SHOULD WE PRAY TO “BIND EVIL SPIRITS?”
by Shawn Brasseaux
This practice is associated with Charismatic and Pentecostal groups. (“Pentecostal” refers to the denomination whereas “Charismatic” applies to the denominations that adopt Pentecostal ideas and behaviors.) Despite what such individuals tell us, there are several reasons why “praying to bind evil spirits” is certainly not Christian and totally unnecessary for us.
Chiefly, while plentiful and varied, the prayers for binding evil spirits are often repetitious in and of themselves. For example, the phrase “in the name of Jesus Christ” may be uttered over and over in a single prayer. Other words may be attached to this, and they are, in turn, repeated over and over as well. Read the following lines excerpted from actual such prayers: “In the name of Jesus Christ and by the merits of His precious blood,…” and “In the name of Jesus Christ I forbid and bind all evil spirits from manifesting.” These expressions can appear numerous times in one prayer.
Praying to bind evil spirits is basically reading a chant or reciting a mantra. This mindless practice, like praying the Roman Catholic rosary, is rooted in Oriental or Eastern religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism. Such “vain repetitions” are found among people under Satan’s control. According to the Lord Himself, it is a “heathen” practice that has nothing to do with the God of the Bible. “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him” (Matthew 6:7-8). Prayers to bind evil spirits are nothing but the occult!
Someone would immediately respond, “But, what about Jesus speaking of ‘binding’ and ‘loosing?’ Did He not talk about ‘binding the strong man?!’” Two primary Bible passages are therefore offered—Matthew 16:19 (parallel Matthew 18:18) and Matthew 12:29 (parallel Mark 3:27). We will be glad to examine these proof texts now and shed light on them.
BINDING AND LOOSING (MATTHEW 16:19; MATTHEW 18:18)
Matthew 16:19 (directed to the Apostle Peter only): “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 18:18 (directed to all 12 Apostles): “Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
This matter of “binding and loosing” is the Lord Jesus Christ imparting His authority to His 12 Apostles so they can act in His absence. Since He is leaving and returning to His (their) Heavenly Father, He grants them the ability to make decisions in His stead. The Holy Spirit will come upon them in Acts chapter 2,￼enabling them to carry on the work of the ministry until Christ returns for them. They are to continue what Christ started.
It is important to realize, dear friends, what the 12 Apostles did with their apostolic authority in chapter 15 of the Book of Acts. Peter and John, along with James (not John’s brother, for that James was executed in Acts 12:2, whereas this James is an elder in the Jerusalem church), loosed themselves from their “Great Commission” of Matthew 28:19 and gave the world’s conversion over to the Apostles Paul and Barnabas.
Matthew chapter 28 famously records: “ Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Here are Christ’s directions to Peter and the 11, to be carried out as the latter part of the Luke 24:47 and Acts 1:8 component of their “Great Commission.”
Luke recorded the Jerusalem Bible Conference in Acts chapter 15, whereas Paul’s account is Galatians chapter 2: “ But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me:  But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;  (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles: )  And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.”
Verse 9 of Galatians chapter 2 could not be clearer. Peter, James, and John used their apostolic authority that Jesus Christ personally gave them (cf. Matthew 18:19-20) and they endorsed the ministry of the Apostles Paul and Barnabas. All five men agreed to the following conditions: Peter, James, and John would restrict their ministry to and remain with redeemed Israel (the “circumcision,” the “Little Flock” [Luke 12:32], the Messianic Church [Matthew 16:16-18]) whereas Paul and Barnabas would minister to the rest of the world (all lost Jews and all lost Gentiles).
If we thus desire to learn God’s words to us Gentiles (non-Jews), we do not—as Christendom does so often—consult the Books of Matthew through John, or the Apostle Peter’s sermons in Acts, or John in his Gospel Record or little epistles. We must read Paul’s writings, Romans through Philemon. In those 13 Pauline Books, we find not one reference to “binding and loosing” anything in this the Dispensation of the Grace of God (Ephesians 3:1-2). While we are Christ’s “ambassadors” (2 Corinthians 5:20), never once are we granted apostolic authority. The “binding and loosing” of Matthew 16:19 and Matthew 18:18 is the 12 Apostles of Israel exercising their apostolic authority, power on Earth completely unrelated to us today. We must “study… rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), mindful of the dispensational boundaries in the Holy Bible!
BINDING THE STRONG MAN (MATTHEW 12:22-30; MARK 3:22-29)
Matthew chapter 12: “ Then was brought unto him [the Lord Jesus] one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw.  And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David?  But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.  And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:  And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?  And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges.  But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.  Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.  He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.” (See the parallel passage, Mark 3:22-29.)
The issue of “binding” here is definitely in the context of binding Satan (the “strong man” of verse 29). Satan has polluted the nation Israel with false religion. Messiah Jesus has come to demonstrate He can cleanse God’s earthly people—and God’s earthly domain—of satanic influence (see Zechariah 13:2). By having his own “kingdom” of evil spirits occupying Israel’s land, Satan is preventing God’s earthly kingdom from being established. As long as the land of Palestine is defiled, God’s earthly kingdom cannot be brought to pass. “But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you” (Matthew 12:28). In order to prove He has the ability to bring in Israel’s earthly kingdom, Christ casts out devils from Israel’s citizens. “The Jews require a sign,” 1 Corinthians 1:22 says. Again, this is a Jewish passage, connected to God’s dealings with Israel. Never one time do Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, instruct us to cast out devils.
HOW GOD WORKS TODAY AND SATAN WORKS TODAY
When we “study… rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), not only do we see what Almighty God is doing in this the Dispensation of Grace, we see what Satan is doing as well. We also see what God is not doing, and what Satan is not doing. All too often presumptions dominate modern “Christian” thinking. People assume Satan is doing this today, but he is doing something else. People assume God is doing this today, but He is doing something else as well. Not only is there misinformation about spiritual warfare, there is practically misunderstanding about every Bible topic!
Once, this author was speaking to a fellow Christian (actually a Charismatic) about witnessing to an unsaved person who refused to hear the Gospel of Grace from his lips. The lady replied, “Maybe there was an evil spirit hindering her from listening and believing. Perhaps you needed to pray for that spirit to be bound!” Frankly, this is nothing but Bible ignorance and superstition (and she is not the only one who suffers from it). When the Apostle Paul commented on Satan’s activities today, God’s work today, never once was there given in Romans through Philemon a prayer to recite or declaration to utter in order for us to be victorious over Satan and his policy of evil.
Ephesians 6:12 is perhaps the key verse for the “spiritual warfare” proponents: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Yet, even here, nothing in this context exhorts us to pray to bind evil spirits. If the Holy Spirit wanted us to fight spiritual battles by reciting “binding prayers,” why did He not take that opportunity to tell us in Ephesians chapter 6? It would have been pertinent to mention—if we are to believe the “binding-evil-spirits” people, anyway. The Holy Spirit did not do that because He is doing something different today.
In this the Dispensation of the Grace of God, the battle is not on the Earth as it was during Christ’s earthly ministry. Currently, there is “spiritual wickedness in high places.” The term “high places” is interchangeable with “heavenly places” (same Greek word—see Ephesians 1:3, Ephesians 1:20, Ephesians 2:6, and Ephesians 3:10). For this reason, we do not read about Satan or any other evil spirits possessing people today. There are never any instructions given in Paul’s epistles about exorcism (casting out devils). However, this does not mean that Satan is not active today in some capacity. Most definitely, Satan is alive and well… wise and sneaky as ever!
First Timothy chapter 4: “ Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;  Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;  Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.  For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:  For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.” Notice the “doctrines of devils” in verse 1. How do evil spirits operate today? Possessing people? No, the evil world system of which they are a part has deceived preachers and teachers everywhere—and those preachers and teachers then deceive others with their denominational tenets and church traditions.
Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 2:24-26: “ And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,  In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;  And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” How do people escape Satan’s trap of deception today? What can we do to fight Satan as Christians? Why, dear friends, read the passage!!
We teach anyone and everyone sound Bible doctrine—and they believe it and they deliver themselves from the deception in which they find themselves. There is nothing here about praying that evil spirits will leave them alone, or binding evil spirits so these people can be liberated. The issue is teaching not praying. In other words, frankly, those who claim to be using prayers to free people from spiritual bondage are really doing nothing meaningful with these “binding-evil-spirits” prayers. Victory is found in believing sound Bible teaching, not reciting prayers that superstitious and denominational people have written.
The “binding-evil-spirits” prayers are spiritually dangerous because they are: (1) based on Scripture verses ripped from their contexts, and (2) rife with superstition. Dispensational Bible study will unfetter us from spiritual confusion. Spiritual warfare prayers are often non-dispensational. They are thus utterly ineffective because they do not reflect what God is doing today. It may very well have been something God did in the past—such as during Christ’s earthly ministry—but it is not His current dealings with us. The doctrine does not fit the Lord’s words through the Apostle Paul, His spokesman to us Gentiles today (Romans 11:13; Ephesians 3:1-2; cf. Acts 26:16-18). It is information that does not belong in our dispensation.
Never forget, dear friends, it is possible to quote the Bible, to follow a Bible passage, and be completely outside of God’s will. For instance, Psalm 91 is another common proof text thrown around in the “spiritual warfare” circles. It is believed that God will send guardian angels if we ask Him. This is exactly how Satan handled these same verses in Matthew chapter 4 and Luke chapter 4. Operating apart from God’s will for us, we are urged to quote and follow Psalm 91 (just like Satan encouraged the Lord Jesus in His temptations). Again, never once does the Lord through Paul speak of guardian angels having any ministry in this the Dispensation of Grace.
According to 2 Timothy 2:24-26, the key to escaping Satan’s influence today is teaching people sound Bible doctrine and urging them to believe it, not praying to bind evil spirits that afflict them. We must “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), paying special attention to Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon. Herein is the information that will free us and those we reach, from Satan’s deceptive teachings.
“ And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:  Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:  That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;  But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:  From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:11-16).
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