Imagine this. You are at a small group bible study sharing prayer requests when Fred says. “Pray for me, I’ve been really depressed.” The group leader then prays for Fred.
“We curse you spirit of depression and bind you in the name of Jesus!”
Wow – this sounds great doesn’t it? So much authority and power but I have some questions about this.
- Is there such a thing as a spirit of depression?
- Is it biblical for Christians to “curse” a spirit?
- Does Jesus’ words to Peter about binding and loosing in Matthew 16 give me the power to bind a spirit?
Spirit of Depression
A psychiatric disorder characterized by an inability to concentrate, insomnia, loss of appetite, anhedonia, feelings of extreme sadness, guilt, helplessness and hopelessness, and thoughts of death. Also called clinical depression.
Depression is real. There is no doubt that nearly everyone will experience at some point a degree of depression. There are many people in the Bible who suffered from depression.
In reading about these episodes of depression there are no indications that for any of these people that the cause was a “spirit of depression.” Nor was the cure for their depression found in deliverance from the “spirit of depression.”
The fact is, there is no biblical evidence for a “spirit of depression.” The idea that I can eliminate depression, addictions or other problems from my life simply by having someone pray to deliver me from a demon is attractive because it is much easier than the hard work of dealing with the actual problem.
By encouraging people to think this way you might actually be making the problem worse because the person suffering from depression may not seek other kinds of treatment that might actually work.
Curse The Spirit
Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties. But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” (Jude 1:8-9 NASB)
Did Jesus, the disciples or their close associates ever “curse” a spirit? No. There is not a single example of this anywhere in the New Testament. When they did encounter a demonic spirit they commanded it to leave. If cursing a spirit was an essential tool for the Christian you would think that Paul might have mentioned this in his writings about spiritual warfare but he didn’t. There are no instructions on how to curse spirits or other elements of deliverance ministry.
“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”
(Matthew 16:19 NASB)
Many times I’ve heard sincere believers say something like this.
“Satan, we bind you and render you helpless in this situation. As a matter of record, you are hereby bound in the Name of Jesus.” From then on, we thank God that Satan is bound and unable to work in the situation. We refuse to give him any place. – Kenneth Copeland
Is this what Jesus meant for Peter to do when he said this?
When Peter and John were beaten by the Jewish leaders for teaching in the name of Jesus (Acts 4) did they bind Satan to render him helpless? No.
Paul casts out a demon from a fortune teller in Acts 16 and is thrown in prison. If there was ever a time to bind Satan this was it. Did they bind Satan? No, they were “praying and singing hymns to God.”
When Paul is writing to the Ephesians to teach them about spiritual warfare he tells them to “put on the full armor of God” but he neglects to mention anything about binding Satan.
When Paul is struggling with his thorn in the flesh (2 Cor 12) which he refers to as a “Messenger of Satan” why doesn’t he bind Satan to eliminate the problem? Why does he instead ask Jesus to take it away?
If believers can bind Satan and demons rendering them helpless I have some questions about this.
How long does the “binding” last? Apparently not very long since people keep doing it. Do you get to specify a binding period or does the binding sort of wear off after a while? If Christians can bind Satan, why didn’t they bind him in the first century and keep him bound? When Jesus is telling his disciples about the persecution they will face why doesn’t he remind them to “bind Satan” so that he will be helpless?
What is the scope of the binding? Kenneth Copeland says that “Satan is unable to work in the situation.” How do you define the situation?
If I say “Satan, I bind you.” does he say “Regarding what exactly?” Don’t you think we need some rules or guidelines on this?
If you bind Satan you must
- Specify the exact situation he is bound in
- Specify the length of time the binding should last (not to exceed some maximum)
Soon our prayers would begin to sound like legal contracts.
Satan is bound by the party of the first part regarding the depression of Fred Jones of 123 Main Street in Snohomish county as reported at the bible study for a period not to exceed 48 hours. This binding shall remain in force preventing any harassment of Fred including feelings or worthlessness or despair. Upon termination of the binding period, Satan will be free to resume depressing activities until Fred requests additional binding. However the binding will only take effect when 2 or 3 faithful believers actually lay hands on Fred and say the words “We bind Satan.”
Can’t I say “Satan, I bind you in every situation, for all people, for all time.” wouldn’t that be optimal? That way I can just do away with Satan once and for all.
Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven with the key to the abyss and a great chain in his hand. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for 1,000 years. He threw him into the abyss, closed it, and put a seal on it so that he would no longer deceive the nations until the 1,000 years were completed. After that, he must be released for a short time. (Revelation 20:1-3 HCSB)
This is the only “binding” of Satan that I can find in the New Testament and it isn’t done by a believer but by an angel and not until the end of the world.
These practices of cursing spirits and binding them is simply unbiblical. That is to say it is not taught nor commanded by scripture. It is based on a misunderstanding of Jesus words and is simply nonsense.
Some will argue that it is harmless but I don’t think so. When we start engaging in practices like these we substitute fantasy for reality. Rather than doing the hard work of biblical change we search for the magic pill that will fix us by making the boogeyman go away.