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Summary: The original Latin “addictus” means “one who has been given up or made over as servant to his creditor.”

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The scribes wrongfully attribute Jesus’ power to the sorcery of Satan. It was tantamount to an accusation of witchcraft.

The background is that it was commonly held back then that weaker demons could be exorcised by more powerful ones. Jesus points out that this is a contradiction, because Satan’s house is not divided.

In Jesus’ analogy most see “the strong man” as Satan and Jesus is the one who ties him up. So Jesus is the plunderer who loots that demon’s house of sin and wickedness. Some see the strong man as an ordinary person who is overtaken by sin and so bound-up, and robbed of grace by Satan.

Let’s consider both interpretations:

1). Regarding being bound up by evil influences-- just think of today’s digital culture-specific illnesses on the internet. The original Latin “addictus” means “one who has been given up or made over as servant to his creditor.”

Of course with circumspection and prudence, we can’t be too ready to believe that everyone seemingly stuck in serious sin is possessed or harassed by demons, still the enemy has a hand in many sins, and the whole basis of Christian life is the mystery of Christ’s deliverance of people from sin, and from the influence of the devil, with his cunningness.

Saint Angela Merici once said, “consider that the devil does not sleep but seeks our ruin in a thousand ways.”

e.g. A recent study out of Georgia State University explains that habitual street offenders exploit the absolvitory tenets of religious doctrine, neutralizing their fear of offending God, which allows them to continue a life of illegal activities. The attitude is a basically, “we already live in hell, as long as you ask for forgiveness, Jesus has to give it to you.” So, there no contrition, conversion or metanoia.

Speaking of the false attitudes, the most common place Satan makes his first move is in the mind by suggesting things. Proverbs 4:23 says, “More than anything you guard, protect your mind, for life flows from it. “ Other translations say that the mind is the place from which your issues arise. Isn’t this the truth! Most of the issues you face stem from what you think about.

Thoughts have the power to lead you into temptation or hold you captive to things such as hopelessness.

Since they are immaterial, angels and demons do not move from point A to B by any kind of locomotion, but instead shift their activity from one point or place to a different one. Some theologians have likened this movement to the human mind, which can instantly transfer thoughts over long distances or onto random objects.

For example, St. Teresa of Avila writes, “The devil comes with artful wiles, and, under the color of doing good, sets about undermining a person in trivial ways, and involving it in practices which, so he gives it to understand, are not wrong; little by little he darkens understanding, and weakens its will, and causes it’s self-love to increase, until in one way and another he begins to withdraw it from the love of God and to persuade it to indulgence its own wishes” (Interior Castle, 4.4, 5).

2). Regarding Jesus binding the strong man-- Someone once asked an English General, famous for the victories he had won on the battlefield, “General, which side gains the victory in any battle?”

This man responded, “The side that advances."

e.g. Dawn Weiss’ life was falling apart. Dawn, a recovering alcoholic, moved to

Tennessee after the California earthquake of 1994. She got a job as a waitress and enrolled in school. But Dawn had never confronted the stress of an earthquake, of moving, of leaving loved ones. One night, she felt ready to give up. She prayed for help, but didn’t feel any better. That night, Dawn decided that after work she would go out drinking.

When Dawn got to work, she noticed that every single customer in the restaurant was wearing a button that read, “I am a friend of Bill W.” Bill W. is the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, and this slogan helps AA members discreetly recognize one another. To Dawn’s surprise, there was a huge Alcoholics Anonymous convention in town that weekend. All the customers at her restaurant that night were attending it. After Dawn revealed her own struggle with addiction, a group of customers offered to stay with her all night and protect her from drinking. Dawn had prayed for help, and God sent her a whole convention of people who understood her problem.

It all began when Dawn prayed for help although she did not feel warm and fuzzy when she did so.

Is there an area of our life or our thinking where we feel that we are spiritually bound, and we know it isn’t good?

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