Spiritual Warfare 101: Binding & Loosing

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded” (James 4:7-8).

In the last several decades, there have been a lot of books and teachings in the body of Christ pertaining to spiritual warfare or the “authority of the believer.” Of course many of them are very good, but even with those excellent resources, there is still quite a bit of confusion in church about what a believer can and cannot do in the realm of exercising spiritual authority over the enemy.

Some think that the devil is not really a factor in a Christian’s everyday-life so they do little or nothing to actively resist him. Others go to the opposite extreme and walk in fear, believing that the devil can do what ever he wants when he wants. And sadly, fear causes some of them to end up trusting in strange, unbiblical methods of warfare rather than developing a relationship with God. To add to these problems, some Bible colleges (even Pentecostal ones) incorrectly teach that it is unscriptural to bind the devil or demons. Then I discovered one popular Charismatic author (which we will discuss later) came out with the false teaching that you should loose the devil.

So, in view of all these opinions, we do need to ask and answer some legitimate questions. Do Christians have authority over Satan and his demons? Can we bind demons? What does it mean to “bind a demon” and how do we do it? How long does it last? What can we do to obey the commands of the Scriptures that exhort us to resist the devil? This why we need to look at what Jesus said and how it applies to us today.

In Luke 10:17-20, Jesus said this to his disciples, “And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. [18] And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. [19] Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. [20] Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.”

From this passage, it is clear that Jesus gave seventy of his followers the right to use His name against demons. Notice that this group was not the twelve, but the seventy. This reveals that this power was not just given to the twelve apostles of the Lamb, but even to babes as Jesus called them in verse 21. This also shows us that this authority is for you and me today. But before we look at some corroborating Scriptures, we need to look at the Greek definitions of a couple of words in Luke 10:17-20. First of all, the Greek word for ‘subject’ in verse 17 is ‘hupotasso’ and it means to subordinate; reflexive to obey :- be under obedience (obedient), put under, subdue unto, (be, make) subject (to, unto), be (put) in subjection (to, under), submit self unto (Taken from the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Greek Dictionary #5293).

So it is evident: the devils had to obey them, plain and simple. Evil spirits had to do what those babes in Christ told them to do. What an awesome thing! Then Jesus confirmed their exciting experiences by telling them that He would give them power over all the supernatural power of the enemy. The ‘power’ in verse 19 is the Greek word ‘exousia,’ ex-oo-see'-ah. It is taken from the Greek word (exesti) #1832 (in the sense of ability); privilege, i.e. (subject) force, capacity, competency, freedom, or (object) mastery (concrete magistrate, superhuman, potentate, token of control), delegated influence:- authority, jurisdiction, liberty, power, right, strength (Strong’s Greek Dictionary #1849).

Thus, we can conclude beyond any shadow of a doubt that Jesus gave His true disciples power or authority over all the power of Satan and his demons. Demons have to obey true believers in Jesus. Now, some would say, “If this is true, then why haven’t Christians taken the world back from the devil? Why haven’t we seen the enemy routed on a larger more consistent basis?”

To answer these questions, we must first realize that the Creator of the Universe allows many of these supposed paradoxes to exist in the minds of men. For instance, God allowed His greatest victory over evil and sin to appear to be a defeat in the eyes of man. In letting His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, die on the cross at the hands of wicked men, God went to the taproot of evil which was the sin of Adam and Eve that gave Satan the keys of hell and death. That act of love and His blood sacrifice broke the power of sin and Satan for all who would believe in Jesus and turn from their wicked ways. Hence, God chose to let the reality of His victory on the cross work itself out in the hearts of men and women as they learn to walk with Him in a practical way. Even so, the authority of the believer is a solid Biblical truth, but it has to be worked out in a believer’s life as they mature and learn the many facets that make our spiritual warfare effective.

You may wonder, “What does he mean?” Well, the Scriptures that explain this the best are found in James 4:7-8 which says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.”

You see, in talking about resisting the devil and having authority over him and his demons, we have to understand that it is not enough to know the mechanics of how to bind or command a demon in Jesus’ name. We can know all the formulas and prayers to pull down strongholds and cause demons to flee, but if we are not submitted to God in all areas of our lives, then our warfare will be will not work. We would be like one beating the air as Paul described in I Corinthians 9:24-27.

To be successful in warfare, our flesh has to be under submission to God. We must be walking in repentance (turning from sinful ways) and be in a real relationship with Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Now, I am not talking about sinless perfection, but rather I am referring to habitual, willful, and premeditated. In other words, a Christian cannot continue to practice sins unto death and expect to be victorious over Satan and his demons.

A perfect Biblical example of what we are studying here is the account of the sons of Sceva mentioned in Acts 19:11-16. Let’s look at it. “And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: [12] So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.[13] Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. [14] And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. [15] And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? [16] And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.”

Notice first of all that the sons of Sceva were not born again Christians, but they were the sons of a leading priest so I guess they thought they had some spiritual power. They had observed Paul and learned some of the mechanics of how to take authority over the devil, but they did not have the real power and authority that comes from a relationship with Jesus. The demons knew all of that as they know the rules of the spirit realm and of course there was not any power there to drive them out. In addition to that, these guys had the gall to use the name of Jesus Christ which demons hate and that caused the demons to use the man’s body to jump on them and injure them.

As you can see, this is not a game. I know of churches who took it upon themselves to go after demonic principalities in a region only to end up shipwrecked and dispersed. And after asking a few questions here and there, I usually discovered why they were defeated and even destroyed. The main reason was usually that while they had learned some of the fundamentals of spiritual warfare, they were lacking in the area of dealing with sin in the camp. Basically, they were soft on sin. Holiness was not emphasized. Some of these churches even taught the demonic doctrine called “once saved, always saved”[1] while they tried to assault the devil’s kingdom.

Even Jesus alluded to this prerequisite of purity when He said to His disciples just prior to His crucifixion, “Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me’ (John 14:30). You might think, “But that was Jesus! We can’t say that!” But, wasn’t it the Apostle Paul who told the Christians of Ephesus not to give place to the devil? In fact, he made that statement (about not giving place to the devil) in the middle of some verses where he commanded them to stop sinning in very specific areas of their lives (see Ephesians 4:21-32). So, if Christians