(Ephesians 6:12) For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
(Matthew 18:18) Jesus said, “Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
I didn’t read the Bible with a supernatural or spiritual awareness until I was about 18 years old. Before that, it was strictly an academic exercise. The story of Jesus discerning the woman at the well’s multiple husbands was just great detective work, not necessarily the result of his divinity. Everything, it seemed, could be explained away by material or natural means. All of that changed when I started having supernatural experiences. Voices, dreams and visions, images and inclinations. Fortunately, I had a friend who was much further along in his journey in Christ and he was able to point out my giftedness.
I have witnessed spiritual power in both the mundane and in the spectacular. I have seen firsthand that spirits can manipulate the outcome of rolls of the dice in simple board games. That kind of tampering is risky, if not dangerous, if not outright witchcraft. The Jews believed all along that everything was in God’s hands, as everything was created. The casting of sacred lots was a way for God’s influence to be observed in a decision. There are still denominations that will, in prayer and discernment narrow down their choices to two candidates, then choose between them at “random.” Or rather, they will give God the opportunity to make the final choice between the two candidates.
We know from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians that our battle isn’t against our brothers and sisters, but it is against the spirits and powers that we can’t see. Imagine that no one could smell. The sense of smell didn’t exist. Would the scent of feces, or fresh baked cookies, or leather, or soap still be in the air? Would there be anything there, given that we couldn’t detect it or experience it in some way? In the same way that we know X-rays, and UV radiation, and radio waves, and electromagnetic waves, and so many other forms of energy exist, we believe and know that there is a whole realm of reality interlocked with ours that exists. And we are able to influence it and be influenced by it. The reality is, it’s not so much that there is an “it,” like an invisible maze we are walking through, but that there are non-human persons living among us. They speak, the whisper, they push and pull, they give and take, they do all kinds of things. This is a stretch for many modern Christians, something I find myself explaining very often. We believe in prayer to a supernatural, invisible being, and there are many other traditions we practice, but that is often where it ends. Many Christians are functionally materialist deists, or even just simply materialist atheists. Like many of the old religions that have died out except in tradition, people operate in their belief system for the sake of community bonds and out of loyalty. That’s about it.
Do know and recognize that there is unimaginable power operating in the spiritual realm. The Bible talks about how the angels don’t even dare bring a charge of blasphemy against the evil ones. There are these rules in which these spiritual beings operate, some of which we know, and some of which we don’t. What can we do? Jesus actually talks about this, and it comes up throughout the scripture. By way of giving you a taste of my experience, I’ll invite you to begin practicing “binding” and “loosing.” The ideas are very simple. You can bind and loose on earth (our material and spiritual realm) what’s bound and loosed in heaven (God’s control room, or what’s under his authority).
As a real example, if you are in a tense conversation, pray in your spirit a simple binding prayer. “I bind, in Jesus’ name, the spirit of anger (or fear, evil, the lying spirit, etc).” If there’s anger in you, your spirit will have to let it go. If there’s anger in your brother or sister, it’ll leave. The lie will be exposed. Call on peace. “In Jesus’ name, I loose a spirit of peace (or love, or grace, or abundance).” The conversation will change. Prayer works, and Jesus’s name is the highest authority, no evil spirit will be able to stay in that place. You don’t need to attack the person, you don’t need to fix them or correct them. Leaders listen and learn, they provide love and grace, they can’t be hurt by someone else’s words unless they are from Jesus. You can discern by the Holy Spirit which is which.
I am not saying ‘practice magic,’ I am saying you don’t have to play the enemy’s game. When you pray, you have the ability to pray in a way that exhausts, and frustrates, and confuses the enemy. You can “loose” what’s in heaven – you have an unlimited supply of grace to invite into any situation. You have a voice that’s backed by the power of God if you are willing to listen to Him in prayer. You don’t have to go to war with someone, you can pick your battles, and “fight” in prayer before, during, and after that tense encounter with your boss, your ex, your client, your pastor.
How do you know which spirits to bind? You know the fruits of the Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self control. These are basically good character. Those are what grow out of a relationship with God. You loose those ones, you bring those to the table, to any situation. The ones you want to bind are the opposite, and they are usually very easy to spot when you have eyes to see. Hate, fear, war, anxiety, evil, selfishness, bullying, manipulation, accusation, depression. Those are the tools of the enemy. Fortunately, the enemy is on a limited budget, and we are not. You can bind those up, you can cast those out in Jesus’ name, and you can bring in the good stuff.
I once went into a conversation with someone on my board who was operating heavily in the fruit of the enemy. He would give regular ultimatums; he threatened to quit about six times in the course of a year before the time he finally did. He would exaggerate all the bad things into “the sky is falling.” He would divide people against each other, leveraging one relationship over another. He would lie, and he was quick with accusations. He was constantly afraid of what people were saying about him, past present and future, while he would gossip about everyone else. For me, the journey with this person was one where I was so focused on keeping him happy, keeping his approval, and trying to salvage that relationship that I completely lost focus on my personal mission. When I changed my focus to Jesus, and started to engage with my relationship with the Holy Spirit, my vision changed. I was able to see the spirits that were at work around my brother, who was not healthy spiritually or in so many other ways. It was still painful, but I was able to sit through many tough conversations with this man and pray. I prayed as I talked to him, and I was able to answer accusations with grace. I was able to answer fear with trust in God. I was able to return manipulation for truth, and shine light on what he was doing. In the end, he was powerless to move me off of what God was doing in me, which was growing me in patience, self awareness, joy, and goodness.
Ultimately, God was teaching me to seek approval from Him rather than from board members and other people. It truly was a spiritual battle! My hope for you is that you can start to recognize the spiritual battle you are engaged in, and you grow in your relationship with Him who equips you to fight this battle. Pray in a way that strips the enemy of his power, and in a way that gives all power to Jesus Christ. The enemy is a liar, he has no power in the first place. God has all the power, and it’s a matter of praying in the Spirit in a way that brings God’s power into us and into our world!