Q: #296. What are generational curses?
A: It is generally taught that a “Generational Curse” is a negative behavior or sin that is inherited or passed down from one generation to the next. This can involve almost anything: alcoholism, drug addiction, sexual sin, abuse, divorce, etc…. Some radical teachers will go even farther to include non-sinful things to this list such as: obesity, heart disease, cancer, mental illness, bad eyesight, poverty, or any kind of sickness. In short, if you have ANY negative behavior (or thing) in your life, and a member of a previous generation in your family also had it, it is a “curse” that was passed on to you by them.
Once this “curse” is identified, it must be broken, and you must be delivered. It is almost always taught that “demon possession” is involved with these curses. In addition, there is usually believed to be a specific “demon” for each of these negative behaviors. For example, an “alcoholic demon,” a “sex demon,” an “abuse demon,” etc… These demons must be “cast out” in order for you to get free (or delivered). There are even “deliverance ministries” that can help “deliver” you from these “demons” or “curses.”
This “deliverance” is often done through prayer (many times with other family members as well). You are to pray such things as: confessing your ancestors sins, asking forgiveness for them, and repenting of them, taking authority over the curse (in Jesus’ name), ” binding” Satan and demons from your life, cancelling the curse, loosing forth healing, etc… If other people are involved in “delivering” you, they will almost always “lay hands” on you and speak to the demon, ordering it to leave (in Jesus’ name).
From a Biblical standpoint, the “generational curse” teaching has a great number of problems. First, and foremost, placing the blame for our sins and problems on a previous generation is quite simply a way for a person to not take responsibility for his own actions. It makes others responsible. In fact, this is pretty much what modern psychology teaches today. Find out what happened in a troubled person’s past, and then his behavior can be blamed on that. In contrast, what the Bible teaches is that we accept blame for our own actions in spite of the past. One day we will all stand before God to give an account for what WE did, and we won’t be able to blame it on someone else. This leads to my second point.
Secondly, the Bible makes it VERY clear that God holds each person responsible and accountable for his own sins (i.e. a child is not responsible for the sins of his father). Here are the best verses showing this:
(I suggest reading all Ezekiel 18, but I will focus on 7 verses here.)
(Ezek 18:14-20) Now, lo, if he beget a son, that seeth all his father’s sins which he hath done, and considereth, and doeth not such like, (15) That hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, hath not defiled his neighbour’s wife, (16) Neither hath oppressed any, hath not withholden the pledge, neither hath spoiled by violence, but hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment, (17) That hath taken off his hand from the poor, that hath not received usury nor increase, hath executed my judgments, hath walked in my statutes; he shall not die for the iniquity of his father, he shall surely live. (18) As for his father, because he cruelly oppressed, spoiled his brother by violence, and did that which is not good among his people, lo, even he shall die in his iniquity. (19) Yet say ye, Why? doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father? When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all my statutes, and hath done them, he shall surely live. (20) The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.
(Deut 24:16) The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.
(Also see: 2 Kin 14:6, 2 Chr 25:4, Jer 31:29-30)
We also have examples in the Bible of God not holding the next generation responsible for the sins of the previous generation. In fact, He blessed them, even though their fathers were evil.
For example, we can look at Numbers ch. 14. In this chapter, the Israelites are shown to complain against Moses and Aaron and show contempt for God. God had brought them to the Promised Land, but they were afraid to drive out the Amalekites and Canaanites who possessed the land, because they didn’t trust God to deliver the enemy into their hands. By showing contempt for God and failing to trust in Him, God would not allow those who showed contempt to enter the Promised Land. However, God did not punish the next generation (those under 20 years of age) or Joshua and Caleb who had trusted in the Lord to deliver those people into their hands. After 40 years, they were allowed into the Promised Land.
For another example, we can look at some of the kings of Judah. If we look at the list of kings who ruled Judah, we can find both good and bad kings. In 4 different places, we can see that there were kings that God blessed and who He said did right in His eyes, but they had fathers who did evil in the Lord’s sight. For example:
Evil dad Ahaz (2 Kin 16:1-3) Good son Hezekiah (2 Kin 18:1-3)
Evil dad Amon (2 Kin 21:19-20) Good son Josiah (2 Kin 21:26 – 2 Kin 22:1-2)
These good kings loved and served the Lord despite having evil fathers before them. God did not punish them for the evil acts of their fathers with a curse, but instead, He honored them.
Thirdly, there is not ONE place in the Bible that shows Satan or demons can “curse” anyone! Only GOD can do this, and is shown to do so a number of times (Gen 3:14)(Gen 4:11)(Deut 11:26-28)(Deut 27:15-26)(Deut 28:20)(Prov 3:33)(Jer 11:3)(Jer 17:5-7)(Mal 1:14) (Mal 2:2)(Mal 3:9)(Mal 4:6).
Fourthly, while neither Satan nor demons can “curse” people, they CAN “possess” people. However, they absolutely CANNOT possess a Christian. I go into the Bible proofs for this here. (If a non-Christian is possessed, the Bible does show that that demon [or demons] can be cast out through the power of Jesus.)
*** In addition, I do not believe that there are “specific demons” for each problem (i.e. alcoholic demon, poverty demon, etc…), but this is up for debate.
Fifthly, there is absolutely no Biblical evidence that demons can be “transferred” from one generation to the next.
Sixthly, God is NEVER shown to “curse” anyone who loves Him, regardless of what a previous ancestor has done. Two verses are often used by those who teach about “generational curses” to prove their point.
(Ex 20:5-6) thou shalt not bow thyself to 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; (6) and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. (Also see: Deut 5:9)
(Ex 34:7) keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.
(Also see: Num 14:18, Jer 32:18)
However, notice in (Ex 20:5) who God says He will “visit iniquity” upon (or curse): “the third and fourth generation of them that HATE me!” (Ex 20:6) continues that God will “show mercy unto thousands of those who LOVE me (Him).” In several translations, it says that God shows mercy unto a thousand “generations” of those who LOVE Him. The KJV says this in a later verse:
(Deut 7:9-10) Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that LOVE HIM and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; (10) and repayeth them that HATE HIM to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay to his face. (Caps emphasis mine)
OK, having said all of this, I do need to make this point. The sins that we that we commit, and the bad choices that we make in our lives CAN affect future generations. The next generation can be “cursed” with the consequences of our actions. For example, if parents commit their lives to Jesus and love the Lord, their children will likely do so as well. Those children will in turn have the joy, peace, blessings, etc… that come with a relationship with the Lord. On the other hand, if the parents reject Jesus, their children are far more likely to reject Him as well, and will be “cursed” as a result.
Our children can be “cursed” if we choose to divorce or become alcoholics, drug addicts, sex addicts, abusers, etc… They can, and will, suffer any number of problems from these choices we make. They will be far more likely to make these same bad choices in the future, and they may make other bad choices as well to deal with the pain. Then, in turn, these “curses” will almost certainly be passed on again to the next generation. And, the cycle goes on and on….
*** This is an explanation for verses like: (Lam 5:7)(Jer 31:29)(Ezek 18:2), which those who believe in “generational curses” also use to make their point sometimes.
HOWEVER, the good news is that ANY “curse” can be broken when a person surrenders their life to Jesus Christ and loves God with all of their heart. We must keep in mind that all “curse” in life is ultimately the result of sin and failing to follow God’s law (Gal 3:10). But, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us” (Gal 3:13). In Christ, the penalty of our sins is paid for AND we can be set free from ANY sin! The curse from God that comes upon the generations that hate Him is broken. The “curse” that comes about as the result of ancestors hurtful actions towards us can be overcome. There can no longer be the “curse” of demons living inside of you and controlling you, because GOD lives inside of you in the form of the Holy Spirit! And, best of all, the Bible says that one day, when all believers are with the Lord in the New Jerusalem, “there shall be no more curse” ever again (Rev 22:3)!
(Ps 103:17-18) But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, And his righteousness unto children’s children; (18) To such as keep his covenant, And to those who remember his commandments to do them.
*** Note: I should add here that we are all born with certain negative genetic traits that are passed on from previous generations. These can be both physical and mental traits. Physically, if our parents are overweight, we may struggle with that. If they have bad eyesight, we may also. If they have heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc… we may be more likely to face those problems. Mentally, if our parents struggle with depression or different kinds of mental problems, we may as well. HOWEVER, it is terribly destructive and unbiblical to tell someone who faces these things (Don’t all of us face at least one?) that they are “cursed” or have a “demon that must be cast out.” I truly believe those who mislead people in this way will face the wrath of God themselves.