Generational Curses and God's Grace
Dr. Valson Abraham
Imagine yourself wading in the ocean on a warm day. Someone has warned you that the riptides are especially strong today, and it is not a good time to wade, but you ignore the warning.
A sudden wave picks you up and carries you out to sea. The ocean current is too strong for you, and you find yourself helpless, facing certain death. Unexpectedly, you find a rescuer at your side who tells you, “Just relax. Don’t struggle, and I will take you to the shore. Everything will be all right as long as you relax and trust me.”
Against all odds, your rescuer overcomes the strong current, and in a few minutes, you find your feet touch the sand. Safe again!
When you find words to speak, you thank your rescuer profusely for his kindness, and then you ask him, “How much do I owe you?”
Do you find something wrong with this story? Of course, a good lifeguard does not expect to receive payment and profit for saving a life but does it because it is the right thing to do.
In the realm of spiritual rescue, we too often make exceptions to this basic principle. For some reason, in spiritual matters, we expect to pay others for saving us. Too often, our so-called rescuer may even try to make a profit and benefit from our misfortune.
Frequently this happens in the matter of generational curses.
In India, it often happens that people will go to a priest and ask him to invoke a spirit and cast a curse on some hated individual and his family. Later, when the victims of that curse seek relief from the curse, they may feel they must go to a spiritual counselor, a specialist in generational curses, and pay a large sum of money to break the curse. Such spiritual specialists can become enormously wealthy delivering people from curses, profiting from the misfortunes of others.
Isaac Makashinyi, an African pastor and educator, also lives in a country where generational curses are common. He sees still another aspect to generational curses. He defines a generational curse as “the cumulative effect on a person of things that their ancestors did, believed or practiced in the past, and a consequence of an ancestor’s actions, beliefs and sins being passed down.”
What does the Bible tell us about generational curses, our rescue from them and the price we must pay for our rescue?
There are a number of passages in the Bible that seem to support the idea of generational curses. A common verse often cited is Exodus 20:5. This verse tells us that God’s wrath is visited to the third and fourth generation of those who hate God.
Too often, however, this passage is isolated from its full context. The passage goes on in verse 6 to tell us that God’s mercy is visited upon thousands of generations of those who love God. Notice the contrast-three or four generations of wrath, but thousands of generations of mercy. The purpose of this entire passage in its context is not to communicate a specific number of generations He will bless and curse but to contrast the greatness of God’s mercy with His wrath.
We should note that the term “generational curse” appears nowhere in the Bible. That gives another clue about how the God of the Bible regards generational curses. Indeed, in Deuteronomy 24:16, we are told, “Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. Each shall be put to death for his own sin.”
This tells us that so-called generational curses do not come from God, but from our own sinful human nature. Sin is the result of our distrust of God, our alienation from God, whom we regard as distant and unknowable. Any time we think this way about God, we shut out the light of the true and living God. Spirits of darkness take over, replacing God’s truth with lies, causing us to wander into traps of our own making, leading to all kinds of slavery.
This sinful nature is learned by example and influence by one generation after another. For example, when a father or mother adopts a dark view of life and the world, it can result in lifestyles of alcohol or drug addiction, divorce, gambling, incest, violence or sexual promiscuity, and it is likely the children will pick it up.
Our first ancestor, Adam, alienated himself from God, and through him, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Through our first ancestor, we all face the prospect of a generational curse, not from God but of our own doing as a result of cutting
ourselves off from God, our source of light and truth.
Again, generational curses do not come from God. They are a human-made form of captivity, of blindness and oppression in which many generations may suffer from the bad example of parents, grandparents and earlier ancestors who went before us. Once we create these forms of captivity, we lose control over them. We curse ourselves. The power of this self-made curse causes many to believe that they are victims of fate, bad karma--an unbreakable curse.
This is why Jesus came into the world: to break the curse we cannot break ourselves, to rescue us from currents that are too strong for us to resist in our own power. Jesus Christ tells us that “He [God] has sent me to preach the gospel to the poor, He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18)
Paul the apostle writes, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13). He became the curse through His death on the cross. He broke the curse when He rose from the grave.
Paul also tells us that Jesus Christ is the Second Adam who frees us from the curse. “Just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so the result of the one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men” (Romans 5:18).
Through His cross and resurrection, Jesus Christ has broken the power of every curse. This includes the generational curse. It doesn’t matter if the generational curse comes from our parents and ancestors, or if it comes through an evil spirit. He has become our Rescuer from every curse. His rescue does not come with a price but it comes free for all those who trust Him.
For His rescue to have its intended effect, we must not resist but submit to Him as our Rescuer (James 4:7). We must recognize the influence that our forebears have had upon us. We must not merely see ourselves as victims of our past, but we must also take responsibility for following those things that are not good and true.
We must stop blaming others and see where we have perpetuated the destructive cycle. We must confess all these things before God. We must acknowledge before God that in Christ, He broke our curse and set us free to live in faith that He will transform our lives and move us in new and life-giving directions.
In Christ, we no longer must live in bondage to generational curses. We no longer must live as victims of the past. Let us put these things behind us and enter a new way of life that is already ours through Jesus Christ and the cross. Let us renew our minds with this truth (Romans 12:2).
The best news is that all of this is a free gift. The unpayable price has been paid by God through Christ. Let us all live in His grace and experience the blessings of His freedom. And let us proclaim it to all of India.
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Father God, thank you for sending your Son, Jesus Christ, to deliver me from every curse including the generational curse. Thank you for this free gift. Help me to live my life in the light of this truth, and help me to make it known through all of India. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.