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Many modern day pentecostals and charismatics teach that Christians have the power to bind and loose sickness, disease, finances and circumstances. Some teach that Christians can bind their neighborhoods, countries and even the devil! They often appeal to passages such as Matthew 16:19, 18:18 and Mark 3:27. Is this true? Can Christians bind all of these things? Let’s look at what these passages say in context beginning with Matthew 18:18;

“Now if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, then take with you one or two others, that by the testimony of two or three witnesses every word may be established. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. “Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three are assembled in My name, there I am in their midst.” Matthew 18:15-20 

This passage has nothing to do with binding demons, finances, sickness, circumstances or the Devil. The context of the passage is about sin and church discipline. This passage is about the authority of the local church to pass judgment on unrepentant sinners. 

Bind and loose refer to the judicial authority of gathered Christians to decide cases on the basis of God’s law. Most scholars thus recognize that this passage applies to church discipline. IVP New Testament Commentary 

What this passage is saying is that the local church has authority to make binding judicial decisions on matters of church discipline, and it has the authority to loose that member when they repent. It’s interesting that as you continue reading Matthew 18 Jesus continues to teach about forgiveness.

Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall I forgive my brother who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. Matthew 18:21 

So, the context clearly continues on the subject of personal offense and forgiveness. What about Matthew 16:19? Let’s look at that passage in context as well;

When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” They said, “Some say that You are John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Then He commanded His disciples to tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ. Matthew 16:13-20 

Notice here that there is nothing about binding and loosing sickness or finances or demons or anything remotely like that. The Father has just revealed to Peter that Jesus is the Messiah, the king of the Jews, and the Son of God. The keys to the Kingdom of Heaven represent the Apostolic authority of the disciples to admit people into the Kingdom of Heaven. The terms “bind and loose” are being used as references to their authority to declare whether or not someone has been forgiven or not, and on what basis that forgiveness was granted or withheld. This declaration is not to be made on the basis of their own personal whims or preferences. It is to be made on the basis of the gospel message entrusted to them as messengers and witnesses of Jesus Christ and his resurrection. Notice also in verse 19 Jesus says, “I will give you the keys”. This is in the future tense and was fulfilled after the resurrection. 

On the evening of that first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. The disciples were then glad when they saw the Lord. So, Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As My Father has sent Me, even so I send you.” When He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven them. If you retain the sins of anyone, they are retained.” John 20:19-23 

This is what it means to bind and loose. Remember the context of binding and loosing in Matthew 18? It’s all about whether someone’s sins and offense have been forgiven or retained. 


What about Binding the Strong man? 

We mustn’t confuse the authority to cast out demons with some imaginary power to bind the devil, or sickness, or finances and things like that. The Apostles were all poor, hungry, thirsty, dressed in rags and homeless. Both the Apostle Paul and his companions were frequently afflicted with sickness. Christians have not been given the authority to bind the devil, that privilege has been given to Christ alone and he will do it at his second coming. 

And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. Revelation 20:1-2 

So, in conclusion, Christians do not have the power to bind and loose anything they want. They have not been given power or authority to bind their finances, sicknesses, circumstances or the devil.