Q: #270. Can we "bind" Satan?
A: “I bind Satan” (or some other demonic activity) is something that at some point you will probably hear some Christian say when he/she is praying. When I first began my walk with the Lord, I heard this a number of times, and since “binding Satan” sounded good to me, I used to pray it. However, as I grew in my walk with the Lord, I began to question if this was really a Biblical concept. As I studied it, I came to find that there are only 3 verses in the whole Bible that this is based on, and none of them really have anything to do with “binding Satan” as it is practiced in these prayers. Let’s look at the 3 verses:
(Mt 12:29) Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house. (Also see: Mk 3:27)
(Mt 16:19) And I willggive unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on the earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
(Mt 18:18) Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
The meaning of (Mt 12:29) is quite simple. In the preceding verses, the Pharisees had been accusing Jesus of casting out demons by Satan’s power. They actually told Jesus He was in league with Satan (this is blasphemy)! Jesus refuted this by saying that He was casting out demons by the Spirit of God. Verse 29 is an illustration Jesus used to show that He was actually superior to Satan, and Satan was a defeated enemy. The “strong man” in this illustration is Satan, his goods are his demons. By entering Satan’s domain (house), and casting out demons (his goods), Jesus is showing His power over Satan.
A parallel verse in (Lk 11:21-22)(NASB) might make this a little more clear: “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are undisturbed. (22) But when someone stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away from him all his armor on which he had relied and distributes his plunder.”
However, while Jesus has defeated Satan, the Bible clearly tells us that Satan is NOT bound, nor can he be at this time. The Bible says Satan is the “god and prince of this world” (2 Cor 4:4)(Jn 12:31)(Jn 14:30)(Jn 16:11), and he roams about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet 5:8-9). Satan will remain unbound until the 1000 year reign of Christ, when an angel will bind him and throw him into the bottomless pit (Rev 20:1-3). At the end of the 1000 years, Satan will be set free for a time, before he meets his final, eternal fate in the lake of fire (Rev 20:7-10).
Now let’s look at (Mt 16:19) and (Mt 18:18). The exact interpretation of these verses has been a source of debate over the centuries, but the interpretation I am giving is pretty common. The “binding and loosing” in these verses is referring to Jesus giving both Peter and the other disciples the authority to forbid (bind) or permit (loose) certain matters, practices, or behavior, based on what God has already bound or loosed in Heaven (Mt 6:10).
This authority is expressed in two different ways in these verses. In (Mt 16:19), Jesus is speaking to Peter specifically, saying he would be given the keys to the kingdom of heaven. In this instance, I believe that the keys given to Peter were to “build God’s church” (Mt 16:18) by proclaiming the Gospel to 3 different groups of people:
First the Jews (Acts 2:14)
Second the Samaritans (Acts 8:14-25)
Third the Gentiles (Acts 10:44-48)
Through Peter’s proclamation of the Gospel to each of these groups, the door to the kingdom of Heaven was opened to them. As Christians today, we can also proclaim the same Gospel to others, and “loose” or open the door to the kingdom of Heaven, or our message can be rejected, and therefore the person is “bound.”
In (Mt 18:18), the disciples were given the ability to bind and loose in a different area. In this instance, if we look at the text surrounding the verse, we can see that the “binding and loosing” is referring to God granting the disciples the authority to make decisions in matters of church discipline. God has given the church today the same authority to “bind and loose” in the area of discipline within the body of believers. When the church, as a body, prays, uses God’s word to guide it, and is in accordance with God’s will, that decision is ratified in Heaven.
Having explained these verses, let’s now consider these questions:
Many people are “binding” Satan and his demons in prayer. How are they getting loose? If God is binding them, can’t He keep them “bound?” Is the “binding” only temporary? Are people to blame for them getting loose (i.e. not enough faith)? Is this why demonic strongholds remain a problem for so many people after they are “bound” in prayer? If so, does this mean our actions can override God’s ability to “bind” Satan and his demons? Where does the Bible show any of this?
*** For those “binding” Satan, keep in mind he is not omnipresent, so he certainly can’t be “bound” by numerous people all over the world at the same time.
The Bible never once shows Jesus binding Satan or a demon. There is no recorded case of Paul or any of the apostles binding a demon. Demons were cast out, but never bound. People were set free from bondages Satan held on them, but Satan was never “bound” from their lives. The apostles faced imprisonment, torture, flogging, and death continually. Why didn’t they just “bind” the demonic activity in the people and regions they travelled instead of facing these attacks? We have ministries traveling this country today, going into cities and doing spiritual warfare, binding demonic activity in the area. Are these cities now free from demonic attack? We are given warning after warning in the Bible about how we need to protect ourselves against Satanic attack. Why do we need these warnings? Why don’t we just “bind” Satan and his demons and move on?
(Eph 6:10-18) tells us to put on the full armor of God so that we can stand firm against the schemes of the devil. Why do we need armor when we can just “bind” him?
(Jas 4:7) says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Why not just “bind” him, and then you won’t have to resist him?
(1 Pet 5:8-9) says we need to be alert, vigilant, and resist the devil, because he walks around seeking people to devour. Why be alert and vigilant, just “bind” him, then he can’t devour you.
Friend, if you are in Christ, you do indeed have power over Satan. Christ has destroyed the works of the devil (1 Jn 3:8). He has triumphed over (Col 2:15) and defeated Satan (Eph 4:8). However, while we can overcome Satan and his demons through the blood of Jesus, the Bible never teaches us that we can “bind” demonic forces. Satan and his demons cannot be, nor will they be “bound,” until a future time of God’s choosing, when he has promised they WILL be bound. Until that time, let us heed the warnings of the Bible to put on the full armor of God to fight the attacks that inevitably will come to each of us.