Do Christians need to take authority over Satan?

pointed fingerOne interesting topic that has emerged from the popularity of the War Room is the idea that Christians need to take authority over Satan. That is, it is reasonable for prayers to consist both of praying to God and rebuking/binding Satan with a presumed need that this is not only required, but expected for fruitful prayer life and Christian life.

I’m going to write why I strenuously believe that is not the case.

Now before I get into why I think this teaching is misplaced and not consistent with the whole counsel of Scripture, I am mindful of why so many believe this to be true. In fact, this exercise was a routine component of my prayers and normal Christian discourse for many years. Why? Because of teaching that influenced me, which I then regurgitated in my theological arsenal. I am convinced that the number one reason Christians believe what they believe even when it is not faithful to Scripture is because of a wholesale embracing of teaching they absorb, especially when it is fueled by extra-biblical teaching and fragmented reading of Scripture through emotional appeal.

On that note, I think this endorsing of devil binding is a good setup for part 2 of Why we can’t read the Bible any way we want (see part 1 here). As I reflect on why I believed so much doctrine that was inconsistent with Scripture for so long even though I read Scripture rigorously, it only strengthens my resolve in encouraging Christians how to approach the Bible and read it in a holistic manner in recognition of it’s central theme – God’s redemption of his creation through Christ. One has to place the stories, the language used and genre of books into the context of God’s redemptive narrative. We cannot just isolate an event or story and think it is a personal application for us to then emulate.

With that said, a key passage that I believe many use to affirm this need to rebuke the devil as part of our prayer life is Jesus temptation while he was fasting for 40 days (Matt. 4:1-11). Aside from the fact that he was not praying, I think we need to recognize that in Jesus’ earthly ministry, he is revealing the fullness of God, his mind, will and character (Heb. 1:3; Col. 1:15-20). Again, every scenario is not meant for us to emulate.┬áIn this case, he is the only person we see in Scripture that talks to the devil directly. In fact, I note in Jude 9, that not even Michael the archangel would talk to the devil but instead said “the Lord rebuke you.” Continue reading