• Retah McPherson

Fighting the good fight of faith

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us – who can be against us?” (Rom 8:31).

The strategy that Satan uses to attack the minds of God’s children is the same strategy he uses with sinners. All of us have heard the saying: “The battlefield is in the mind.” This is so true. The battlefield is truly in our minds, and what we do with our thoughts will determine who wins.

It says in 2 Cor. 10:3-5: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”

It is in our mind where we our thoughts form our opinions, where reasoning takes place and where we establish our belief system and expectation for the future – this ultimately shapes the world we live in.

Proverbs 23:7 says: “For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” This just basically means that we are what we think about ourselves. Our belief system creates our world. Let me tell you today that only by our faith in the living God will we be able to live an overcoming life of victory. The enemy knows this truth too. By using lies, doubt and emotional pain he will try his best to create false and negative belief systems in our hearts. When we start believing his lies we will create a “losing environment”, and those negative thoughts will bring us into bondage.

Who we are, how we react, and what we expect from life, all flow from the belief system we create in our hearts. So many people are bound by the shackles of self-hatred and rejection that they can’t seem to get free in order to be the person God created them to be.

The lies Satan tells me, or the negative things he projects upon me, can’t keep me in bondage – it is only when I believe those lies that I become ensnared. No man will be able to say they were spared this battle; we all have to take our thoughts captive daily.

“Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” 1 Peter 1:13.

The Word of God tells us that we need to be renewed in the spirit of our mind (Eph. 4:23). This means that we need to take stock of our thoughts and realign them with the Word of God. We need to wash our mind and our thoughts with the blood of the Lamb. We need to repent of believing the lies of the enemy and from doubting God. We have to feed upon His Word, and eat from the tree of life. We need to build our belief system with stones of faith, hope and love. We need to learn how to discern between the lies of the enemy, and the truth of God’s Word.

We cannot even let what we see determine what we believe. We have to focus on God and on Him alone. In Him we will find the truth about our situation and the peace to endure the storm. His Word is the rock of truth that we need to stand on. I want to urge you to pray this prayer every day: “Lord Jesus, please align my thoughts with Your thoughts. I thank You Lord that Your Word says I hold the mind of Christ and the thoughts and the purposes of Your heart (1 Cor. 2:16). Lord, I choose Your truth above the lies of doubt and fear. Please help me Lord to act in faith.”

The enemy wants to wear us down with negative thoughts by telling us that the situations we face are totally hopeless. Let me ask you this; is anything to marvellous for Yahweh – the Creator of the heavens and the earth?

There is only one way to overcome this onslaught of lies – and that is to meditate on the Word of God, and by proclaiming it out loud. When Jesus was tempted in the desert He always replied to Satan’s temptation by saying: “It is written...”(Matt. 4:4-10)

Negative thoughts will bring negative results. I heard an interesting statement the other day; it said: “Your self-image is not what you think about yourself, it is what you think other people think about you.” If the enemy can convince you that people don’t like you, and you don’t deal with these thoughts but allow them to take root in your heart, over time it will grow into a tree of self-rejection and fear-of-rejection in your heart. I have learnt that anything that stays in the dark (when you don’t deal with the issues) brings death one way or the other – because that is where the demonic spirits get a foothold into your life.

Jesus made a profound statement in Luke 6:45. He said: “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” This is such a quick and easy test to see what people’s hearts are full of. When all that comes out is bitterness and resentment, you can know what that heart is full of.

Tinus told me a story about a contractor who did a job for him on the farm some weeks ago. They were standing on the patio of the house that had a beautiful view of the Hartebeespoort valley that stretched out before them. The man turned to Tinus and said, “Wow, what a view... when you stand on this patio you can see your problems and sorrows coming long before they reach you.” Tinus interrupted him and said, “No Sir, I disagree. All that I can see coming from afar is the goodness and mercy of the Lord that follows me all the days of my life.” Tinus told me that the man become so uncomfortable after he said this to him that he quickly packed up his tools and left. After he left, Tinus prayed for him and bound that demonic spirit in Jesus’ name that made that man believe all kinds of lies about his future.

So many people live their lives bound by negative thoughts, and the fruit of these thoughts are destruction. Aldo has taught me to bless my mind and to speak words of life and peace over my thoughts. When we choose to live a life of “faith”, self-pity is not something we can indulge in. We are only human, so I also have to fight against self-pity daily; especially when I see teenagers Aldo’s age that live and enjoy their lives without any physical impairment. Every time I feel the emotions of self-pity wanting to overtake me, I have to take my thoughts captive and look through Jesus’ eyes at the situation so that I can see the bigger picture. The bigger picture will always be about Jesus and His kingdom, and not about us. It is so easy to fall into the trap of despair if we only focus on ourselves. To feel sorry for yourself will not strengthen your faith. Yes, there is a time for tears. I know those times intimately – they are also a part of my life. But more importantly, there is time when we have to stand up and receive our joy from the Holy Spirit. Even if you can’t see any joy or peace in your situation – ask the Holy Spirit for it; for the kingdom of God is righteousness, joy and peace in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17).

The trials and the battles we face is all part of the dying-to-self process. We need to decrease so that Jesus can increase. In Galatians 2:20 it is written: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

Someone told me the other day that I need to focus on the light, and that when I do that I won’t have to fight and resist the enemy so much and focus on him all the time.

I know that as a part of God’s army, we will all have to fight the enemy in one way or another, because the bride of Jesus will be a ‘spirit bride’, a ‘servant bride’ and a ‘warrior bride.’

To be a part of the Lord’s army, we need to be trained soldiers and we need to be prepared. If you don’t want to fight the enemy, then you will face more dangerous problems such as pride. Spiritual warfare also serves to humble us in submission before God – our Commander – as we face our enemies. Warfare becomes a sifting process just as it was for Peter when the Devil asked Jesus that he may sift Peter as wheat:

And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren” (Luke 22:31-32).

We all have things in our hearts that the Lord needs to “sift” and deal with. The challenges we face in life serve to keep us humble and dependant on God, and it gives us compassion for others who also suffer. There is nothing as humbling as facing the enemy, knowing that you are totally dependent on the All Mighty God to win the battle for you. But the trials and the suffering we endure do so much more than only humble us – it helps us to appreciate the sufferings our Lord Jesus endured on our behalf.

Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead (Phil. 3:8-11).

No one understands the suffering of a soldier as well as the comrades fighting next to one another.  I was watching a program on TV on how the families of the soldiers take care of one another while the men are in Iraq, fighting the war.  I was wondering whether those families who do not have loved one’s fighting, ever truly understand the sufferings and sacrifices the others make.

There is an incredible commitment to one another among soldiers. I see the similarity when we go through spiritual warfare and experience the suffering that goes with along with it. When we understand and share in one another’s pain, we have compassion on each other and our lives will no longer only revolve around ourselves – but we will reach out to others.

I believe our battles teach us to be totally dependent on God, and not to rely on our own abilities – because there is no natural power that will be able to defeat the enemy. No pills, no alcohol, no drugs, no amount of money or possessions, will be able to bring peace into your broken situation. Only the Blood of the Lamb, and our total dependence on God, will be lead to victory.

Lastly, dear fellow soldier, I want to leave you with this Scripture: “The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfil its lusts” (Rom.13:12-14).

The McPhersies are doing well. We are experiencing the unfailing love of God, and Aldo’s journal (“Wisdom for Teens”), is going to press next week. We have learned to push through and to be obedient to what God has called us to.

And so I can boldly say today, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”

Love Retah and family.     

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