The “Stronger than he”—the Lord Christ—is then, by His Spirit, the Overcomer Who is greater in us than he that is in the world (1 John iv. 4).
It is necessary to emphasize here that the Stronger than the strong man can only manifest His power through us, as by definite faith we MAINTAIN OUR POSITION as crucified with Christ, and thus dead indeed unto sin in Him. Never is there a stage in the spiritual life where there is not the deepest need of the severing power of the Cross. We must learn how to walk in personal victory over sin and Satan at every point if we are to have the fullest victory over the powers of darkness. Any uncrucified or weak spot is a target for the enemy, and all the devices of Satan will be at work to keep us in ignorance of our true condition. Consequently, we must always be open to all truth about God, ourselves, and the powers of darkness, and then honestly face the truth made known by the Spirit of God.
Ourselves delivered out of the power of the strong man, we become liberated into real resurrection LIFE—”alive unto God” (Rom. vi. 11)—in steadfast aggressive intelligent warfare against Satan, his hosts, and his goods. To do this we must understand some foundation principles.
Firstly, it is a spirit fight, pure and simple. The powers of darkness must be met on their own ground. We may reckon ourselves “dead indeed unto sin,” and yet give the strong man much advantage by walking after the life of nature, i.e., our own thoughts, our own interpretations, our own plans, our own energy. The natural cannot contend with the supernatural (see 2 Cor. x. 4). It may appear to do much, and the enemy will go so far as to cause apparent “fruit” if by such means he can keep us striving on a plane where the results are only exterior and bereft of spirit life.
In addition to cleavage from sin, we need also to consent to the constant separation of soul from spirit (Heb. iv. 12) in order that we may not live and act in the realm of the soul, instead of the realm of the spirit, in co-operation with the Holy Spirit—the life described as “walking after the spirit.” In order to do this we should deal with God concerning our own spirit, so that we may (1) know our spirit; (2) understand the laws of the spirit—its characteristics and activities; (3) discern its delicate senses; and (4) know how to control and use it in co-working with the Holy Spirit of God.
Secondly, to carry on a perpetual warfare in the spirit, by the power of the Holy Spirit, against a spirit foe, we must set ourselves to know our enemy and discern his workings. Power to discern comes (1) by knowledge that Satan can hinder; (2) by observing the objective of the hindrances; and (3) by close observation of his methods (wiles, see Ephes. vi. 11) along this line. The devil is practical, and we must be practical. If need be, we must be willing to unlearn, and to withdraw the stakes of limitation and unworkable theory driven into the edifice of our lives, and willing to learn, through fire, the real schemes and workings of Satan and how to contest them. This is an education in the spirit, and must be as patiently mastered as any other subject. We must be content to go one step at a time, to have our minds open to all truth, and closed to all error, and use the light we have, in prayer, testimony and other aggressive service against the Powers of Darkness, otherwise the ignorance that binds us will never be dispersed (John viii. 32).
The believer should pray, “I choose, by His grace, to be open to all Truth, and to honestly face it; and I choose and I will to be closed to all error. May God unmask the wiles and deceptions of Satan, and teach me at all costs all that I need to know for effectually waging war against the powers of darkness.” By so doing we place our choice and will on God’s side against Satan, and the Holy Spirit never fails to make it real in experience.
“Lord, even the demons are subject unto us through Thy Name” (Luke x. 17), said the seventy when they returned to Him after being sent forth whither He Himself would come. Rapidly the Spirit-taught worker will learn to recognize the power of the enemy holding a soul in bonds (2 Tim. ii. 26). There is an indefinable something wrapped around the person, like an invisible casing, and until this is penetrated there is no live contact with conscience, affections, choice or will. Nothing but the recognition of this stern fact, that the “strong man” is by such means contesting the release of the person, gives the clue to deliverance.
Alas, it is a terrible fact that spirits of evil can fasten upon and take possession of the minds and bodies of the children of God, for there is no stage of the spiritual life where they have not their subtle devices ready for gaining a footing. The strong man’s emissaries fasten on some natural weakness characteristic of the person, so that they may not be detected. A “dumb spirit” can hold one who is naturally reticent; a spirit of helplessness (Luke xiii. 15, 16) one who is weak in will or character; a spirit of oppression one who is naturally pessimistic; a spirit of bondage one who is in character scrupulous and conscientious. A spirit of murmuring can hold one who is naturally fretful, and a hasty or obstinate spirit a passionate and strong character. The command comes to the Lord’s servants to “first bind the strong man” in leading children of God into full deliverance and victory over sin, as well as in dealing with those who are held in blindness and sin outside the Kingdom of God.
We need to know also HOW to “bind the strong man” as “prince of the power of the air,” filling the atmosphere where the people gather to hear the gospel, or the children of God meet to pray. “What things soever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven…if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask” (Matt. xviii. 18, 19), said the Lord to His disciples. The prayer of two fused into one desire, will “bind the strong man.” “One shall chase a thousand” of the hosts of evil, but two put ten thousand to flight! (Deut. xxxii. 30) Hence the “strong man’s” attempts to divide the children of God, or keep them from united prayer. The spirit of division, not necessarily openly manifested, stifles aggressive prayer and blocks victory. The gospel should not be proclaimed to the unsaved—thus attacking the “house” of the “strong man”—without first by united and believing prayer binding the strong man. The evil one is present at every seed-sowing of the Word of Life so as to “snatch away” the seed immediately! (Matt. xiii. 19.) Prayer against him protects the message.
In prayer, the “binding” is done by those who pray pleading the blood of the Lamb, for it is written, “They overcame him—the cast down dragon—because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of their testimony; and they loved not their life even unto death” (Rev. xii. 9, 10, 11). The life laid down is an essential condition for all who would prove the power of the precious blood over all the power of the enemy, “binding” the operations of the “strong man,” and delivering captives from his power.