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Under the New Covenant, there is no such thing as a generational curse. God does not punish children for the sins of their fathers. Even under the Old Covenant, when God did threaten to use generational curses, you’ll find that they never worked out in the way Satan tries to tell you.
Today in the Church, there are many false shepherds running around trying to hype you up on fear. False shepherds serve Satan, and Satan is a master at using Bible verses to make you feel condemned, burdened, and anxious. It’s easy to be fooled by these snakes if you don’t understand some basic truths about God. One of the most critical things you need to understand is the effect God’s illumination will have on your soul. When the Holy Spirit teaches you some new bit of truth, you will feel inspired, excited, and wowed in a positive way. You will feel closer to God. You won’t feel terrified, anxious and rejected by God. Any message which leaves you feeling insecure and worried about how God feels towards you is total rot. When God has a problem with you, He will communicate it to you in a very clear way. But God doesn’t just go around picking on you—that’s the trademark of demons. When God points out a problem, He also shows you what to do about it. Sometimes His solution is an action, other times it’s an attitude.
Suppose you’re an alcoholic. When Satan points this out to you, he harps on what a loser you are. You end up feeling like an embarrassed, hopeless failure who God is disgusted with. Demons always try to make you feel unwanted and disliked by God. Whenever possible, they will try to make you believe there is friction between you and God. But when God talks to you, His Voice has the opposite effect: He makes you feel like there is hope in your future and He always shows you how you can get in a good place with Him right now. When God talks to you about your addiction to alcohol, He might say something like: “You can’t beat this on your own and right now I’m not giving you the resources to beat it. Trust that I’ve brought this trial into your life for a good reason and ask Me to help you learn everything I want to teach you through this.” By aligning with God’s will and viewing your addiction as the spiritual teaching tool that it is, you end up in a good place with Him. Your focus moves off of yourself and onto God’s power, wisdom, and timing. You end up embracing your dependency on Him, and this is something that will greatly strengthen your soul bond with Him. Even though God isn’t coming up with an instant cure, you are in a very good position to mature in the faith.
Now Satan has solutions to your problems as well, but his are impossible. “Just stop drinking.” Right. And where are you supposed to find the resources to do this with? Satan will say: “You’re a Christian aren’t you? Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit, so let’s see you apply what God has already given you.” Satan is a master at turning the tables and making you feel like the jerk who is refusing to do some extremely simple task that God has put in front of you, therefore God is justified in being disgusted with you. But all of this is a lie, of course, and any message which leaves you feeling like a hopeless failure is coming from demons.
But why stop with your current flaws and problems? Satan would love you to believe that God has hated you since the moment you were born. Generational curses are essentially Divine grudges. Satan wants you to believe that God is an unfair Ogre who is making you pay for crimes you didn’t commit. To hear Satan tell it, chronic depression is a generational curse. God has some lingering beef with your family and that’s why all the women struggle with depression. To break free of the curse, you need to do some repenting for other people’s sins, you need to verbally disassociate yourself from your rebellious ancestors, and then God will get over His huff. This is absolute hogwash.
But wait a minute—hasn’t God done this sort of thing before? In the Old Testament, don’t we find Him nailing innocent people for the sins of their fathers? Satan says yes, but in reality the answer is no. Though God talks about cursing whole generations of people, the only generations He turns against are truly rebellious.
Because we’re taught to just believe whatever some authoritative voice tells us, we close our minds to the illumination of the Holy Spirit and we end up believing all sorts of lies about what the Bible actually says. To break out of this cycle, you need to start with some key truths:
- You are not a lesser Christian in God’s eyes. You have just as much potential as anyone else to learn and grow in His truth.
- You are not some half-wit just because you never attended seminary.
- Having a degree in biblical studies doesn’t guarantee that someone isn’t a spiritual moron.
- Human degrees and certificates are utterly meaningless, for they only represent human approval.
- When it comes to spiritual knowledge, the approval of humans is irrelevant.
- Knowledge comes from God, and He doesn’t hand out little pieces of paper that we can wave in each other’s faces.
- You can easily surpass the “wisdom” of the most famous names in the Church if you submit to the teaching of the Holy Spirit.
- If you want to understand what the Bible says, you need to be willing to throw out everything you’ve learned and start over with the Holy Spirit as your only Guide. You also need to stop trying to find other people who agree with what the Holy Spirit is telling you before you will believe Him. God knows the truth. Everyone else is just guessing.
Now then, you will find many blabbermouths in the Church today going on and on about generational curses. They will depict God as having a long history of trashing innocent people for sins they never committed. And why exactly does God get off on doing this? Well, apparently He enjoys being unjust—there is no other explanation. But those who promote generational curses will avoid admitting what their teaching implies about God’s Character. Instead, they’ll just pump you full of a bunch of useless incantations you can use to try and lift the curse. Utter rot.
So what was going on with the generational curses in the Bible? Let’s look at some examples. One of the most famous instances is found in Numbers 13-14 (see The Last Straw). This is when the wandering nation of Israel finally reaches the border of God’s Promised Land. Twelve spies are sent to check out the territory. Ten come back with a bunch of horror stories about impregnable fortresses and giant natives. Bottom line: “God sucks. He’s led us to a land that we can never hope to possess because the natives are too strong for us.” Only two of the spies—Joshua and Caleb—express confidence in God’s abilities. After all, Yahweh has promised to give this land to His people. Obviously He already knew all about the defenses that the natives had. Is God stronger than stone walls and spears? Of course He is.
After hearing the spies’ conflicting reports, the whole mob of Israelites decide to side with the ten spies who are insulting God’s Character and abilities. As for Joshua and Caleb—they are almost stoned to death. By all means, let’s murder any glimmer of faith and reverence in our midst. Nice attitude.
Yahweh said to Moses, “How long will these people treat Me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in Me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them?” (Num. 14:11)
God is ticked. He declares that the whole mob is going to have to wander in the desert for forty years while He kills off everyone who is 21 and older. Sound extreme? Well, it’s not, because everyone in that age bracket is guilty of defying God. The only exceptions to this rule are Joshua and Caleb—the two faithful spies. Guess what? God makes these men exempt from His curse. They’ll be the only ones in the cursed age bracket to not die in the wilderness. In fact Joshua will succeed Moses as Israel’s next leader and he’ll go charging into the Promised Land with miraculous vigor despite his old age. Is God fair? Yes, He is. But now let’s look at what God says to the general mob of rebels:
“Your children will be shepherds here for forty years, suffering for your unfaithfulness, until the last of your bodies lies in the wilderness. For forty years—one year for each of the forty days you explored the land—you will suffer for your sins and know what it is like to have Me against you.” (Num. 14:33-34)
This sounds unfair, doesn’t it? And yet let’s not be so hasty to judge. We’ll soon learn that these children we’re tempted to feel sorry for are just as irreverent as their parents. These children will grow into adults who the elderly-yet-spry Joshua will lead into the Promised Land. At the end of the book of Joshua, we’ll learn that these adults are worshiping other gods besides Yahweh even after Yahweh gave them many victories in battle. When we get into the book of Judges, we’ll discover that these adults will still be defying God, and they’ll teach their children and grandchildren to do the same.
The entire Old Testament reveals that generation after generation in Israel embraces a heart attitude of hatred towards Yahweh. Certainly there are exceptions, but those exceptions are rare. So whenever we find Yahweh cursing groups of people in the Bible, we find Him justly punishing people who are already defying Him. We don’t find Him stomping on souls who might revere Him. Instead, whenever a faithful soul can be found, we find God gladly suspending curses. During the fall of Jerusalem, Yahweh declared that there wasn’t a single righteous person within the city, and He also ordered His prophet Jeremiah not to pray on behalf of the people because He was too disgusted to be merciful. He called the generation cursed and swore that He would punish them all for their sins. Yet when one faithful man came to Jeremiah’s rescue, Yahweh spoke with favor towards that man and promised him special protection. So much for an unfair God. (see Saving Jeremiah: The Story of Ebed-Melek).
In general, all of the Jews that God drove off into exile were a bunch of irreverent brats. But whenever good ones were found among them—such as Daniel, Ezekiel, Esther, Nehemiah, and Shadrach—we see God drawing near to those individuals and rewarding their desire to please Him. God is fair. Generational curses have never been what people today make them out to be: God heartlessly plaguing the innocent with trials they don’t deserve. But we’re not the first ones to accuse God of doing this. The ancient Jews accused Him of doing it as well, and in Ezekiel 18, we find Yahweh confronting those who are accusing Him of being unfair by punishing children for the sins of their fathers:
(Yahweh speaking) “What do you mean by using this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, ‘The fathers eat the sour grapes, but the children’s teeth are set on edge’?
As I live,” declares the Lord Yahweh, “you are surely not going to use this proverb in Israel anymore. Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins will die.” (Eze. 18:1-4)
Yahweh then goes on to cover every possible example: a wicked father with a good son; a good father with a wicked son; a wicked man who turns from evil, and a good man who turns wicked. In every case, He says that each soul will be judged solely by his own choices—not by the choices of his relatives.
The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself. (Eze. 18:20)
Now this is Yahweh explaining how He operates under the Old Covenant—the Covenant in which He talks about generational cursing. It’s very important that we soak in what He’s saying about Himself here, because He is shooting down our theory that He punishes innocent people for the sins of others. According to Him, this is never His motivation for bringing trials into people’s lives.
The Old Testament prophetic books are a wealth of useful information about how God operates. In Jeremiah 31, Yahweh is looking ahead to the New Covenant He is going to establish (the Covenant that we are currently living under) and He says:
“I will put My law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know Yahweh,’ because they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares Yahweh. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Jer. 31:33-34)
This is a really neat description of what is happening to us today. With the Holy Spirit dwelling inside us, we experience direct conviction from God. We don’t have to rely on people to guide us in truth, because God Himself is guiding us. As handy as the Bible is, under this Covenant, we don’t need a written document to understand what God requires of us for He directly convicts us of what He wants—this is what He means when He speaks of writing His law on our hearts. He’s referring to the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
Now notice the bit about God forgiving our wickedness and not remembering our sins. Does this sound like a grudge-holding God to you? No. By His own words, Yahweh teaches us to reject the notion that He has ever or will ever punish people for sins they did not commit. We are each judged separately before God, and He never beats on us for sins we didn’t commit.
Alright, so if all of this is true, how should you interpret the fact that all the women in your family get breast cancer or that all the men are alcoholics? You should view it not as some generational curse, but as God using similar trials in individual lives for different purposes. Every trial that God brings into our lives is an opportunity to grow closer to Him. He carefully chooses our families of origin. Maybe He chose an abusive father for you and growing up with him was no picnic. As an adult, you might have a lot of emotional and psychological scarring because of the environment you grew up in. But if you listen to these teachers in the Church who try and tell you God is cursing you for the sins of some other relative, you’re only going to be led astray. The fact that God has brought pain into your life does not mean He is angry with you, or that He’s lumped you in with some group of souls that He hates. God sees you as a unique individual who is on a unique journey with Him. It doesn’t matter how similar your life path is to someone else’s—that someone else is not you, nor do they control your future with God. You need to look at your life as the unique story that it is and ask God to make you all that He wants you to be. Trials should be viewed as opportunities to grow closer to God. When God is upset with you, He will clearly tell you, so you don’t have to go reading His anger into every situation.
As a Christian, you need to stay focused on the fact that God loves you very much and that He wants you to succeed with Him. He is not throwing stumbling blocks into your path and then leaving you to figure out the magic formula for making Him take them away. Don’t listen to these idiots who are trying to freak you out about generational curses. It doesn’t matter how many people in your family fell into the same temptations or came down with the same diseases. You are your own story with God. Your parents choices don’t determine your future. Other people do not get to control your spiritual destiny for you, and you can’t control theirs, so don’t waste your breath trying to repent for the sins of others. Each soul is accountable to God for themselves. You can’t get your rebellious father into a right relationship with God by trying to confess his sins for him. It doesn’t work that way. Your father will answer for his own decisions and you’ll answer for yours. Stay focused on your own walk instead of looking around at what everyone else is doing.
Suppose you come down with a headache. You get on the internet and start looking up possible causes. Some will say it’s just stress, others will say it’s an allergic response, and others will tell you that you have a brain tumor. Why all the disagreement? Because the number of possible diseases far outweighs the number of symptoms the body can come up with. This means we see a lot of overlap in symptoms, and this makes things hard to diagnose. Are you itching because you got bit by a bug, because you ate something you’re allergic to, because you put too much soap in your laundry, or because you touched poison ivy? This is why we came up with medical schools—it’s complicated trying to sort this mess out. Well, when you look around at the lives of other Christians, you’re going to end up doing a whole lot of misdiagnosing. Maybe you know your friend is rebelling against God and she comes down with cancer. You figure the cancer is a punishment. Then suddenly you come down with cancer. So is God mad at you as well? Not necessarily. Similar trials do not indicate similar motivations or similar agendas. You can’t get anywhere just looking at trials—you have to dig deeper and seek God’s guidance on a soul level. The only life you can do this with is your own. God isn’t going to tell you all about what He’s doing with your husband, kids, or friends, because it’s none of your business. You don’t need to understand why God is putting your friend through hell—you just need to know that you are in alignment with Him in your own life.
God is extremely easy to please, but some of the souls who are thrilling Him the most in this world look on the outside like He considers them His enemies because of all the suffering He is inflicting upon them. When we spread these lies that all trials are a form of discipline or all disease is a sign of cursing, we are being mouthpieces for Satan. God was very pleased with both Elijah and Daniel, yet one man wandered about in poverty while the other was surrounded by wealth and admirers. Ezekiel was hauled off with a bunch of people God was truly angry with, yet God was very pleased with Ezekiel. Ezekiel was dirt poor and living as a low class slave in a land of pagans. Compared to rich and gifted Solomon, Ezekiel looked like a cursed reject, yet in reality God was disgusted with Solomon and quite pleased with Ezekiel. You can’t look at circumstances and properly diagnose what God is up to so don’t even try. Focus on your own walk and recognize that when God brings trials into your life, it is because He wants to draw you closer to Him, not because He wants to punish you for the sins someone else committed.
God & Ethnicity: Understanding Cultural Bans in the Bible
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