Binding and Rebuking Satan

Is it biblical?

1. Can we bind Satan in our prayers?

Through the centuries, well-meaning Christians have prayed for Satan to be bound. The question that arises is this: Didn’t any of their prayers work? If Satan were bound by a faithful believer years ago, how is he still to this day going about as a roaring lion trying to find someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8)? If he was bound by someone in a prayer long ago, how in the world did he and does he repeatedly escape his [temporary] spiritual handcuffs and continue his plot to cause havoc on the earth? Is it that our faith is too weak? Or is it that we doubt? Or could it be that we were never told anywhere in the Scriptures to try to bind Satan in the first place?


One Bible verse that is often propped up as evidence that we are allowed to bind Satan by a prayer is:


“Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (Matthew 18:18)


The immediate concern here is to exposit this verse in context. The passage in which it is found is Matthew 18:15-20. In that passage, Jesus is talking about church discipline and restoration, not binding Satan. He’s saying that if the church leadership makes a decision to toss someone out of the church due to sin and unrepentance, then their decision is binding upon the individual. Further, if two or three agree to this church discipline decision, then they have the backing of Jesus (Matthew 18:20).


“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you,you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:15-20)


The only other Bible verse that is similarly propped up as evidence that we can bind Satan with prayer is:


"And whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:19b)


The concern here is that this verse is often misinterpreted and misapplied to be a promise upon all believers, not specifically one person. According to the grammar and context of the passage (not just the one verse), Jesus was giving one man, specifically the Apostle Peter, the keys of the kingdom of heaven and promising that same one man, Peter, the authority to bind and loosen. The power and authority given to Peter that day by Jesus was not given to the rest of the Apostles nor was it given to all those who would one day follow Jesus. This means that believers today do not have the keys of the kingdom of heaven nor do they have the power to bind or loosen anything or anyone - including Satan. 

 


"And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:18-19)


The reality is that there are no other Bible verses that come into play which even remotely support a believer praying for Satan to be bound. Since some Christians continue to pray for Satan to be bound, you would think that they would pray for him to be bound permanently, not temporarily. But the reality is that they don’t pray that way, which causes them to continually pray for Satan to be bound time and time again. If we had the power or authority to bind Satan, then he would have been bound for good long ago never to be seen or heard from again. But we all know that’s not the case.


We’re specifically told to be on guard against the schemes of the devil and make sure we always wear the full armor of God. If we could bind Satan, then we could all relax, sit back and hang up our spiritual armor in a closet. But we know from reading the Scriptures that assumptions (like convincing ourselves that we have successfully and permanently bound Satan), attitudes (of relaxing and imagining that Satan is bound when he’s really still causing havoc) and actions (like putting our unnecessary spiritual armor in mothballs) will only result in spiritual disaster.


Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;  and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:10-18)


The danger of praying for Satan to be bound is that we will come away believing that he is bound – when in fact he isn’t. Satan, the “god of this world,” is always working to cause disobedience and busy blinding the eyes of unbelievers (Eph 2:2; Col 4:4). This can lead to lowering our guard, taking off our spiritual armor and thus allowing a fully active and angry Satan to go about his wily business while we stand on a promise that we can bind Satan in the name of Jesus that doesn’t exist and can’t be biblically supported.

2. Should we rebuke Satan?

During his earthly ministry, Jesus rebuked the winds and the raging sea (Matthew 8:26), demons (Matthew 17:18), a fever (Luke 4:39) and his disciples (Mark 16:14; 8:33). However, the only account of Jesus addressing or rebuking Satan is when he was being tempted in the wilderness for the third time.


Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”  Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.” Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him. (Mattew 4:8-11)


The only time Jesus ever told his followers to rebuke anything was when he told them that if a brother sinned to rebuke him (or her) with the goal of the person repenting and finding forgiveness.


"Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him" (Luke 17:3).


The bottom line is that there is no biblical support for Christians to pray to rebuke Satan. So let’s stop doing that.

3. Are we supposed to talk to Satan to rebuke him?

The best Bible passage that gives us a strong principle to follow on this question is found in the book of Jude.


Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” (Jude 1:8-9)


When a dispute arose about the body of Moses, Michael the archangel didn’t rebuke Satan. If he had of done so, it would have been considered presumptuous and railing a blasphemous judgment. Wouldn’t we be guilty of the same if we tried to rebuke Satan? Why would any believer attempt to go beyond what a powerful angel dared not by speaking to and rebuking Satan or his activity? The archangel was content to say, “The Lord rebuke you.” Let’s adhere to this lesson on humility and submissiveness and not go beyond our authority by trying to rebuke Satan.


Finally, we all know that we are in a spiritual battle “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).” Instead of being told to shout to our enemy Satan across the battlefield, rebuking him in the name of Jesus to stop shooting his flaming darts our way once and for all, we’re instead told to “take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” (Ephesians 6:13) Rather than rebuking Satan (something Jesus never told or encouraged his followers to do), let’s instead stand firm in our faith in the full armor of God confident that God will help us win the day no matter what Satan may throw our way.

4. In case you were wondering.

The only account in the Bible of Satan being bound is when in the last days an angel from heaven tosses him into a bottomless pit for a thousand years. Until that day arrives, Satan will be our formidable opponent, so let’s make sure we proactively and obediently suit up in the armor of God each morning and keep alert in prayer as we seek to proclaim the gospel of Jesus to the nations.


Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while. (Revelation 20:1-3)

5. Seven practical steps to take when dealing with the harassment, temptations and chaos Satan may throw our way.

1. Understand that every mishap, affliction or problem in our lives can’t always be attributed to the work of Satan; sometimes things just happen while there are other times when we or others might be the cause of our troubles, stress, or pain. Let’s not jump to the conclusion that every bad thing that happens to us is the result of a fiery dart of Satan.


But man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward. Job 5:7


2. Expect Satan to always be on the prowl to see whom he can upset or take down. The reality is that we are in a spiritual battle that won’t end until Jesus returns.


Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8


3. Remember that you through your faith in Jesus you are a child of God.


Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 1 Jn 4:4


4. Clothe yourself in the spiritual armor of God each and every day. God has given us armor to protect us; we would be naïve to think that we don’t need to wear it on the day of battle – which is every day of our lives.


Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. Eph 6:10-11


5. Pray to God that he will rescue you out of your troubles. You can yell, scream at and try to rebuke Satan all you want, but in the end it is God who is our deliverer.


“And call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” Psa 50:15


6. Be confident that through Christ you will have the ultimate victory over all the schemes of the devil.


Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. Psa 34:19


7. Peace is yours to hold on to or lose when you experience troubles – whether Satan causes them or not. Keep in mind that no matter what Satan may throw your way, there’s never a cause to fear or lose hope.


“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Jn 16:33