Can a child of God “take authority” over the devil? Can we, by our prayers and appeals to the blood of Christ, “bind” the evil one? Or are such thoughts echoes of what the New Testament author Jude referred to when he said that even Michael the archangel didn’t dare to rebuke Satan but said, “The Lord rebuke you”? (Jude 8-10).
What the Scriptures are clear about is that our identification with Christ enables us to draw near to God, and to resist the devil– so as to cause him to flee from us (James 4:7).
I’m asking you to consider this with me on the heels of my last post because I believe that spiritual warfare is real and that we can’t afford to try to fight that battle with wrong assumptions or ill conceived strategies. I’m also convinced that all authority has been given to Christ, not to us–at least not in the way some think.
But didn’t Jesus give his disciples authority to cast out demons? Yes, He did. Matthew tells us that, “When He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease” (Matt10:1). Then he quotes Jesus as saying to the same disciples, “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give” (Matt 10:5-8).
It’s at this point, though, that we need to stay with the unfolding story of what Jesus was doing. As we do, we learn that our Lord later gave his disciples different instructions. (compare Matthew 10:1-15 with Luke 22:31-38).
Still later, when Paul gave the Christians at Ephesus directions for spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:10-18), he gave them a truth-based strategy, rather than an authority-based one. While showing them how to resist Satan, he didn’t give them reason to think that they could “bind” their enemy– as if they could forbid him access to a prayed over person, home, church or city.
Does this then make us vulnerable to the Devil? No more than our Lord chooses in his wisdom to permit. God gives us all the defense we need to resist our enemy in a way that shows our trust in Him. He has given us a plan for spiritual warfare. He has given us the right to come at any time to His throne of grace. Most important, our God gives our enemy only as much freedom as He wants him to have, so as to test and deepen our faith in the Lord.
Although no one would choose to be tested by Satan, as the patriarch Job was, who can deny that Job ended up with a far deeper trust in God than he had before? (Job 42:1-6). And while no one would ask for Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” (clearly identified as a messenger of Satan), who does not long to live with Paul’s resulting conclusion that God’s grace is sufficient?
(2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
Now I realize that this is a bit to work through. But I believe it is worth considering together. If you don’t agree I hope you will let us know and give us your reasons so that we can work through this together.