In many African churches, intercession isn’t considered complete until we’ve tackled every spiritual foe imaginable. I remember a time when I used to attend church early for the intercessory prayer service, very eager to participate in intense spiritual battles.

As you can imagine, binding and rebuking Satan, demons, principalities, and territorial spirits was a staple in these services. 

The sessions felt powerful. After all, I was plundering the kingdom of Satan, or so I thought. I was genuinely convinced that it was necessary to combat evil spiritual forces by taking authority over them and commanding them to stop their activities. 

Given how prevalent this practice is in the church, I believe it’s crucial to examine whether it aligns with biblical teaching. Therefore, in this blog post, we will explore the scriptural basis or lack thereof for binding and rebuking Satan.

Exegetical Analysis of Verses Supporting the Practice of Rebuking and Binding Satan

Matthew 16:19, Matthew 18:18, and Mark 3:27 are often cited to support the practice of binding and rebuking Satan. Therefore, we are going to examine them in their proper context and analyze their intended meanings to determine whether these verses genuinely endorse this practice:

1. Matthew 16:19

Matthew 16:19 is part of a conversation between Jesus and his disciples, specifically Peter. In this verse, Jesus says to Peter:

"I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."

In context, this verse comes after Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter gives the correct answer by confessing that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:16). 

It is after this that Jesus says, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 

The “keys of the kingdom of heaven” symbolize the authority of Christ. Here, Jesus is entrusting Peter with authority over the church that would be established after His departure. This authority included the responsibility to proclaim the truths of the gospel and to make decisions concerning the church.

The phrase “whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” therefore, means that Jesus is giving Peter and, by extension, the apostles, the authority to make decisions regarding doctrine and the church. This meant that decisions made by the apostles (binding and losing), under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, would be authoritative and backed by heaven.

2. Matthew 18:18

Matthew 18:18 states,

"Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."  

This verse is part of a larger passage where Jesus is teaching his disciples about how to deal with a brother who has sinned against another. In the preceding verses (Matthew 18:15-17), Jesus outlines this process by saying that the offended person should first confront the offender privately.

If the matter is not resolved, it should be brought before one or two witnesses. If reconciliation still isn’t achieved, the issue is to be presented to the entire church. If the offender refuses to listen even to the church, then they are to be treated as a pagan or tax collector. In other words, they are to be excommunicated from the church.

Within this context, Matthew 18:18 teaches us the authority given to the church to make binding decisions on earth. This means that similar to Peter, God will back whatever decision the church comes to regarding church discipline.

In this passage, Jesus was simply providing the church with the framework for handling disputes. And highlighting the church’s authority in maintaining discipline among its members as guided by the Holy Spirit.

When studied in context, it becomes very clear that Matthew 16:19 and 18:18 do not support the practice of binding Satan or demonic forces. They are passages that address completely different issues.

Note: Jewish rabbis used the terms “bind” and “loose” to represent the authority to determine what is permitted (loosed) or forbidden (bound) according to the law. This authority was mainly related to doctrinal and disciplinary matters. You can read more about it here. Therefore, when Christ says to Peter and the Church that “whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven”. He is essentially giving them the authority to act on behalf of God as guided by the Holy Spirit.

3.  Mark 3:27

Mark 3:27 states, 

"In fact, no one can enter a strong man's house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man's house." 

This verse is part of a passage where Jesus responds to accusations from the scribes. They accused Jesus of being possessed by Beelzebul and claimed that He drives out demons by the prince of demons. 

Jesus then responded by speaking with parables to show the absurdity of their accusation. He explained that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. If Satan is casting out Satan, it means that his kingdom is divided and it cannot endure.

It is after this, that Jesus quotes Mark 3:27, to further clarify His point using the analogy of the strong man. Here, the “strong man” represents Satan, and the “house” represents his dominion over those he has bound through demonic possession. Jesus is asserting that in order to plunder the strong man’s house (to free those under Satan’s control), someone stronger must first bind the strong man. In this analogy, Jesus is the one who is stronger than Satan (the strong man). He is the one who has come to bind him and liberate those oppressed by demons.

As you can see, Mark 3:27, within its context, is about Jesus refuting the scribes’ accusations against Him and proving His authority and power over Satan. It was the power of the Holy Spirit that enabled Him to cast out demons, not Beelzebub. Furthermore, the binding of the strongman refers to Jesus’ authority and ability to cast demons out. It’s not an endorsement to shout, “Satan I bind you in Jesus’ Name!!” like we do in our prayers.

Young back woman sitting with her hands together praying by binding and rebuking Satan.

Jude 1:9: A Warning Against Rebuking Satan

Jude 1:9 says,

"But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, 'The Lord rebuke you!'"

For context, the book of Jude is a letter that addresses the threat of false teachers who have “secretly slipped in” the church (Jude 1:4). These false teachers are characterized by their ungodly behavior, rejection of authority, and heaping abuse against celestial beings (Jude 1:8). The false teachers’ arrogant behavior contrasts sharply with Michael’s humility when he had a dispute with Satan as described in Jude 9.

When Michael,  the archangel, contended with the devil over the body of Moses, he refrained from pronouncing judgment against Satan. Instead, he submitted to the authority of the Lord by saying, “The Lord rebuke you!”

Michael’s attitude serves as an example of the kind of approach we too, should have even toward Satan. Despite being a high-ranking angel and the fact that the devil deserves condemnation, he was careful not to assume God’s role as the ultimate judge.

Now, if Michael, an archangel, did not dare to rebuke Satan directly, how much more should we mere human beings exercise caution and humility? 

As believers, this should serve as a reminder for us to respect God’s established order of authority and not to overstep our bounds in spiritual warfare. It should caution us against the pride and arrogance displayed by false teachers who claim undue authority over spiritual beings. We should emulate Michael’s humility instead, by relying on God’s power to ultimately defeat the devil and his minions.

A Misunderstanding of Believers’ Spiritual Authority

From experience, the practice of binding and rebuking Satan not only stems from a misunderstanding of believers’ spiritual authority but also from an overemphasis on this authority to an unbiblical extreme.

Proponents often cite verses such as Luke 10:19, Matthew 10:1, and Matthew 28:18-20 to support that believers have the authority to bind Satan. So let’s briefly examine these verses to see if they hold up to this claim.

Luke 10:19

"Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you."

In this verse, Jesus is addressing the seventy-two disciples. He had sent them out to heal the sick and proclaim the kingdom of God. When the seventy-two returned joyfully, they reported that even the demons submitted to them in Jesus’ name. In response, Jesus says that He had given them authority to overcome the enemy. 

What is crucial to understand here is that Jesus granted this authority specifically to the seventy-two for their mission to proclaim God’s Kingdom.

Also, a plain reading of this verse shows that Christ’s focus was on assuring the disciples that the enemy could not harm them because of the authority He had given them. He was not instructing them to issue commands to bind Satan.

Additionally, in verse 20, Jesus further clarifies, “Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Matthew 10:1

 "Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness."

In this verse, Jesus grants His disciples authority over unclean spirits and diseases. Again, this authority is mission-specific to demonstrate the power of the Gospel. The text does not suggest a general practice for all believers to bind and rebuke Satan. Instead, similar to Luke 10:19, it highlights Jesus empowering His disciples with the authority to cast out demons and heal the sick. He gave them this authority to enable them to carry out their mission effectively.

Matthew 28:18-20

"Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'"

One thing that you should note is that Jesus is speaking about Himself here. Far too often, we interpret this verse as though we are the ones who have received all authority. However, a plain reading shows that God has given Christ all authority, NOT to us. Therefore, the authority Christ gave believers to share the Gospel is subject to His. Furthermore, this verse says nothing at all about binding and rebuking Satan. Rather, Christ is commanding us to make disciples.

Authority Under Jesus Christ and God’s Will

Perhaps a better application of these verses is to believe in the assurance of God’s protection as we fulfill the Great Commission. Just as Jesus assured His disciples of their authority and protection against evil in Luke 10:19 and Matthew 10:1, He also promised His continual presence in Matthew 28:20, saying, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” 

I believe God extends this assurance to all believers, promising that He will be with us as we carry out this divine mandate. Therefore, as believers, we should proclaim the Gospel with boldness. Knowing that we possess authority over evil and the enemy. An authority given by Jesus to advance His Kingdom. However, this authority is not a license to engage in heaping abuse against the devil like the false teachers in Jude’s time. 

While we indeed possess spiritual authority, this authority is subject to that of Christ and we must exercise it in alignment with God’s will. It is misunderstanding and misapplying this authority that leads to unbiblical practices like binding and rebuking Satan. And it is here that Jude 1:9 provides a clear example of God’s will regarding this matter.

It is not His will for believers to bind and rebuke Satan. Instead, God calls us to respect His sovereign authority by leaving the work of rebuking Satan to Him. And we shall see why at the end of this article. 

The Biblical Authority Given to Believers

While it is clear that God has not assigned the role of binding and rebuking Satan to believers, He has indeed given us the authority to engage in spiritual warfare through other means. In the next section, we will explore these biblical methods of spiritual warfare in more detail.

The Biblical Way of Engaging in Spiritual Warfare

  1. Putting on the Full Armor of God:

The armor of God equips believers to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. By putting on this armor, we can stand firm in the Lord and in His mighty power.

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people." Ephesians 6:10-18
  1. Resisting the Devil:

Scripture instructs us to resist the devil by submitting ourselves to the Lord.

 "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." James 4:7
  1. Staying Sober and Vigilant:

God calls believers to remain sober-minded and watchful by being aware of the devil’s schemes.

"Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings." 1 Peter 5:8-9
  1. The Word of God:

Scripture is a powerful tool for spiritual warfare. It is the truth that counteracts the lies of the enemy and provides guidance and strength. It is the sword that we should use to demolish ideologies, philosophies, and arguments that set themselves up against the knowledge of God.

"The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

I genuinely believe that binding and rebuking Satan is a distraction from him. He will gladly have us busy binding and rebuking him as opposed to applying what the Bible teaches about spiritual warfare. Because failure to apply God’s ordained means for spiritual Warfare leaves us vulnerable to his schemes.

However, by focusing on putting on the full armor of God, resisting the devil, staying vigilant, and using the Word of God as our weapon, we are effectively engaging in spiritual warfare as the Bible instructs.

A Call for Discernment

Allow me to also submit to you that the practice of constantly binding and rebuking Satan is quite illogical when you examine it closely. If we truly bind Satan every time we declare it, then we should have tied him up permanently by now. However, the fact we do it over and over suggests that these binding declarations are not as effective as we might hope. This, therefore, raises an important question: why do we need to bind Satan repeatedly if it doesn’t work? 

Well, the Bible has the answer. The reality is that it’s not yet time for Satan to be bound. Revelation 20:1-3 says, “And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.” This passage clearly indicates that the binding of Satan is a divine act to be carried out by God’s appointed angel. Not by Christians. 

Furthermore, Revelation 20:10 speaks of Satan’s eternal judgment: “And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” This ultimate judgment and eternal punishment in hell emphasize that the defeat of Satan is firmly in God’s hands, and His timing and justice are perfect. Until that time comes, our role is to stand firm in our faith, rely on God’s power, and trust in His ultimate plan for the complete defeat of evil.

Related: A Warning Call: The Pitfalls of Seeking Wisdom on Evil from Ex-Satanists

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2 Comments

  1. avatar
    Charity says:

    I have not even started reading the passage but I am like yeeeees!!! this is something I questioned a lot within myself. Why are we spending so much time rebuking the devil and not talking to God. I learnt the trend, I felt like 99% of my prayers were about casting down & casting off, putting to death, whereas there is other part of ‘bringing to life’, putting on the armor of God, and when people talked most of the times they are like warriors maaahn it was hectic. Good news, I stepped out. I admit the devil is there and we should keep him off but I want to have is “baby girl prayers” like true communication with God. You see the one that uncle Moses had with God. The Bible says( in sequence, first things first) “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” simple. Let me now read. Selah.

    1. avatar
      charity says:

      Thank you for this article. I mean, if God himself ‘let Satan be’ on this earth, ..(the prince of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers)who are we to bind him? the verse in Jude when angel Michael said may the Lord Rebuke you keeps me grounded.

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