Dec 10, 2013
In the early 1900’s James Fraser took the Gospel to the unreached Lisu people, who lived in the remote, mountainous area between China and Burma.
At first, to help the existing missionaries with their work, he lived in the more-populated lowlands. But he was thrilled to meet some of the Lisu people who came down out of the mountains to trade.
This enabled him to start learning their language and culture, and to build some relationships. As a result, he started taking day-hikes into the mountains to meet more of the Lisu.
On these trips he shared the good news of Christ, and was encouraged to see many choosing to trust Christ and destroy their idols.
So he was excited when he was finally able to move up into the mountains and spend all his time among the Lisu.
He chose to live in a village called “Little River,” which he reached after hiking a couple days, and which was a dozen shack-like dwellings built on a steep mountainside.
After he settled in, he got to work — praying, meeting more Lisu people, improving his language skills, and sharing the good news of Christ.
But things did not go well.
Even though the Lisu he met in the lowlands were open to the Gospel, that was not true of those who lived in the mountains. Weeks went by, and no one came to faith.
Then he started experiencing deep depression. At first he thought this might be caused by the remote location, the poor diet, the language barrier, or the constant rain and mist.
But it soon became clear that this was more. Because everything he had believed started to feel unreal. His prayers felt lifeless. God seemed absent.
And he was barraged with questions — Does God really answer prayer? Does he know and care about you? Were you right to come here? Did you miss God’s will? You traveled all the way from England to this remote area — and what fruit are you seeing?
This oppression felt overwhelming. At times it was so intense that he considered taking his life.
What Did Not Work
He had heard that Satan could only tempt us if we are not surrendered to Christ. Which meant that the way to overcome temptation was to fully surrender; or as he had been taught, to “let go and let God.”
So he did. He went through every area of his life and surrendered it afresh to the Lord. He stopped any striving — and tried to fully let go and let God.
But it did not work. Not only was there no improvement; the oppression got worse.
But God had not forgotten him.
Use The Promises
Right at this time a fellow missionary came, bringing his mail. And in the mail was a magazine he had never heard of, called The Overcomer.
This magazine explained that there is a Satan who seeks to destroy God’s people. This reminded Fraser that Satan was behind this oppression; that Satan was seeking to destroy him so the Lisu people would not hear the Gospel.
But the magazine also pointed out that through the Cross, Satan’s power has been broken. And that through Christ we can resist and overcome Satan’s attacks. Not by surrendering and letting go. But by fighting back with God’s promises.
Here’s how James Fraser put it —
I saw that deliverance from the power of the evil one comes through definite resistance on the ground of the Cross … The Lord Himself resisted the devil vocally: “Get thee behind me, Satan!’
I, in humble dependence on Him, did the same … using the promises of Scripture as weapons. And they worked. Right then, the terrible oppression began to pass away.
The result was victory. Satan’s attacks were defeated. And over the next years the gospel spread throughout the area, and thousands came to faith.
But even though he had defeated Satan’s attacks, that did not mean they stopped. From time to time they came back.
So as soon as he could, he got by himself, and fought back —
I voiced my determined resistance to Satan … I claimed deliverance on the ground of my Redeemer’s victory on the Cross. I even shouted my resistance to Satan and all his thoughts. The [attacks] collapsed then and there, like a pack of cards …
In times of conflict I still find deliverance through repeating Scripture out loud, appropriate Scripture, brought to my mind through the Holy Spirit. It is like crashing through opposition. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
(From Mrs. Howard Taylor, Behind The Ranges: Fraser Of Lisuland, China Inland Mission (1959), pp.91-92.)
Jesus crushed Satan’s power on the Cross. Like God said to Satan about Jesus —
He shall bruise your head. (Genesis 3:15)
Understand that through faith we are united with Christ in his victory over sin and Satan —
We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. (Romans 6:6)
But we don’t experience this just by surrendering or being passive. Temptation is overcome as we aggressively resist Satan’s attacks —
Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)
So how do we resist Satan’s attacks? By using the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit —
In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:16-17)
It will be war. All-out war. But Christ has already won the victory. And you will experience this victory as you fight the fight of faith, using prayer and God’s Word.
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And here are some related posts you might find helpful –
- Does God Hear Prayer? A Real-Life Example
- How To Fight The Fight Of Faith
- How To Strengthen Your Faith
- No Matter How Burdened, God Can Change Your Heart
(Picture is from Wikepedia Commons.)