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Are There Dangers in the Increase of Charismatic "Deliverance Ministries"?
This Article Explains Vital Points You Need to Know Regarding “Binding Satan”, “Binding Demons” or “Binding Poverty” Can You Really Do Those Things? Are These Biblical Concepts?
Many of those who are - or have been - involved with the extremes of the charismatic movement (whether we speak of 'Word-faith' or some other complexion of 'charismania'), have encountered the belief that Christians should be prepared to eagerly confront Satan and/or his demons and to "bind" him (or them) in the name of our Lord. Others believe that they should "bind" poverty or poor health - or even other things which are seen as causing Christians to stumble, but where do some of these things come from and how much of this is really biblical?
In Matthew 18:18, of course, Jesus said, “Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
Some people interpret this to mean that Jesus was telling us that we have power to “bind” the devil or his demons, or to “bind” sickness or poverty and to “let loose” health and wealth. In fact, if one looks around it is possible to find ideas of "binding" of all sorts of things in the name of our Lord among even the most sincere of Christians. But we must now put all such enthusiasm and emotion behind us and seek for a truly Scriptural perspective on this subject.
The authority to 'bind and loose' was given specifically to the original disciples in Matthew 18:18 with regards to spreading the Gospel to the world before the final revealed will of God was compiled into written form (that is, in the form of the completed Bible canon which we have today). At that time the apostles and the 70 evangelists were empowered to make major decisions regarding evangelism and also regarding honest disputes among Christians (which were bound to arise in such a pressurized situation). To fully get the context, we need to consider the section of Scripture from Matthew 18:15-22. The context of Matthew 18:15-22 appears to show us that 'binding and loosing' is most appropriately applied to solving disputes within the early Church although it could extend a little beyond that where the apostles needed to make decisions whilst in the front line of preaching the Gospel in those very early years.
The Concept of "Binding" Satan
Now, first of all, let us consider whether we may attempt to 'bind' Satan himself. There are some big problems with this idea of "binding Satan." We could start off by saying that this is hardly logical because if Christians could truly bind him then surely Satan would be continually bound - and if he were continually 'bound' there would be no need for continual requests! The lack of logic in all of this strongly suggests that some very sincere Christians might be misunderstanding something pretty important here.
There is no biblical support for Christians binding Satan but - the really great news is that Satan has already been bound by a mighty angel on the authority of Jesus Christ Himself at the commencement of this age of the Church! Don't forget, Jesus had said,
'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'
(Matthew 12: 29)
Jesus presents us with a picture of Satan being like a strong man who must be bound in order that his house can be plundered. This was the result of the authority granted to Jesus at the cross.
Jesus was as good as His word and Satan was restricted so that the preaching of the Gospel could be effective! Compare Matthew 12:28-29 with Luke 10:17-20. In Luke's account of the strong man being bound, the strong man is represented as armed and guarding his palace or residence. But once disarmed by a stronger opponent, he is deprived of his spoils (Luke 11: 21-22). Christ's claim, then, is crystal clear. He has 'bound' Satan and can plunder his house at will. Satan cannot successfully resist Christ.
Satan is bound by the cross of Christ. There the serpent's head was crushed and the forces of evil routed. So certain was Christ of victory as He went to His cross that He could say emphatically,
'Now is the judgement of this world; now shall the prince of this world be cast out' (John 12: 31).
Please notice that the authority granted to Jesus necessarily resulted in the restriction on Satan. Read Matthew 28:18-20. Also, please notice that this happened at the cross!
Of course, Satan still has certain power but he is restricted; a vicious dog on a leash can be distinctly dangerous if one foolishly gets too close, but he is nevertheless restricted in scope (attempt to move your computer mouse really close to the picture on the left for a good illustration of how real Satan becomes when people foolishly get too close to him!) But the devil cannot prevent the people whom God is calling from being added to the Church during this age of the Church due to this restriction which has been placed upon him, yet he remains vicious. Yet the message of this is that Christians cannot bind Satan because Christ has already bound him.
So the direct influence of Satan on those who come to Christ can be just about ruled out; only lukewarm 'stragglers in the pack' who foolishly wander into the path of this 'dog on a leash' are at risk (Ephesians 6:10-11; 1 Peter 5:8-9). Yes, Satan loves to roam and prowl for the weaker members of the flock - but only within his restricted parameter.
The Concept of Binding Demons.
The first Apostles and the '70' were granted power over the demons which reflected, of course, the binding of their master! Carefully read Luke 10:17-20. Then notice Matthew 10:1, 8; Mark16:17, Luke 9:1-2 and Acts 5:12-16. The first preachers of the Gospel were empowered to drive out demons to reflect the authority granted to Jesus at the cross and the resultant restriction of Satan's power. Read Luke 10:18-20 once again because it is important that we all understand this.
The Approach of "Deliverance Ministries"
"Deliverance" evangelists often
have a routine which they follow in casting out demons from
people. First, they seek to find out a little about the
individual; They enquire about the nature of the problem (there
is always an assumption that the problem is being caused
by a demon, rather than by some other cause). Quite often the
minister will then start to speak authoritatively to the demon,
commanding the demon/demons to manifest themselves. Having done
this, they usually attempt to carry on a conversation with the
demon. Some who have witnessed this practice have remarked
However, those were sensational times! Even the New Testament epistles tended to speak of these dramatic 'signs of an apostle' (2 Corinthians 12:12) in the past tense. Sure, Satan continues to be restricted and he cannot prevent those whom God is calling from being added to the Church - however his demons still prowl this earth and are especially attracted to those who take an unhealthy interest in their activities, through the occult etc.
We do not need to go to the extreme of adopting Cessationism (which teaches that all the supernatural signs finished with the completion of the Bible canon and cannot recur until the Second Coming), to note that it is surely very unhealthy and unwise to be forever seeing a demon in every ditch! I do not claim (with the sincere, though I feel somewhat misguided) Cessationists that no demon has ever been cast out since about 100 AD since I have heard and seen too much and there are some incredible stories of what happened, for instance, when the Gospel was first preached in parts of Africa, Nepal, China and so on. True, outside the age of the Apostles and of the original 70 evangelists such things are less likely, but I think not necessarily impossible. We should not seek to restrict what God might choose to do in situations of His choosing (not ours) because of our own overly-tight doctrinal limitations!
But having said all of that, I am appalled by some things that I have heard within certain deliverance-type ministries. Some unwisely suspect the presence of demons too quickly, others always assume demons to be active in unbelievers which may not always be the case. A few who have been anxious and fearful of problems within their lives have come to "Christian ministers" for counselling and immediately been put through horrendous and appalling "demonic deliverances" which were probably not even necessary and have caused them to walk away from "Christianity" immediately afterwards - undoubtedly never to return! This is shocking and disgusting and some of these "ministers" may well have to answer to Jesus Christ Himself one day because of it! Mark 9:42.
But the New Testament example is not for believers to be continually seeking demons in a confrontational manner but, rather, to avoid them and their influence. That is a very different approach. We are warned to 'resist the devil and he will flee from you.' (James 4:7). When we come to Christ our lives are not going to be a dwelling place for demons - they are going to be temples of the Holy Spirit. We avoid demons and demonic influence. I believe that every single person who has received the Holy Spirit has a heightened sense when demons are around - I certainly do and have sensed their presence in certain places on several occasions. My response is to pray for protection and to immediately leave those places. To purposely seek confrontation is misguided and is against the New Testament advice given to Christians. Romans 12:21; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; James 4:7.
Binding Sickness or Poverty
Again, in Matthew 18:15-17 Jesus was not talking about binding these things! Jesus did not mean that we can 'loose wealth' and 'bind' poverty or sickness. In context, Jesus was clearly talking about Church authority and discipline which was such an essential thing in the days before many Elders of the Church had become available and before the completed Bible canon was available. Those members of the church who sin and repent are to be “loosed” or in other words, restored to fellowship, while those who are unrepentant are to be “bound” or removed from fellowship (Matt. 18:15-17). Sickness, wealth, poverty, and demons are totally foreign to the whole context of these verses. These matters do not enter our Lord's consideration here.
Although we can greatly affect our physical and material well-being through exercising things like wisdom, prudence, planning, and wise and discerning stewardship, ultimately we are always dependent in every aspect of our lives on the sovereignty of God. In fact, the sovereignty of God is a most vital principle of Scripture, yet one frequently ignored or misunderstood today.
In closing, I would simply recommend a few articles here on the topics of health, sickness, wealth and poverty :
Few Observations Upon When Christians Become
All About Faith; What IS Faith, What ISN'T Faith?
What is the Truth About "Generational Curses"?
The Shame of the Gospel Money-men
Is Physical Healing Included in the Atonement?
Robin A. Brace, 2006.
There are still further articles on deliverance ministries below (please note: These are PDF files which have to be downloaded. You can download the free Acrobat Reader here):
MUSELTOF COUNTERCULT AND APOLOGETICS