What does binding and loosing mean in the Bible?

I think Pentecostal roots have gone too far misusing the term of binding the power of sickness, darkness and so on.

Recently I saw a tweet a below: Do not pray: “We bind this sickness in Jesus’s name!” Instead, pray: “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner!”—Gabriel Hughes

What does Binding & Loosing Mean in the Bible?

1. Keys of binding & loosing given to Peter

Matthew 16:18-19 (ESV) 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 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.”

This is what Jesus spoke to Peter after Peter confessed that Jesus is Son of God & the Savior of the world. Then Jesus rewarded him and anointed him with the ‘keys of heaven. So what’s the keys of heaven?

In the context of these verses, and as per commentary: (WBC62Vol) 19 Peter, as the leader of the twelve, is the “rock” upon which the new community will be built. With this commissioning of Peter comes the authority symbolized by his possession of the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” For “kingdom of heaven,” see Comment on 3:2. “Keys” are above all a symbol of authority and, hence, a symbol of power over something. In the context of our passage.

Jesus gave Peter the keys of heaven. What are keys for? To open or to lock up. Jesus us referring to his new kingdom that Jesus has given to ‘you’ which is plural in Greek, meaning Peter and those who confess Jesus like Peter, will be given keys of heaven. What that means simply is that we have to power, or rather delegated power from God, to open door or close door for people to be admitted into the kingdom. Jesus said specifically I will give you keys of the kingdom of heaven. It’s the keys of the kingdom. That means folks like Peter hold that key now. That’s what Jesus means about bonding & loosing.

Peter’s possession of the keys of the kingdom grants him the right to admit or deny admittance into the kingdom, i.e., into the experience of the beginning blessings of eschatological salvation, as the following words confirm. This authority is expressed through the distinctive rabbinic idiom of “binding and loosing” (WBC)

2) Binding & Loosing in the context of ex-communicating unrepentant church members

Matthew 18:17-18 (ESV) 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

This is clearly binding & loosing folks to be part of the membership of the body. Binding & losing in Matt 18:18 must be explained in the context of v17 which is a guy who refused to listen to correctio in church by the leader, and eventually to the church, he will be released from church membership. That’s what Jesus really says. In a sense you bind the guy, he’s out of the communion of the church or body of the church. But if he’s loosed, he’s back right in. That’s what it means,

3) Binding the Strong Man as in Cosmic Warfare

Mark 3 22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” 23 And he called them to him and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. 27 But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house.

This is an interesting passage on binding the strong man. This is definitely a spiritual warfare with the cosmic battle with the devil & his cohorts. In this particular case, we have the Son of God himself casting out demons, and it’s the scribes accusing Jesus as the prince of Beelzebul, which is also demonic, to cast out demons.

(WBC62Vol) Few would question the applicability of this parable to Jesus’ preaching of the Kingdom. Many would trace it back to Jesus himself. Clearly the “strong man” (ἰσχυρός) stands for Satan; his “possessions” (σκεύη) represents those possessed; the “binding” (δήσῃ) of the “strong man” takes place in Jesus’ ministry; and the “plundering” (διαρπάσει) bespeaks Jesus’ own exorcisms of those “possessed.”

So its clear what transpired here is definitely a kingdom clash between God’s & the power of darkness. SO how was the strong man, who is referred as Satan himself, bound? Jesus has bound the strong man.

So when was the strong man bound? (WBC62Vol) Best also has taken 3:22-30 in light of the temptation scene but argues that the defeat of Satan in the temptation (1:12-13) represents the “when.” The exorcisms are but the plundering or “making real of a victory already accomplished” at the “very beginning of the ministry of Jesus” (Temptation, 15).

Remember Luke 10 17 The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” 18 And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. That’s another mark of clear defeat of Satan.

So some commentaries expounded that the plundering of the devil’s house really begun at the defeat of Satan in the temptation of Christ in the wilderness. I would agree that would mark the beginning of that ‘binding’ of the strong man. But that’s a continuing process with ultimate defeat of Satan & the power of death on the cross at Jesus resurrection from the death.


How to bind the strong man?

Consequently, this saying makes clear the ultimate or eschatological character of Jesus’ ministry of exorcism that has accompanied his preaching and teaching (1:21-27, 34; 3:11-12) as being a consequence of Satan’s being “bound” or having “met his end.”

I don’t see how Jesus has asked us to pray binding & loosing in prayers. There is no such indication all the 3 set of verses.

I would support the continual ministry of preaching, teaching of the Holy Scriptures that brings healing, restoration of souls in church ministry. In such way, we continue to bind the strong man & loose souls to the kingdom of God.

When & how does scripture become real to us? & God becomes beautiful?

Psalms 18:35-37 (ESV) 35 You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great. 36 You gave a wide place for my steps under me, and my feet did not slip.37 I pursued my enemies and overtook them, and did not turn back till they were consumed.

When you go through some pressure, and even hardship, trial, these kind of verses pops up really strong and real. I was going through some stuff I had to do and I missed something and feeling under, and I started reading my devotional psalms this morning. These verses are right in front of me and they mean much deeper to me now. I must have read many times before, and time like this, it just becomes much more meaningful & personal like God speaking to me.

The Lord’s given me the shield of my salvation! And his right hand supported me. A fresh breath of breeze just breezed through me. So refreshing.

Then it says ‘your gentleness made me great’, that is just so specific. How many of you know that when you face harsh jabs in life, this speaks of the God who is bigger than our problems, and much gentler than the forces against you, you feel like God has spoken to you again!

I really treasure it when God speaks to me through his scriptures, that you can know for sure, because it’s from the word of God, and you feel heat in your heart however way you may feel. That’s what I long for. Psalmist says in the morning I long for thee.

Psalm 63 1 You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. 2 I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. 3 Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. 

Now let me turn into a theological question. When and how do you hear from God?

In the experience I had above, it’s when we go through some pressure, trials, fire, storms in life. God becomes more beautiful, if we hang into his power, refuge, shield, in ways that we may never have seen before. It’s the situation or circumstances around us that can bring out the beauty and majesty of God in our lives. If we sail through life easily without challenges hardship, we may miss the whole experience of God.

David wrote the most beautiful and prolific anointed psalms when he’s escaping from his son Absalom, or fleeing from his enemies or Saul. That made him thrust unto the Lord. One thing about David is he always throws himself unto the Lord, when he’s in troubles, and the Lord sees that and likes that, a soft heart before the Lord. That’s what we want to learn from him. St. Augustine of our early fathers in about 410 A.D. rose to the occasion of refuting and rebutting the false teaching of the Arians on the divinity of Jesus. That’s a massive moment a spiritual giant rising to the occasion in the person of St Augustine, who probably have influenced Christianity more than anyone else in history. And when Rome fell, Romans blamed Christians for the demise of the Roman Empire in all its glory. Augustine again rose to the occasion and wrote the book “The City of God” which not only refuted the Romans, but actually showed them the vary things they wish for like justice, shalom, peace, caring and so forth, are actually captured in the Bible. That book, incidentally not only influenced Christendom in such big way, but also the secular literature world today as seen even in colleges.

I can’t speak for real serious challenges, trials that many people have experienced. In fact, hardship tests our genuineness of our faith. Our faith not tested is not worthy.

1 Peter 1  In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Trials, as seen from 1 Peter, tests the genuineness of our faith, which is more precious than gold, so that if and when we passed it, this will result in praise and glory and honor to our Lord.

I know many Christians do not like trials, and no one does, but we must never want or hope to live a life that doesn’t have trails, because that will be a fake journey. It has to be tested to see its genuineness, and in fact, refines us, and makes us stronger. This is true even for non-believers in their secular pursuit. Ask any man who climbs to the top of their corporate ladder, or business, everyone will say they learnt to be tough and taught them a lot when they went through trials in life and work or business.

James goes further in James 1: Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Consider trials pure joy? What perspective is that? Remember to look at the discipline of your life for the goal God has for you, and that will and should settle it all, as in Hebrews.

Hebrews 12 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

God wants us to share in his holiness. No holiness without discipline.

Is God beautiful or useful?

Albert Ngu

You should never go to God because he’s useful. Go because he’s beautiful. And yet there’s nothing more useful than finding God beautiful. —Tim Keller

I have found this confusing and in fact struggled to find God beautiful? How? First, I can’t see God, second, Jesus was marred beyond recognition and he was not beautiful per se. The notion of beautiful is always tied to the physical look. That’s how we understand it. Of course, we can say, what he has done is beautiful, in that context everyone understands.

I would phrase that very famous teaching of Tim Keller this way:

You should never go to God because he’s useful. Go because he’s beautiful in character. And yet there’s nothing more useful than finding God beautiful in character. — (Revised by me)

This way, every body understands gets it. I bet even Christians and pastors will struggle at the face value of this quote. God is not beautiful in his look. He is majestic, glorious, but no one can see his beauty in physical form, but we all know God is beautiful in his grace, patience, mercy, compassion, righteousness, insight, wisdom, power, suffering and so forth. That will make it so much clearer.

Why do I write this? Because this is a major theology that many and countless Christians fall into of seeking as useful and not beautiful as a person in character in his being. Keller is right, too many of us seek God to find him useful, and that’s not acceptable, in fact, God will be upset and grieved with that!

Some preachers have out it this way: God’s not your vending machine. Lol. Of course not! But don’t we call upon God to find a parking spot in our prayer? So I don’t think it’s merely asking petty prayer requests that make us like seeking because he is useful. I would say whats most important is a pious heart towards God, and no matter how you ask God, he knows you reverence him and love him, they will all be acceptable. God is very relational. Exodus 6: 7 I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. He wants us to have a sense of belonging. Not a usefulness. He wants us to have a fierce loyalty and love, not making him a gateway to heaven.

I would use the word, we seek God because He is our help. Now that hits home. Psalms is full of the Lord is my help. From where does my help come from?

Psalm 121 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

Psalm is full of verses like this. God wants to be our help. He is the Almighty God who created us and loved, and I would argue that to show that He is our God, our Father, He will have to express that love and concern. And of course he will want to help us his children. Tell me, which father would not help his children when they cry for help? So to philosophize somehow God is just beautiful and neglecting the fact that He is our help, will not be helpful in our journey with God. There is a big difference between “useful” and “help”. It sounds likes this: “He’s been a great help”, and “He’s useful”. Useful has a connotation of using someone, even manipulating someone.

So I would use say come to God not because he is useful but come to God because He is our help. Because He is beautiful in his being, and loving, just, righteous, compassion, and graceful. I love him.

Psalm 96: Splendor and majesty are before him;
    strength and glory are in his sanctuary.

Psalm 145

The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
    slow to anger and rich in love.

The Lord is good to all;
    he has compassion on all he has made.


Human Flourishing in church

We want to see flourishing of all God’s people in our church. That’s really important, because that is the will of God for us to flourish. I love the term “flourishing” because it is holistic. It resembles “prosperous”. We have plenty of scriptures on these. Jeremiah 29: Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” This is a common theology especially by Tim Keller on living for the city, loving the city that God puts you in. Remember God doesn’t prosper you and stops there, but for showing his glory and touching lives. And then we have this famous verse that everyone loves to quote: 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Sure, this is our God. He loves to prosper us but he wants us to be in his plan of loving the city. Reading the City of God by Augustine (difficult read) will open your mind to a thousand concepts of the city of God that you never had before. Chinese people love the word prosper, as we often say A Happy prosperous Chinese New Year. Why? Because it denotes finance, money. But God’s prosperous is multi-dimensional, goes far beyond money, but to the joy of our souls, and the well being of the community, the city.

First of all we need to define flourishing. My concept is it has to be God centered and not you centered. Actually, when you are God centered in your life, giving glory to him, and honoring and loving him first and foremost, we find we flourish in the midst of it. As Jesus says “I am the vine, you are the branches, abide in me and you will bear fruit”.  Without Christ, we will wither. John 15: I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.

Now a really important statement is this” God is good”. This is fundamental to all human endeavors and human flourishing. That’s why it has to be God centered. Psalm 118: Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Psalm 118:

15 Shouts of joy and victory
    resound in the tents of the righteous:
“The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!
16     The Lord’s right hand is lifted high;
    the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!”

Recognizing and remember that God is good is absolutely vital in our existential living, because that has to fill our hearts and souls. It’s the goodness of the Lord that sustains us, protects us, guides us, as we cry unto the Lord when we are in need, and book of psalm is full of that. Today, countless Christians can testify to the goodness of God in their physical healings, emotional healings restoration, financial deliverance and so forth. The danger is that we must not turn God into a vending machine, as in the prosperity doctrine. We must love the Lord with all our hearts and minds, and that becomes easy when we remember his goodness, faithfulness, and steadfast love. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

If you meditate on this statement, it brings smile to your face no matter how you feel at the moment. It’s actually very therapeutic. Why is that so? Because scripture says all good things come from the Father in heaven. The world may give you some good shots, but none of that is going to stay. They will evaporate real soon. But God’s goodness is eternal. Which one do you want?

Heb 1 (ESV) “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning,
and the heavens are the work of your hands;
11 they will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment,
12 like a robe you will roll them up,
like a garment they will be changed.
But you are the same,
and your years will have no end.”

There are many hurting people in the world, and they need help. They need healing, emotionally, physically, spiritually as God does want us to flourish. We are not saying we will all be happy all the time, as there will be time for sorrows, repentance, mourning as well as rejoicing, exultation, and shouts of joy. But there has to be an internalization of scriptures in our hearts souls so as we can live out our theology, and the truths in scriptures. This will mean overcoming sins, persecutions, temptations and embracing community love and forgiveness. And also helping out folks facing problems in their lives in this broken world, by deeds and scriptural renewal of lives through the power of the Holy Spirit.

What better environment we can offer to attract folks to join our church? Like in Acts 2 new ones are being added daily to the earliest church in Acts 2 because the presence of God is real, people love and are committed to the Lord and one another. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

When all these are happening we will see fruit, as we abide in our vine, our Lord Jesus. We look forward to building a flourishing God centered church.

God’s given us a book and we need to be competent readers

Wow that’s a major statement tonight from my prof in systematic theology II. May God help us to love reading, enjoy reading, be an avid reader. Novels, books, and any other doctrinal pastoral philosophical books alike. Reading is so important. God has graciously given us a book, we better be darn well equipped to grasp it, digest it, internalize it, communicate it to the world. Be a transformed man so as to communicate that good tidings to the world.

Reading is an active exercise, it’s a conversation with the text. Catch how the questions are raised? Develop the muscle of theology.

We need to be engaged and be active in reading books, interact with the books, and intellectually be renewed in our minds. Romans 12 talks about be transformed by the renewing of your minds. How can our minds be renewed without reading books? Best way of learning theology and absorbing it is through reading. Without much reading, preachers pretty much live a truncated spiritual life that runs the risk of shallowness in the walk with God.

One of the important things I got from my class tonight is actually the question I asked after hearing that systematic theology understanding can actually makes one’s view towards the scriptures to be mechanical and become academic and dry after a while. Frankly that’s the fear or excuse of most Pentecostals of not going to seminary or bible schools! But on the contrary, if we continue just to read the Bible without reading up theology about the Bible, we may be recycling the same pet doctrines on our Sunday sermons and our congregation simply feels dry and getting dried by the pastors preaching! So either way, it hurts right?

But no! We can do better. Scripture is not textbook. Scripture impacts and renew us. Textbook of theology is like a tool that sharpens and broadens our thinking and reflection on the scriptures! Without those helps, our reflections become dwindled to shallowness. Calvin says that theological books serves as lenses for you to better read the scriptures. Doctrines send us back to scriptures. With this understanding, we will not run dry neither shallow. We are on the way to be renewed in our mind by scriptures in reflection and meditation and be transformed!

Christ entered into heaven itself and appeared in the presence of God

Heb 9 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.

Jesus entered into heaven on our behalf

Christ entered into heaven on our behalf! No one ever done that. Jesus didn’t leave us some books to follow and and left us. He didn’t leave behind a bunch of spiritual orphans. He didn’t leave us with a book to follow only, he actually appeared before God to vindicate us. He’s got your back! Rejoice in the Lord, again rejoice!

As I was doing my reading in Hebrews this morning, I am struck with the words “Jesus entered heaven itself” and appear in the presence of God! How many times we get despondent thinking of our stress, circumstances, hardship, troubles and get bogged down, and some get depressed, anxious about life? Well, finally we have this advocate of ours, who happened also to be the Son of God himself, entered into heaven itself appeared before God on our behalf! There should just be no more anxieties, fears, sorrows, stress with Jesus, the God Man, as our best friend, our Lord, who fought for us all the way, and entered into heaven itself. Look, how many people have entered heaven?? No one. The priests in the world of early Judaism, old testament, merely entered the holy of holies once a year to atone for the sins of Israel and himself with fear and trembling. But Christ has appeared before God the Father boldly, courageously, on our behalf, and vindicated us by what he’s done on the cross, by dying on the cross, and thereafter being resurrected.

There is no better advocate than Christ himself. No one can appeal for us before God, plead for us to be accepted before God who is holy. No one. Only the God-man himself, who paid the price for us on the cross.

God prepared a body for Jesus

“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
    but a body have you prepared for me;
6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings
    you have taken no pleasure.
7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,
    as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’” (Heb 10)

What a mighty demonstration of love and humility and submission that Jesus demonstrated. That’s why we have to be transformed more and more like Christ. Because God didn’t take pleasure in offerings but he is after our whole body, our life. It will take nothing less than a total touch of our humanity whole selves in our journey with Christ in our churches. It’s that simple, our time and energy and offerings will mean nothing if it doesn’t touch our emotion, our ambitions, our hopes and our love. It’s all in all.

We are sanctified by Jesus’ sacrifice of his body

8 When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), 9 then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Jesus does away with all the offerings and sacrifice, and he offered up instead, ultimately, his own body as the ultimate sacrifice. Remember, in the old testament, Jewish people offered up lambs, bulls, pigeons, etc as sin offerings to God, as passover, Pentecost offerings to God etc. Now, the time came, God’s Son himself became the ultimate sacrifice that finally redeemed us all once and for all.

The fact that Jesus entered into heaven, not the lower court, not the high court, not even the Supreme Court, something even higher, the ultimate court in heaven, should get our attention. First of all, no one can get there. No one can hope to get there. But Jesus got there and vindicated us. He could do that because Jesus is really from heaven, and not just anyone in heaven, he’s actually the one seated on the throne, on the right hand of God the Father. He is himself God the Son. He emptied himself though he was God himself to come into the world for redeeming mankind (Eph 2:7)

Is there any reason for you to despair or look for your own solutions in the life of troubles, stress of exams, school work, stress of city life, the temptations of this sensualized world? No, you want to look at Jesus the one who entered heaven himself. The highest court. The only man who has entered heaven and appeared before God. He’s God Man.

With that, we can rest assured, Jesus has our back. Jesus looks out for us. He is our great High Priest. Heb 4 14 “ Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,[a] Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.” Since Jesus ascended into heaven, let us hold firm to the faith we profess. We are not following some kind of wishful thinking, some moralistic god, but we follow a God who has ascended into heaven itself. So, lets hold firm. When the bible says let’s hold firm, it means it will be quite easy for us to lose grip of our faith if we don’t watch out. Let’s be intentional in the midst of dilutions by the liberal world, the sexualized world, the confusion from all sides, the tension and stress of life and jobs and schools.

That’s why Jesus is our shepherd

Psalm 23 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

A beautiful psalm to close and encourage and exhort us all. The Lord is my shepherd, my leader, my master, that’s why I lack nothing. Sometimes, it doesn’t look that way, but you must go deeper than the surface. Many seems to lack, but deep inside they are rich in the world. Many rich people seem rich outside, but they are doomed poor inside.

He makes me lie down….He leads me…He refreshes my soul….He guides me….He comforts me….

Jesus, my God, my advocate, my shepherd. Amen.

Why is our warfare against the devil?

1 Tim 4: 1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared,

Some will, in the end time, depart from the faith! Some will fall away from their faith in Christ, which means they will lose their salvation. How did that happen? Because they devoted themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons. Now not many pulpits today will attribute the false teachings to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons.

The Role of Satan

Here it is revealed that at the root of the Ephesian heresy lie Satan and his demons, leading people astray and teaching his own doctrines. The role of Satan has already been hinted at in 1 Tim 3:6-7, and it will appear again in 2 Tim 2:26 (cf. 1 Tim 1:20 for a discussion of Satan’s role).[1]

God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. (2 Tim 2:26)

Paul talked about the opponents of the gospel, praying that they may trun, that they come to their senses, bible says, and escape from the snare of the devil. The words used are explicit, not compromising. So whats saying is that people who oppose the gospel are snared by the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. This is a strong saying, saying those who opposed the gospel are snared by the devil, meaning trapped by the devil and captured by him to do his will! This sounds almost like a Hollywood movie. How do modern men get captured by Satan to do his will? Actually if you look at pornography , isn’t it true that men that are captured by it became slaves to it? That’s it with Satan, he can manifest in porn, but in this article we talk about false gospel teachings. Paul didn’t say those who oppose the gospel, are just confused, careless or the like, but they are ensnared and captured by the devil to do his will! Not ensared by materialism, or cultural forces, but the devil himself! It’s like they have no choice but to advance the false gospel. WBC writes that the root of the heresy lie in Satan and his demons. Now, that’s even bigger. That nailed it. We are no more trying to elude it, Bible speaks it and calls it.

It is also revealed that the opponents are hypocrites whose minds have been branded by Satan. Ultimately they know that what they were doing and teaching is wrong, and yet they persist. They are not honestly mistaken, but in fact carry Satan’s brand of ownership on their consciences.[2]

“For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12). This is another verse that talks about the direct intervention and works of powers of darkness.

διδασκαλίαις δαιμονίων, “teachings of demons,” has two interpretations: teachings taught by demons (subjective genitive) or teachings that are demonic in nature (attributive genitive). Both interpretations understand that Satan and his demons lie at the root of the heresy, although the former makes the connection more direct and almost personal.[3]

WBS talks about the teachings that are demonic in nature or taught by demons. Because Satan is seen as having an active role in Ephesus, the stronger statement is preferred: the active teachings of demons. Morbid and heresy. The devil himself disguised himself as an angel of light. In other words, it could be a church leader or pastor or theologian writing books, but the input comes from the disguised angel of light, the devil, himself.

The liberal gospel teaching

That’s actually precisely how many liberal preachers, teachers, writers preach and teach, and will never label them from deceitful spirits and teachings of demons! If we do that, it will be jaw dropping and horrifying! But are you going against the Bible teaching as in 1 Tim 4 by Paul then? That’s why in some ways we lost some zeal; some fire in our church, because we don’t want to over spiritualize things. Is there such a tendency? Shall I say it’s the reverse? The under-spiritualizing?? Indeed so. Paul pulls no punches. He labeled them as they are. We need to learn from Paul, his audacity, his boldness, and courage in his unflinching principled mindset and speaks his mind. Apparently God likes that or else it wouldn’t have been in the Bible, or the canon. We have diluted the authenticity and preciousness of the scriptures, bowing to pressures of the worldly forces, or indeed deceitful spirits, and demons teaching. Call them out. Offending people is better than offending God.

If that’s the case, what does that mean to our teachings? What shall be our attitude towards those liberal teachings that changed the word of God? They re-labeled the word. They denied the supernatural deeds of Christ in the gospel insisting to bow to the rationalistic worldview of reasoning simply because they can’t believe Jesus walked on water, Jesus opened the eyes of the blind etc. They cherry picked what they want especially the kindness of Jesus, the love of Jesus, the forgiveness of Jesus. They attempted a washed down Jesus. Not a God man but it’s a good religious man. Reducing Jesus to one of the gurus depleting of his divinity. God have mercy! They genderize even God, bring in and justify homosexuality when its absolutely clear it is an abomination. Will they call it out? Some may say Paul is not showing enough grace in 1 Tim 4 by calling the put that way. No, just like Jesus overturned the trading tables in the temple at the feast of Passover, which seemed to be not very graceful, that is precisely what a righteous holy God should do at moments like that. God has two sides, anger, loving, and vengeance, compassionate are all his attributes. No one can label God with one trait as loving and forgiving, that’s what the liberals want you to believe.

What we shall do is to take our stands. Now some may argue that then we may lose a lot of congregation, but we must balance it out with the compassion love shown by Jesus as well. I know it’s a skill, but to combine both of these, we need a lot of prayers, Spirit anointing. Imagine I preach that way from the pulpit in liberal New York city, people may be offended. But on the other hands, people may be encouraged by such boldness and calling it out so clearly and follow the Bible strictly. No monkeying around it.

What that means is that this will revolutionize prayers. People won’t preach meekly and tenderly at all times. We need to be angry, and raise our voice and call them out in a spiritual battle to challenge these deceitful spirits and demons. As said before, many will never call it that way, but we will call it, a worldview challenge to the worldly culture. We call it culture. Paul called it spirits and demons.

Secondly, its through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared. Where do they come from? Those deceiving teachings doesn’t come from spirits and demons and manifest it, but they were manifested though human vessels, and Paul, once again, in his boldness, call them as liars. Insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared. That’s a strong word. What kind of people are they? Their conscience are seared means? They are numbed. They can’t feel guilt any more even when they lie, deceive. Because their conscience can’t feel anymore. Its been seared. That’s why its so hard to debate, argue with those liberals theologian, because they seek to be die hard liberalized, twisting, and diluting the word of God,l. That’s actually the most dangerous deeds, because they come from inside the church, and not only that, they are having some theological background to be able to write and produce books that influence a whole generation or more.

Can we avoid them? No. They are here, and here to stay, as Paul said in verse 1. What we can do, is call them out, pray against them, and teach our folks and inoculate them and preempt their strikes. And preach, teach, and produce books to debunk their myths, deception.

What shall we do

To conclude here, my basic thesis is that based on 1 Tim 4 :1 , Christians fall away from their faith due to spirits of deception and demons. Vast difference from reformed preaching in general, especially in urban cities. That’s a big claim and we are taking about people losing their faith and going to hell. Yes I agree that it’s not just spiritual darkness but human interactions, culture, in this post modern world. What I am arguing is that spirit deception and demons is the root, the human dimension is the recipient. The driver is spirit of deception or darkness, and demons. What I am proposing is first to change our view towards oppositions and calling it as spiritual warfare and not just going to the human psychology and brokenness. We need both, but spiritual is our real target through acknowledging in corporate prayers, preaching, exhortation ….effectively combining Pentecostal with reformed.

[1] Word Biblical Commentary  WBC 62 Vol 1 Tim 4

[2] Word Biblical Commentary  WBC 62 Vol 1 Tim 4

[3] Word Biblical Commentary  WBC 62 Vol 1 Tim 4