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.
Matt 18:18 (NIV)
BLOOD AND STORIES - PART TWO
I grew up in a charismatic, pentecostal faith community, that loved to have plenty of intense prayer meetings. We prayed and shouted and rebuked and cast the devil out. Frequently. I always had a picture in my mind of him being someone – a spirit manifested in physical form. Frank Peretti’s “This Present Darkness” (which I love and recently re-read) fuelled my imagination, and angels and demons and Satan became a part of the furniture (yep… intense).
Things have changed since the days of my youth, and while I have experienced many things that I cannot explain, I don't think I’ve seen a lot of ‘fruit’ from all the devil rebuking I've done. I’m not so much saying that it’s a redundant practice, as much as I am saying that I think there’s more to it than yelling strong language around.
Matthew writes, “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.” (Matt 18:18).
This verse is not a spell recipe: if we do ‘this,' ‘that' will happen. I think it has more to do with the collision of the spiritual and the material than it does with verbally ‘binding' the devil. Everything that happens in the physical realm has an effect in the unseen realm. And, vice versa. What I want to happen in the physical will not happen unless it comes from that place within me that has no physical substance.
With that in mind, here’s an interesting quote from Catholic Theologian, René Girard:
”The devil's quintessential being, the source from which he draws his lies, is the violent contagion that has no substance to it. The devil does not have a stable foundation; he has no being at all. To clothe himself in the semblance of being, he must act as a parasite on God's creatures.”
The deceiver of the whole world (as John called Satan in Revelation 12) lives and feeds off the powers of darkness at work within us. As we let hatred grow, his essence grows with it. As we allow racism and greed and abuse to live on in our lives, the deception that these things are the only way we can live grows stronger and more powerful. It has collective force.
But as John said in Revelation 12:11, he - the contagion - can be conquered. Maybe not so much by our rebukes in prayer meetings alone, but by our lives being transformed from the inside out by grace and love. So that instead of reacting with fear, we respond with compassion. Instead of erupting with anger, we stay calm with peace. Instead of manipulating people for selfish gain, we become servants and givers.
As the way of Christ becomes our own personal testimony - our way, as well - divine truth begins to weave its way into our lives undoing deception's power at our core. By placing the devil in bodily context, as an opponent purely outside of ourselves, and hurling prayers and rebukes at him as our “defeat evil” strategy, we completely miss the fight.
It starts in our hearts, in our blood, in our stories, in our darkness.