking into a house and said; “no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house” (Mark 3:27 ESV). This statement is not a warrant for the practice of binding the devil in prayer; it is simply a statement of the obvious fact that Jesus was able to heal all who were afflicted by the devil because he had overcome Satan.
The Greek words which we translate as ‘binding’ and ‘loosing’ appear in two New Testament texts. The second of these, Matthew 18:18, has to do with church discipline. Jesus explains the procedure for bringing correction and ends with the instruction that if the erring party does not respond then the matter is to be brought before the church leadership who will decide the matter. Jewish religious leaders had the responsibility of deciding what was permissible according to the Law of God and what was not. They ‘bound’ or prohibited, that which they deemed to be unlawful and they ‘loosed’ or allowed, that which they judged to be lawful. Jesus said; “I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven”. In other words, “God will back up and authenticate whatever you leaders deem to be right in cases such as this.”
The other reference to binding and loosing comes in the famous declaration concerning Peter. In my previous post I wrote about what happened at Panias when Jesus asked his disciples who they believed him to be. Peter proclaimed his divinity and Jesus responded by saying to Peter; “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” In Jesus’ day Jewish Rabbis had the authority to determine correct interpretation of the Torah, the Law of God. When they decided on an interpretation they were said to be loosing the people to the determined beliefs and practices. The Wikipedia entry on this subject states that, ‘the poseks (the term in Jewish law for “decider”—a legal scholar) had, by virtue of their ordination, the power of deciding disputes relating to Jewish law. Hence the difference between the two main schools of thought in early classical Judaism were summed up by the phrase the school of Shammai binds; the school of Hillel looses’.
Binding and loosing have to do with establishing church doctrine and discipline and have nothing to do with presumptuously taking authority over Satan in ‘prayer’.