What is spiritual bondage? A biblical definition

“What is spiritual bondage?”

We use spiritual bondage to describe places in our lives where we’ve become entangled in sin, lies, and/or demonization. Let me define a few terms that make this clearer.

spiritual-bondage

Spiritual bondage and demonic possession / oppression

While the phrase”demon-possessed” appears in some Bible translations, the phrase “demon-oppressed” doesn’t. That said, neither phrase makes an appearance in the original languages. The literal translation is “demonized,” and this is used to describe situations when people have become so afflicted with a demonic entity that they are unable to function normally.

Here I should point out that the devil cannot override our free will. When a demon has control, they’ve been given control. Most people don’t give Satan control on purpose. Believing lies (which is agreeing with Satan, the liar) gives him power over us. Choosing to sin gives him power over us. Giving in to fear gives him power over us. What is spiritual bondage? Giving Satan control and living under that control.

When people ask me whether a Christian can be demon-possessed, what they’re usually asking is, “Can a Christian be indwelled by an evil spirit?” or, “Can an evil spirit possess (have ownership of) a Christian?” Those are very different questions.

Is it possible to give the devil power over us to the point where his thoughts are woven into our own, to the point where he is able to “set up shop” in our hearts and exercise a form of rule there? Yes. Just ask Annanias and Sapphira in the book of Acts. Their hearts were “filled” with Satan just as Peter’s was “filled with the Spirit.”

Can a Christian be owned by the devil? Eternally, ultimately, legally, no. But practically, functionally, in a “who’s calling the shots” way, yes. A Christian can definitely be trapped in spiritual bondage.

Spiritual bondage and spiritual strongholds

Depending on what church you attend, you may or may not hear a lot of “spiritual stronghold” talk. The best treatment of this I’ve ever read comes from Francis Frangipane’s book, “The Three Battlegrounds.”  Frangipane argues (convincingly, too) that while the devil may inhabit a stronghold, we are the root cause of them. A stronghold, he says, is another word for an area of our lives we defend against God—a wall we erect between us and our Savior via rebellion, ignorance, deceit, or otherwise.

Since God is light, this wall casts a shadow on our souls, creating a dark place that becomes a natural habitat for sin, lies, and / or demons to thrive. Satan fools us into giving him a dark place to set up shop, and we foolishly oblige him. Read II Corinthians 10:3-5 and watch how Paul defines a stronghold. It jives well with what Frangipane teaches.

This definition is brilliant, because the problem isn’t the demon, it’s us. Demolish the stronghold—the pride, the argument, the sinful barrier, and light streams in. Darkness has no place to hide. This sounds an awful lot like Ephesians 5:8-20 where Paul talks about being children of light. What is spiritual bondage? The result of giving the devil a place to exercise power over us.

Spiritual bondage and my own problems

“So, is my issue demonic, physical, emotional, or mental?”

I’ve been asked this question many times over. My answer?

“Normally, yes.”

In other words, in any given case several or even all of these factors are usually in play. You might have a chemical imbalance. Physical. But that also becomes mental and emotional, doesn’t it? And have you responded in perfect Christlikeness, with epic faith, hope and love to this issue? No? Then it’s also a sin issue, at least in part.

And Satan? He loves to piggyback existing problems, making them more difficult than they have to be. So the real question is, “To what degree is this issue demonic, physical, emotional, mental, or a sin issue?” This gets a little more difficult. In all likelihood, one of these roots is primary and is exerting more influence than the other factors. But assuming this is the only issue is naive and unhelpful.

Well, that’s it for now. You began this article asking, “What is spiritual bondage?” I hope you’re closer to an answer. You can get the book I referenced here:

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