As we continue in our Spiritual Soldier Series about spiritual warfare we come to a battlefield training on generational curses. We’ve just talked about territorial spirits, and many who talk about them talk about generational curses.
Maybe you have a lot of questions about them and want to know more like I did. In five questions I’ll give you the lay of the land on generational curses and an approach to guide you as a Spiritual Soldier as you fight spiritual battles for Christ. Let’s dive in!
- What are generational curses?
Most definitions I have seen for generational curses say that a generational curse is passed down from your ancestors to your family as a vice or sinful habit that you continue because you grow up in that environment and become bound up in it.
Like many other Christians, I struggle with the word “curse” for several reasons. First, a person may get the impression that God is the one cursing the family. This is not the case. As we will discuss below God wants to bless you, not curse you.
Second, a generational curse becomes problematic for Christians because Jesus has set you free from anything that would bind you. And third, “curse” does not describe what most people who talk about generational curses mean.
Past the definition people give for generational curses are the behaviors we are ingrained in, behaviors we learn from our parents and family. They become more about the things we don’t even realize are sinful until we become Christians.
As we continue to flesh out this idea of “generational curses” I will further explain better ways to label what we’re talking about. You learn a lot from your family, your parents and grandparents, and your siblings. The things we learn not always beneficial or make us successful in life.
We do not have to be bound by these sinful habits and practices we learn from our ancestors. People often find themselves involved in breaking these curses with certain prayers and declarations. But you don’t need all of that.
- What does the Bible say about generational curses?
People get the idea of generational curses from God’s declarations that he punishes sin in the family to the third and fourth generations (Exodus 20:5; 34:7; Numbers 14:18; Deuteronomy 5:9). This sounds like a lot of evidence that God curses people. Let’s look at the context.
When you look at the verses above the first thing you will see is God’s promise to curse the children that follow their father’s example of sinful habits. But look right below these verses and you will notice the blessing that comes from loving God and staying true to Him (Exodus 20:6, for example).
God shows his steadfast love to those who love Him and keep His commandments.. These verses look familiar because they explain how God reacts to idolaters. The sin of idolatry is key here. God visits the sins of the fathers on to the children for generations because the fathers are teaching their children idolatry.
People expand the idea of generational cursing to all kinds of sins passed on from parents to children but in the Bible God visits the sins of the fathers to the children for generations because of idolatry, because they hate God and choose idols.
God doesn’t say anything about cursing generation after generation. He says that He will “visit the iniquity of fathers to their children.” If you learned how to worship other gods from your father, barring other influences in your life you will continue to do what he did.
The same consequences of worshiping idols your father faced, you will face. But you also reap the consequences (I’d rather say rewards or blessings) of showing love to God by obeying His commandments. Your choice to either hate God or love Him brings the results of “curses” or blessing.
The Bible doesn’t talk about cursing families. It shows the consequences of the choices fathers make and teach their children. You teach your children whatever you live. You must realize that children watch their parents as the authorities in their lives.
You set the example for your children. You don’t always have to speak to them about your values and the way you live. Children are very observant of everything their parents and those around them are doing. And they will pick up what you are doing and become just like you.
There is a great song, “Cat’s in the Cradle” that shows how the son becomes like his father. Then at the end of his life when he wants to spend time with his son, the sun has no time because he is too busy for his family like the father was.
With every example in the Old and New Testaments and every biblical person we see this principle. Children pick up some of the sins of their fathers. Isaac lies about his wife (calling her his sister in dangerous situations) just as Abraham does with Sarah (Genesis 12:13; 26:7). David’s sin with Bathsheba as he lusted after her on his rooftop is repeated by his son who sleeps with his wives as he flees Jerusalem for his life (2 Samuel 11; 16:22).
As we have seen, God does not curse families and generations. But the results or consequences of sin extend through parental teaching and family environment to the next generation. Although I can offer examples throughout the Bible that go against the idea of generational curses I want to focus on a strong passage that proclaims the opposite.
Ezekiel 18 teaches that God deals with the individual person, not generations (Ezekiel 18:1-20). God doesn’t punish children for their father’s sins. Ezekiel 18:20 says this outright. Each person is responsible for his or her own sin.
No one can claim that someone else is at fault for their own sin. Each of us must stand before God here or at the judgment for the sins we commit. That’s why God’s grace and forgiveness is so amazing!
- Does God curse people, families, and generations?
I am disheartened when Christians talk about curses in their family line or genealogies. Is it true that families can have sinful characteristics or activities in the past? Absolutely. God’s grace and the salvation he affords us is greater than any curse of the past.
When I look at the Bible I don’t see a God who curses people. When God created Adam and Eve he blessed them with prosperity (Genesis 1:28-30). God gives us every good and perfect gift from heaven (James 1:17).
We have already dealt with the passages where God says he will visit iniquity to the third and fourth generation above. But what about in Genesis 3 where God brings the curse as the result of sin?
God speaks of the consequences of Adam and Eve’s choice to rebel against Him and sin (Genesis 3:14-19). But God does not say, “I curse you serpent, woman, or Adam.” All of the verbs that deal with the curse are passive. The curse comes as the result of sin, not God’s judgment through His cursing of creation.
The grammar and way that God talks about the curse are very important. God is not the agent of the cursing. The curse is the result of sin. Just as sin causes death it also causes the curse to come upon all of creation from animals (the serpent) to humans (Adam and Eve) even to the ground.
God does not curse anyone in the Bible. Even the blessings and curses found in Deuteronomy 28 are the result of Israel’s violation of or fidelity to God’s covenant with them. Curses in the Bible are the consequences and results of unfaithfulness and sin. They are not given by God. They are written into the sin and wrong choices of humanity.
Blessings from God are a result of His grace and our faithfulness to Him. These benefits of his blessings we enjoy when we live in right relationship with God and progress as we walk with Jesus. Our salvation affords us freedom from any curse we may have been under.
Paul teaches that Jesus became a curse for us, taking on the curse of the law when He died on the Cross (Galatians 3:13). His blood covers over all our sins and has the power to set us free. Jesus says that the person the Son sets free is free indeed (John 8:36).
Through salvation, you have been set free from everything in your past, and I mean everything. Jesus’ salvation is complete and far-reaching. If there was a generational curse in your past at any point, it is washed away by Jesus’ blood.
- How do generational strongholds affect me?
Since God does not curse people I prefer to call these generational strongholds, as my mentor, Pastor Marvin Nimitz, calls them. These may be fortified strongholds your family needs to deal with. But since you are a child of God you are not cursed, and no curse can stand against you.
However, everyone in your family, your friends, close relatives, and anyone else who lives in the same environment is still affected by generational strongholds. These are the people you live with, work with, have relationships with. So a generational stronghold will still affect you externally.
You will be in the same environment. You will still have relationships with these people and they may still talk the same way and do the same things you used to do. But this is the place where your light for Jesus can shine the most.
People will notice that you are no longer bound by these strongholds. They will be curious what has changed. It’s an open door to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with them. Now that you have been set free from these generational strongholds you can help others come to freedom through your testimony.
You show them a different way. Your lifestyle shows how Jesus has demolished generational strongholds from your life. You show them the path to freedom in Christ.
- How do I break a generational stronghold?
Once again, if you are a Christian know generational stronghold can stand against you. You have been freed by Jesus through salvation. The first step to breaking a generational stronghold starts with you. Decide the stronghold stops with you.
Stand under your salvation in Christ. Don’t allow anyone to speak these generational strongholds over you. Act as a child of God, countercultural in your behavior, and doing the opposite of your former nature. When people show you hate and anger, show them the love of Christ and His gentleness.
Next, walk in the repentance and forgiveness of God for anything you have done in the past connected with generational strongholds. Continue a life of repentance for any sin you may commit. Declare that you are blessed, free, healed, and whole. You receive everything God has for you.
The next step after repentance is recognition of the truth about your family (Leviticus 26:40-42). Look at the cycles in the past and refused to repeat them in your own family. Discipline yourself to not slip into these former behaviors.
As a Spiritual Soldier for Christ you have the ability to tear down every stronghold (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). You have weapons of spiritual warfare that can break down mental strongholds and everything that opposes Christ. Say with Joshua, “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).
Generational curses are footholds the enemy wanted to use against your family and you. But because of the blood of Jesus Christ and your salvation in Him generational curses cannot touch you. You are a free child of God.
You can deal with generational curses and strongholds by addressing them head-on and refusing to repeat the cycles of the past. Pray for your family and witness to them about Jesus and his life-changing transformation. Demonstrate it through your lifestyle. What else have you learned about generational strongholds?
Now that we have talked about territorial spirits and generational curses, covering the wide range of the enemies on the spiritual battlefield and some of their tactics we turn to look at the site we are on and see Jesus as our spiritual Victor and Leader in spiritual battles.