If you have been around Charismatic churches very long, you have probably heard of “generational curses.” This is a hot topic in emotional healing ministries. The concept is that alcoholism, drug addiction, lust, rage, and countless other bad things are connected to your parents sinful habits and perhaps your grandparents sinful habits or many generations back, as many as 400 hundred generations according to one popular teacher whose meeting I sat in years ago.
The Bible mentions these so-called “generational curses” in several places (Exodus 20:5; 34:7; Numbers 14:18; Deuteronomy 5:9). God warns that He is “a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me.”
According to another blogger:
“It sounds unfair for God to punish children for the sins of their fathers. However, there is more to it than that. The effects of sin are naturally passed down from one generation to the next. When a father has a sinful lifestyle, his children are likely to practice the same sinful lifestyle. Implied in the warning of Exodus 20:5 is the fact that the children will choose to repeat the sins of their fathers. A Jewish Targum specifies that this passage refers to “ungodly fathers” and “rebellious children.” So, it is not unjust for God to punish sin to the third or fourth generation – those generations are committing the same sins their ancestors did.”
What are we to think of Generational Curses and their impact on us in the New Covenant?
God changed the rules before the New Covenant even arrived!
“The word of the Lord came to me: “What do you people mean by quoting this proverb about the land of Israel: “‘The parents eat sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’? “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, you will no longer quote this proverb in Israel. For everyone belongs to me, the parent as well as the child—both alike belong to me. The one who sins is the one who will die.” - Ezekiel 18:1-4
According to this passage in the Old Testament, we find that God already began to relate to people individually and not based on their ancestry. This is before the shift from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant.
So here’s the thing.
Under the Old Covenant, God was the one sending a curse against a family line for 3-4 generations. But nowadays, when an inner healing minister sits down to pray with an individual that is a fourth generation alcoholic, I have never heard an inner healing minister say, “God is cursing you with alcoholism, and now we need to repent so that God will remove His curse and stop causing you to be an alcoholic.” (Option 1)
Instead, the minister typically says, “You have a generational curse and this propensity to be an alcoholic keeps coming back because of this curse, but God wants you free, so let’s repent and pray so you can be free.” (Option 2)
The truth is that option 1 is closer to the Old Testament truth. God is the one bringing a curse on someone to the third and fourth generation. Yet under the New Covenant, God is not bringing curses on anyone! So we need to stop calling this form of inner healing, “Generational curses” because we are lying to our counseling clients and ourselves.
We are not trying to remove a curse from God, like the Old Testament people were struggling under.
So why does it seem to work?
When a minister leads an individual in a prayer such as in option 2, there is an effect upon the individual. This is because the person is rejecting lies and coming into agreement with the truth. This isn’t because the secret magical words are sprinkling freedom dust on the client and releasing them from a generational curse that God visited upon them. Nope.
Coming into agreement with the truth and renouncing lies is powerful enough to set you free. But God isn’t cursing anyone nowadays, and nobody is under a generational curse visited upon them from God the Father as in the Old Testament.
How come family lines seem to have recurring sinful lifestyles or certain propensities?
What is actually happening is a demonic spirit, which attacks family lines, also known as a “familiar” spirit comes around again and again to bring temptations. Personally, I have never been tempted to do crack cocaine. To my knowledge, nobody in my family history has struggled with crack, so this isn’t the type of thing that a familiar spirit would try against me. A familiar spirit brings temptation that is familiar to you and your family line.
If an individual is struggling to get free in a particular area, they may have a family propensity toward that type of temptation, and a familiar spirit may be bringing the temptation. It would be best to deal with the root lies, break agreement the demonic spirit and come into agreement with the truth. But to keep using the “generational curse” language is inaccurate at best, and at its worst, accusing God of sending a curse upon a believer!