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Generational Curses

Generational Curses



Recently someone sent me a letter about generational curses.  They believed the sin they were caught up in was because of the sin of their parents. They believed that placing their faith in Christ was not enough to set them free. This is unbiblical and unsound.


There are a few verses in the Old Testament mention God cursing generations. They are Exodus 20:5; Numbers 14:8; and Deuteronomy 5:9. In each case, however, it never talks about a generational curse. It talks about the character of God and His expectations of His people. For example, in Exodus 20:5b says “I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and fourth generations of those who hate me’

  This verse shows how horrible it is to God when we worship something other than Him. This is not just another religion, or some statue, but it is anything that gets in the way with your relationship to God. He wants to be first in your life. He does not want to come second or third after your family, or your activities and other pursuits. God had a covenant with Israel. He was to be first in their lives. However, look what God says about those who love Him in the next verse. He says in verse 6 “but showing loving kindness to thousands, to those who love me and keep My commandments”. This verse is a contrast to verse 5. When taken together, the verses show the greatness of God. What He actually says is that He will punish the generations of people WHO HATE HIM, but that He will bless the people who love Him. This is not a generational curse. It is the direct result of a person’s choice to love or hate God. God does not punish innocent people. If He did, He would not be the God who would also go to the Cross-to atone for all sin.


When we take Exodus 20:5-6 together, we see that in context God is not talking about generational curses, but rather idolatry and unfaithfulness to Him. This is clear in Ezekiel 18:2, where God actually says


“What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, The fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children’s teeth are set on edge?” (2) “As I live declares the Lord God, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel.(3)” “Behold, all soul are mine:  the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die”(4)


In the rest of the chapter, God goes on to say, that if a man is faithful to God and keeps His rules, then he shall live. This verse denies generational curses. Therefore, if we choose to believe in generational curses, we choose to defy God. That is not a good position to take.


The other examples are the same. Each of them show the goodness of God to those people who love Him back. God is calling for loyalty and love, not stern punishment.  The point is not to blame sons for their fathers’ sin. It is for fathers not to teach their children to hate God by not honoring God, and keeping their covenant with God. This was the Old Covenant with Israel.


The second problem with the idea of generational curses is that it denies the sufficiency of Christ for the atonement of sin, as well as denying the New Covenant of Grace.  This was a problem for a few of the early churches.  Paul wrote much about the sufficiency of Christ in 2Corinthians, Galatians, and Colossians. Let us take a look.


When Christ came to fulfill the Old Covenant of Works, and to bring in the New Covenant of Grace, believers were still credited righteousness because of their faith and not by their works (Ephesians 2:8-9). The author of the book of Hebrews tells us that this was the same way that Israel was granted righteousness as well. In chapter 11, the faith chapter, we see example after example of this. God expects His people to be faithful. There is a difference between the Old and the New and that difference is Jesus.


Before Jesus came, Israel showed their righteousness by honoring the covenant they had with God until the Messiah came. They had rules to follow that showed God that they cared. When Christ came, however, He fulfilled that covenant. He told the people in the synagogue that He was here to proclaim the year of Jubilee. Jesus had come to bring in the Kingdom of God, where the rules would change. Now the covenant was open to all nations just as God had promised Abraham. Anyone who would believe in Messiah (Jesus) would be able to enjoy a covenanted relationship with God. It is by faith, not by works.


This presents a problem for those who would believe in generational curses. Generational curses are based on works. One has to “be good” to get blessing. God’s covenant, however, is based not on works, but on a loving relationship; it had always been that way.


Paul addressed this in 2Corinthians 5:17-21. He tells us that when we accept Christ, we are a new creation, and the old is gone. That would include generational curses. To say that generational curses exist says that God is a liar.


Colossians 2 says that we are already complete in Christ. To believe in generational curses says this is not true. In Galatians 3, Paul tells us to remember the freedom we have in Christ. This idea also contradicts the idea of generational curses. It says that Jesus is not enough to take away sin.


We have seen that the idea of generational curses is not biblical. It is an idea that, taken out of context, focuses on man. It gives some people a way to justify their sin and it denies the good character of God and denies the power of Jesus Christ.


I would encourage you to study the following verses. Pray, ask God to show you the way.


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A Biblical Counselor’s Prayer

A Biblical Counselor’s Prayer


As a Biblical Counselor, I talk to many people in search of discipleship and advice on living life as a Christian. I draw the answers to my counselees’ questions from Scripture because the Bible speaks to every human condition of the heart.


 You might ask how I can say that a book written by old dead white men can answer the complex problems of life today, because biblical writers had no clue about technology, or modern concepts. They had no concept of the complexity of life in this century.


I would grant you that those people did not have technology, nor did they have all the complex relationships that we have today. However, I would take issue with the fact that technology and complex relationships are irrelevant when it comes to the motivation of the human heart. The ways people respond to the stress of their lives are not all that complex. The complexity is an effect not a cause. The Biblical writers struggled with the same issues of humanity that we all face today. There is nothing new in that regard; and it is to those issues that the Bible speaks. It is a transcultural document. (Ecclesiastes 3)


Paul was a Biblical Counselor. He received many questions from various churches seeking his advice on how to live a godly life in a hostile environment. Even then, Christianity was unpopular. Let us take Colossae for example.


In Colossae, the believers heard a teaching, which doubted the sufficiency of Christ for salvation. Some believers feared pagan deities that claimed to have power to disqualify believers from life with their God. They feared the loss of their salvation.


Paul wrote to them to show that the one true God secured their salvation and that no one could usurp His will. The seal God placed on their souls marked them with His ownership.


In verses 9-12 of Chapter 1, Paul tells them that he has been praying a great prayer for them that would equip them with everything they need. This powerful prayer, says Charles Stanley (of the First Baptist Church of Atlanta Georgia in the U.S), is the best you can pray for anyone. It calls on the power of God to equip a person with His very wisdom and discernment so that they can know and act on God’s will for their lives. In verses 13-25, Paul tells them exactly what power is behind the answer to that prayer and how they can be certain that Christ is sufficient for them.


A Biblical Counselor hears this problem many times and in many ways. Counselees often think that Christ is not sufficient for their lives. They also think that the deities of their world are able to overcome Christ. In that regard, nothing has changed except the deities of scientism, materialism, and technology. These deities are no more powerful than the ones of old; they just have new names. The fears of the Colossians are the same as the fears of 21st century people. Fear is transcultural, fear is common to humanity (1Cor. 10:13).


In counseling them, I encourage my counselees to pray this prayer not just with me in their sessions, but also to pray it at home. Christianity is a lifestyle not an activity. It must be lived on a day-to-day basis. The Colossians prayer is a good way to enable the Christian life.


The verse asks to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will with all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of His call on their lives, and to have fruit in their lives that shows a growing and intimate relationship with Him.


This very powerful prayer can be the mechanism that heals people from their problems. It is a unique prayer I pray for each of my counselees. As a Biblical Counselor, it is the best prayer I can pray.

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A Day in the Life– questions/study

Bible Study Colossians 3


Sometimes we humans do pretty silly tricks in an attempt to earn God’s favor.  We think if we are “holy” (meaning sinless or trying to be) we are mature Christians. That is not the case according to this passage.  This letter, written to the Colossians, indicated their wrong idea of how to live the Christian life.  They were worshipping angels and practicing asceticism or harming their bodies.  Paul corrected them by saying that the true Christian life is living out the reality of the understanding of one’s death and resurrection with Christ. It is not about getting God’s attention; we have that. It is about being the ambassador of the message, method and character of the King. We are to do what He would do in order to win others to Him. The Colossians practice did the opposite. Their life looked weird, not wonderful. Christian maturity is not magic, and it takes a lifetime for God to perfect us. The Christian life is walking day to day, putting off what is idolatrous and putting on Christ.


Read Colossians 3


  1. In verse 2, what are the “things above” that Paul is talking about? How do they relate to verses 12-17?
  2. List the items given in verses 12-17 on the left side of a piece of paper.
  3. What are the “things below” that Paul says to put to death in verses 5-10?
  4. List them on the right side of the same paper.
  5. Match the words on the left (things above) with their opposites on the right (things below).
  6. How did the Colossians miss the point of Paul’s message?
  7. Are you missing the point? How?
  8. What can you do differently?
  9. Ask God to show you those things in your daily life this week.
  10. Ask Him to help you change.










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