Mark 3:27 (NKJV): "No one can enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. And then he will plunder his house."
1) Authority in Christ
As followers of Christ, we are called to be soldiers. Not soldiers in the worldly sense, fighting against flesh and blood, but from a heavenly perspective. This concept is the whole point of Ezekiel 37; in Christ, we are raised by the Holy Spirit to serve God's Kingdom. Paul also writes letters that continually exhort the church to fight in a spiritual battle--a battle occurring all around us. The verse that sets the groundwork for this reality can be seen in Ephesians 6:12, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." (NIV). If we believe in God, we must also believe that wicked forces are at work trying to separate us from Him.
If we approach this reality with a spirit of fear, then we are already defeating the purpose of having such knowledge. Paul is not telling us these things to intimidate us, make us feel powerless, or push us away from being active fighters in this spiritual battle. Paul's one purpose was to promote Jesus--which is also the purpose of all those who believe--so the reason he is writing these things is to promote Christ. The first statement Paul makes concerning this topic in Ephesians is to be "strong in the Lord and in the power of His might." (Ephesians 6:10 NKJV). Additionally, it makes sense why he then addresses the armor of God, of which we can equip ourselves to be prepared for this war. The first and primary point is that God fights our battles.
God fights our battles through the blood of the Lamb. By the power of Christ's sacrifice, we have been given incredible authority--even Godly authority. Jesus tells us Himself, "Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you." (Luke 10:19 NKJV). Do we believe Christ's words? Because if we have the faith to believe, God says that we have authority to trample over all the power of the enemy. But what does Christ say next? "Nevertheless, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." (Luke 10:20 NKJV). Having authority is paired with having one's name written in heaven. And how does one get their name written in heaven? Simply by believing in Christ and His payment for our sins, and that in His resurrection, we have access to new life through the Holy Spirit.
2) House the Holy Spirit
We receive this Godly authority to overcome evil because of Jesus, who dwells within us when we believe. When we go through our own death to self and resurrection to life in Christ, we are now housing the Holy Spirit. To use an analogy, all that comprises who we are individually as living beings can be categorized as our "house." Matthew 12:43-45 addresses this concept of people as houses, which says:
"'When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, 'I will return to my house from which I came.' And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.'" (NKJV)
The example that Jesus uses refers to the man the spirit was inhabiting as a "house." The issue with the man in the story is that, while he found deliverance at first, he kept his house empty. The man lived and put his house "in order" and made himself feel like everything was alright--possibly even going back to the way he was living before--that is until seven more evil spirits returned. The man's mistake is that he did not fill his house with the only true defense against evil: the Holy Spirit. If we are not harboring the Holy Spirit within us, then we leave ourselves open in some fashion to spiritual attack. Referring back to the armor that Paul illustrates is helpful; if God does not dwell within us, our armor is compromised.
3) Discern the oppression
A spiritual attack can be anything negative that oppresses us and acts contrary to Jesus (this requires discernment), from anxiety, worry, and various temptations, to depression, suicidal thoughts, and murderous intentions. Suppose a thought, idea, feeling, or temptation is something that pushes us away from God and/or is a consistent chain of sin that we can't help but feed. In that case, it is probably a spiritual attack or stronghold that is prompted by a demonic/spiritual influence. Is it from God, or is it from the enemy? How is it affecting you? In many ways, how we live our lives provides a good gauge as to which kingdom--God's or satan's--we are serving (though, only you and God know the standing of your heart with Him), and, depending on that measure, will determine how well we discern spiritual warfare. As Christ increases within us and continually takes up more of our "house," the more He is leading our lives. This process has nothing to do with how "holy" we perceive ourselves to be--we are all sinners that have fallen short of the glory of God. It is Christ alone who holds any weight whatsoever in this war, and it is wherever He is that there is power. Why else did the demons tremble before Jesus? It's because they knew exactly who He was: the Eternal Son of the Most High God.
Thus, by the indwelling of Christ in the houses of our hearts, we are given spiritual authority and spiritual discernment. And, while the verse from Jeremiah 1:10 is speaking to Jeremiah, it can also be directed to those in Christ. With Paul's writings from Ephesians 6 in mind, the words that God speaks to Jeremiah are as applicable to spiritual warfare as anything else: "See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant." (Jeremiah 1:10 NIV). The dark strongholds and powers in the spiritual places that seek to bring chaos and lawlessness into our lives are all subject to the power of God.
4) Bind the strong man
Referring back to the verse in focus, Mark 3:27 states that no one can enter a strong man's house and take his goods without first dealing with the strong man. Before this verse, Jesus speaks on how a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand and how satan cannot cast out satan. So, Christ, having established the topic as one dealing with spiritual warfare, then says, "No one can enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. And then he will plunder his house." In many ways, the term "plunder" in this instance can be paralleled with the concept of "spoils of war." A definition of plunder, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is: "to take the goods of [someone/something] by force" and "to take by force." The definition of "spoils of war" can be defined as: "something valuable or desirable gained through special effort or opportunism (and combining with another of its definitions), taken from an enemy in war."
With this in mind, we can see that Christ is illustrating a picture akin to warfare and conquest, yet it begs the question: who is binding the strong man, and what goods are plundered in this conflict? Focusing only on what pertains to our role as followers of Christ, I will interpret this in terms that apply to our fight against the enemy. As we have already established, each of us represents a house (Matthew 12:43-45). Along with this, the "strong man" can be perceived as an evil influence/spirit that is holding possession over/oppressing some aspect of our "house" (our present existence/lives)--like in Matthew 12:43-45: the wicked spirit was living in the man, and was causing him to suffer. Though, if we harbor the Holy Spirit, no other spirit can rival God's possession (1 Peter 2:9)--signifying a difference between possession and oppression (though this is a topic for another time). Thus, in this instance and for the sake of edification, the strong man that would be bound is the wicked spirit, and the method would be by the Holy Spirit.
As previously addressed, it is God who wins and fights our battles. Nonetheless, we cannot wage war with passivity--God wants us to be active fighters. It is written, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV). The New International Version translation uses the term "timid" in place of "fear"--which I think conveys quite well the sense of passivity that God doesn't want us operating in. God has given us a spirit of power. The first definition in the Merriam-Webster dictionary for power is the "ability to act or produce an effect"--that is the opposite of timidity and passiveness. If we are trying to wage war against oppressive spiritual powers, we must be bold about it and believe that Christ's authority dwells in us. A simple prayer that unites the Word given from Mark 3:27, and the activeness of the individual, is: "I bind this spirit of [insert the specific oppression being experienced here; e.g., anxiety, worry, fear, lust, depression, etc.…] in the name of Jesus, and by the blood of the Lamb." This has personally helped me, and I believe it unites the sovereignty of the Word with the individual's action (implying it is said in faith).
5) More than conquerors in Christ
What is gained when the strong man is bound and the house is plundered is an increase in Christ. God does not withhold any good gift from us, but because our limited, mortal eyes can only perceive so much of His glory currently, He leads us judiciously. When we follow Jesus and walk in faith, He continually opens our eyes--according to His wisdom--to be able to see more of Himself (John 9:25). God is not changing in any way in this regard or in the amount that He loves us; rather, He is leading us into a deeper understanding of His already-present love. Therefore, not only does God's victory in the spiritual realm free us from influences that oppress us in daily life, but it also increases our faith. "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us." (Romans 8:37 BSB). A conqueror is someone who enters into a conflict and comes out having gained more than when they entered it--so it is with spiritual warfare in Christ (for we know He is a rewarder of those who seek Him; Hebrews 11:6; Matthew 6:20). Every victory builds upon our foundation on the Rock that is Jesus and sustains us to continue walking boldly into what God has planned for our lives.
Therefore, as God has enrolled each person in Christ into His army, we are called to fight. Fight through prayer. Fight through fasting. Fight through community. And, through it all, let us entrench ourselves in the living Word, that it may equip us to cast down every fiery dart the enemy releases. "Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses." (1 Timothy 6:12 NIV). To follow Christ means to be a soldier, and to be a soldier means picking up your cross and following Him daily. What war is God trying to wage in and through you?