Tony Evans - The Authority of Binding and Loosing
Kingdom prayer is divinely authorized access for heaven to invade earth, for heavenly intervention into historical circumstances. And one of the expressions that talks about authority is binding and loosing. Now, if you've grown up in church, you've heard people talk about binding this and binding that. And what they're talking about is exercising authority. And that is precisely what the phrase means. But I want to take you deeper into the meaning of the phrase, the utilization and understanding of how to apply the phrase so that you and I get the benefit of the phrase, and start binding and loosing like we supposed to. The word "binding and loosing" is not a magic formula for you to get God to do what you want. Yet, it is a powerful formula because of what's stated. Because verse 18 says, "Whatever you bind". And it goes on to say, "And whatever you loose".
First of all, whatever. This scope of this statement is staggering. In other words, he doesn't give an exception. He says, "Whatever you bind, whatever you loose," it says, "heaven is gonna back it up". Or to put it in contemporary words, God says, "I got you". I got you. Please notice something in the phrase. You are the one doing the binding, not God. You are the one doing the loosing, not God. Whatever you bind and whatever you loose will have been done in heaven. So, God will back up legitimate binding and legitimate loosing. To bind means to restrict, to bind means to lock, to bind means to restrain, to bind means to tie down, to bind means to hold something so that it cannot do what it wants to do. You are limiting its ability to function 'cause you've tied it up. You bound it. You've wrapped it up. You put a knot on it. You've held it back. Conversely, loosing is to unlock or to release. It is to permit. It is to free something up.
The first thing that leads up to his statement in chapter 16 about binding and loosing is the statement is specifically given to and given about the church. "I will build my church". He comes with binding and loosing after that statement, why? Because binding and loosing is a specific authority given to the church. It's very important. Binding and loosing, the exercise of authority, is specifically given to the church. "I will build my church".
Now, the reason why that's important is you need to remember something about the church that we often lose sight of and some don't even know. While you come to church for preaching, and for singing, and for fellowship, and all of those are very important things, there is another purpose of the church that's absolutely critical, and that is legislating from the spiritual realm. The job of the church is to legislate from up there to down here. To bring heaven into history, that is the job of the church. It is to spiritually legislate, not just sing, not just preach, but to bring the authority from eternity into history. So it is the church represents another realm, although it's located on earth. It represents heaven, but it's located in history. And it has been given homeland authority to operate in history from eternity.
Now, the reason I'm pointing this out is many Christians don't understand this. If you are disconnected from the church, you are disconnected from its legal authority in the spiritual realm. He says, "And the gates of hell shall not overpower it". He says, "So powerful is the church I'm building that hell can't stop it". He didn't say, "Shall not overpower me," he said, "Shall not overpower it," because he's referring to the church that is legislating from heaven. So, when you see hell defeating the church, it's 'cause we not building Jesus's church, we building our church using Jesus's name. He says, "The church that I am building that legislates from history," Greek word ecclesia church, was a legal term for legislation, legislating in the spiritual to bring it into history. He says, "The gates of hell".
Gates is a legal term. In the Old Testament, it says, "The elders met at the gate". It's like saying city council meeting, city hall, congress, parliament. It was the place where legislation was made at the gates, so it's a legal term. Because hell does not defeat you with power, hell defeats you with legality. Hell operates on a legislature, okay? It operates legally. And if you do not understand that, it's not just power operating, it's power operating from an illegal position, but yet from a legal posture. So, he says, "The gates of hell shall not overpower it". Now, he's talking about the church. Then he goes further. Now, we come to verse 19. "I will give you the keys to the kingdom". Well, kingdom is God's rule. And I'm gonna give you keys. He says, "I'm going to give you access to me to legislate from there back down to where you live. And I'm going to give you these keys".
Now, the reason why there are multiple keys is 'cause there are multiple gates. Well, now we come to the end of verse 19. "Whatsoever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven. Whatever you loose on earth will have been already loosed in heaven". I got you. So, what exactly are we binding and loosing? Well, let me tell you. Based on this passage, you're binding and loosing what's coming out of hell, gates of hell. You're binding and loosing. So, what's the difference between binding and loosing? Bind, when you've been binding something, you're tying it up, you're keeping it from mobility. You're keeping it from moving. To bind means something is coming after you that you want held back from you. You want it to be tied up. You don't want it to get through. You don't want it to be able to penetrate you. It's holding evil, Satan, hell off of you. Loosing is 'cause he already got you. He's already all up in your grill. He's already controlling something. You're already addicted. You're already living in defeat. You're already relationally in discord. You're already miserable, and you can't get out of it, and you need to be loosed from the hostage taking he's already taken you.
Binding is keeping him off you or anything that is influenced by him, 'cause hell influences everything. It influences debt, it influences bad relationships, it influences addictions, hell can influence any area of your life. To bind it means to keep it from having a illegitimate dominant influence. To loose means it's already having an illegitimate dominant influence. I'm already in debt over my head and can't get out. I'm already in a bad situation relationship. I'm already addicted to something or the other. And I'm already held hostage. And nothing is working, but I need to be loosed. I need to be set free from it. He says to bind, to keep it off you 'cause it's coming at you, or to loose 'cause it's already got you and you wanna get rid of it. He says you must do it. Whatever you bind, I got you. Whatever you loose, I got you. Heaven will back you up.
Well, if the problem is the gates of hell, he says you must use the keys of heaven, and you must do it in concert with the church 'cause that's the entity that owns the keys. So, you don't have a private key ring. You don't have your own keys. The church has the keys. You have to use those keys for your situation. So, now that we have that framework, let's go back to chapter 18. He starts off again in verse 18, and he begins this process by talking about binding and loosing. But now he goes further and he's going to explain how to get this thing working for you. So, I'm assuming somebody in here needs to bind something or loose something. "Again I say to you," verse 19, "if two of you agree on earth about anything that they ask, it shall be done for them by my Father who is in heaven".
Oh, now we get down to two or three, interesting. Two or three witnesses is not a novel concept. It's all through the Bible. So, two or three witnesses was used of confirming something legally 'cause it's used of trying civil cases. Jesus takes the principle of legality, two and three witnesses, and applies it now to binding and loosing. Why? Because we are seeking to do in the spiritual realm what the political realm was seeking to do in civil judgments. To do that, he says you need two or three witnesses. Now, this is not just two or three people out of nowhere because in verse 17, he says, "Tell it to the church. If he refuses to listen to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector". So, he hasn't left the church. He's still talking about the church because that is the authorized legal entity from heaven to history.
So, let me explain something. When you connect with people, even if they're Christians, who are not connected to the embassy, they can't help you with binding and loosing. 'Cause binding and loosing has only been delegated to the church, not just to you out here just binding stuff, and I bind the devil, and you... no, no, no. If you are disconnected from the embassy, that's why people don't just need to go to church for preaching. People don't need to go to church just for singing. He says two or three gathered, okay? The word "gathered" is used of the church in Hebrews chapter 10, verse 25, "Don't forsake the gathering". It's talking about the church. He says when they are connected and two or three. Now, we got legal validity 'cause that's how the word "two or three" is used in Scripture. We've got legal authorization.
So, let's see how you can begin to bind and loose. Keep the devil off of you in whatever category he's on you, or get him off of you if he's already locked you down. And loose him and get him off of your back. No longer is he controlling whatever area of your life that he happens to be controlling right now. He says, "If you come together, two or three," that's a legal gathering 'cause it's connected to the church, "anything". Somebody say anything. That's like whatever, okay? Verse 18 says whatever, verse 19 says anything. "Anything that they may ask". Ooh, we just introduced prayer, ask. So, now you are asking. You're asking heaven to intervene on your behalf in history for the binding and loosing as defined in chapter 16, which is the gates of hell. He says, "Ask anything that they may ask".
Please notice something. The two must agree. Forget spiritual authority. Where there is disunity. So, he says it must be by agreement. That is, you've got to be on the same page. You're different people, but you've got to be on the same spiritual page, okay? So, he says that, and then he makes a staggering promise. "It shall be done for them by my Father who is in heaven". So, you must bind. You must bring God's perspective, the keys. You must talk to God, the prayer. You must be in agreement with God, and then you must be linked to the legal entity, the local church. Then he says, "And you've done it in my name". In my name. He says the Father's going to do it, but you got to do it in my name.
Now, Matthew 28:18 says, Jesus says, "All authority is given to me in heaven and on earth". So, in order to get it from heaven down here to earth, Jesus is saying, "You got to come through me". There's one mediator between God and man, and the Bible says that it's the man Christ Jesus. He will only give his authority when you're operating on his authority based on his keys, connected with his institution, done by agreement. And he says that you must do it in my name, but he says something else. "And there am I in the midst". Ooh. See, a lot of us pray in Jesus's name while he is on the periphery. He cannot be on the periphery. He must be the centerpiece of the decision. He must be the centerpiece of the consideration. He just can't be a throw-in, a tag-along. He must be at the centerpiece of it. Everything must revolve around the centrality of Jesus Christ. Ephesians 1:10 says, "God has circulated all of history around the centrality of Jesus Christ".
So, binding and loosing, getting the devil from tying you up, or releasing you if you've been tied up is tied to authority. Authority is tied to Christ. Christ is tied to his church. Binding and loosing is tied to that connectivity by agreement. And then there is the provision of divine authority, where the Father responds when we do it in his name. See, a lot of us use Jesus's name, and we'll even quote Jesus's Word, but without authorization 'cause we're not subjected to Jesus's will or subjected to Jesus's authority, or subjected to Jesus's okay. And so, it becomes an unauthorized use. And when it is an unauthorized use, you can't bind and loose, which means you can't have authority, okay? But you must do the binding and loosing. God's not gonna do it for you. He gonna say, "I got you," when you're operating as he said.
So, the question now is, why the two or three in this context? Let me use a biblical illustration to try to make sense of this. In Exodus chapter 17, begin around verse 8, Israel is in a battle. They're in a war, they're fighting. It's a life and death struggle, they're battling. Moses goes up to the top of a hill. And Moses takes the rod, the staff that God gave him that he turns it into the rod of God. And Moses held it up. The rod was Moses's symbol of authority. He opened the Red Sea with the rod. It was a symbol of having coming down to change something on earth when he held up the rod. As long as Moses held up the rod, it said Israel prevailed. But the moment Moses dropped the rod, it says the enemy prevailed. Wait a minute now. Israel down in the valley doing the best they can, fighting as hard as they can, trying as hard as they can. But whether they were winning or losing wasn't determined by how hard they were trying. It was determined by what Moses was doing of holding up the symbol of authority.
A lot of us are trying hard to fix our mess, get out of debt, get out of addiction, solve this problem, heal this. It's not we trying. We trying down here in this battle, but the problem is something's got to be solved up there to give you victory down here. The problem occurred, however, that it says Moses's arms got heavy. In other words, he got tired. Let me put it another way, he got sick and tired. He got tired, his arms got heavy, and his arms started to droop. And when his arms started to droop, it says the enemy began to prevail because the symbol of authority had been lost. So, Moses got two other men to come and to hold up his arms because he was tired. And he was gonna droop and quit and give up, but the two men held up his arm. They became two witnesses. And when they held up his arms, it says, "And Israel prevailed over their enemies".
Let me put it another way. What was happening on the ground would not ultimately be determined by what they were doing on the ground. Now, they still had to fight on the ground, but the power and the authority for the victory of the fight was not on the ground where they were fighting. The authority and victory and power would come from what was happening in the invisible realm that would determine whether they won or lost in the visible realm. If you're fighting for your marriage, if you're fighting for successful singlehood, if you're fighting for the debt, if you're fighting for the addiction or whatever the situation happens to be, yes, you have a responsibility to do what you ought to do. But that's not where the authority lies. Whatever you bind, whatever you loose, it says, "I will have already done it in heaven".
So, the answer is up there. So, to put it another way, if you ignore the spiritual, if you ignore the keys, if you ignore the connection with the church, if you ignore the agreement, if you ignore those things, you will not get help from heaven while you're battling the warfare on earth. You will only get victory on earth because you have engaged the authority of heaven God's way. And when you and I do that, now we'll see some binding and loosing.
God has an unconditional will and a conditional will. God's unconditional will are things that he is going to do regardless of what anybody else says or does, simply because he has sovereignly determined to do it. But his conditional will are those things that he has agreed to do based on our actions, reactions, or lack of action. And one of the things his conditional will will respond to is the authority given us to bind and loose. Binding and loosing means forbidding or permitting. Within God's conditional will, he has authorized us to stop certain things and start certain things based on our submission to his authority. And that he will act and back us up in our decisions when those decisions are made in concert with what he has determined conditionally to allow to happen in history. That is why the Bible says if you don't ask, you don't get. Because one of the conditions is that you ask. And if it's based on a condition of asking and you don't ask, it's not because he didn't decide to give it. It's because you didn't meet the condition of his conditional will.
And when it comes to binding and loosing, do you know how much authority is in that, that you can actually stop things from happening, or create, or authorize things to happen, that you need heaven to intervene on? Simply by your prayers, exercising spiritual authority because you are in contact with God. So, don't take prayer casually, don't take it as just a throw-in conversation with the Almighty. Take it as an authoritative posture that God has given you and me to bring into earth what has been predetermined in heaven once we exercise authority that has been designated to us by God. Binding and loosing means that we have a lot to say about what happens on earth, in our lives, and in our environments. Let's not take for granted the authorization given us. Let's utilize it to get all from God that he has determined he will allow to take place when we meet his conditions.