What does it mean to bind the strong man?Question: "What does it mean to bind the strong man?"
Answer: The phrase bind the strong man (or strongman) is a reference to a passage in the book of Mark, where Jesus is responding to some Jewish scribes who were accusing Him of being possessed by Beelzebul. Their argument was that “by the prince of demons he is driving out demons” (Mark 3:22). In other words, the reason the demons listened to Jesus was that they were in league with Him and recognized Him as their commanding officer, so to speak.
Jesus refuted their blasphemous argument with plain logic: “How can Satan cast out Satan?” (Mark 3:23) and then gave them a parable. First, Jesus spoke of the principle of a divided kingdom, which cannot stand (verses 24–26). Then He told them, “No one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house” (Mark 3:27). Jesus refers to Satan as the “strong man” and to Himself as the One who enters the house and plunders the place. Of course, before Satan allows his domain to be “plundered,” he must be incapacitated. Jesus was not in league with Satan, as the scribes suggested, but had come to the earth, to what is essentially Satan’s “house” (1 John 5:19), in order to bind Satan and plunder his “goods,” which are the souls of men (John 17:15; Luke 4:18; Ephesians 4:8).
A parallel passage says this: “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up his plunder” (Luke 11:21–22). Satan is strong, and he holds possessions that he guards jealously. But Jesus is the One who was and is stronger than the strong man. He is the only One who can bind the strong man and rescue us from his clutches (see John 12:31).
Some Christians, usually in the Charismatic or Pentecostal movements, apply Jesus’ parable to the spiritual warfare that believers must wage. They teach that Christians are the ones who must “bind the strong man” in their lives or in their cities and then win the victory in Jesus’ name. Some Charismatic preachers even name the “strong men” and attempt to identify the cities or geographical areas over which they hold power. Such doctrines go far beyond what Jesus said. The Lord’s parable was simply to impress upon the scribes that He was not in league with Satan. Never does Jesus instruct us to “bind the strong man” or tell us how to do it. We do not have warrant to interpret the parable as a spiritual reality over geographical regions.
Recommended Resource: The Invisible War: What Every Believer Needs to Know about Satan, Demons, and Spiritual Warfare by Chip Ingram
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