I don't know much about "binding" and "loosing." I just know we are supposed to do it. Or somebody is. In my formative years I understood that the priests, bishops, and pope were supposed to be doing it. In my middle years, in seminary, no one ever went near Matthew 16:19, so no help there. In more recent years, I have made the acquaintance of people who have rescued "binding" and "loosing" from the trash bin of theological taboo subjects. Here is the neglected verse:
"I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
I think I saw binding and loosing going on in Minnesota a little over a week ago. The retreat I went to had a feature I had never seen before. A group of eight women who have prayed for the retreat since last April and intensively since February did not even attend the three formal talks in the large hall. Instead, they spent the full hour of each speech holed up together in a "prayer room," lifting the speaker in prayer. And heaven knows the speaker needed lifting.
I was in on a small part of their huddle, just before each talk. I heard prayers "binding" Satan from having his way with the proceedings, and prayers "loosing" the speaker's tongue with a Holy Spirit anointing. These women exuded confidence that the death of Christ had activated provisions and conferred authority to believers. Authority to believers---that's a relatively new one on me.
Jesus, when on earth, did some "forbidding" and "permitting" of spirits, and then he passed the baton to his disciples in perpetuity. As a result of Jesus' sacrificial death:
"[The Father] put all things under his feet and gave him to be head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all" (Ephesians 1:22-23).
That means the Church picks up where Jesus left off, and the increase of his government and rule that shall have no end continues to expand. It is a process of undoing and foiling the work of Satan (1 John 3:8), and it takes different forms. We "bind" Satan and "loose" souls whenever we announce to people that they need no longer be slaves (Romans 6:14). We "bind" demons in people and command them to depart (Acts 16:18). (In some churches, such reports are usually confined to foreign missionary visits, but for no good reason, I would say.)
I would not be honest if I did not tell you that during the retreat, even as we were worshipping inside, looters were looting outside in the parking lot. You may draw one of two conclusions: Either the prayers of The Eight for the "binding" of Satan were not heard or they were heard in some way that is not evident to us on this side of eternity. I have decided to not go by appearances, since not all things appear. I judge it is best to believe what Jesus said---that if we do not doubt in our hearts but believe that the mountains command to move are in fact moved, we will have whatever we say (Mark 11:23-24).
In Ezra's day, the people did plenty of praying---binding and loosing---before and during the project of temple rebuilding. Still, the Enemy came with different tactics. First, his people feigned friendliness in order to infiltrate from the inside (Ezra 4:2). When that didn't work, they wrote letters of accusation to the king back in Persia (4:6). Then there were ambushes along the road (8:31). Finally there was the temptation to undermine by intermarriage (9:1-2).
Was their binding and loosing a flop? No, a success. At the end of the day, the temple was completed. And what of our Minnesota retreat? At the end of the weekend, Satan's attempts to disrupt were overthrown and the word of God proclaimed. I attribute it to The Praying Eight, laboring in a prayer room, asking for peace among the retreat planners, safe passage for the retreat goers, open and closed doors, just the right testimonies to step forward, favor with the local hotel, and mercy on the speaker.
To hear commentaries by Andrée Seu, click here.