Generational Curses – Nonsense!

I have a confession to make. Some of the practices and beliefs of the modern charismatic church are far too spooky for me. The word pandemonium springs to mind. It literally means “all things are demons” and this seems an apt description of some theologies today. After listening to some Christian TV teachers, many believers might be left half-terrified of just getting up in the morning in case they are jumped on by Beelzebub. Occasionally, people come for personal deliverance in our Cambridge church, but I very often refuse to pray. Better to teach people free, than pray them free (John 8:32). I know that for some of them I’m a spiritually ignorant, undiscerning killjoy. Life is so much more exciting if we have to battle three impossible demons before breakfast. But they have ended up living in a delusional world, not that of the New Testament: charismatics trying to take authority over the principalities hovering menacingly over Wigan, when they can’t even take authority over the ironing.

I especially have a problem believing in these new “generational curses.” If you haven’t heard of this, a so-called generational curse is usually defined as a demonic problem that a Christian has, brought about by the sinful actions of a past relative. As we repent for what our father or grandfather did, and get someone to pray over us and “break the curse”, we can walk away free and made whole.

Despite their growing popularity in today’s prayer lines, I don’t think these curses are in the Bible at all. Not once do we hear of Jesus Christ setting anyone free from such a curse. He heals the sick and drives out demons for sure, but He never mentions generational curses. If we are people of the Book rather than of the anecdote, this should be enough to make our alarm bells ring. This kind of deliverance can neither be found in the ministries of Paul, Peter, Philip or Stephen, or in any of the Epistles: some one hundred and twenty chapters that fail to give any vital instruction on “curse breaking”. The Acts of the Apostles were mighty indeed, but they did not break anyone’s personal curse. Perhaps they knew that the cross had already done that.

Of course, our ghostbuster friends take us to the Old Testament, where the Lord says, “I am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sins of the fathers to the third and fourth generation” (see Exodus 20:5; 34:7; and Numbers 14:18). But it ought to be stated clearly that God was not speaking to any single individual. His address here was to the entire nation of Israel. I believe that Britain can indeed be “cursed” by God through sin and apostasy and this might take three or four generations to rebuild. But this is a long way from you or I needing special prayer because of the dubious antics of Great Auntie Betty.

Even if we could individualise this warning, the promise to curse is upon those who “hate” God (Deuteronomy 5:9). Most of those seeking freedom from these pseudo-demons are new creations living a godly life, who love the Lord with all of their heart. Black hearted sinners tend not to pay “Freedom Conference” entrance fees.

No, the Bible says that we are judged for our own sins (Ezekiel 18:30). What hope do any of us have if our future is determined by our dead ancestors? Given that Jesus Christ Himself had adulterer David, prostitute Rahab and liar Abraham in His family tree, it’s a wonder that he didn’t need to have some deep inner healing from John the Baptist. Maybe he sent Him a holy handkerchief from the Jordan.

Finally, the insertion of the devil by the curse-breakers into these Old Testament texts is quite misleading. There is no satanic involvement in the Exodus warnings about being cursed. God is the author of this punishment and God alone. I once challenged someone who believed in this stuff how he could ask God to remove a curse that God Himself had initiated? If Almighty God has cursed a man, who can free him? Not “charismatic jumper John”, that’s for sure.

Of course, there are demons at work in our world today. I have cast out many devils and know of their reality. I am not denying deliverances, although a genuine demoniac is thankfully rare. But for most people, their freedom from a sinful habit or pattern will come only one way: sacrificially dying to self, and saying no to the passions of the flesh. If only every addict could be liberated by a simple prayer! It happens. But most have to take up the fight every day with God’s help, to quote Scanlon, making a “generational choice”. Not breaking curses, but carrying crosses, that’s the Bible way. And all through the power of Him who became accursed (Galatians 3:13) so that we might become totally blessed. Hallelujah to the Lamb!

JOY Magazine, April 2008

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