To bind and to loose: What Matthew 18:18 is all about

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“Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 18:18

I have heard this verse many times. But not on bible studies, teachings or preaching but rather being quoted by believers in prayers or applied literally to backup their faith in obtaining personal or spiritual requests. Usually, it is interpreted as a power that we have spiritually or verbally to either release or bind something to God or from God toward us: wealth, health, spirits, people.

The problem is that the application of the verse is not carried out correctly. The verse implies that something must be bound or loosed in earth first in order for it to also be done the same way in heaven. What the verse implies is an action –not a power– that when it is done here on earth it provokes the same consequence in heaven. Notice how the direction is first done on earth then on heaven and not the other way around.

Now, what is it that we bind and loose on earth that is also done in heaven?

It is wealth, people, spirits, and/or health? The answer lies in the context of the verse among the discussion that is carried out during the whole chapter of Matthew 18. To understand the application of the verse we must read also what Jesus was talking about when He mentioned this.

Understanding verse 1-5:

The chapter starts with a question that was raised by the disciples. First of all: Why on earth would they be interested in knowing who will be the greatest in heaven? Of course, Jesus probably could tell the spirit of greatness behind the question and so told them whoever is more humble will be the greatest, and then He models this attitude of humbleness in that of a child. He also illustrates how there is a poor outcome for those who cause the ones who believe in Him to sin or stumble.

Understanding verse 7-9:

Jesus talks about how there will always be temptations but we should not be the ones causing them and how we should seriously stay away from whatever causes the temptation or causes us to stumble.

Understanding verse 10-14:

Jesus makes a remark on how He cares for each and every single one of us and does not want to lose any of us. If any of us is lost or driven away, He would take priority in finding us and going after us. That is how much He cares about the ones who believe in Him.

Understanding verse 15-20:

Jesus exposes how we should deal with conflict with others. When somebody does something wrong to another –which shouldn’t but can happen (18:7) ­–it should be brought up with humility in order to resolve the conflict (which is the goal because God would not want us to live in conflict and offense but rather in harmony).

The goal is agreement thru conviction of the fault in the spirit, repentance, forgiveness and restoration so that no longer the conflict will be among us (18:19) –sounds familiar to what God himself has done for us, right?– and so that in God’s will we can together enjoy His presence (18:20).

If a person does not have the humbleness to admit to their faults and correspond accordingly, we should try to make him see but if even so, he remains stubborn enough not to, then we should consider them a person that is not right with God (18:17).

Understanding verse 21-35:

This chapter of Matthew closes with a broad message on forgiveness explaining that since our heavenly Father has forgiven us, we should forgive others also. Again, at the end of the chapter, it is pointed out how the Father sees and acts unfavorably  toward those who are unable to forgive others from their heart.

The line of thought that is being developed

If you notice, there is one line of thought that is being developed here thru key points that lead to integrate one big message.

  • We should all have a humble attitude toward one another.
  • Certainly God cares deeply about all of us.
  • It is imperative to resolve conflicts that arise among us and in order to do this we must have this humble attitude in the kingdom.
  • Those that cause others to stumble or drive people away from God’s purpose or that do not have actions of grace and peace among others are not considered as being right with God and therefore are not recipients of His favor.

Through different illustrations in this chapter Jesus gives one message: our fellowship in the kingdom, how important it is, the importance of maintaining its integrity, and the repercussions that it has in our relationship with the Father.

The context of the verse reveals the message behind it

The verse “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” is said during the explanation of dealing with conflicts, after mentioning about a person that does not want to come to amends after being pointed out of causing wrongness to another.

There is a reciprocity to what we do here on earth to others to what in heaven is done toward us. This is not the first time that Jesus implies this.

Remember that verse where Jesus said: “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:15

God cannot forgive you when you cannot forgive others; you cannot be right with God and treated well by Him, if you go along treating wrong others.

In fact, the Bible even says that we need to be reconciled with others first in order for God to accept our offerings.  Matthew 5:23-24.

The actions that we take here on earth toward others will be translated into the actions that God will take toward us. God wants all of us to reflect Him, to act like Him, to treat others as He has treated us.

We cannot go by on earth bound to conflicts, strife and unforgiveness, among other things, between each other. We are rather called to release –resolve– them in order to live freely in God’s kingdom and to please Him.

So whenever you bind all those negative things here on earth, whenever you restrict people from being free of conflict, free of strife, from being forgiven, you are actually cutting off the goodness that could come toward you from heaven.

You want to be blessed abundantly and be right we God? Examine your fellowship in the kingdom and loosen up yourself and others from what God doesn’t like.

Whenever you go into agreement with someone to resolve conflict with honesty and humbleness and restore them, you are loosening: peace, love, forgiveness and harmony among you. The same things will be loosed in heaven toward you.

It takes humbleness and a heart that truly desires to be right with God to come in clean and say: “Hey, I know what I did was wrong and I am sorry, please forgive me”. And even more to make the right amends for what you did wrong. It takes the same desire to be right with God to say: “Listen, thank you for that and don’t worry, I forgive you; lets just not allow this to happen again between us”, and to restore that relationship.

Do you know how pleasing this would be to our Father? Can you imagine the kinds of blessings that will be poured out to us from heaven whenever we set loose these kinds of things that were once bound within people? And in the spiritual world, can you see how much is broken whenever we adopt this attitude of humbleness, forgiveness, harmony and reconciliation?

Letting loose of people from our conflicts can be a very difficult task and test for us to pass. Only the desire to be right with the Father will move us toward God’s will to have the right attitude and win over the temptation to hold in bondage these things.

Prayer

I pray today that the spirit will convict you of the things that you need to fix with others today. I pray that in a spirit of forgiveness and peace you are moved to come into agreement and resolution rather than into avoidance and staying in conflict. I pray that the the desire to be right with God will move your heart today to humbly admit and restore what you have done wrong. And I pray that with you assuming these actions, the Father will release blessings for you in marvelous ways, spiritually, and that the things that have been bound or kept in heaven from you, may be released accordingly toward you and that you can start enjoying God’s fellowship in the kingdom with your righteous participation. In Jesus name, Amen.

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One thought on “To bind and to loose: What Matthew 18:18 is all about

  1. I haven’t studied this passage much and I’m glad I stumbled across this post. You make many good points concerning every verse, and I’m so glad I read this. My youth group recently had a study on wisdom in friendships and relationships, and I love how you made the connection that binding earthly things includes even conflicts we have, but I think it can even include toxic relationships that we’ll eventually be reprimanded for.

    Liked by 1 person

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