I was in a church meeting some years ago when I first heard it! A preacher was praying at the altar and I heard him saying: “Satan, we rebuke you! Go back to the pits of Hell!” I didn’t think much of it then because I had heard that and similar expressions many times before. I’ve heard people rebuking devils, demons, sicknesses and diseases! I’ve even heard them rebuking “the lying spirit” and “the spirit of alcohol” most of my life!
It wasn’t until I began to really grow in faith and study the Bible in earnest that I began to question some of the age-old practices and sayings that I had seen and heard around the church nearly all of my life. Do we really have the power? Have we been given the authority to rebuke the devil?
I did a topical study of “rebuke” in the Bible and I found cases of people rebuking other people, even Peter (ignorantly) rebuked Jesus! (Matthew 16:22) The Bible instructs us to publicly rebuke “them that sin before all, that others also may fear.” (1Timothy 5:20) In Matthew 8:26, we see Jesus rebuking the wind and the waves and there was a great calm! On other occasions; Jesus rebuked his disciples and unclean spirits. In Philippians 2:14-15, Paul wrote to the church: “Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.” In giving his young protege: Timothy pastoral advice, Paul encouraged him to: “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” Paul warned Timothy not to rebuke an elder (an older person), but rather to entreat him like a father!
These are just a few of the many references I found on the topic of rebuke. But much to my surprise, in spite of the many prayers and prophetic announcement I’ve heard; I couldn’t find a single reference in the Bible that even suggested that we have the power and/or the authority to rebuke the devil! In fact, I found only two occurrences in the Bible in which the devil was directly rebuked. In Zachariah 3:1 and Jude 9, the devil is rebuked! However, it must be noted that in both of these cases, it was the Lord who was called upon to rebuke the devil! In fact Jude seems to suggest that people who rebuke the devil are really not as spiritual as they would like for people to think they are! Jude seems to suggest for a person to rebuke the devil is an over-stepping of authority for even the Arch-Angel Michael did not directly rebuke the devil, but rather said: “The Lord rebuke you!” Therefore these two texts would seem to suggest that rebuking the devil is an act that only the Lord has the power and authority to do!
Hence, we should be very careful about this, for in rebuking the devil, we go into an area where even angels fear to tread! Just because someone may say it in a prayer or in a “prophetic utterance” that doesn’t mean it’s valid or is anything more than just empty pompous words! Yes! It would do well for any to be extremely careful in this area, lest they end up like the seven sons of Sceva. Note this story from Acts 19:11-16: “And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.” (ESV)
We would do well to study the word carefully on this subject! I don’t think that we (Christians) have been given the power or authority to rebuke the devil and that’s OK because we really don’t need it! The devil is already a defeated foe! The only direct command we have in dealing with the devil is not to rebuke him, but rather to resist him! We don’t have the power to bind him, all we need to do is just resist him! The Bible says in James 4:7: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (ESV) That’s the formula for putting the devil at bay in your life! Submit to God and resist the devil and he will be gone . . . for a while!