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Binding the strong man

From the November 1979 issue of The Christian Science Journal

At one point in his teaching, when he was challenged by the scribes, Jesus stated, "No man can enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house." Mark 3:27; "The strong man" has frequently been identified as Satan, the devil. And "binding the strong man" has been interpreted in terms of exorcism or the binding of demons. But Christian Science has given a much broader and more practical application to the metaphor. Mrs. Eddy explains, "Mortal mind is 'the strong man,' which must be held in subjection before its influence upon health and morals can be removed." Science and Health, p. 400;

What is involved in this concept of the strong man, and how do we bind him? The basic error is the belief that man is material and that there is life and intelligence in matter. It is this belief of ego in matter that's the so-called strong man, or Satan, and this belief is manifested in all the arguments that this false sense presents. What is called material nature is that which resists the truth as presented by Christ Jesus and in Christian Science.

One time when Jesus was in the synagogue teaching, a man cried out: "Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us?" Mark 1:24; This was an instance of the false, material ego resisting the truth as taught by Jesus. Mrs. Eddy says, "The nature of the individual, more stubborn than the circumstance, will always be found arguing for itself,—its habits, tastes, and indulgences." Miscellaneous Writings, p. 119;

Binding the strong man starts with challenging the mortal concept that man's nature is material and that matter is intelligent. Christian Science reveals that Spirit is the source and substance of man's being, that man's nature is derived from divine Love, and that intelligence is actually divine Truth manifesting itself in man. Man's only true nature is entirely in accord with Truth and Love. The Bible states that man is made in the image and likeness of God, Spirit. Then, control is from Spirit, the divine source, not from matter.

What's called material nature may show itself in self-love, self-will, self-justification. But this so-called self is not matter; it's mortal mind. It is worldly belief identifying itself as individual mortals. One takes a great step forward when he sees these false beliefs as impersonal, denies them reality, and thus renders them inactive. He can then purposefully identify himself as the expression of God, the manifestation of divine Principle.

The first step in healing the ills of human experience is to realize that it is not matter we're dealing with but mortal mind. This mind is called the strong man because it seems to control the human body. But is there actually a false mind to be kept in chains? No. The belief of mind in matter is a myth. God is the only Mind, and man is the expression of this Mind. To bind the strong man, then, is to find man in God's likeness, not material but spiritual. This true idea supersedes the false belief. Thus we get rid of the deception that mind is in matter.

One of the common beliefs involved in this deception is that matter or the body can act on its own. The human mind thinks that some actions of the body are involuntary, automatic, or that matter determines the action. Such action may be blamed on the chemistry involved. This is a mistake. Mrs. Eddy refers to this when she discusses healing. She explains, "The belief, that the unconscious substratum of mortal mind, termed the body, suffers and reports disease independently of this so-called conscious mind, is the error which prevents mortals from knowing how to govern their bodies." Science and Health, p. 409; Action is never involuntary, because matter has no intelligence. All real action is Mind-action. Divine Principle is the sole motivating power of man, and Principle does not yield its prerogative to unintelligent matter.

There are various ways that mortal mind tries to conceal the fact that it governs the physical body. It talks about material heredity, evolution, behavioral psychology. It talks about genes, material medicine, drugs. But Jesus went right to the root of the problem when he said you must "first bind the strong man," and then you can "spoil his house."

Binding the strong man is not a physical act or an act of human will. One doesn't conquer sin through human will. Paul spoke of the futility of trying to do so when he said, "The good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do." Rom. 7:19. Here again we come to the belief of involuntary action. But the answer to sin is the grace of God, and this power becomes apparent as divine intelligence, as light and understanding. Through Christian Science we learn that evil is unreal, that matter does not have intelligence, and that mortal mind or will is a myth. God alone governs man. Again the true idea supersedes the false belief. The material concept of man is then effectively bound or rendered powerless. One can act intelligently and in accord with God's will.

Sometimes in situations concerning moral behavior individuals may think that they can't express normal control. They may think that actions are involuntary and that they can't help themselves. This is mesmeric belief. It's the hypnotism of worldly suggestion. When one is aware of the unreality of evil, or error, he can resist its suggestions and exercise right control. He can affirm that there is no mind in matter, no intelligence in evil, and that God, divine Mind, alone governs man. Thus doing, he can break the mesmerism of helplessness. He denounces personal sense as a lie. He affirms the facts of divine Science. And he keeps at this until the error is silenced and Truth holds sway over his thinking and living.

When one realizes that the human mind manifests itself in the human body, then he can see that only as this mind is educated into the Science of being can he manifest harmony and health. Healing in Christian Science rests on understanding, the understanding that evil is unreal, that matter is not a lawgiver, and that only the divine Mind governs man. Healing is not the exercise of human will but an activity of divine intelligence. The intelligence that holds in order all God's spiritual universe can be seen as applying to every facet of our individual experience. It can be demonstrated as the law to our daily life.

Health is the law of God in action. Harmony is the expression of divine intelligence. Man's nature is spiritual. It is natural for man to be well, whole, and entirely obedient to God's will. When we understand this truth and apply it to our lives, we're binding the strong man, and we can spoil him of his goods—death, disease, sin.

More in this issue / November 1979


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