No one can enter into a strong man’s house, and steal his things, unless he will first bind the strong man, and then he will plunder his house.
In this passage, many Christians interpret this passage to mean that Satan, the grand enemy of God in the fight for the souls of people, can enter a person who is weak spiritually; Satan, the enemy of all, is powerless against a person strong in faith.
I, on the other hand, believe that Jesus here teaches the traditional Jewish view of sin and Satan: that we do not intentionally sin unless we exercise our freewill and choose to do so. It really is all about us—and no one else, let alone “Satan.” Allow me to explain.
As we have discussed in several other posts (see e.g. “Satan and Freewill,” April 22, 2011; “A House Divided Against Itself,” April 15, 2011; and “Satan Cast Out Satan,” April 8, 2011), Judaism does not believe that any heavenly entity who wages war against God in the fight for the souls of humankind exists. Rather, some of the ancient rabbis believed that Satan—and and there are actually many “satans,” as Job 1:6 makes clear—is simply an agent of God who does what God decrees. Thus, the prophet wrote, “And the LORD said to Satan, ‘Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not physically harm him.’ Thus, did Satan go forth from the presence of the LORD.” Job 1:12. God directs all, including Satan.
Still other rabbis took an even more extreme view: that there actually is no such thing as Satan. Rather, Satan is merely a metaphor for our own evil inclinations. As the famous Pogo comic strip character declared, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” When a person cheats on a spouse, Satan is not to blame; the cheating spouse is.
I welcome your comments.
Copyright 2011 by Ira L. Shafiroff. All rights reserved.