By Dean E. Boelt
There are at least two different senses in which the terms, binding and loosing are used in Scripture with regard to satanic activity. In Revelation 20:2-3 we read of Satan being bound for a thousand years, but afterwards he is loosed for a little season.
There the Devil is restrained by the Lord God for an extended period of time so that he should no longer deceive the nations. But after this time period has passed the Divine restraints are lifted and the serpent is free, for a little season, to express himself more fully.
In this apocalyptic language we have an interpretation of the restraint or outbreak, as the case may be, of wickedness and deception in the earth. In other words the principle to be seen here is this; wherever wickedness is gaining ground and increasing in popularity among men, there the Devil has been loosed.
In this sense there are times and places where the Devil is evidently bound and his influence greatly restrained, but there are also occasions and localities where he has been obviously loosed. And so long as we remain in this present evil world, we are still in the domain where this kind of binding and loosing occurs intermittently and repeatedly.
The other sense in which the term, binding, at least, is used is found in such places as Matthew 12:29 and Mark 3:27. “No man can enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house.” And as Christ did with this one who was “possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb” (Mt. 12:22), so He does with all today who believe and obey the gospel. He binds the strong man.
Satan, so that the wicked one touches them not (cf. I Jn. 5:18). That is to say, the old serpent does not have the power to effectively turn believing men and women away from the living God, to make them quit relying on Christ and cleaving to the Lord by overpowering them. Christ has bound the strong man! Praise be to His Name!
The Devil can still tempt, seduce, and beguile, to be sure, but this will only prove to be effective where men and women have quit believing the record that God gave of His Son. [Such unbelieving ones are open season for Satan’s devices and delusions (cf. II Tim. 2:25-26)].
In conclusion then, let us “keep” ourselves “in the love of God” (Jude 21; cf. I Jn. 5:18), and give thanks that, in such keeping of ourselves, this “strong man,” who would turn us away from the God of our salvation, is bound and there is no intermittent or extended loosing of him in this sense.