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Question:
I’m going through a rough time in my marriage and I think my spouse wants a divorce and doesn’t want to try anymore. My counselor said I should be saying “binding prayers” and binding Satan from our marriage. Something about that just doesn’t sit well with me. What do you think?

Answer:

Well, you’ve got a couple of issues in this question… what’s this “binding prayer” stuff? And what is my advice for you at this point in your marriage struggle?

First the “binding” advice from your counselor…

I’ve written on this before and frankly I get a little frustrated with “Christian counselors” who offer up such unBiblical and futile advice.

As Christians, we are filled with the Holy Spirit. The only way “Satan” comes into our lives (and it’s not actually “Satan” himself, it’s evil spirits sometimes tempting us, but primarily our own weakness and flesh) is when we open the doors of our life and give opportunity for demonic influence and fleshly temptation.

I believe a Christian’s time is much more beneficially spent praying for:

1) God’s will to be done in all things in our life (Luke 22:42)
2) For the strength to overcome our weaknesses and the desire of our flesh (Matt 26:41)
3) That we would grow in the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, endurance, love, kindness, etc; 1Cor 13)
4) For wisdom (James 1:5) to make the best decisions in our circumstances,
5) and for discernment, which is the ability to determine right from wrong, righteousness from deceit.

It’s a long term and unBiblical practice in Christianity to “bind Satan”. This exposes a concern I have with a growing number “Christian counselors” today… they often teach and counsel whatever the latest “thing” is being promoted in psychology or whatever “fad” is sweeping the church. An increasing number Christian counselors are well educated in humanistic psychology, but effectively illiterate in doctrine, Scripture and pastoral (shepherding) principles.

“Binding Satan” sounds good, but it is neither Biblical, effective or useful. If “binding Satan” had actually had any real effect, he should be quite tied up for thousands of years given all the “binding” well meaning, but Biblically off-track, Christians have done. But obviously he is NOT BOUND and never will be until Jesus Christ Himself does the final binding. Satan is not God. He is a created being. He is not omniscient. He is FINITE. He’s not messing with you personally, he’s got bigger things to do and he can only be in one place at one time regardless of how fast he can get there.

However, my disagreement with “binding Satan” is not based on logic, it’s based on proper explanation and interpretation of Scripture. Read my previous comments here: http://www.seriousfaith.com/asr/question.asp?questionid=3118

However, it is a Biblical FACT that “evil principalities” (demons, fallen angels; Col 1 & 2; Eph 1 & Eph 3) do “mess” with us and try to get us to doubt, fear and fall to temptation. Even more though, it is our own weak flesh (1Cor 2; Gal 5), our own shallow Bible knowledge (“my people perish for lack of knowledge” says God; Hos 4:6) that is the real “enemy”. Yes, demonic influence/temptation is part of the battle, but it is a common mistake in Christianity today to run around “binding and loosing” and “putting Satan in His place” when the real issue is our own sinfulness, weakness and neglect of Scripture.

The 2nd issue is: what advice do I have? What things would I have you think about and meditate on?

There are no magic answers, no quick fix. The following are effective and Biblical principles, thoughts and encouragement that will help you deal with the toughest situations:

Pray for:

1) God’s will to be done in all things in our life (Luke 22:42)
2) For the strength to overcome our weaknesses and the desire of our flesh (Matt 26:41)
3) That we would grow in the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, endurance, love, kindness, etc; 1Cor 13)
4) For wisdom (James 1:5) to make the best decisions in our circumstances,
5) and for discernment, which is the ability to determine right from wrong, righteousness from deceit.

Attached is a copy of my book “SeriousFaith Treasure Reference”. It has some lessons, and categorized lists of verses that will help you find some Bible verses to focus on that will help you be strong, wise and trust in God. Look through the table of contents to find a category that speaks to you.

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In your Bible:

1. Read Psalms. Psalms addresses all the hard issues of life; the greatest of joys and the darkest of turmoil. I do it like this: take today’s date… the 13th…. Start with Psalms 13… then ADD TEN to take you to Psalms 23… then ADD TEN again to take you to Psalms 33… and so on until you reach the end of Psalms. Except for a few longs ones, most of the Psalms are very short. By doing this, every day you WILL find some comfort and encouragement in Psalms, I promise. Psalms is about the emotions of life… the worst of pain, and the greatest of joy.

2. Read 1st John. 1st John is a book about JOY and HOPE. It is a book about your security in God’s hands, your future home in heaven, and the comfort of knowing that whatever happens in this life.

3. Read James. James is a practical “How to” book on how to live the Christian life.

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Here are some verses for you to focus on:

2Pet 1:3-11

3His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
5For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.
10Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, 11and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 26:3 (KJV)
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

Psalm 46:1-2 (NASB)
God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,

2 Corinthians 4:9 (KJV)
We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;

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Read through this list, and if you want to read the series I wrote on “Joy in Troubled Times” go here:
http://www.seriousfaith.com/dvo/devotionseriesdetail.asp?seriesid=57

Having a Joy-Filled Life In Troubled Times: Summary

Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (NKJV)

I wanted to wrap up our series with an encouraging summary of the truths we have learned. I hope these will bless you and help you find a joy-filled life, good times or bad.
Here are some keys to a joy filled life:

• A key to having joy in troubled times is a focus on Jesus and not our circumstances.
• A key to having joy in troubled times is to focus on grace.
• A key to having joy in troubled times is to choose to focus on others, praying and blessing them rather than focusing on your own circumstances.
• A key to having joy in troubled times is when we look for how God is using our circumstances to further the gospel and glorify Christ.
• A key to having joy in troubled times is when we remember “to live is Christ”.
• A key to having joy in troubled times is to remember that we are not alone.
• A key to having joy in troubled times is to remember that we have already won the battle.
• A key to having joy in troubled times is to remember is a privilege to suffer for the sake of Christ.
• A key to having joy in troubled times is unity through humility.
• A key to having joy in troubled times is humbling yourself like Christ for the sake of others.
• A key to having joy in troubled times is pouring yourself out for others so that you may be a light in a dark world.
• A key to having joy in troubled times is to consider the example of other godly persons.
• A key to having joy in troubled times is having a spiritual mind and not an earthly mind.
• A key to having joy in troubled times is faith in Christ not faith in our religious works.
• A key to having joy in troubled times is putting the past behind and pressing on toward the ultimate prize.
• A key to having joy in troubled times is reminding ourselves of our future destination.
• A key to having joy in troubled times is thinking about our future glorified existence in heaven.
• A key to having joy in troubled times is acknowledging Christ’s presence and being secure in it.
• A key to having joy in troubled times is choosing to think about the right things which replace worry.
• A key to having joy in troubled times is knowing that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
• I can have joy in the midst of troubled times because Christ strengthens me.
• I WILL have joy in troubled times because Christ gives me strength.

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