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Are Christians Subject to, "Generational Curses?"
By David A. DePra
Today Christians by the thousands are being taught that what ails them is a thing called, "generational curses." What this is said to mean is that somewhere in your gene pool, in your ancestry, there came a curse upon your family, and this curse has been passed down to you. This curse may have been the result of sin, witchcraft, or some other evil thing. But Christians are being told that this kind of, "generational curse," may still exist in their life or family. Indeed, it may be the real cause for their spiritual trouble.
Of course, once we accept this teaching about, "generational curses," we are then compelled to go on to the next step: Getting free of them. Usually, we go to some expert on deliverance, or to a pastor, or someone else, to pray for our deliverance. Some people have claimed that all of this has helped them. They claim to be free of things they were not free from before.
One of the passages from the Bible that is pointed to in order to verify, "generational curses," is found in Deuteronomy:
Thou shall not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth: Thou shall not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me. (Deut. 5:8-9)
This sure does sound as if there is such a thing as, "generational curses," doesn’t it? And it sounds like GOD HIMSELF is the cause of them, doesn’t it? Sure. But so often people who teach the doctrine of generational curses leave out the very next sentence of this passage:
And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.
According to this passage, whatever applies to the sin that is passed on to the third and fourth generation, applies all the more to obedience. From this, we might conclude that there are not only, "generational curses," but, "generational blessings." In other words, the spiritual curses or blessings in your life are determined, in large part, by what others have done in your family long ago. There is certainly some Truth in saying this, because to be sure, there is an impact upon us from those who raised us -- we learn patterns, responses, and carry forth certain personality traits. The above verses tell us that there is an impact.
But these words were written in the context of the Old Covenant, before there was a new birth in Christ. Once we begin to introduce the new birth into the picture, we are dealing on another basis.
I will say this bluntly and upfront: This teaching on, "generational curses," is error. It has resulted, not in any kind of healing for Christians that was not already given them through the Blood of Christ, but has, in fact, resulted in a kind of frantic paranoia. There are Christians who are running around trying to discover the, "generational curse," which is the key to what troubles them, and then trying to find the way to purge it from their family. All the while, God has already provided deliverance from all sin through the finished work of Jesus Christ. He tells us that the solution is to believe and embrace what Christ has done. But as usual, there are always a select group of supposedly wise teachers, who have found a better solution.
If you want deliverance – I’ll tell you how to pray. Don’t pray that God will deliver you from sin. Pray that He will deliver you from unbelief. In Christ, you are already delivered from these things. It is your unbelief, and the disobedience that is the outcome, that is keeping you in the sin. Take care of unbelief, and you will immediately come into contact with the finality of the Cross.
Now, if you think that all I am talking about is faith in the DOCTRINE of the Cross, then you will be bewildered as to how you are already delivered. And if you have never really repented of sin, then you will likewise have no frame of reference for what I am saying. But if you have truly repented of being wrong with God through the sin of living life on your own terms, and have surrendered your life to Christ – I mean, really – then you will know that what I am talking about is more than a theological concept or what is often called, "positional Truth." For heaven’s sake, there is no positional Truth, or this or that Truth, there is just THE TRUTH! And it is a PERSON with whom we are to have an experience of resurrection. Come into contact with the TRUTH – and with His Cross – and you won’t be looking for praying for more deliverance. You will be praying for more faith.
But you see, people don’t want to hear that. They want something they can DO to solve this problem. And frankly, some people want a way to lighten their own responsibility for sin. So let’s pin it on our ancestors, and make ourselves a big victim. Let’s do anything except confess that UNBELIEF, pure and simple, and disobedience, is at the bottom of this.
The Promised Land
Christian people simply do not believe that it is finished in Christ. We just don’t. We don’t believe it for a number of reasons. Probably at the top of the list of the reasons we don’t believe is because we look at ourselves and don’t see a finished work. We see a mess. But God never said that YOU were finished. He said, "IT is finished." Thus, the first key here is for YOU to believe that IT is finished. And once you begin walking by faith in that Truth, there is a work that begins wherein you will eventually become finished -- culminated in your bodily resurrection yet to come.
There is a huge distinction between being born in the kingdom of God, and taking possession of that kingdom. If you are saved, you are born into the kingdom. That is finished. But you must go on to take possession of what the kingdom holds. That is how YOU become finished in experience.
But doesn’t this require DELIVERANCE. No, it doesn’t. It requires faith in the Cross – for it is the Cross that has already delivered me.
This is the entire lesson of Israel’s failure to enter the promised land. God had DELIVERED them out of Egypt. In fact, through the Red Sea, the power of Egypt over them was cut off forever. If there was one thing that Israel did NOT need, once they came through that Red Sea, it was deliverance from Egypt. Why? Because Egypt was dead. Israel was as delivered from Egypt at that point as they could be – God told them they would SEE the Egyptians no more.
Egypt is, of course, a type of sin – a type of the old creation and old realm into which we are born through Adam. From this WE are delivered. If we are saved we have been, "delivered from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son." (see Col. 1:13) We are as spiritually delivered from the power of Adam and our old heredity as Israel was geographically delivered from Egypt.
Ok. But once God delivered Israel from Egypt, He took them – where? Back into Egypt to conquer the Egyptians? No! The Egyptians WERE conquered! Most of them were dead on the shore of the Red Sea. Rather, God took them over to a new place – the promised land. There were NO Egyptians there. There was, in fact, nothing in that promised land that had anything to do with Egypt.
Now, when Israel was camped on the outskirts of the promised land, and told to go in – whether we want to talk about the first time they were there, and refused to go in, or whether we want to talk about forty years later, when they did go in – what sense would it have made for them to have fallen to their knees and prayed, "Oh, God. Please deliver us from Egypt! Purge us from the curse of the Egyptians upon us!?" It would have made no sense. Why? Because through the Blood and the Passover Lamb, and the Red Sea, they were ALREADY totally delivered from Egypt!
Can we see this is exactly what people are doing when they pray that God will deliver them from sin, or a generational curse? It is exactly the same. The need here is not for another deliverance in addition to the once-for-all deliverance provided by the Cross. The need is for FAITH.
When Israel was camped outside the promised land, they saw NEW enemies living in the land, didn’t they? But these enemies were not Egyptians. Rather, the new enemies were the flesh and blood counterparts of what Paul says is our real warfare, now, in the Christian life:
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; (2 Cor. 10:3-5)
What is the true nature of our enemy today? Paul tells us: They are comprised of, "imaginations and every high thing that" – does what? Bring upon us generational curses? Deny us the victory of the Cross? NO. Our enemy is that which EXALTS ITSELF AGAINST THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD. In other words, the enemy is deception, and all that denies the TRUTH.
Jesus said that the TRUTH will set us free. The Truth about what? About generational curses? No. The Truth about HIMSELF – for He IS the Truth. The Truth about His finished and final work. The Truth will set us free because the Truth is a revelation of what Jesus has already done by His Cross. And once we see the Truth, we will no longer be bound by the lies of the enemy which exalt themselves against His finished work. We will be able to walk in the freedom of that finished work.
Simply put, once I see that in Christ I am already delivered from the power of all sin, I will embrace that Truth and begin walking free from that power. But if I continue to believe that I am bound by generational curses, and secret powers over which I have no victory, I will never believe and obey. I will be looking for another solution.
This is not a mind game. Either we are free in Christ or we are not. And if we are, it doesn’t matter whether we think we are, feel like we are, or look like we are. God says we are. And then it is a matter of believing and obeying – step by step.
Read Romans 6. You will not find so much as a suggestion that Christians are anything less that totally free from the power of sin through the Cross of Jesus Christ. It shows us there that the Christian life is a matter of walking in that – of taking possession of our, "promised land" -- through Jesus Christ.
We are free from the power of sin – howbeit NOT from the presence or possibility of sin. We still sin. But -- we don't have to. Our freedom from the power of sin is as final as the death of Jesus that set us free. However, just as Israel had to drive out the inhabitants of the land, so must we. But never think that what we are driving out is Egypt. No. What we are driving out is pride, unbelief, and all those things which keep us from believing.
Again – if you want prayer for deliverance – ask God to deliver you from unbelief. You are already delivered from the power of sin if you are in Christ. The question is whether you believe, and believe enough to obey. If you do believe enough to obey, you will find out that you were free the whole time by the power of the Blood of Jesus Christ.
The Blood of Jesus
There are people who claim that they have been set free when someone prayed that God would remove some generational curse. Let’s talk about this for a moment. First of all, just that phrase, "prayed for God to remove some generational curse," is revealing. It suggests that YOU had to first discover the curse, and then ask God to remove it – and until you did that, you were going to be saddled with that curse. But wait. How do you know that is the only generational curse you have? Maybe there are a thousand others you don't know about! How far back do you want to go?
I’ve got news: You will have to go back to Adam. We all do. I mean, think about it -- every one of us have thousands and thousands of ancestors that have done who knows what? Are we saddled with THAT baggage? As a CURSE? Thousands of them? But also, what if I have some Christians as ancestors. Is there obedience not able to overcome the evil in my ancestry?
You can see where all of this eventually leads us. If, "getting free," of such generational curses depended on me seeing them, and then getting special prayer, I'd never be done. There could always be, "some secret reason," why I have certain problems. Find even a mention of this in the New Testament! You can't.
The reason why you cannot find anything about this in the NT is because the writers KNOW that this whole business, from start to finish, is solved through the once-for-all death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This doesn't mean that we cannot have residual problems from our past or family. But it does mean that Jesus has already done everything there is to do for our freedom. Thus, the call upon us is not to GET DELIVERANCE. The call is to BELIEVE -- and then as God gives grace we can obey.
The question in the NT is never whether we have baggage because we are born in Adam. The question is what KIND of baggage! But there is an even more important question: What we DO with the baggage. God has not sentenced us to a life of trying to dig into the past to try to solve the present. No. He has made it possible for us to give ALL of ourselves to Him, and to be made brand new -- set free from the power of the past.
The only, "generational curse," the Bible really knows anything about is the one which is found in ADAM. Adam is THE generation that is totally cursed. All other sins, curses, etc., are merely the outcome of that. You cannot get free of a thing as long as you are in Adam. But once you die to Adam, and are born again in Christ, you are a new generation. And ALL of the power of the old is broken by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ has already gone back to the beginning of time -- the Lamb was crucified before the foundation of the world! (Rev. 13:8)
My point is this: If as Christians, those in Christ, you and I really do have generational curses in our lives, from which there is no freedom, until we get special deliverance, then we were not delivered from these by the Cross. And that means every sin that is carried with them is likewise not dealt with by the Cross.
Can you see where this leaves us? It makes the Cross meaningless – for the entire Adamic creation is the generation under a curse. And if the Cross didn’t deal with ALL of that, it dealt with NONE of it. Furthermore, it means that you can be IN CHRIST, but still have the curse upon you of Adam.
Let’s continue to examine possibilities here in a practical way. Let’s suppose that you did believe that you had one of these so-called generational curses upon you, and you did get prayed for, and you did seem to experience freedom. Ok. Now ask: What set you free? Well, I would assume you would agree that the Blood of Jesus set you free. Add this or that, but in the end, in comes back to the Blood, doesn’t it? Sure. But as a born again Christian, weren't you under the Blood? -- wasn't ALL of you under ALL of the Blood? According to the Bible that is true. So when you were saved, and ALL OF YOU came under the Blood, how did these supposed generational curses, "fall through the cracks?" Are there cracks in the finished work of Jesus Christ?
I mean, think about it, if your conversion was real, you DIED in Christ, and were born again a NEW creation. I Corinthians 5 says that, "old things are passed away, behold ALL THINGS are become new." But evidently, that isn’t really the Truth, is it, if there remained upon you generational curses? Somehow, your, "old man of sin," was crucified in Christ, but curses pertaining to him got by the Cross. Does that make sense?
Generational curses are of your OLD generation, IN ADAM. But if they can still be upon you as a NEW creation in Christ, then the Blood of Jesus didn’t take care of them. Indeed, in that case, they are still upon you, even AS a new creation, born anew of a NEW generation in Jesus Christ! They are upon you to such an extent that you still need special prayer for special deliverance from them. Their power was NEVER broken.
Certainly our ancestry has forwarded to us learned behavior. We learn patterns. But the real question here is whether any kind of generational CURSE -- CURSE, not just a pattern -- passes through your death and resurrection in Christ, and continues to be upon you as a NEW creation. The answer is that it is impossible -- or the Blood of Jesus has not washed away your old man of sin, or set you free from the POWER of all that was of that old creation.
The bottom line is, your old man's history no longer has any power over you. It cannot. Why? He is dead in Christ if you are alive in Christ. Case closed.
Suppose you don't believe this, and seek special deliverance by the Blood of Jesus from some perceived generational curse. Doesn’t it seem a little odd that the Blood of Jesus – which you are now praying will deliver you from a generational curse – wasn’t sufficient to deliver you at your new birth, a birth which, by definition, is OUT of your old heredity into a new one? And doesn’t it seem odd that it is only now that YOU have discovered what you think is a generational curse that the Blood is able to purge it?
Read the New Testament epistles. Some of the people to whom the epistles are written were guilty of some terrible things, weren’t they? But find ONE verse where they are told they need DELIVERANCE. You won’t find one. Constantly, they are told they need FAITH. They are told they need to return to, "by grace through faith." They are told that even their disobedience and sin is the result, not of some generational curse, but of their own ignorance, unbelief, and in some cases, irreverence.
Christian people have a pension for emphasizing and turning into a movement so many things that the Bible is almost totally silent about. This generational curse movement is one of those things. You won’t find a mention of it in the NT as a possibility in the life of a born again believer. But it does sell books, doesn't it? And it can turn those who teach such things in gurus that people rely upon -- instead of Christ.
I think we need to come to terms with something here: Either the Blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from ALL sin, or it doesn’t. And if it does, then any so-called generational curse was broken when we were born again, of a new creation in Christ Jesus. If you doubt that, then what you are saying is that the NEW CREATION in Christ Jesus continues to carry the generational curses of the old creation in Adam. There is no other conclusion possible. And that is a denial of the Cross.
I’ll tell you what likely happens when people who want deliverance from generational curses are prayed for -- and they later say they were helped. Before they are prayed for, their problem is that they see a problem from which they think they need deliverance, but do not believe that the Blood of Christ is ALREADY sufficient. So instead of putting their faith in the Blood at that point, they take the step of asking for special deliverance. Then when they are prayed for, they sort of hook themselves up with the Blood as the solution, almost as if the deliverance session has energized their faith. And because they are THEN believing in the Blood, freedom may, in fact, come.
What is going on here? Well, such folks are sometimes putting their faith in the Blood, but only because they think the Blood has, "kicked in," through this deliverance session. Sometimes the effect is merely a placebo effect because their faith is NOT in the Blood, but in the deliverance session itself, as a religious exercise or gimmick. There still isn't any faith in Christ. Thus, because of unbelief (not some curse) the spiritual confusion will return. Other times, God honors their faith in Christ even if the path by which they got there wasn't based in the Truth to begin with. God honors faith in the Blood of Jesus. And thank God He takes us right where we are on these matters. Yet may we not stay there, but move on into the whole Truth: We are fully and completely delivered from Adam through Christ at salvation!
But can we see that all of it comes back to the Blood? And that despite the mercy of God in taking people right where they are, even in ignorance, that the problem here is not that we need deliverance from some generational curse, or from some sin which is not our fault, but that what we need is to BELIEVE and REST in what Christ has done? Isn’t that where it ends up coming back to in the deliverance session anyways? So why do we need the session? Does Christ ADD some Blood to our sin problem because we have been specially prayed for?
The fact is, if you are truly IN CHRIST, you are a new creature, and no generational curse that belongs to the Adam creature you were, or which was upon the family into which you were born through natural birth, has any power over you. When we accepted Christ, we got ALL of Christ – and all that He has done for our sin. There are NO BOOSTER SHOTS necessary as to the Blood of Christ or the Cross. If Christians need a booster shot, we need a booster shot of FAITH. Our problem is that we don’t believe.
Once we allow this generational curse mentality into our lives, we will never be finished digging for, "secret causes," for our sins, unbelief, depression, or relationship problems. It can become a new kind of legalism, and create out of us paranoid people, looking for a demon behind everything. The Truth isn't that complicated. Jesus paid for ALL. And the solution is to believe. Until we get that settled as the foundation of our lives we are wasting our time. We will get nowhere.
I'll say that again: Under we get the finished work of Christ where it belongs -- as the foundation of our faith and life -- we will not get far. Omit that, and you will be left to deception of religious exercises and gimmicks to try to acquire what God has already given.
People want deliverance. Freedom from things like generational curses. But what did Jesus say would set us free? A deliverance ministry? Prayer? No! Again -- Jesus said, "The Truth shall set you free."
What Truth? The Truth about Jesus. The Truth that no matter what your ancestry, and no matter what you may have unknowingly adopted as a pattern, that the Blood of Jesus Christ has ALREADY -- not might, not will, not maybe -- but the Blood has ALREADY broken the power of that in your life. The Truth about both the problem and your freedom is that which sets us free.
Therefore, if you want to pray for yourself, or for another, along the lines of freedom from sin, or any other spiritual issue, pray that the TRUTH might be shown, believed, embraced, and walked in. Ask God to show you whether you have unwittingly fallen into patterns of bondage from which He has already won your freedom. Ask God to show you that Truth is that upon the Cross, Jesus Christ bore every sin and every curse – indeed BECAME those things for us -- in order that through our new birth we might be delivered from them.
God never tells us that the primary way to get free of patterns of the flesh is to attack patterns of the flesh. Just how do you do that anyways? No. You get free of these patterns, not by attacking them, but by obeying God. The Bible says, "Walk in the Spirit and you WILL NOT fulfill the lusts of the flesh." The only way in which this is a SANE statement is if the power over the flesh is already OURS in Christ by the Cross.
The enemy will do anything to keep the reality of that Truth from impacting our lives, for it is the Cross that defeated Him. Thus, his only hope now is deception – try to convince people that his defeat by the Cross wasn’t really final -- but contingent and conditional. Once we buy into that, we are going to fall prey to everything that goes with it. We will continually try to seek a victory that is already given, and seek deliverance when our freedom is already secure.
Again – we need to believe! We do not need to be delivered from Egypt over and over again, any more than Jesus needs to die over and over again. We need to put our faith in the once-for-all finished work of Jesus Christ. And if we will do that, we will not be tossed to and fro by such wind of doctrine as this generational curse business.
It does not matter what is our past, or what is our ancestry. The Cross of Jesus Christ is sufficient to cut off all the power of those things. Period. We don’t need deliverance from what has already died in Christ. We need FAITH to embrace the Truth.
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