“Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house ...” (Matthew 12:29)

“Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house.” (Matthew 12:29)

What does the parable of the strong man's house mean?

Here Jesus confirms his previous statement regarding 'driving out demons' with a parable. What does it mean?

Many have characterized the devil or satan as some sort of unseen individual who tempts us. But such an esoteric notion assumes there are no controlling forces within the unseen world. As though the spirit world is some sort of 'wild west' where devils and satans are roaming the landscape waiting to capture us.

Jesus was speaking of whether a person is strong enough to prevent the influence of others who might harm us in some way. Yes, we are speaking of people - who we can see with our physical eyes - who can damage the spirit within as well as the mind and body.

One may also infer the idea of another soul intruding into the physical body and possessing it. But this is a very rare occurrence. The most common situation Jesus refers to is when the person - the 'soul' or 'spirit-person' - becomes subject to the influence of another in a way that damages them.

This effectively allows the influencer to exert a harmful effect upon the life and the spirit of the person occupying the physical body. Such harm can come in the form of a lifetime of addiction, violent tendencies and other harmful habits. 

Those who exert a harmful influence upon the life of a vulnerable person are the true devils and satans.

Such damage can affect a person throughout their lifetime. Sometimes that damage is done by institutions and their representatives, who may abuse their followers. Surely most of us have seen how those who have been physically abused during childhood feel that damage for many years to come.

The spirit-person becomes the occupying force within the physical body for a lifetime. During that lifetime, the spirit can be subjected to many influences. These influences can come in the form of the challenges of the physical world. They can also come in the form of positive influences, by those who guide us and become positive influences. But such influences can also come in the form of individuals who want to take advantage of someone who is more vulnerable.

For example, the word "demon" comes from the Greek word δαιμόνιον (daimonion). This word can describe someone who suffers from a physical or mental disorder. People from ancient times often referred to illnesses as demons. The idea was that someone or something has become so influential that it provokes residual damage through that lifetime.

What is the 'house' and the 'strong man'?

The "house" in the parable refers to the physical body.

The "strong man" is the living being - the spirit-person who is occupying that physical body.

Each of us is a spirit-person, and each of us is temporarily occupying our physical body much as a driver occupies and drives an automobile. Jesus is describing this spirit-person as a "strong man" because in a healthy situation, the inner person - the spirit-person - has a firm grasp of the physical body and the ability to protect itself from negative, damaging influences from others who seek to take advantage of us.

The "anyone" in Jesus' parable is referring to any influence upon us. This can include a destructive relative, a schoolyard bully, a person we accept as prominent in our lives who might mislead us. It can also include someone who may influence our dreams. 

Anyone we allow into our lives or minds could exert negative influences upon our spirit, mind, and body.

How long can this influence last?

The soul is only within a physical body for a few decades. But during that time, we could be influenced by someone in such a way that leaves lasting damage upon our spirit-person.

Typically an outside influence upon the physical body is temporary. But an influence upon our mind and spirit could create more lasting damage. This could affect our lifetime in this body in a significant way. Such an influence can corrupt our journey and prevent us from making the progress that was planned initially for this lifetime.

Such an influence can take place under several scenarios. One of the most likely ways is during childhood. A child can easily be damaged with violence and mental abuse by a parent or other adult.

Such abuse can damage the spirit-person's journey through this lifetime in a significant way. It can take years for abuse to be overcome later on in life.

The soul can be influenced by others most easily when we are more vulnerable. Also such influence can occur them our grip on the physical body is weakened. This can occur with illness, depression, intoxication or when we ares under severe stress.

One of these scenarios is during intoxication. During intoxication, the spirit-person's neurological grasp of the physical body is weakened. This is illustrated by the loss of balance, perception and other physical signs of intoxication.

In such an intoxicated state, the loosened soul's grip can allow someone to exert an outsized influence over us. This can affect a person's personal outlook and damage the spirit. 

Possession as defined by many can occur but does not occur often. Becoming overly influenced occurs more often: The influence of the material world and materialists who capture our attention can easily mislead us. Or the influences from our previous lifetimes, though these may be subtle. 

The soul also can be influenced through dreams, and our dreams may be invaded by outside entities. During some dreams, we can also leave our body on occasion and be taken into a mental realm that we would prefer not to be. Such dreams are sometimes called nightmares.

The prime facility for protecting the soul from outside influences while occupying the physical body is through praising and worshiping the Supreme Being. God can give us the strength we need to survive the challenges of the physical world should we allow His protection into our lives.