Generational Curses and Generational Sin

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Do we need to be concerned about generational curses and generational sin in the New Covenant? I’ve read plenty of books that say you do, and I’ve read other books that say you don’t. Both sides use the Bible to back up their perspective.

But today, I want to offer you a balanced perspective that may help bring some clarity, and perhaps healing into your life.

I received an e-mail last week from a man named Mark who asked a series of questions. I felt one of them would be a great topic to share here. Mark wrote:

What is your take on inner healing ministries that set people free from generational curses and blood lines?

While there is solid biblical grounds for what these ministers do, I feel some of them go about it the wrong way. All of them tend to base their premise on God’s own statement that He visits the sins of the fathers to the third and fourth generations (See Exodus 20:5; Exodus 34:7; Numbers 14:18; and Deuteronomy 5:9). This much is true.

Those who are not under grace (through Christ) are under the law, and so this principle affects their lives. The Law still applies because Jesus didn’t abolish the Law when He came (See Matthew 5:17-20).

Generational sin typically shows up when a person says something like, “My grandpa was an alcoholic, my dad was an alcoholic, and I’m an alcoholic. It’s just in my blood.”

True deliverance is available in the atonement (which is a fancy word referring to the price Jesus paid in His death and ultimately the victory He procured in His resurrection). In prophesying about the Messiah, Jeremiah said:

“In those days people will no longer say, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’ Instead, everyone will die for his own sin; whoever eats sour grapes–his own teeth will be set on edge. ‘The time is coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah” (Jeremiah 31:29-31, NIV, emphasis mine).

In other words, the New Covenant sets us free from family history.

Jesus is the perfect example. Matthew and Luke reveal a family history for Jesus that includes prostitutes, adulterers, liars, and murderers. But John comes along and presents a different lineage: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God….And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (See John 1:1 and 14). Then, in verses 12 and 13, John tells us that those who receive Him and believe in His name also get to become children of God–no longer bound to the influence of natural descent.

So do Christians need to be set free from their family line? I would say “yes and no.”  If you have come to Christ with faith that He has redeemed you and made you a new creation, then you are indeed already free. But if you’re a Christian by belief and yet still struggling with the sins of previous generations, then there is certainly a deeper level of freedom in Christ to be experienced. In such a case, the solution is to bring your family identity to the cross.

For example, the Bible doesn’t say that “fits of rage” are sin…unless you have an “Irish temper.” No. Sin is sin. We need to stop pridefully embracing the sins of our ancestors and surrender everything to the cross. We need to surrender our family identities to embrace the identity of Christ. Only then can we walk in resurrection life.

Let me also say that I know of many Inner Healing ministries that are very Christ-cenetered and focus on the cross and resurrection. One such ministry–which is actually one of the pioneering influences on the entire topic–is Elijah House Ministries, founded by John and Paula Sandford. The Sandfords never actually liked the term “Inner Healing,” saying that it was a bit of a misnomer. They regularly said that the work of sanctification (being made holy) is a matter of deeper death and fuller resurrection in Christ–not merely “fixing” something that is sick or broken. Sin requires death, not healing (See Romans 6:23).

If you’re struggling with overcoming certain sins that have run rampant in your family line, now is the time to surrender your family identity to Christ. Generational sin is broken the same way as any other sin: through the cross. The blood Jesus shed was for your freedom. Offer your identity to the Lord so that you can embrace a new lineage: “Children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:13, NIV).

God bless,
–Art–

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6 Responses to “Generational Curses and Generational Sin”

  1. SheilaMay 6, 2011 at 5:08 pm #

    This is so true. My son is an addict (heroin) . Addiction runs in the family on both sides. I pray for him constantly to take this to the feet of Jesus. I told him our Lord holds the keys to unlock him from these chains of addiction. Thank you for this article. Be Blessed.

  2. CharMay 6, 2011 at 9:08 pm #

    Amen Pastor Art. We have to appropriate it. I love The Sanfords . I have alot of their books.

    The Lord showed me, that after those are broken, (Because , He was bruised for our iniquities . Isaiah 53) that we can shut all those ancient doors! Woo Hoo! And ask the king of glory to come in!

    Its so wild because when I was first born again, He led me to a minister who led me in a prayer and broke those off of my life. Now I can say:

    Psalm 24
    7 Lift up your heads, O gates,
    And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
    That the King of glory may come in!
    8 Who is the King of glory?
    The LORD strong and mighty,
    The LORD mighty in battle.
    9 Lift up your heads, O gates,
    And lift them up, O ancient doors,
    That the King of glory may come in!
    10 Who is this King of glory?
    The LORD of hosts,
    He is the King of glory. Selah.

    I liked this. Thanks!
    ~ Char

  3. JOSE L.H.JRJune 13, 2011 at 5:09 pm #

    thanks for the insight,in christ name,from;jose

  4. AaronJanuary 17, 2012 at 5:11 pm #

    Why would you say that God “revisits” and “punishes” the sins of the fathers? Firstly, those passages say that God “visits” – which is different than “revisit.” Secondly, “punishes” is an alternative translation for the root word translated “visits” in the KJV, so “visit” and “punish” basically mean the same thing in this context. You don’t have “visit” and “punish”, especially if you take “visit” to mean something other than “punish.” Does that make any sense?

    • ArtJanuary 17, 2012 at 6:17 pm #

      Great question, Aaron. I think I see where you’re headed with your questions (the goodness of God), and I don’t have any reason to refute such an absolute truth. Actually, I’m glad you brought it up!

      You asked me why I would say “revisit” and “punishes.” The simple answer is that “punish” or “avenge” are traditional and acceptable translations of the Hebrew word used in Exodus 20:5; Exodus 34:7; Numbers 14:18; and Deuteronomy 5:9 (loosely rendered “paqad” in English letters). There are, admittedly, other ways to render that word, so I don’t have a problem admitting that it’s possible some translators got it wrong. I’m just telling you why I used the word. As for “revisit,” you got me there. I used the wrong word. “Visit” is better.

      You’ll notice, in a few minutes, that I will have edited the article to simply say “visits.” I’m not as interested in playing a semantics game as I am interested in helping people discover freedom in Christ. But I also want to be accurate and above reproach, so thanks for pointing this out!

      I still stand by the rest of my article. People do indeed need to stop drawing their identities from sinful family history and simply identify with Christ. We should look more like our Father in Heaven than we look like our forefathers on earth. And the point of the article is that Christ has made such freedom possible.

      Thanks for taking the time to write!

      • AaronFebruary 27, 2012 at 10:18 am #

        The only reason I’m harping on the word “visiting” is because I think this word is misused to teach a wrong doctrine of generational curses.

        When some people read the phrase “visiting the iniquity” they think something to the affect of inheritance of sinful tendencies – but that is not at all what this phrase refers to. As you mentioned, the Hebrew root word is more often translated as “to punish”. God punishing iniquity is a whole different concept than God causing sinful tendencies to be inherited by your children. Some say that an inherited tendency to sin like your parents IS God’s punishment for your sin – but I definitely don’t agree with that.

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