“Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I give to them, even to the children of Israel.” (Joshua 1:2)
Have you ever noticed that there seems to be an invisible “line in the sand?” “Well, what are you saying, Brother Tom?” I’m talking about the area that God has been speaking to you about that you want to avoid, because when you go there everything around you seems to come “unglued,” yet you know that God has told you to cross it. You can go around it, over it, under it, or anywhere in between, but just don’t go there!
You may have good praise and worship at your church, and as long as you stay with your program; sing a few songs, get excited and praise the Lord, everything stays pretty much in order. But as soon as your worship team begins to step into new levels of worship, being led by the Spirit and operating in areas of the prophetic anointing, your musicians begin bickering and the finances of the church are attacked. You may have good prayer time, but then there is a place that you touch in the spirit where hidden things are revealed, mountains move and giants fall, but as soon as you go there, the people that love you the most suddenly can’t stand the sight of you! Your spouse and your staff will get angry with you and won’t even know why they’re angry. There is a line which the devil has drawn and said, “This far and no more!”
This line can be drawn in families, churches, communities and nations where the demonic principality assigned to the region has put a limit on what type of spiritual activity will be “allowed.” In areas that are dominated by a religious spirit, the devil may only allow you to have a certain number of people in your church, and the gifts of the Spirit may only operate to a certain degree. When you cross these lines, you find yourself in the fight of your life! You may have to step into new levels of prayer that cause some people to be uncomfortable; it may even challenge some of your own preconceived ideas. If you don’t believe in spiritual warfare, then you will by the time that you’re done.
When we cross these lines, Satan pulls out all the stops and attempts to intimidate us; “Remember what happened last time you did this; you almost lost your church!” he whispers in our ears. It’s alright to pray a little bit, but don’t pray in tongues, and if you do pray in tongues, don’t pray in strong, authoritative, and diverse tongues (I Corinthians 12:10, 28). It’s alright to read the Bible, just don’t actually believe it and act on it! Don’t declare it with unwavering faith and authority. You can even preach the Word, but just don’t preach it with authority!
Satan will also attack your home. You can talk with your spouse, and have a “nice” family discussion; you can go to movies, have fun with the kids, but just don’t have open communication about certain pivotal issues that will enable you to come together in agreement in faith and obedient action to what God has told you to do. Have you ever heard of Babel? Satan assigns demonic spirits to insure that communication about key issues never takes place in Christian homes.
These areas are called strongholds. They are areas in our lives, churches and ministries which the devil has garrisoned up and heavily guarded. He has commanded his demons, “If they get even close to these areas, attack and buffet them so viciously that they will retreat wounded, disillusioned and broken.” These are most often key areas that must be addressed in order to move forward in the things of God. The children of Israel had to face giants in order to enter into the promised land. But because they were unwilling to face these giants, that generation never entered (Numbers 13:31-33). Some of these lines have been drawn generations ago, and passed down to successive generations, where a family may never seem to be able to get past a particular problem (Exodus 20:5-6).
The Israelites were in bondage in Egypt, and although it wasn’t the most pleasant situation, their lives were relatively bearable. But when God sent Moses to deliverer them, Pharaoh laid upon them hard bondage (Exodus 5:1-23, Acts 7:17-19). He made their lives so miserable that the people came to a place where they didn’t care whether they were delivered or not. They even got angry with Moses and blamed it all on him. If it was up to the people, they would have retreated and stayed right where they were, content to remain slaves in the land of Egypt.
The Lord spoke unto Jeremiah the prophet and commanded him to warn a rebellious and stiff necked people to stop burning incense to foreign gods and worshipping idols (Jeremiah 44:15-19). But the people refused, and for a very interesting reason. They said, “Before we quit burning incense to the Queen of heaven, we had everything, and had no problems; but when we tried to obey God, everything went wrong!”
Why? Because the devil aggravated an already bad situation. The people brought the curse on themselves by violating God’s laws in the first place (Deuteronomy 27:26), and when they “repented,” they thought that things should turn around overnight, and without any opposition (Jeremiah 44:20-23). Satan attacked them with pressure and circumstances in order to deceive them into drawing back into their old ways instead of pressing on until their situation turned around. Many times things will seem to get worse before they will get better.
God told Adam, “Be fruitful and multiply.” (Genesis 1:28) His instructions were to move forward and build, and then the attack of the enemy came. The devil couldn’t get to Adam directly, and so he targeted his wife (Genesis 3:1-6). He wasn’t interested in the woman, but rather the authority that God had invested in the man. The devil used the influence of the woman in order to get to the man, and Adam said, “Sure honey, whatever you want!”
Men are forfeiting their God-given destinies and laying down their authority every day by putting their wives in charge. “Well, you know how it is; when Mama’s happy everyone’s happy!” “She’s the boss, you know!” No, she’s not the boss, and if Satan can get to you through your wife, he will attack her continually. You must drive him out of your garden. Ahab was the King of Israel at one point, but he was not a strong man, and his wife was domineering and controlling; she was also very wicked (I Kings 16:31). The situation was ripe for demonic influence and attack, and they wrought much evil in Israel, mostly under the influence of Jezebel. What you compromise to keep, you will lose in the end, and surrendering your authority will lead your family, church or ministry down a wrong and destructive path (Isaiah 3:12).
Satan will apply pressure to leaders through the very people that they lead in order to coerce them into compromise and disobedience. They’ll come at you like they did to Moses, “We’re unhappy!” “We’re tired of Manna; we want Quail!” “We don’t want to wait for a new Sunday school room, we want it now!” (Numbers 11:4-6). As they did with King Saul, many times the people will want to keep what God said to kill, and to kill what God said to save alive (I Samuel 15:24). But as a leader, you must know how to say, NO!
One of Satan’s greatest deceptions is to cause us to believe that we can compromise in certain areas for the sake of “peace,” be negligent in applying the principles of God’s Word, and that somehow it will all work out in the end. “God understands what you are going through!” The devil will whisper in your ear. But Jesus warned us that failure to diligently believe and act on His Word would bring crop failure and unfruitfulness (Mark 4:19, Matthew 13:22).
When we are under heavy fire and Satan is unleashing his attacks against us, his strategy is to cause us to lose sight of the focal point of our faith, whatever it is that precipitated the attack in the first place. He wants us to be so overwhelmed by the intensity of what he is throwing at us, that we lose sight of our focus and switch to a defensive mode rather than an offensive. Many times the oppression will break when we stop fighting where the devil wants us to fight and continue on the offensive. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil…” (Psalm 23:4) We are not to camp in the valley, but continue to walk through it! Satan wants us to camp with him.
God spoke to Joshua and commanded him to “Be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do…” (Joshua 1:7) Today God commands us to be strong in the Lord and the power of His might (Ephesians 6:10), so that we can possess territories, experience His blessings, and pass them on to the next generation. When we step across the unspoken lines and prevail, curses are broken and blessings are passed down to a thousand generations (Deuteronomy 7:9).