The Strong Man
Rev. Toh Nee Lim | On 24, Mar 2015
Scripture Reading: Mark 3:22-27
“The experts in the law from Jerusalem came down. They said, “He has Beelzebub on his side.” They said, “It is by the ruler of the demons that he casts out the demons.” Jesus called them and spoke to them by way of analogy. “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan had risen up against himself, and is divided, he cannot stand–he is finished. No one can go into the house of a strong man and plunder his gear unless he first binds the strong man–then he will plunder his house.”
The ‘experts in the law’ mentioned in verse 22 refers to the Scribes or the Pharisees. Scribes from Jerusalem comes to Galilee to oppose Jesus. The scribes lay two serious charges against Jesus:
Jesus is possessed by Beelzebub
Jesus casts out demons by Satan’s power
Jesus counters the accusation of the Pharisees by showing its absurdity. If their accusation is true, then Satan would be fighting against himself because in casting out demons, Jesus has clearly demonstrated His opposition to Satan’s realm. Actually Jesus is doing the very opposite. Then Jesus goes on to focus on the strong man which is the emphasis of our study today. The picture of a strong man reflects a situation in the ancient world where wealthy people’s home are virtual fortresses, and their servants can form an army. Jesus pictures Satan as the wealthy man and his demons as his servants and humans his possession.
One of the most exciting stories in the Bible occurs in the OT book of Judges. The story is told of a man who had supernatural strength from God. He could lift huge metal gates effortlessly, rip ropes tied around his wrists, kill lions bare handed, and defeat overwhelming foes. It could be said that Samson is truly one of the strong men of the OT. Here in this passage, Satan is the strong man. Mark 3:27 says, ‘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.’ His house represents his domain, his dominion. He is the god of this age. His house is filled with the body of demoniac. His house is the realm of sin, sickness, demonic possession and death.
His possessions or his goods are people who are enslaved by one more of these things; sin, sickness, demon possession, and death. His possessions are the people over whom he holds sway. He is able to influence the hearts and minds of people. And he doesn’t want to let loose of them. A bible commentator says his goods are the evil spirit within the man.
His agents are demons who carry out his diabolical activity. Satan and his subordinates have studied our human nature and the circumstances in which we live, for thousands of years, six thousands to be exact, and he knows all about us and all about each individual members of the human family. He understand our weaknesses and our desires. He is acquainted with our past and our present. He and his subordinates are like the hunters who prepares the most tempting baits for the creatures he wishes to entrap.
His agent also refers to a possessed individual in whom Satan’s demons live. Satan’s demons and even human being are agents who carry out his work in the world. We live in a world where we have not a few bad men and not a few bad women around us who act the parts of tempters to others, and laboured to make others as depraved and wretched as themselves. How to explain this? We hear this statement often made by one human about another? How can he do such an evil thing to me? When the actions of the evil things done is beyond human explanation, we say that it is demonic. The very fact of the existence of such people in the world points to something; an evil power of higher intelligence and power.
There are three things we can learn from this portion of scriptures.
1. Binding the strong man is a struggle for all
Whether we like it or not we have to accept that life is a struggle between the power of evil and the power of God. I clearly remember my good friend’s statement when we were in university. He was going through a real struggle in his Christian life. Finally he blurted out and say, ‘God, this fight is between you and the devil; the power of evil and the power of God. Why do you have to involve me and put me in the middle? Of course his perception is wrong but there is no denying that there is a power struggle between God and the devil and it is over the souls of men. Human life is affected by two different forces. In this great universe there is the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness, the kingdom of good and the kingdom of evil. Or of truth and falsehood. Satan is the strong man and seemingly, he is making you to believe that he is winning this battle against God and against us. Look at our families, friends, neighbours. Look at our joy. We have more unhappiness than joy. Look at our health. Just last night I received a text from the wife of a church planter at 1.19 a.m. It reads, ‘Pastor, pray to the Lord for Pastor A (I am not mentioning his name here) now. Please. Please. Looking at our blessings; many times it is not blessings but curses. Look at humans. He attacks humans in their mind, causing them to engage in self-destructive behaviour to their bodies. There is a spike of heightened demonic activities in very dramatic form such as self-destructive behaviour, self-mutilation, criminal insanity, drug fuelled bazaar behaviour. E.g. see examples of girls eyeballs tattooed. Look at the ISIS. The thing that confuses me is that why thousands of humans are willingly flocking to join the ISIS when it is so clear they are evil to the core. Seemingly on our own we cannot bind the strong man and to make matter worse, we ourselves are bound by him. He seems to be able to freely come upon us to hurt us, vex and torment us with pains and diseases. On the minds, hearts, and affections of men, he tempts us inwardly, and soliciting us to sin by inward suggestion.
2. Binding the Strong man needs a Stronger One
This is the story of Mr. Strong. Mr. Strong lived in a palatial manor. He lived in a palace. In this palace were great treasures he had plundered from his enemies. He held them in this impenetrable fortress. People from miles around would love to have stolen his treasures, but they could not, for he was Mr. Strong. No one was as strong as him, and therefore his treasure remained. One day a knock came at the door of his mansion. He opened the door and a strange mysterious figure emerged. Walking through the manor this individual saw all his treasures. But realizing that Mr. Strong was mighty, he knew the only way to take his plunder was to first bind him. So he did. He bound up Mr. Strong, and walked away with all the booty, the treasure, of his fortress. Mr. Strong has met a Stronger Man. Jesus is that Stronger Man.
It is very interesting that Jesus does not spent time speculating, wasting time about problem to which there is no answer. When we see a homosexual and a lesbian manifesting in a certain way, he hear him or her says, I am born this way. My father is always not at home and there is no fatherly figure and thus I am that way. It is impossible for me to be normal again. Why am I born this way? Jesus does not spend time speculating about problems. He does not stop to argue about where evil comes from but he deals with it. One of the odd things is that we spend a lot of time discussing about the origin of our evil; but we spend less time working out practical methods of tackling the problem. Someone put it this way. Suppose a man wakes up to find his house on fire, he does not sit down in a chair and embark upon the reading of a treatise entitled: “the origin of fire in private homes.” He grabs such defences as he can muster and deals with the fire. Jesus saw the essential struggle between good and evil which is at the heart of life and actually raging in the world. He did not speculate about it; he dealt with it and gives us the power to overcome evil and do the right.
In ordinary life, the burglar does not receive willing help from the home owner. Instead in order to get what he wants the intruder first ties up the owner. Then he burglarizes. We just had a victorious all night prayer meeting. We started at 9.00 p.m. and literally ended at 3.00 a.m. (2.59 a.m. to be exact), I remember Pastor Lily was demonstrating on binding the strong man and she gave us the picture of tying up the strongman and I was asked to go up the stage for demonstration purposes. In that demonstration, she pictures herself having ropes and tying me round and round with her ropes. Show pictures of tying up a strong man. There is another translation that read in Mark 3:27, ‘No one can enter the strong man’s house and plunder his tools’. The word ‘tools’ in some translation is ‘gears’, denotes utensils in Greek translation, which points to demons and his human agents as Satan’ instruments or tools. No one can enter his realm to carry off his possessions unless he first binds the strong man. You can only bind the strong man if you are more powerful. And if you bind the strong man, then you can rob (plunder) the realm, releasing the enslaved victims. To do this we need a stronger one than Satan. Jesus is the Stronger One. He is more powerful. He is doomed because Jesus comes with greater power. He came to tie up the strong man. Two thousand years ago this Stronger man has already come and He has bound the strong man.
Jesus is doing all this by means of:
His desert of Temptation
His words and deeds
In his incarnation, it is announced his name shall be Jesus, ‘Saviour’; Emmanuel, ‘God with us’. Satan couldn’t stop the immaculate conception of Jesus Christ. We witnessed his victory over the devil in the desert of temptation. At his temptation Jesus demonstrated that He is the stronger One. For three and a half year, empowered by the Holy Spirit. Jesus mission is to confront and overpower, not cooperate with Satan and to deliver those enslaved by him. He did this by words and deeds in depriving the evil one which he has been exercising control. The LORD is casting out Beelzebub’s servants, the demons, and is restoring that which through their agency Satan has been doing to men’s souls and bodies. His words of authority addressed to the demons, his entire activity, has been a process of binding and curtailment of power. . At the cross He binds Satan and robs his possession and released enslaved victims. I Peter 3:18-22 says, ‘For Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit; in which he went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him. It spelt the total and complete binding of the Strong man by means of His victory over Satan in the resurrection. At Christ’s Second Advent, Satan will again be bound and cast into the bottomless pit for one thousand years. After the one thousand years, he will be bound one more time and cast unto the lake of fire. He has done, is doing, and will do through the power, not of Beelzebub but of the Holy Spirit. Yes, the devil is being, and is progressively going to be, deprived of his ‘goods’, his ‘furniture’, that is, the souls and bodies of men.
3. Binding the Strong man is now possible
If you study the text on Mark 3:27 which says ‘In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house’; the reference is made to two groups of people; Jesus and his disciples. Who is he that is binding the strong man? It is not only Jesus but us. Because Jesus have given us the authority to bind the strong man.
You may say, ‘Pastor, how am I to do it?’ I am so weak. I myself have been bound by Satan. Well, there is someone like you in similar shoe. One of the greatest narratives of binding the strong man is David and Goliath. David was young, inexperienced, and clueless on how to bind this strongman of Israel. The Israelites, representing us are harassed day after day by the strongman. We feel we are inexperienced in binding the strongman. We feel weak. In fact, we feel we have cooperated with him through our sinfulness more than stood up against him. Hence we feel powerless against the power of the enemy. We feel we have no authority to bind him and plunder his goods. But Jesus overcame Satan on the Cross. And his victory is imputed to us, just like David’s victory over the strong man Goliath became the victory of the Israelites. So you bind Satan, not on the ground of your strength or authority or your moral perfection. You have none. You bind Satan on the ground of Christ finished work on the Cross for you. His victory is your victory over the enemy. When you are binding, stand on the ground of what Christ has done. Actually it is not the loudness or length of prayers or even the severity of your fasting, or how many verses you can quote or how long you have been a Christian that give you the authority. Know your authority. Yes, our authority is borrowed authority but even then borrowed authority is greater and more powerful than the strongman. You accomplish this through prayer, words and deeds.
Our major mission is to invade the house of Satan and free the prisoners. ‘Spoil’ in Greek means to plunder, to thoroughly ransack, which appears in the amplified version. Before we can wrest goods from Satan’s control, free people from his grasp, release resources from his restriction, we must first bind the strong man. The binding of the strong man is done in prayer. Too often we rush in to rescue without first binding the strong man in prayer. We can overcome Satan by identifying and uniting with Christ who holds to power to bind Satan. Binding the strong man is done always by the spoken Word of God. There is power in the Word of God that comes out of our mouth.
We need to recognise Satan’s power but not fear him. As long as we follow Jesus and remain true to his word, we can overcome him. Just on the all night prayer meeting on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, as I was praying, I felt I was marching forward until I enter into his domain; I felt I was in the realm of the strong man. I felt I was in his house, his territories. In the spirit I bind him; but I felt his strong, evil power. I felt he wants to put fear in him. But I took authority and tell him I am not afraid of him. I have Jesus Christ who is the Stronger one over him. And I continue to bind him and rob his possession that rightfully belongs to us.
So you bind. For instance some trying circumstances is happening to you, and you felt strangely bound. You are troubled against the restraint (limitation) which you felt but could not overcome. Or a very heavy trial almost crushed you, or a very deep humiliation happens to you. For a while you were utterly shut in overwhelmed by this dark, weary, discouraging, depressing situation. Or you are going through a fire of persecution, shame and suffering. But when you do the binding, a stronger one is binding the strong one and the fire of persecution, shame and Suffering cannot burn you but the band (cord) that the enemies was spiritually, physically, mentally, oppressing you will be broken, the band that encircle will be consumed and you are set free to walk joyfully out of that unbearable trial. The habit of sin is broken, the power of sin reduced, the love of sin destroyed. The soul is emancipated
Jesus saw this coming in Isaiah 49:24-25 “shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captives be delivered? But thus says the Lord, even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible be delivered, for I will contend with him that contend with you, and I will save your children.’
We are the prey. The mighty is the Strong man which is Satan. Shall the captive which is us be delivered? Yes. The Lord says even the captives of the mighty (the strong man) shall be taken away from him and the prey, which is us, of the terrible (again the strong man) shall be delivered. Why? Because Jesus will contend with him that contend with you and he will save even our children.
How do we bind the strong man then?
Recognize the Satan’s power is not an absolute power, but limited power. Through healing and demon expulsions. We take from him that power and tyranny which he before exercised over the body of him that was possessed; and we have done all this by a greater power than the power of Satan because of Jesus Christ, the stronger one. The casting out of demons is a forecast of the eventual complete binding of the devil. Through the defeat of disease. The defeat of disease is part of the conquest, the defeat of Satan. Through miracles which signify the downfall of Satan rather than his prowess. By performing miracles, it is a prophecy of his certain doom. Also his realm is being broken down and a glorious kingdom is now arising in new form. Satan is losing ground and being robbed of his claimed property. He is powerless to protect his stolen property. All of Satan’s properties are stolen. All is victims are stolen. When we bind we are plundering His properties and releasing captives. The word ‘plunder’ in some translation is ‘ransack’. Through a mighty missionary program reaching the nations is binding the strong man. We can bind because we have been endowed with the Spirit of God. God’s spirit operating in us is driving out the evil spirits.
In Conclusion I like to share this story.
It was June 18, 1815, the Battle of Waterloo. The French under the command of Napoleon were fighting the Allies (British, Dutch, and Germans) under the command of Wellington. The people of England depended on a system of semaphore signals to find out how the battle was going. One of these signal stations was on the tower of Winchester Cathedral. Late in the day it flashed the signal: “W-E-L-L-I-N-G-T-O-N—D-E-F-E-A-T-E-D- -.” Just at that moment one of those sudden English fog clouds made it impossible to read the message. The news of defeat quickly spread throughout the city. The whole countryside was sad and gloomy when they heard the news that their country had lost the war. Suddenly the fog lifted, and the remainder of the message could be read. The message had four words, not two. The complete message was: “W-E-L-L-I-N-G-T-O-N- – -DE-F-E-A- T-E-D- – -T-H-E- – -E-N- E-M-Y!” It took only a few minutes for the good news to spread. Sorrow was turned into joy, defeat was turned into victory! The strongest man has won!