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Author Topic: "Binding satan?"  (Read 1276 times) Average Rating: 0
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Seraphim Rose
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« on: July 19, 2011, 07:32:09 AM »

Many Protestants I have met have a practice called "binding satan." It usually goes something like this: a person suspects demonic activity. So the person holds out their hand (optional) and says, "Satan, I bind you in the name of Jesus Christ." Or, "Satan, by the blood of Jesus Christ, depart."  I think some people also do something that is called "shedding the blood of Jesus," that is similar. (I don't know how we can possibly shed Jesus' blood. But hey.)

As someone who has been rather spiritually compulsive in the past (much less so now, thank the Lord) I suspect that this can be the beginning of a dark path for many.

For example, a person, struck with fear at entering a dark room at night, may "bind satan" when it is in fact easier to turn on the light, or to just leave a night light on. And a person might "bind satan," who might be suspected to be "causing" fear of reflections in a window or mirror -- when it is in fact more sensible to close a curtain over the window.

I think expressions of heroic spiritual power like "binding satan" have some things in common with prelest. One meets a very powerful spirit, head-on, in spiritual combat. I think that satan actually wants some people to "bind" him, because he ends up getting greater power over a confused soul when that person loses that encounter. I am not sure that the "name of Jesus" or the "blood of Jesus" have the talismanic power that some attribute to it -- and actually using these weapons is a kind of superstition.

Essentially, instead of doing extraordinary and heroic activities like "binding satan", it makes sense to me to go about our business as usual, without allowing any potential demonic activity to deform our lives. I think that "binding satan" would be an activity best left to saints and exorcists. Simple prayer is our job. Maybe the sign of the cross, and a "Lord have mercy" or a Jesus Prayer. But then do reasonable things that help to restore peace, like turning on the light, etc... which I think many people forget in the "high" of being afraid. And I certainly think it is a high, and an addiction, for many, to engage in "spiritual warfare". I speak from experience here -- I think I have "bound satan" a few times in my youth. Boy, was I wandering some eerie spiritual corridors then. Arid regions. Prelest was my middle name, back then!

I would imagine that a person involved in one of the more spiritualistic Protestant sects might be more susceptible to the sort of bondage that unwise spiritual warfare can result in -- more so than, say, an experienced Orthodox. What do you experienced Orthodox say?
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« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2011, 08:33:11 AM »

I know in the Gospels the Lord says not to stop those exorcise in His name but outside His apostles & in the book of Acts a couple of guys get badly hurt who are outside the apsotolic circle. I guess depending on the state of the individual or whether the account in the Gospels is prior to Pentecost & the incident in Acts is after Pentecost are any factors I do not know?
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« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2011, 11:38:38 AM »

That can be a dark road to travel, ending in a world of paranoid superstition, not Christianity, and the Orthodox don't really seem to go there---not that we don't have people who believe in things like the evil eye, but we don't ordinarily feel free to take exorcism upon ourselves. (Someone correct me if I'm wrong here.) Protestantism, as you see, has many problems, and Satan is probably making a killing exploiting its ignorance.

Yes, it's prelest. Only those who are spiritually developed enough to qualify for sainthood have that degree of power. I've only met one Orthodox Christian who might fit that description--Father Roman Braga--although he would probably get a hearty laugh out of the idea.

Satan is a worm. Best to concentrate all your attention on Christ, and be guided by Him.
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« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2011, 06:50:23 PM »

This is typical of Protestantism: they have no religious treasury to pull rites or protocols for Exorcism out of, so they make them up as they go, declaring that nobody else is more qualified in their religion, so they must have the power to do everything.

I used to try all this as a protestant, and it felt hopelessly useless to me. A baptist church told me about the "hedge of protection" (cf. Satan's conversation with God regarding Job), but it was just another undefined metaphysical barrier. Other evangelical christians go for the "armor of God" in Ephesians, and I used to pray for it as if it was actual armor going over my spiritual body.

I don't believe it's useless to rebuke the devil (in the Lord's name, as the Archangel Michael did), but it was the Church that was given power to bind and loose - not every good-willed man.
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« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2011, 09:19:41 PM »

Exorcism is dangerous, so much so that it is not a gift to all individuals, but to the Church-

Acts 19:13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to
pronounce the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil
spirits, saying, "I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches."
 14 Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing
this.
 15 But the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and Paul I
know; but who are you?"
 16 And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them,
mastered all of them, and overpowered them, so that they fled out
of that house naked and wounded.
 17 And this became known to all residents of Ephesus, both
Jews and Greeks; and fear fell upon them all; and the name of the
Lord Jesus was extolled.


The Orthodox Church differentiates between general spiritual warfare and formal exorcisms.  On a daily basis we are assailed by thoughts, but most of us do not merit the devil's attention since our flesh is so out of control.  It is not until we have the flesh 'mastered' that anyone would deserve demonic assault or even be able to reliably differentiate from the fallen flesh.

The danger of being too free with 'magical phrases' is that when one 'binds the devil' when he is not there, one is being deceived and thus becomes a mockery.  It also impedes one's repentace when one blames every trouble on someone else.  The devil can become a scapegoat.  What we should do is accept responsibility for all such assaults and repent of them so that satan has no room to accuse us.
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« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2011, 10:00:34 PM »

Quote
The danger of being too free with 'magical phrases' is that when one 'binds the devil' when he is not there, one is being deceived and thus becomes a mockery. 

What we should do is accept responsibility for all such assaults and repent of them so that satan has no room to accuse us.

So you mean, we repent of the confusion, recognizing it as a result of our own corruption, in need of transformation? I can see why, from this perspective, we ought not to stand in our corruption and command evil spits, invoking "divine" power -- when it is in fact our own selves that need transforming, by that very divine life we seek to direct at our enemy. Claiming heavenly power, and using any divine names magically, will distract us from the essential task of finding salvation from our own sin -- and will in fact blind us to this necessity. Am I understanding you correctly?

But I think there is a further implication in what you have said which I do not understand. You say we should repent of these assaults. I think you mean, as I stated in the above paragraph, that we repent of our corruption. This I understand. But then to take responsibility -- what is the nature of this responsibility? Do we take immediate responsibility, as if we chose the confusion, fear, mental chaos, or oppression of any sort, of our own free will? Or, do you mean that we should see these experiences as a possible result of our immoderate living, then take moral responsibility, admitting humbly that our enslavement to our passions has brought us to this low point?

Quote
The Orthodox Church differentiates between general spiritual warfare and formal exorcisms.  On a daily basis we are assailed by thoughts, but most of us do not merit the devil's attention since our flesh is so out of controlIt is not until we have the flesh 'mastered' that anyone would deserve demonic assault or even be able to reliably differentiate from the fallen flesh.

I would imagine, though, that any spiritual or psychological confusion, while not necessarily satanic in origin, might be quickly leapt upon by the adversary, and exploited by the demon as an opportunity for temptation. The profane environment of that confusion is an opportunity to introduce more thoughts, lusts, urges, or anything that might further sever us from God. Is this not true? Or does corruption work within us, without diabolical manipulation? The latter does seem consonant with what I understand of the Orthodox understanding of ancestral sin. Can you help clear this up for me?
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« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2011, 12:28:51 AM »

The consensus is that we should confess all thoughts that are impure, no matter whether we think they might be demonically-inspired or not, because we are not capable of reliably differentiating demonic thoughts from carnal ones.  If we run around acting as if we are important enough to merit the devil's attention and refuse to take responsibility for thoughts that we create ourselves, then we are led further into delusion because we are not repenting and thus being healed.  After all, confessing one's sins brings healing absolution.  If we say, 'I don't need to repent of this thought,' then we cannot be healed from its after-effects, since the temptation alone wounds us.

Therefore, spending too much time addressing the devil when he is 'innocent' blocks our repentance and distracts us from Christ.  The devil can thus leave us alone because he does not need to work: we do it all for him and he can sit back and laugh at us as we utter 'Christian spells.'

Magical thinking is a great danger to all mankind. Uttering special phrases to control spirits develops into greater delusions of grandeur which can lead one right off a spiritual cliff.

There is a lesson to be learned from the Desert Fathers, who repented with tears not only of their sins, but even for their ability to enjoy sin and be tempted even when not actually sinning.  They wept for their fallenness, which stops when one says, 'Oh, I didn't make that thought, so I am innocent.'  The ability to be tempted is just as bad as the temptation itself.  So, you can live a moderate life and still be just as sinful as if you were living immoderately if you are still harboring desires for sin.

Glorification comes when the Holy Spirit heals the person's inner passions and thus are no longer tempted.  You can spread a great feast before such saints and they will only eat what they need, and you can parade nude people before their open eyes and they will not desire them.  This  glorified saint is free enough to be subjected to demonic images and perhaps not confess them because such images had no meaning.  However, since such images have meaning to us, we repent and are thus healed of the sin of desiring the image as well as receiving healing for the ability to desire as well.

This is when we start to look at confession not in terms of listing sins alone, but examining the sources of the desires for sins.  Eventually we will work back to the underlying fears that the passions address.


Quote
The danger of being too free with 'magical phrases' is that when one 'binds the devil' when he is not there, one is being deceived and thus becomes a mockery. 

What we should do is accept responsibility for all such assaults and repent of them so that satan has no room to accuse us.

So you mean, we repent of the confusion, recognizing it as a result of our own corruption, in need of transformation? I can see why, from this perspective, we ought not to stand in our corruption and command evil spits, invoking "divine" power -- when it is in fact our own selves that need transforming, by that very divine life we seek to direct at our enemy. Claiming heavenly power, and using any divine names magically, will distract us from the essential task of finding salvation from our own sin -- and will in fact blind us to this necessity. Am I understanding you correctly?

But I think there is a further implication in what you have said which I do not understand. You say we should repent of these assaults. I think you mean, as I stated in the above paragraph, that we repent of our corruption. This I understand. But then to take responsibility -- what is the nature of this responsibility? Do we take immediate responsibility, as if we chose the confusion, fear, mental chaos, or oppression of any sort, of our own free will? Or, do you mean that we should see these experiences as a possible result of our immoderate living, then take moral responsibility, admitting humbly that our enslavement to our passions has brought us to this low point?

Quote
The Orthodox Church differentiates between general spiritual warfare and formal exorcisms.  On a daily basis we are assailed by thoughts, but most of us do not merit the devil's attention since our flesh is so out of controlIt is not until we have the flesh 'mastered' that anyone would deserve demonic assault or even be able to reliably differentiate from the fallen flesh.

I would imagine, though, that any spiritual or psychological confusion, while not necessarily satanic in origin, might be quickly leapt upon by the adversary, and exploited by the demon as an opportunity for temptation. The profane environment of that confusion is an opportunity to introduce more thoughts, lusts, urges, or anything that might further sever us from God. Is this not true? Or does corruption work within us, without diabolical manipulation? The latter does seem consonant with what I understand of the Orthodox understanding of ancestral sin. Can you help clear this up for me?
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« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2011, 09:23:17 PM »

I have a question.  Do Protestants believe in the sign of the Cross?  Do they cross themselves?  Because crossing ourselves is a real protection from the evil ones.  If they call on Christ without the Cross, then they are trying to protect themselves with their own power and that is complete prelest.
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« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2011, 11:26:51 AM »

Well, some of them do -- Anglicans and Lutherans, I think. But they aren't so much the ones who go around using the name of Christ like a spiritual laser gun. The group I am referring to tends to have more Evangelical, Pentecostal, and Charismatic tendencies. This is a group for whom "spiritual warfare" is a more hot-blooded, emotionalist, spiritually grasping, and even Romantic experience.

But it is interesting what you say: "If they call on Christ without the Cross, then they are trying to protect themselves with their own power and that is complete prelest." They certainly wouldn't agree with this statement, but would claim that the blood or power of Jesus is the power they are relying on. But I think that underlying this behavior are psychological and spiritual elements, reacting perhaps against mortality.

So I think I would agree with you about their claiming a power that is not theirs. Understand, to at least a small degree, I was one of their number. Thank the Lord I did not follow that particular path further. But can you explain why not using the cross shows an attempt to "protect themselves with their own power"? Is there any Patristic teaching that points to this?

I have a question.  Do Protestants believe in the sign of the Cross?  Do they cross themselves?  Because crossing ourselves is a real protection from the evil ones.  If they call on Christ without the Cross, then they are trying to protect themselves with their own power and that is complete prelest.
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« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2011, 08:30:08 PM »

Quote
but would claim that the blood or power of Jesus is the power they are relying on

Blood? That seems unreasonable since they don't have access to His true blood as we do.

Quote
But can you explain why not using the cross shows an attempt to "protect themselves with their own power"? Is there any Patristic teaching that points to this?

I don't recall reading about not doing it as the saints were writing to fellow Orthodox.  I don't think they needed to address that issue. I read many saints who talked about the importance in crossing ourselves to protect us from the evil ones. It would take me awhile to look through all my books.  No doubt I will come across them in future. I can send them to you, if you like. The above statement is my view as anything we try to do without Christ's intercession is of ourselves and that has no power.
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« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2011, 08:47:44 PM »

I found a passage about protecting ourselves with the sign of the Cross.

The use of the right hand betokens His infinite power and the fact that He sits at the right hand of the Father.  That the sign begins with a downward movement from above signifies His descent to us from Heaven.  Again, the movement of the hand from the right side to the left drives away our enemies and declares that by His invincible power the Lord overcame the devil, who is on the left side, dark and lacking strength.
(St. Peter of Damaskos - The Philokalia, vol. 3, pg. 209-210)
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« Reply #11 on: July 22, 2011, 08:09:03 AM »

Quote
but would claim that the blood or power of Jesus is the power they are relying on

Blood? That seems unreasonable since they don't have access to His true blood as we do.

I agree.

Quote
Quote
But can you explain why not using the cross shows an attempt to "protect themselves with their own power"? Is there any Patristic teaching that points to this?

I don't recall reading about not doing it as the saints were writing to fellow Orthodox.  I don't think they needed to address that issue. I read many saints who talked about the importance in crossing ourselves to protect us from the evil ones. It would take me awhile to look through all my books.  No doubt I will come across them in future. I can send them to you, if you like. The above statement is my view as anything we try to do without Christ's intercession is of ourselves and that has no power.


Are you implying that saying, "I bind you in the name of Jesus Christ," while not crossing oneself -- probably with your hand extended dramatically Smiley -- is vanity; but saying the same words when crossing oneself is not vanity?

Let me be clear. I think the practice is unwise. But I don't see what the Sign of the Cross has to do with this. I may well not understand the Sign of the Cross, and what it means. Perhaps the Catholic understanding is shallower and more magical, using it as a sort of "warding" spell.

While Catholics seem to use the Sign of the Cross exclusively with either the Trinitarian prayer (In the name of the Father...) or silently, Orthodox seem to be much more flexible with verbal accompaniment -- "In the name of the Father...", the Kyrie, the Jesus Prayer. All this suggests that the Orthodox Sign of the Cross has a permanence, a substantiality, that the Catholic one does not. I am not talking about the upside-down, reversed cross. I just mean, the Sign of the Cross, as practiced by the Orthodox, is done with more reverence, more understanding -- and essentially with more divinity.

I think I might have answered my question. The Orthodox Sign of the Cross shows one's submission to Christ, and therefore to the Trinity. It is humbling to mark oneself in this way, so as to say, "I am not my own." It seems that the Orthodox allow the Sign of the Cross to penetrate and transform the one who prays. So I can see the error in having a "wizard battle" with satan, using just the name of Jesus as a weapon, without the Sign of the Cross. The Sign of the Cross is a source of humility. We are clothed in it. We don't wield it. "Binding in the name of Jesus Christ," on the other hand, is using the name of Jesus to do something.

I don't think, though, that the lack of the Sign of the Cross is the main problem in this case. The problem is the presumption and prelest of the "spiritual warrior." The lack of the Sign of the Cross is, it would seem, both a symptom of these sins, and a cause of them.
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« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2012, 11:21:29 AM »

"I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches."
 
.


I'm a newly Chrismated Orthodox (raised RC) and as I reading this, I thought...this person wasn't calling onto Jesus name, but was trying to do the exorcism himself 'I adjure you". I believe the risk of even considering messing with the devil is that he could easily let us think that WE won, just so that we could sin of pride.

Exorcisms must be left to really humble souls...that's not an easy thing as almost all of us sin because of our pride.

That also makes me think of Saint Michael Archangel as his name means "Who is like God?" and he leads the Celestial Army. His name is pure humbleness which I believe, in my humble opinion  Smiley , is necessary to be a soldier of Christ. Only a few can surrender themselves that way...and only them asre able to perform an exorcism.
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« Reply #13 on: December 11, 2012, 11:24:01 AM »

The dispersal or binding of demons is done wholly through the power of the name of Jesus. As long as a person understands this, I don't see any particular danger. The danger comes if we think we ourselves have some personal power over demons.
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« Reply #14 on: December 11, 2012, 11:41:54 AM »

Once upon a time the Church, at least Western Church, had the "minor order" of exorcist. Then, over here, that became just a part of being ordained a priest, then disappeared as an order with Vatican II (along with porter, acolyte, lector, etc...). Each diocese should have an "exorcist" which now is just a priest given authority to perform the rite of solemn exorcism by the bishop.

Do Orthodox have the order of exorcist? I am thinking there is a good reason for it having been an actual order in the past because it is a dangerous undertaking.

Finally, the Desert Fathers witness that the devil is repelled by humility alone, the one thing he doesn't have. I doubt there is much of that in the "binding" prayers.
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« Reply #15 on: December 12, 2012, 04:35:04 AM »

Oddly enough, this issue was what caused me to start looking at Orthodoxy in the first place... I was barely aware that it existed in the U.S., but a friend of my wife was telling us about how her mother had suddenly become mentally unstable, going from catatonic states to fits of inexplicable rage. She told me they had their pastor come out and pray for her and I guess 'bind' the devil, and each time she began to laugh and mock and blaspheme... this had been a church-going woman. And while I'm not the kind to see the devil in every manifestation of mental instability, her story sounded like something else. I asked her some questions about it, and I remembered hearing about how evil spirits can supposedly be attached to pagan and occult objects. I never really believed it, seemed almost superstitious, but I asked her anyway if there was anything pagan or occult in her home, any strange objects or books, and she said, as a matter of fact, yes! Her aunt had brought some strange and frightening old voodoo ceremonial things from Haiti. They were apparently so creepy that she put them in a box and under the bed and never looked at them again. I said, ok, if I were you I would BURN THEM, and keep praying.

She didn't take my advice, but she did visit an orthodox church in the hopes of speaking to a priest about it, and her telling us about the experience got us interested. Her protestant minister had no success in praying for the woman and got to the point where he was afraid to return to their home, which upset me to hear. Very strange and very sad.  
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« Reply #16 on: December 12, 2012, 01:14:09 PM »

The RCC has a number of minor orders that were never 'officially' organized in the Orthodox Church.  Technically-speaking, even minor orders would have been carried out by 'elders' in the early days, and those 'elders' are now the Priests.  In the East, the priesthood did not leave those 'minor orders' behind except for liturgical functions (acolytes, subdeacons, etc.).

That being said, monasteries have functioned most often as place where the devil is fought.  However, from all that I have gathered, the role of designated 'exorcist' has never really existed.  All priests are entitled to read the prayers, but the 'gift' is rather distinct and seen not as an office per se. 


Once upon a time the Church, at least Western Church, had the "minor order" of exorcist. Then, over here, that became just a part of being ordained a priest, then disappeared as an order with Vatican II (along with porter, acolyte, lector, etc...). Each diocese should have an "exorcist" which now is just a priest given authority to perform the rite of solemn exorcism by the bishop.

Do Orthodox have the order of exorcist? I am thinking there is a good reason for it having been an actual order in the past because it is a dangerous undertaking.

Finally, the Desert Fathers witness that the devil is repelled by humility alone, the one thing he doesn't have. I doubt there is much of that in the "binding" prayers.
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« Reply #17 on: December 12, 2012, 04:14:14 PM »

This is typical of Protestantism: they have no religious treasury to pull rites or protocols for Exorcism out of, so they make them up as they go, declaring that nobody else is more qualified in their religion, so they must have the power to do everything.

There is a profound ignorance almost childishness about the way Protestants practice their faith.  While some Protestants are certainly haughty in their assumptions of what powers etc are at their disposal, most Protestants are simply living Christianity the best they know how.  As a member of a Protestant church still on the road of inquiry, I have begun to increasingly experience within my heart a tendency to disparage and belittle the Christianity I see around me.  Should we not guard ourselves against such attitudes?  Not accusing you of this but your comments did bring light on my own heart and this attitude.

Of course, in some cases, the manner in which Protestants practice and conceive of Christianity is outright destructive and spiritually sick . . .

God's peace
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« Reply #18 on: December 13, 2012, 05:09:17 AM »

The thing about protestantism, it's a extremely diverse and there are many different kinds. Not all protestants do this 'binding satan' thing, and not all of them are ignorant and immature in their practices and beliefs. They might be wrong about a lot of things... but I don't think it does anybody any good to make broad generalizations or demean anyone else's faith. There are lots of good protestants out there, and if you don't agree with most of them about most things, then you should pray for them. That's my opinion.   
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Faith: Eastern Orthodox Christian
Jurisdiction: Antiochian
Posts: 34



« Reply #19 on: December 20, 2012, 10:00:44 PM »

I would recommend reading St. John Chysostom's "Three Homilies on the Powers of Demons." The reality, St. John teaches us, is that Satan is already bound. His only power, basically, is to make us think that he has power. In reality, he can do nothing that our Lord does not permit him to do.

The Life of St. Anthony has good advice for what to do if we have a direct and undeniable encounter with some spiritual being (that is the say, if we see one). If all we're dealing with is an uncomfortable feeling or an unexplained fear, then it's best to ignore it.
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