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Bind and Loose

Have you ever considered book binding? Many loose pages are secured through string and stitched with thread to secure them together. Hmmm...causes me to think there are probably several spiritual lessons which could be drawn from this. The terms "binding and loosing" is originally a Jewish Mishnaic (oral tradition of the Law) phrase also mentioned in the New Testament. In usage, to bind and to loose simply means to forbid or permit by an indisputable authority. [Encyclopedia Biblica] Merrian-Webster's Dictionary defines to bind as "to make secure by tying or to confine, restrain, or restrict as if with bonds while loose is defined as "not rigidly fastened or securely attached, having worked partially free from attachments, or having relative freedom of movement."

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ [Deuteronomy 19:15 NIV] If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

“Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:15-20 NIV

This verse has often left me unsure of what Yeshua meant. Is the omnipotent Creator of the Universe with our Messiah, His Son, bestowing upon us the authority to bind and loose, to forbid and permit? What should we bind and what should be let loose? For me the above verse actually causes more questions than it provides answers. In the above verses, Christ is repeating an earlier statement on the same topic during a discussion with his disciples recorded by Matthew chapter 16: When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter [petros - a rock], and on this rock [petra - mass of stones] I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” [Matthew 16:13-19 NIV]

My husband received C.S. Lewis' The Four Loves as a gift from one of our sons. I started reading it last week and became stuck on his comment about binding and loosing: we should be aware that "our whole being is by its very nature one vast need; incomplete, preparatory, empty yet cluttered, crying out for Him who can untie things that are now knotted together and tie up things that are dangling loose." [emphasis mine]

Life...full of things that are knotted and things dangling loose... ponder that with me for a few minutes. What in your life seems out of control flapping in the breeze, loose, out of control, in need of binding? What seems to be all knotted up, tight and strained that no matter how hard you try you cannot untangle?

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release [loose] from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. Isaiah 61:1-4 NIV

What if...we are the instruments through which God's love, forgiveness and grace will flow to those around us who need to be released from their captivity? If we help loose God's power to others, then those who are currently bound by sin, guilt, shame, or the pressures of this world can be set free in Christ? Perhaps we can be more loose when bestowing compliments, generous with our encouragement and demonstration of love to strangers sitting alongside us at sporting events or school plays; the kinds of things Elohim would desire to be loose in heaven.

What if...we were able to bind up and take captive our participation in gossip and critical statements, selfish motives and unflattering actions that do not glorify our Savior? Could the binding of our pride, jealousy and greed make a difference in the life of those observing us? Perhaps a selfless demonstration of kindness will bind a wounded heart, heal a severed relationship or volunteering to baby sit for a new mom, may allow frayed emotions to rest.

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NIV

Believer, precious child of the Most High God, I don't know if I understand these verse any better than when I began this week. I am simply encouraging you to consider the magnitude of what it could mean: to seize the power Christ has bestowed up on us, wage war against evil at every chance, binding attributes and actions in your life that hinder your testimony. Likewise, letting loose your ability to exhibit your Abba's great love, mercy and generosity. Go out of your way to freely demonstrate kindness and long-suffering, even when you might make a fool of yourself or perceive those around you may not deserve or appreciate it. Your King is watching and He appreciates it.

Blessed Creator God, Righteous Savior and Generous Sprit, You have gifted me with the power to set free or to hold tightly with the omnipotent ability of Your mighty hand. Help me seize Your power within me, Your incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength You exerted when You raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at Your right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come [Ephesians 1:19-21 NIV]. May we bind and loose through Your power and majesty for Your glory. Amen.

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