Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven is one of the misquoted scriptures in the Bible. In fighting the “devil”, this is one of the scriptures used by the present day church. We bind and loose with the utmost intention of binding the devil and loosing material things upon ourselves so that life can be bearable, from the human perspective. Unknown to us in the church, it is an exercise in futility, vanity, emptiness and indeed a fallacy.
Matthew 18:18 is one of the two places in the bible where we see this statement; so when most Christians pray the ‘binding and loosing’ prayer, they are indeed referring to these portions of the scripture irrespective of the situation being prayed about. An analogy is when one has a headache and uses the wrong medication to heal or cure the headache. By using the wrong medication, there is no guarantee of recovery. To recover, one would have to apply or use the correct medication in direct proportion to the ailment. The same is true for today’s Christian in the application of God’s Word.
We read and twist God’s Word to soothe ourselves. We pick up scriptures and pray over such scriptures with the intention of forcing the hand of God to do what we want Him to do and not what He has purposed for us. We pick scriptures and begin to apply it wrongly to our daily situations and circumstances having or projecting an idea that the scriptures are there to be picked whenever we have problems. This should not be the case; as we have been invited to walk with God in relationship not to use God to solve our daily problems.
Read through the bible and you’ll discover that the man made application of scripture that happens today in the body of Christ was never an issue. The Israelites moved when the pillar of cloud moved in the morning and at night, moved from one place to another when the pillar of fire moved. They stayed in the same place when the pillar stopped. Today, it is different in that we use God by picking scriptures especially the ones that looks like a promise (not knowing the content and in what context the scripture is being used) and off we go to apply it.
The Church today should recognize that Satan has disguised himself as an angel of light with the intention of leading the saints to worship God with their intellect – a Jesus other than the Lord. Satan’s intention is for the saints to receive a spirit other than the Holy Spirit and by this, he propagates a gospel other than the Gospel of the living God. Most Christians today follow God because someone somewhere has promised a relief from their various problems and guarantees prosperity. This is a wrong reason to walk or relate with God. The devil has translated the doctrines of God into mere thoughts and imposes them upon the Christian mind. By this every Christian has come to have an opinion, whether it’s scriptural or not.
Let us look at what this part of scripture projects:
Basically, we must admit that the context of this portion of scripture has nothing to do with the devil and anyone attacking us. Rather, it deals intrinsically with the relationship between two Christians. How do I know this? Jesus gave an advise for when there is a misunderstanding between two brothers. He gave us advance information that we will hurt ourselves, we would offend ourselves and there would be fights between us. Knowing this, it is important as Christians to know how to deal with issues amongst us.
The first thing we need to know when someone hurts us is to know that there is an offender, there is the offended and of course there is an offence committed. The person Jesus puts the spotlight on is the person offended; Jesus’ idea is for the offended party to go and notify the offender and this has to be between both parties. However, it is the contrary for some Christians, as their first port of call is Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, whilst some go to friends and some to parents. If your first port of call is not the person that has offended you, YOU ARE ALREADY IN THE WRONG, although the offender was wrong by hurting you.
Jesus says and contemplates that the offender might not listen; but if the offender listens, Jesus said you have made a friend. In case the offender does not listen; Jesus then advices for the offended to take one or two people (again not Facebook or Twitter) with him so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest as the offended tries (again) to talk with his brother who is the offender. There is also contemplation in case the offender sees the witnesses, he might decide to listen. If the offender listens, then problem is solved. What then happens if he does not listen and refuses to obey? Jesus advised that the Church should be informed. By this, there might also be a possibility that the offender might listen when he is confronted with the offence by the church. If he listens, then we have gained our brother so that he can repent from the offence committed.
Now what happens if the brother refuses to listen to the Church? Jesus then concluded and said the offender should be treated as a heathen and a publican.
The word heathen is a word used by the Jews in distinguishing themselves from other nations or people. They had no religious intercourse with such people. They complained bitterly whenever they saw Jesus talking to anyone who wasn’t a Jew. Jesus once said that he was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel when a Samaritan woman went to him for help. Heathens were also called Gentiles. He also said that the offended should be treated as a publican. Publicans were apostate Jews, they were men of abandoned character and the Jews had no dealings or interaction with them.
Jesus said that the offender should be treated as a non-member of the Church; that the Church should cease to have religious interaction with the offender. They should refuse to acknowledge him as a brother. He should be regarded as obstinate, self-willed and guilty. This does not mean we should cease to show kindness to him, and aid him in affliction or trial; for this is required towards all men. The picture painted here by Jesus is to for us to disown him as a Christian brother and treat him as other people who are not connected to the church.
Jesus ended by saying that whatever we do in the aspect of discipline in the Church shall be approved by God, or bound in heaven. The power of admitting and excluding in the church, the power of organizing and establishing in the church was committed to the Apostles then. Therefore, if there was an agreement to excommunicate the obstinate offender, God in heaven will approve of whatever they agreed to do. (Matthew 18:19 – 20)
Where is the devil in this portion of scripture? When we know the truth, it will indeed set us free.
“Religious deceivers are the worst of vermin, and I fear they are as plentiful as rats in an old wheat stack”– C H Spurgeon