Many born again, biblically sound Christians nowadays may feel as if they’re being attacked spiritually. Examples: financial struggles, health issues, etc. So… is there a biblical way for born again, biblically sound Christians to take part in spiritual warfare? I believe there is.
Unfortunately, the teaching on spiritual warfare is terribly abused nowadays – particularly in the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), also called the Third Wave of Pentecostalism. Googling “spiritual warfare” will bring up an odd mix of links, to resources on true spiritual warfare as well as false spiritual warfare.
Obviously the best learning resource is the Bible itself – Ephesians Chapter 6, etc. There are many wonderful discernment ministries resources as well. Following I’ve reposted a biblically sound article discussing true and false spiritual warfare. Also, following this repost, I’ve provided links to additional resources on biblically sound spiritual warfare.
Click here for the original site of this blog. I have emphasized certain points by bolding in orange, and inserted comments [in brackets in orange].
Spiritual Warfare – The Biblical Way and the ERROR of “Binding satan”
“Spiritual warfare” means different things to different people. The term itself is not found in the scriptures, but the concept is taught. Spiritual Warfare is a very important aspect of the Christian life because we engage in it every day. The Bible makes that clear. But many teachings on spiritual warfare being circulated these days is not rooted and grounded in the teaching of scripture. Any practice or technique of spiritual warfare which has no scriptural warrant is always suspect.
The key to successful spiritual warfare is finding Biblical balance. Some of us are taught that if we “bind satan” in the name of Jesus, threaten him, or if we pull down spirits in the air (preventing their activity), they will leave us alone forever – no longer tempt us or try to lure us away from our faith. This is simply not true. Some of us are taught to use the phrase ” I bind you satan in the name of Jesus”as a magical formula or ”spiritual weapon”. Some of us are also taught that we have the authority to do so because we have Jesus; but overcoming satan and his demons are more than just words. The truth of the matter is satan is already bound by the Gospel of Jesus Christ and as believers we bind him with our righteous living (2Cor. 10:6). We must make sure our view of demons and how to deal with them is based on Scripture, not stories, tradition, or experience. Saints, error mixed with truth ensnare the believer and I pray for all who are ensnared to receive the truth that will make us all free.
The purpose of this teaching is to teach that there is a warfare going on and we fight it every day; that we have been given weapons and strategies by the Father who is our Commander and to give the true meaning in context of the terms “binding and loosing” in the book of Matthew.
Scripture teaches us that true Biblical “spiritual warfare” is simply indirect confrontation with satan our principle enemy (we don’t step into his territory to pick a fight with him and we don’t seek to communicate with him to show him how big and bad we are in the Spirit). Spiritual warfare must be done according to the rules of combat of our Commander, Jesus Christ. Our source of authority should not be experience, it should be the Word of God. We have to daily stand firm against (resist, oppose, withstand) satan with the tools God gave us (obedience, prayer, His Word, His Spirit and etc. – 2 Cor. 10:4&6; Eph 6:10-18). These tools are the weapons God has established for us. Scripture provides everything that we need for salvation and sanctification (2Tim. 3:16,17; 2Peter 1:3), therefore the Word of God should be our final authority.
Spiritual Warfare According to the New Covenant Scriptures What does the Bible teach?
2 Tim. 2:15 “Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the word of Truth.”
*Please note: I understand this is a sensitive topic and that it goes against much of what we have been taught in the church. I am not here to cause division, but I am examining commonly known practices in light of Scripture so that Scripture can correct and instruct us (2 Tim. 3:16). I understand that we must be on our guard, contending for the faith which was once delivered to the saints because certain men have crept in. (Jude 3 and 4). We are warned in 1 Tim. 4:1 and 6 that in the latter times some will turn away from the faith giving attention to deluding and seducing spirits and we are admonished to be worthy stewards of Jesus Christ, ever nourishing our own selves on the truths of the faith so that we can TRULY live victorious in Jesus Christ.
As I said earlier, “Spiritual warfare” means different things to different people and many engage in spiritual warfare differently. Some are Biblical and some are not. “Binding and Loosing” are often associated with “spiritual warfare” – again it is a term not found in the scriptures, but the concept is taught.
2 Cor.10:3-5 – “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
Eph. 6:10-12 – “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole amour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
Let’s examine the practice of binding and loosing. How is binding and loosing practiced in Christendom and what does the Bible say about such practices?
1. To bind the devil and spirits in the air during public and private deliverance sessions.
2. To bind the devil in prayer before presenting the Gospel. The belief is that this will improve the likelihood of that person trusting Christ as his Savior.
3. To bind satan from upcoming events protecting it from the influence of the demonic.
4. To bind satan and his demons from certain geographical locations, such as a new house a person will be moving into, a new church building, or a particular location in a city or neighborhood.
5. Binding unfavorable situations and circumstances in our lives (poverty or a lack of something, persecution on our job or at school and the struggles of life).
6. To bind the struggle of sin in a believer’s life (the “spirit of lust”, “the spirit of envy, gossip, or disobedience”) .
What does the Bible tell us about satan being bound (as in being unable to work or do anything to anyone)?
Revelation 20:1-3 (AMP)
“Then I saw an angel descending from heaven; he was holding the key of the Abyss (the bottomless pit) and a great chain was in his hand and he gripped and overpowered the dragon, that old serpent (of primeval times], who is the devil and satan, and [securely] bound him for a thousand years. Then he hurled him into the Abyss (the bottomless pit) and closed it and sealed it above him, so that he should no longer lead astray and deceive and seduce the nations until the thousand years were at an end. After that he must be liberated for a short time.”
Revelation 20: 10 (AMP)
“Then the devil who had led them astray [deceiving and seducing them] was hurled into the fiery lake of burning brimstone, where the beast and false prophet were; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”
What does this teach us?
It teaches us that satan will be bound for 1,000 years shortly after Christ’s Second Coming. Following the Millennium, Satan will be deposited into the lake of fire for all eternity.
In interpreting Revelation in light of the whole of Scripture what are we taught?
We are taught that satan will be bound (him and his activity) for 1,000 years shortly after Christ’s Second Coming. No other time before this will anyone be able to bind him or prevent his work. Even though God is sovereign, God cannot lie (Heb. 6:18) and God will permit the devil to act until his time is up.
We are taught that Jesus has bound satan and his demons already with the message of the Gospel in that he can’t stop the Gospel from going forth (Matt. 16:18-19) and by His finished work on the cross (1 John 3:8).
We are taught even though he is bound by the Gospel he is very much active. 1 Peter 5:8 teaches us that satan is “like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour”. Satan will seek and continue to seek to destroy anyone who will let him (hence “whom he may devour”). He has that authority in the earth because God gave it to him for a short time.
Therefore, the idea that believers can remove satan and his demon armies permanently from spheres of influence, from tempting us, afflicting us, harassing us, and to trying to distract us from serving and living unto God is simply unbiblical. In addition, the teaching that most of us have, which is to “bind him in the name of Jesus,” is not found in the Bible. Take demons for example, since primarily binding and loosing is used in this instance. If we study the ministry of Jesus, the idea of binding a demon should automatically raise some questions. Jesus never tried to bind a demon (stop their activity), He cast that thing out! (Matt 8:16; 8:39; 9:33; 10:38; 12:28). There was a time however that Jesus did bind or forbid a demon to speak (Mark 1:34), but the end result was to cast him out.
How are we instructed to overcome satan?
1. Peter instructs us to “withstand him; be firm in faith against his onset – rooted, established, strong, immovable, and determined, knowing that the same sufferings are appointed to our brotherhood (the whole body of Christ) throughout the world.”
2. Paul teaches us to put on the whole armor of God. Our weapons include truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation and the word of God (Ephesians 6: 14-17).
3. 1Tim 1:18-19. It teaches us that we must wage a good warfare holding fast to faith and having a clear conscience. And we know that we must take control of our thought life by refuting arguments, theories and reasoning’s and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the true knowledge of God. We are to lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (2Cor. 10:5 Amp).
4. James 4:7. We are taught to be subject to God. Resist the devil – stand firm against him and he will flee from us.
We are not taught anywhere in scripture to “bind” or “rebuke” him, but we are constantly taught to STAND FIRM against him – the same way Jesus stood firm against him while being tempted in the wilderness. He stood against him with the Word of God and we must do the same.
What is the mandate for the practice of “Binding” satan? What does that concept really mean? What does the Bible say about those “mandates”?
The “mandate” or idea for “binding satan”is based on the misinterpretation of three passages: Mt 12:29; 16:19; and 18:18. The context reveals that Matt. 12:29 was an illustration of Christ’s personal power over Satan — not ours. Jesus is making the point that He is the stronger man. And the other scriptures Matt. 16:19; 18:18 are in the context of fulfilling God’s will on earth, including church discipline. It has nothing to do with demons messing with us and our stuff (things carnal believers are concerned about).
What does the binding and loosing concept really mean?
In the Jewish culture that phrase is an expression meaning to declare forbidden, to declare allowed or to declare lawful – this idea of binding and loosing has the force of the judicial notion of forbidding and permitting. The power for binding and loosing is something that the Jews of that day used. They bound or loosed an individual in the application of a particular point of the Law and they did this to provide rules or to discipline.
What are some applications of the Law that the Apostles (using the binding and loosing concept) declared lawful or unlawful?
1. The use of circumcision. Circumcision was forbidden because it is now the heart that is circumcised and not the flesh. (Romans 2:28-29
2. Thy declared forbidden the teaching that Christians (converted Jews) should abide by certain Old Testament rites. (See the entire epistle of Galatians)
3. The distinction of Jew and Gentile in Christ (Act 10:28 and Gal. 3:38)
What is the true definition of these “mandates”?
Let’s discover the true meaning of these verses.
The meaning of this verse in context with the surrounding verses mean that Jesus gave Peter and indirectly all who will be His disciples, authority to bind believers to the Church and the authority to exclude or loose from the Church those who did not believe. This scripture teaches us that there is heavenly authority behind the disciples’ (and our) earthly actions. Peter was to bind things upon the earth, but only what had already been bound in heaven. Peter was to set the standard on earth for entrance into the kingdom of heaven based upon the standard which God has already set in heaven (this is God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven- Matt. 6:10). Peter was to be the mediator of the Word of God between God and man (by preaching it), and that standard is what Peter stated in Matt.16:16, namely, that Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
The meaning of this verse in context with the surrounding verses (before and after it) teaches us church discipline and order. The Lord was speaking about how to deal with unrepentant brothers and sisters not about “binding” satan, demons, or their activity. There is not even a hint of this type of practice or “spiritual warfare” in Scripture. Jesus is saying that believers can have confidence that when they justly excommunicate someone on earth, that they are fulfilling the will of God which has already been determined in heaven. This should give them confidence in what they are doing (because as they yield themselves to God and walk in the Spirit, they will automatically fulfill God’s plan and not their own). So in this context, binding and loosing carry the idea which corresponds to our modern judicial language of declaring someone guilty (binding) or innocent (loosing). The court decision does not make someone guilty or innocent, but simply determines whether his past acts violate or conform to God’s heavenly standard.
Therefore the authority to “bind and to loose” had to do with, the permitting or forbidding anything that was to be determined by a doctrinal decision.
[Russell Sharrock critiques the heretical NAR practice of “binding and loosing” in his book Spiritual Warfare: A Struggle for Truth. Click here to read this chapter online.]
Let’s talk about rebuking.
Who is given the authority to rebuke?
Nowhere in Scripture are we taught to rebuke the devil or his demons, but we are taught to cast them out and resist them. The New Testament views rebuking as the sole prerogative of Jesus as an expression of His Lordship and sovereignty over the spirit realm. The only acceptable condition for a believer to rebuke anyone is when he lovingly corrects a brother fallen into sin (Lk. 17:3; 1 Tim. 5:20). Throughout the New Testament, rebuke is understood as the sole prerogative of the Lord. This is why Michael said when challenged by Satan, “The Lord rebuke you” (Jude 9). 2 Peter 2:10 teaches us that we are not to “revile angelic majesties.” The earlier context indicates that these self-willed false prophets were engaged in reviling fallen angelic majesties—demons. We are taught in 2 Peter 2:4-12 that this is something which is characteristic of false prophets, so it is a warning for Christians not to engage in such practices.
We are warned twice in Scripture against reviling (uttering reproaches, assailing with abusive language) and such practices.
If we are warned not to do these things then, why do so many professing Christians and their leaders regularly engage in such practices?
Both passages give us the answer. They are acting out of ignorance. “These, like unreasoning animals … reviling where they have no knowledge …”(2 Pe. 2:12). “But these men revile the things which they do not understand …” (Jude 10). This is an example of the ignorance of God’s Word which leads to wrong practices. No wonder many are growing weary and dropping out of the battle. Many are following leaders who are leading them on wild goose chases through beliefs and practices that open them up to attacks from the enemy rather than the advertised protection from the enemy clearly taught in Scripture.
What are we taught in Scripture concerning dealing with demons?
Demons are Fallen Angels who willfully sided with Satan and became his followers, to carry out his will instead of Gods. When confronted by a demon-possessed individual [the direct, inward control by a demon(s)], there are generally two possible reactions, namely the offensive approach and the defensive approach. The offensive approach calls for casting out the demon. In contrast, the defensive approach simply teaches the Christian to resist satan and or the demon by submitting to God.
Our authority is to deal with demons in ministry to persons. We do not have authority to rail against, bind or attack evil forces over territory or broad topics such as “I bind the Spirit of poverty over my city or my life.” We have been mis-taught regarding Jesus statement that “whatever you bind on earth is bound in heaven.” Again, what did He mean by the terms “bind” and “loose?” These words were commonly used by Jewish rabbis. The customary meaning of the Rabbinic expressions is to declare forbidden or permitted, and thus to impose or remove an obligation, by a doctrinal decision. When used in this way, the expression retains the basic meaning that they had in the Jewish culture of the first century.
Nowhere in scripture are we taught the “spiritual warfare” practices that some of us were taught and they include for example “binding demons and spirits”.
Thanks to youtube member NotYourTypicalNegro, (because I din’t know where the binding and loosing concept came from, but I checked out what he suggested and it is true for the most part) – “the practice of spiritual warfare believe it or not comes from movies such as the Exorcist, books written by Frank Peretti, This Present Darkness. Many Christian got a lot of concepts about spiritual warfare from that book. Also Left Behind and the Believer’s Authority by Keneth Haggen ”[Hagin]
I did a search on these books and this is what I have found.
This Present Darkness, by Frank Peretti.
Released in 1986, he introduces an all-too-common phrase among Christians, “I rebuke you, Satan,” which is invoked during prayer. The mystical approach of throwing rebukes around has no basis in Scripture. Just the opposite is true. Again we are not to rail against principalities and authorities in the spirit realm (Jude 8-9. And we can see from His mention of Michael and the devil that God does not look favorably upon those who rail against any authorities including Satan’s. Yet the Church is filled today with teachers who tell us how they’re going to “stomp on the devil.” They call him names and rail against him as if to demonstrate that they have power over him.
The Believers Authority, by Kenneth E. Hagin.
He is the acknowledged “father” of the modern Word of Faith Movement and is viewed by charismatic Christians globally as a true prophet of the Lord Jesus Christ.
*Please note: I did not read these books. I am just giving you information that can possibly shed some light on this practice as it relates to how it originated.
Kenneth is said to have believed in the following beliefs:
1. Christians are little gods.
2. Jesus didn’t pay for our sins on the cross and he had to finish the job of atonement in hell.
3. If Christians are not healthy and wealthy it is because of their lack of faith or knowledge.
4. Christians have control over their lives by the words that they speak. If they speak sickness and poverty they will be sick and broke. Therefore, if a Christian speaks blessings and healing they will be healthy and have wealth.
Finally, many believers are being lead astray by false deliverance teachings (please note all are not false and there are ministries who are ministering according to the true teachings of the Word) which promise instantaneous victory over one’s problems by a timely rebuke of the devil. This misleads people from the Biblical path of exercising endurance or patience in overcoming their trials. As a result, many believers are not developing the kind of proven character they need to handle and overcome these trials.
“And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”
And we see this character-building approach illustrated by Paul’s thorn in the flesh (2 Cor. 12:7-10). The thorn is described as “a messenger of Satan to buffet me—to keep me from exalting myself”(12:7). It is quite possible this messenger was a demon. The Greek word for messenger is “angelos,” the word for angel.
Paul did not bind or rebuke the “messenger of satan”, instead, he “entreated the Lord three times that it might depart from me” [12:8] Yet God did not grant Paul’s request, but said, “my grace is sufficient for thee.”
Do we have power in the name of Jesus? Yes, we do, but it is to be exercised within the will of God and what is expressed in Scripture.
The Lord was more interested in building Christ-like character in Paul as a true display of His power (12:9) than in teaching him how to fight the devil the way some of us have come to know it.
Within certain circles today, it is common to hear a speaker lash out against satan with various rebukes and threats. Often the speaker will rebuke satan in the area of health, wealth, and peace of mind. It is not unusual to hear more preaching against satan and the demonic than to hear preaching which focuses in on Christ and His resources which is for the purpose of transforming our souls.
Let’s be sober and alert. It has become common to attribute a natural or human explanation to most problems, but as believers we know that there is a spirit world because satan is the prince and power of the air (Eph 2:2). We have to have a spiritual warfare perspective so that we will be inclined to test situations to ascertain whether or not there is something more than natural influences at work. As spiritual warriors we must have an alertness to the activity of the enemy so that we can actively resist him as scripture teaches us.
As warriors we must bring discipline to our thought life, actions and the fact that we have to continually build ourselves up on our most holy faith and praying in the Holy Ghost (Jude 1:20). If we allow these areas to be compromised, we will not be effective in resisting the enemy and standing firm against him.
Also we must take sin very seriously, because sin always gives the adversary an advantage and we know that we can do nothing that is effective in our own strength. Our strength, authority, wisdom and discernment are dependent upon our close walk with the Lord. We should always remain focused and guard ourselves against distraction caused by problems and troubles that appear. These are designed to get our eyes off the Lord and lure us into working and walking in the flesh.
In closing the concept of spiritual warfare is a pro-active approach to our faith meaning it is our responsibility study the Word and do it. Scripture teaches us that true Biblical spiritual warfare is simply indirect confrontation with satan our principle enemy. Indirect confrontation implies that we do not fight with satan and his evil forces by approaching them directly (I am not talking about casting out a demon). We confront them by applying indirect means and ways that God has established for us.
The battle is the Lord’s!
We do our part in warfare by applying and fulfilling our required indirect roles which secures our standing before God and allows Him to directly act on our behalf. Jesus Christ has prayed that we be kept “from the evil one” (John 17:15). Further, the Bible promises us that “God keeps him and the evil one does not touch him” (1 John 5:18). Attacks from Satan against us becomes God’s battles as we obey and fulfill the roles required of us, not by verbally threatening satan and his demons which we are taught not to do (Jude 8,9; 2 Peter 2:4-12).
True Christian spiritual warfare is living a life of consecration, obedience and fellowship with God in such a way that we enable God to effectively deal with the evil working against us and against other people. It is a form of abiding in Christ that overcomes Satan’s legal and illegal grounds against us and others. This is seen in the outline of our spiritual armor given in Ephesians 6:11-18. Now It’s true that Satan and his demonic spirits (fallen angels) are the primary enemies we wrestle against. It’s also true that God has given us certain strategies in the Bible of confronting these evil beings whose full-time ministry is scheming to ruin our lives. Working outside these biblical guide lines only increases their effect in our lives.
Nowhere in the scripture do we see Jesus or the apostles bombarding demons in thin air and calling it spiritual warfare prayers or deliverance prayers. When Satan sought to sift Peter and finish him off Jesus prayed to God. Jesus prayed that Peter’s faith would not fail and when he’d turned back from the attack he’d strengthen his fellow disciples.
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers,” Luke 22:31-32.
Jesus Christ, God made flesh, prayed to the Father, for Peter’s deliverance. His spiritual warfare prayer or deliverance prayer was addressed to God not to Satan. How much more should we follow His example of indirect confrontation?
Scripture teaches us how to have victory over the devil and it is by putting on the whole armor of God (Truth, Righteousness, Gospel of Peace, Faith, Salvation, and the Word of God). All these are aspects of consecration, obedience to and fellowship with God. The Lord uses our consecration and obedience to overturn Satan’s hold over matters in our lives and the lives of those we’ve been assigned to minister to – spiritually, socially, materially and physically. “We will be ready to punish every act of disobedience once (when) your obedience is complete,” 2 Corinthians 10:6 (emphasis added mine).
[This verse comes to mind: “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7). (Click here for some pertinent marginal notes.) It doesn’t say attack him, rebuke him, etc. It simply says “resist” him – that’s all it takes – and he will flee from you.]
I know this is a hard pill to swallow but we must study saints of God. We may do things with good intentions but if we are not careful we can be walking in disobedience and error. May the Lord bless you and increase you in His knowledge.
[Note – there are also many comments regarding this blog, at its original website.]
FOR FURTHER READING
HYMNS about biblically sound spiritual warfare:
Nethymnal list of hymns about spiritual warfare
Martin Luther, A Mighty Fortress is Our God
HOW SPIRITUAL WARFARE SHOULD NOT BE PRACTICED:
Apologetics Index, Spiritual Warfare
Apologetics Index, Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare
Orrel Steinkamp, Spiritual Warfare Evangelism: How Did We Get Here?
HOW SPIRITUAL WARFARE SHOULD BE PRACTICED:
Eric Barger’s list of articles on spiritual warfare (true spiritual warfare and false spiritual warfare). Eric also sells additional resources (books and videos on spiritual warfare – see link below under BOOKS, VIDEOS.
Kerby Anderson, A Biblical Point of View on Spiritual Warfare (many pages viewable online)
Clinton E. Arnold, 3 Crucial Questions about Spiritual Warfare (many pages viewable online)
———-, Powers of Darkness : A Thoughtful, Biblical Look at an Urgent Challenge Facing the Church
———-, Spiritual Warfare: What Does the Bible Really Teach?
Eric Barger and David Benoit, Disarming the Powers of Darkness: Fearless Conquerors in the Spiritual War (excerpts from each chapter viewable online)
Eric Barger’s list of books and videos on spiritual warfare (see also links under ARTICLES above)
Robert Dean and Thomas Ice, What the Bible Teaches About Spiritual Warfare (2000)(previously titled Overrun by Demons: The Church’s New Preoccupation with the Demonic; many pages viewable online)
Michael S. B. Reid, Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare: A Modern Mythology? (many pages viewable online; includes a bibliography)
Russell Sharrock, Spiritual Warfare: A Struggle for Truth (many pages viewable online; includes a bibliography)
Stand Up for the Truth discernment ministry’s list of articles discussing true and false spiritual warfare