HOW TO BIND THE STRONG MANPrint This Page.
(The following is a booklet by Jessie Penn-Lewis. It was published by The "Overcomer" Office, Leicester, England.)
(Matt. xii. 29.)
"And He was casting out a demon which was dumb. And it came to pass, when the demon was gone out, the dumb man spake; and the multitudes marvelled." (Luke xi. 14, R.V.m.)
It was upon this occasion that the Lord Jesus in answer to the charges of the Pharisees, said: "How can one enter into the house of the strong man...except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house." This is not the only place where the Lord plainly described a man as a "house" or habitation of the evil one. In the same chapter He speaks of the unclean spirit cast out, and, finding no other habitation, saying, "I will return into my house," and because no other had taken his place, he is able to "enter in and dwell there" with seven others more evil than himself.
The "strong man" is Satan who possesses, or works in human beings by means of his wicked spirits. Satan is as clearly a person as the Lord Jesus Christ is a Person! The Lord Jesus Christ dwells in those He redeems by His Spirit, Who imparts to them the very life of the Son of God, thus making them children of God. In the same way the prince of darkness possesses or controls the fallen race of Adam (1 John v. 19, R.V.) The Apostle says he is "the spirit that now worketh in the sons of disobedience" (Ephes. ii. 2), and the Apostle John emphatically says, "He that doeth sin is of the devil" (1 John iii. 8)—is a partaker of his nature; whilst James writes, "jealousy and faction...is earthly, natural, DEVILISH" (James iii. 14, 15 R.V.m.)
Satan is a prince—the head of an hierarchy of evil—ruling countries by means of his dignitaries (Dan. x), and entering into, or controlling, the fallen race of Adam by means of multitudes of wicked spirits. The margin of the R.V. gives the right word—demons.
We must clearly distinguish between Satan as "the spirit that now worketh in the sons of disobedience," and the actual inhabiting of men by spirits of evil. In the one it is the prince of the power of the air influencing and working in men through the lusts of the flesh, and of the thoughts, and in the other it is a wicked spirit—or it can be many (Matt. xii. 45)—entering in, and manifesting direct Satanic control of the man.
The Lord describes the strong man's attitude when in possession of the man. "FULLY ARMED" HE GUARDS HIS COURTS, and keeps his goods in peace (Luke xi. 21)! How true this is of all who are in the kingdom of darkness! Paul the Apostle describes one way in which the strong man guards his house, when he writes: "The god of this world hath blinded the thoughts of the unbelieving, that the light of the gospel should not dawn upon them" (2 Cor. iv. 4, R.V.m.)
Until we recognize the strong man "fully armed" at the back of all darkness of thought, and blindness to the Gospel, we shall not do much toward bringing men out of the power of darkness into the kingdom of God's dear Son. And until we know how to take heed to the Lord's warning and "FIRST bind the strong man," the attempts we make to "spoil his goods" will only enrage him, and enable him to strengthen his armour, and guard his palace in peace.
But there is a "STRONGER THAN HE!" The Lord says, "When a `Stronger than he shall come upon him,' then `He taketh from him his whole armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils'" (Luke xi. 22).
There is no difficulty in recognizing the "Stronger than he!" The prophet Isaiah described Him as one with a face more marred than any man's—a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. He depicts Him as a "lamb led to the slaughter," and says that "as a sheep before her shearers is dumb...He opened not His mouth." This One—a Lamb—would "divide the spoil with the `strong'..." (Isa. liii.) The "Stronger" than the strong man is the God Man manifested as the Lamb of Calvary. The Lord Christ was the "Stronger than he" before He went to Calvary! He cast out the spirits with His word. Unclean spirits fell down before Him, crying out, "Art Thou come hither to torment us before the time?" (Matt. viii. 29). But not until He went to Calvary's Cross did He make it possible to take away the "armour" whereby the strong man keeps his goods in peace. These "goods," in human beings held by the "strong man," consist among other things of a man's love of sin (John iii. 19); his enmity against the God Who loves him (Rom. viii. 7); the lusts of the flesh and of the mind (Ephes. ii. 3); the lust of the eyes, and the vainglory of life (1 John ii. 16).
At Calvary the Lamb laid down His life to ransom the captives of the "strong man," and through death bring to nought the works of the devil (Heb. ii. 14). He carried the sins of the sinner—the "goods"—and the sinner himself, to the Cross, so as to take away the "armour" wherein the strong man trusted. On the Cross He provides a way whereby a man's love of sin and his enmity to the God he has rebelled against can be removed through the substitutionary death of his Redeemer. There, as he moment by moment appropriates the death of Christ as the death-blow to his old man (Rom. vi. 6) the desires of the flesh and of the mind are experimentally crucified, and the love of the world, with the vainglory of earth, swept away. Yea, in His own Person the Saviour carried the sinner to the Cross with Him (Rom. vi. 6), redeeming the captive from the "strong man" and taking the "goods" out of the strong man's power!
All who thus know the way of victory through the Cross are then sent forth by the Conquering Lord to deliver other captives from their bonds; to "BIND the strong man," and then "spoil his goods"! Breathing into them the very same Spirit of the Lamb which led Him to Calvary, He says: "Behold I send you forth as lambs...I have given you AUTHORITY TO TREAD upon serpents, and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall in any wise hurt you" (Luke x. 3, 19).
Servant of the King, thou art sent forth by the Deliverer to do His works! (John xiv. 12). He bids you do what He did! "First bind the strong man" ere you point the captives to Calvary, where the strong man's armour wherein he trusts shall be taken from him.
But how? We must first see that the "strong man" has no "armour" covering us wherein he may trust, and for this we need to lay hold of the utmost deliverance from sin and Satan which the Lord wrought out on Calvary for us. Crucified with Christ we have died to sin (See Rom. vi. 1 to 13 for the fullest light on this.)—for sin is the strongest armour wherein the strong man trusts, for all sin is of the devil. "How can Satan cast out Satan?" (Mark iii. 23) said the Lord. If Satan has any hold of you, servant of Christ, you cannot deliver others from his power. Crucified with Christ we have died to sin, and died to the world lying in the evil one (1 John v. 19). But this blessed fact of faith needs carrying out in the keenest practice by constant action of the will in refusing to "let sin reign" in our "mortal bodies." To tamper with sin of any kind will quench the power of the Holy Spirit in us, by which alone we can "bind" the operations of the "strong man" around us. The believer must, therefore, make an entire cleavage with sin on the ground of Calvary (Rom. vi. 6-11), and set his choice to serve God at all costs.
As we account ourselves crucified with Christ, and constantly refuse to let sin reign, the whole armour wherein the strong man trusts is withdrawn from him. The all-conquering life of the Risen Lord can then enable us to triumph over the Adversary. Joined to Him in spirit, we are brought into vital union with the
"STRONGER THAN HE."
The "Stronger than he"—the Lord Christ—is then, by His Spirit, the Overcomer Who is greater in us than he that is in the world (1 John iv. 4).
It is necessary to emphasize here that the Stronger than the strong man can only manifest His power through us, as by definite faith we MAINTAIN OUR POSITION as crucified with Christ, and thus dead indeed unto sin in Him. Never is there a stage in the spiritual life where there is not the deepest need of the severing power of the Cross. We must learn how to walk in personal victory over sin and Satan at every point if we are to have the fullest victory over the powers of darkness. Any uncrucified or weak spot is a target for the enemy, and all the devices of Satan will be at work to keep us in ignorance of our true condition. Consequently, we must always be open to all truth about God, ourselves, and the powers of darkness, and then honestly face the truth made known by the Spirit of God.
Ourselves delivered out of the power of the strong man, we become liberated into real resurrection LIFE—"alive unto God" (Rom. vi. 11)—in steadfast aggressive intelligent warfare against Satan, his hosts, and his goods. To do this we must understand some foundation principles.
Firstly, it is a spirit fight, pure and simple. The powers of darkness must be met on their own ground. We may reckon ourselves "dead indeed unto sin," and yet give the strong man much advantage by walking after the life of nature, i.e., our own thoughts, our own interpretations, our own plans, our own energy. The natural cannot contend with the supernatural (see 2 Cor. x. 4). It may appear to do much, and the enemy will go so far as to cause apparent "fruit" if by such means he can keep us striving on a plane where the results are only exterior and bereft of spirit life.
In addition to cleavage from sin, we need also to consent to the constant separation of soul from spirit (Heb. iv. 12) in order that we may not live and act in the realm of the soul, instead of the realm of the spirit, in co-operation with the Holy Spirit—the life described as "walking after the spirit." In order to do this we should deal with God concerning our own spirit, so that we may (1) know our spirit; (2) understand the laws of the spirit—its characteristics and activities; (3) discern its delicate senses; and (4) know how to control and use it in co-working with the Holy Spirit of God.
Secondly, to carry on a perpetual warfare in the spirit, by the power of the Holy Spirit, against a spirit foe, we must set ourselves to know our enemy and discern his workings. Power to discern comes (1) by knowledge that Satan can hinder; (2) by observing the objective of the hindrances; and (3) by close observation of his methods (wiles, see Ephes. vi. 11) along this line. The devil is practical, and we must be practical. If need be, we must be willing to unlearn, and to withdraw the stakes of limitation and unworkable theory driven into the edifice of our lives, and willing to learn, through fire, the real schemes and workings of Satan and how to contest them. This is an education in the spirit, and must be as patiently mastered as any other subject. We must be content to go one step at a time, to have our minds open to all truth, and closed to all error, and use the light we have, in prayer, testimony and other aggressive service against the Powers of Darkness, otherwise the ignorance that binds us will never be dispersed (John viii. 32).
The believer should pray, "I choose, by His grace, to be open to all Truth, and to honestly face it; and I choose and I will to be closed to all error. May God unmask the wiles and deceptions of Satan, and teach me at all costs all that I need to know for effectually waging war against the powers of darkness." By so doing we place our choice and will on God's side against Satan, and the Holy Spirit never fails to make it real in experience.
"Lord, even the demons are subject unto us through Thy Name" (Luke x. 17), said the seventy when they returned to Him after being sent forth whither He Himself would come. Rapidly the Spirit-taught worker will learn to recognize the power of the enemy holding a soul in bonds (2 Tim. ii. 26). There is an indefinable something wrapped around the person, like an invisible casing, and until this is penetrated there is no live contact with conscience, affections, choice or will. Nothing but the recognition of this stern fact, that the "strong man" is by such means contesting the release of the person, gives the clue to deliverance.
Alas, it is a terrible fact that spirits of evil can fasten upon and take possession of the minds and bodies of the children of God, for there is no stage of the spiritual life where they have not their subtle devices ready for gaining a footing. The strong man's emissaries fasten on some natural weakness characteristic of the person, so that they may not be detected. A "dumb spirit" can hold one who is naturally reticent; a spirit of helplessness (Luke xiii. 15, 16) one who is weak in will or character; a spirit of oppression one who is naturally pessimistic; a spirit of bondage one who is in character scrupulous and conscientious. A spirit of murmuring can hold one who is naturally fretful, and a hasty or obstinate spirit a passionate and strong character. The command comes to the Lord's servants to "first bind the strong man" in leading children of God into full deliverance and victory over sin, as well as in dealing with those who are held in blindness and sin outside the Kingdom of God.
We need to know also HOW to "bind the strong man" as "prince of the power of the air," filling the atmosphere where the people gather to hear the gospel, or the children of God meet to pray. "What things soever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven...if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask" (Matt. xviii. 18, 19), said the Lord to His disciples. The prayer of two fused into one desire, will "bind the strong man." "One shall chase a thousand" of the hosts of evil, but two put ten thousand to flight! (Deut. xxxii. 30) Hence the "strong man's" attempts to divide the children of God, or keep them from united prayer. The spirit of division, not necessarily openly manifested, stifles aggressive prayer and blocks victory. The gospel should not be proclaimed to the unsaved—thus attacking the "house" of the "strong man"—without first by united and believing prayer binding the strong man. The evil one is present at every seed-sowing of the Word of Life so as to "snatch away" the seed immediately! (Matt. xiii. 19.) Prayer against him protects the message.
In prayer, the "binding" is done by those who pray pleading the blood of the Lamb, for it is written, "They overcame him—the cast down dragon—because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of their testimony; and they loved not their life even unto death" (Rev. xii. 9, 10, 11). The life laid down is an essential condition for all who would prove the power of the precious blood over all the power of the enemy, "binding" the operations of the "strong man," and delivering captives from his power.
Brief Hints on the
PRINCIPLES OF WARFARE.
The whole armour on. (Ephes. vi. 10-18.)
Knowing how to watch. (Matt. xxvi. 41.)
Knowing how to DEFEND, as well as how to ATTACK: to (1) stand, (2) withstand, and (3) resist.
Fight (or pray) from principle—in cold blood, and irrespective of an apparent flow, because opposition of Powers of Darkness may account for lack of flow.
A need seen is a call to prayer; we must not wait for burdens or feelings, or we may get spurious ones.
KNOWLEDGE GOVERNS PRAYER (1 Cor. xiv. 15). Lack of knowledge means unintelligent and less effectual warfare. If there is no knowledge prayer must be made for knowledge, (or more knowledge, as the case may be).
As the warfare means great strains at times, these must be protective prayer, asking for (1) strength, (2) vision (not visions), and (3) knowledge; all for prayer.
Recognize that there is a difference between Satan and his works, temptations and wiles, the strong man and his goods, and deal with each as such.
Guard against indirect attacks of Satan—often the most violent, and often through your nearest and dearest.
Guard against (1) wrong motives, (2) indefinite prayer, (3) spasmodic prayer, (4) anxiety in prayer, (5) impatience in prayer, (6) being over-burdened in prayer (gauge your capacity), (7) fainting by the way, (8) false fighting (evil burdens, wasting strength), (9) wrong use of weapons, (10) misjudging by appearances.
We must be willing to pay the price of victory in the deliverance of others; have no preconceptions as to how God will work; watch every opportunity to co-operate with God as a means of answering our prayers; and walk softly, for great victory is a time of great danger, as the devil is then scheming to rob you of your victory.
* Neither time, place nor season are exempt from the attacks of Satan and his host—which, in itself, is a call to arms.
METHODS OF WARFARE.
"First bind...then spoil..."
Briefly: "BINDING" THE ENEMY SIMPLY MEANS STOPPING HIM FROM ACTING, THEN DESTROYING HIS WORKS.
Prayer must, therefore, be (1) destructive, (2) constructive.
Wield (1) the AUTHORITY of the NAME (Mark xvi. 17); (2) the BLOOD of the Lamb; and (3) the TESTIMONY against Satan (Rev. xii. 11), that he is conquered and must withdraw.
God's WORD must be stored in the heart. The WORD is the sword (Ephes. vi. 17), and we must become skilled to know which Scripture to use in meeting the particular assaults of the enemy, and in attacking his strongholds.
Joined to the Risen Lord we may bring into operation through prayer, the curse pronounced upon the serpent in Eden. —All on the ground of Calvary where Christ "flung off principalities and powers...triumphing over them" (Col. ii. 15).
There is the prayer of asking (John xiv. 13); interceding (Rom. viii. 26); saying (Matt. xxi. 21; Mark xi. 23-25).
Pray progressively as from the centre of a circle. Thus: 1, personal; 2, family; 3, circumstances; 4, business; 5, local; 6, world-wide (church, and the world).—All the time in each sphere against ALL the powers of darkness.
PRAY against Satan as: Liar (John viii. 44); Counterfeiter (2 Cor. xi. 14); Hinderer (1 Thes. ii. 18); Murderer (John viii. 44).
PRAY against (1) the plans of Satan, (2) the schemes of Satan and evil spirits, to prevent those in formation from materialising, and to destroy the effect of those in operation.
Stand, joined to the Risen Christ, and say: "I stand against all the wiles of the devil. I stand in every avenue of the enemy's approach—known or unknown." Then watch and what you do as an act of faith in bulk you will do in detail.
Pray against Satan holding the mind, affections, and will; and on the ground of Calvary, in the Spirit, claim the binding of the strong man; e.g., Pray: "I now claim that the strong man shall be bound on the ground of the precious BLOOD, and in the NAME of JESUS; I refuse all his plans, and may they all be destroyed."
AUDIBLE prayer is often an effectual weapon to victory.
Preaching the word with AUTHORITY, in the power and demonstration of the Spirit, is also a mighty factor in the binding of the strong man and the spoiling of his goods—co-operative with prayer.
* There are degrees of victory. All prayer counts in the fight. To whatever measure these principles and methods are applied, according to the capacity of the believer, TO THAT DEGREE THERE WILL BE VICTORY.