Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Note 6 at Mt 18:18: This verse and Mt 18:19 have many applications, but taken in context, they are specifically referring to the church discipline discussed in Mt 18:15-17. Some might think that church discipline is only symbolic and carries no real weight; however, Jesus was making it clear that in the spiritual realm, discipline that is directed by the Holy Spirit has much power.
The church discipline mentioned in Mt 18:17, and expounded on in note 5 at that verse, is twofold. It consists first of withdrawing fellowship and second of withdrawing our intercession on others' behalf. This second part of discipline actually goes beyond us no longer binding the demonic forces opposing those people. It actually includes us loosing them from our intercession and delivering them unto Satan for the destruction of their flesh. This is the binding and loosing being referred to in this verse.
We have the authority to bind demonic powers operating against our brothers or sisters (or "remit" their sins as in Joh 20:23), and we also have authority to loose those same powers in their lives ("retain" - Joh 20:23). This is for the purpose of causing repentance and restoration.
If those in rebellion will not respond to the steps Jesus laid out in Mt 18:15-17, we the church discipline them by not fellowshipping with them and by no longer binding the results of their sins that would normally come through the law of sowing and reaping (Ga 6:7-8). We are actually to retain their sins unto them (Joh 20:23); this is the same as delivering them over to Satan (1Co 5:5 and 1Ti 1:19-20). That simply means we loose Satan to give them as their sins deserve in hopes that they will realize how deadly their sins are and will repent before Satan destroys them.
Proper intercession can actually keep Satan "at bay" though people are living in great sin. This is good if they use this freedom to repent and come back to God. But if they take this freedom to commit more sin, then comes a time when this form of intercession ceases to be beneficial. In that case, intercession against Satan's attacks should be withdrawn, and we should actually retain those people's sins unto them so that they can no longer get by without experiencing the death that sin brings (Ro 6:23). As they start reaping what they have sown, it will hopefully cause them to turn back to the goodness of God that they once enjoyed.
This is a very severe thing to do and should not be done lightly. That was why Jesus instructed us to employ these other three steps first (Mt 18:15-17). This also should be done as a church body, thus preventing one person from trying to use binding and loosing as a form of vengeance on another member of the body. However, as Mt 18:19 states, any two believers employing the principle of binding and loosing can do it; for according to Mt 18:20, two believers gathered in Jesus' name constitute a gathering of the church, and a special anointing of the Lord is present.
There are also other ways of applying these verses. One of the tragic applications is that anytime two or three believers are gathered together and fall into gossip or criticism, the same spiritual laws begin to work, many times in reverse order from what God intended. We can actually bind up the positive results of sowing and reaping in godly people and loose the attacks of Satan against them by the words we speak (Pr 18:21; Jas 3:5-6, and 9-10). Also, if we fail to lift up our brothers and sisters in intercession, we are, in effect, turning them over to Satan through our neglect. These verses reveal that heaven and earth are affected by our binding and loosing.
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