This year in the Bengals’ chapel we’ve been looking at 125 questions that Jesus asked in the New Testament. One of them was, “How can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man?”
In Matthew 12 we see the Pharisees, knowing who Jesus was and where He was from, trying to stir up a commotion about Him. They brought a demon-possessed man to Him to see what He would do. When Jesus healed the man, they then said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”
To which Jesus responded, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand?”
Jesus then posed the question about the strong man’s house. In this passage, we hear Jesus teaching about the heart. Jesus is warning us that we must bind whatever negative influence, negative character, or stronghold that might be taking hold of our hearts. These strongholds might include addictions, bad relationships, unforgiveness, or bitterness. So we must ask ourselves, what are the strongholds in our lives that we must intentionally bind?
Once we have bound the strongholds in our lives, we can then plunder our house. We must take away all the filth and dirt before we can have a house that is good.
In order to “tie up the strong man” in our lives, we need to take some very practical steps, the first of which is exposing your heart and mind to God’s Word. Look at the words of David:
“Your Word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.” —Psalm 119:105
This verse speaks of two things: Intimacy and direction. God’s Word gives us intimacy with Him as we learn to see that we are responsible for the path that we take. But He doesn’t leave us on our own, His Word gives us direction and guidance to make the right choices for our path. God’s Word is our help against the strongholds of this world.
God also tells us to surround ourselves with people who are like-minded so that we can build each other up.
“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” —Hebrews 10:24-25
For the best chance to win the fight, you need to have the home field advantage. Get on your own turf with your team so that you can win. When you are in your home environment with a crowd that is cheering for you, your chances of winning increase tenfold.
Finally we must pray; we must talk with Jesus, listen to Him, and learn from Him. We cannot forget that our relationship with Jesus is a partnership. There are things that He has done already so that we can walk in His path. We must take up our cross as Jesus did. And when Jesus took up His Cross, it wasn’t a burden, it was an accomplishment. Just as a sprinter collapses at the finish line, not in defeat, but in accomplishment, we have hope that our race is not run in vain. Taking up our crosses with Jesus is an act of freedom.
“Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me.” —Matthew 16:24
Prayer: Lord, teach me what it means to take up my cross. Give me grace and mercy to take up my cross in victory and follow You.
By LaMorris Crawford
LaMorris Crawford serves as the chaplain for the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals. This column was published in Sports Spectrum’s Fall 2016 print magazine. Log in HERE to view the issue. Subscribe HERE to receive eight issues of Sports Spectrum a year.