Can We Rebuke or Bind Satan?


We received a lot of questions from one of the takeaways in this past Sunday’s message:  When you feel the presence of evil, call on Jesus to protect you. I pointed out that Satan is powerful and active but Jesus is stronger. And he will use that strength to rescue you if you call on his name. Then I said as a caution: Don’t speak to Satan and say things like “I bind you in Jesus’ name.” That’s not biblical and not wise. You can’t bind Satan. Jesus can. Pray to Jesus.

I’ve received questions about that caution and it has generated discussion in our small groups this week. So I thought it would be helpful to expand the discussion and give more explanation than I had time for on Sunday morning.

It’s a common thing among many well intentioned Christ followers to address Satan while praying to God and declare things like “In the name of Jesus I rebuke you,” or“I bind you.” Some of you may remember a Christian movie a few years ago featuring a popular Women’s Author & Speaker (whom I admire and respect) who goes through the house calling out Satan and telling him to leave. Here’s the question some of you have asked, “Is this wrong?” My answer is this – It’s not wise and may be dangerous. 

We all tend to repeat words and practices we've seen and heard in other Christians, especially in our prayers. But some of the words and practices we have seen are not supported in the Bible. That doesn't mean the folks whose problematic practices we’ve imitated are bad or immature Christians. It doesn’t even mean those persons are unworthy of imitation. What I’m saying is that some practices that have become common among us need to be questioned. “Rebuking and binding the devil” is one of them. And just because we include the words “in the name of Jesus” in our rebuke doesn’t make it right. 

Here's why. First, there is nowhere in Scripture where we are in any way told we can bind Satan. And there is nowhere I know of where we are encouraged to speak to the Devil and rebuke him. Second, and more importantly, we see in the 9th verse of the New Testament book of Jude a warning about addressing celestial beings. Jude spoke of the archangel Michael as an example of how cautious and humble we should be when engaging in spiritual warfare. 

"But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’”  Jude 1:9 (NIV)

We don’t know what this dispute looked like. Was it an argument of words, or a full on spiritual battle for possession of Moses body after he died? What we need to see here is what Jude was telling his audience about the danger of arrogance in dealing with celestial beings. 

Jude tells us the archangel Michael, one of God’s most powerful angels (see Daniel 10:13), was very cautious in what he said to the Devil when he contended with him directly. In spite of all the authority given him, Michael didn’t dare to say, "I rebuke you." Instead he says only, "The Lord Rebuke you." If the archangel Michael was unwilling to even say, “I rebuke you” I’m fairly certain he wouldn’t have said “I bind you” either. This should be a clear warning to us not to attempt what a supernaturally powerful angel would not do. 

The Bible is our standard for what is wise and best. Every practice and tradition we follow must be supported by, or at least not go against, the examples and commands we have in the Bible. This is one of the reasons I so often encourage you to begin reading through the whole Bible in a systematic way. You’ll begin to discern what does and doesn’t line up with the Bible, and know which practices to receive and which to avoid. 

Live bold…and biblically,