Are You Suffering Under a Generational Curse?

A Daily Little Lesson

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Are you perhaps suffering under a generational curse? Today’s question is about generational curses, and, of course, we could first ask, “What is a generational curse?” Well, a generational curse is commonly referred to as a curse that is passed down from generation to generation. For example, if your great-grandmother was a voodoo priestess or something, God was angry at her and He cursed her, and now that curse that got put on her has passed down from her, to your mother or father, to you and so forth. That is the explanation for why you’re suffering so much or things aren’t going well in your life, because you’re suffering under a generational curse.

man holding forehead, wondering about generational curse

Where does that idea come from? Well, all ideas that are promulgated within Christianity usually have some basis in the Bible, and this one’s no different. There are about four passages of scripture in The Old Testament that folks derive this idea of a generational curse from. Two of them are found in Exodus, one in Numbers and one in Deuteronomy. The very first one is in Exodus 20, when God was first giving the 10 Commandments. Let me read to you his prohibition in Exodus chapter 20:4 about idolatry. He says, “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in the heavens above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.” All right, so prohibition against idolatry. “You shall not worship them or serve them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God.”

Okay, so God is saying something about himself, revealing something about himself. “I want your full devotion. I want you to love me with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. I don’t like it when your heart is divided or devoted to some other god.” Now he goes on to elaborate on that jealousy thing when he says, “I, the Lord, am a jealous God. Visiting …” Here it comes, “visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” There’s the basis of the whole generational curse idea.

Now, based on what God said here, that He does those kinds of things, is it possible that you are suffering under a generational curse? Well, I’m gonna take exception to the idea that God does those kinds of things for a number of reasons. One of which is that it doesn’t fit the whole Bible. The very first rule of Bible interpretation is that your interpretation of any single verse has to harmonize with what the rest of the Bible says. It always amazes me how people will find one little scripture and get some bizarre interpretation out of it. It contradicts from Genesis to Revelation hundreds of other scriptures, but they say, “This is the one! Here’s the truth!” Well, that’s not the truth! The Bible is the truth. You’ve got to harmonize your one verse with the 30,000 other verses that are in the Bible!

We take, for example, a whole chapter in the Bible, Ezekiel 18, where over and over again God refutes the idea that some people had back in Ezekiel’s day, that it was okay and right to punish children for the sins of their parents. God says, “I wouldn’t, I don’t, do that. That’s not my character. I’m just, I’m fair.” Everybody gets what they deserve. They don’t get what their dad or mom deserve. Now, not to say that we all, to some degree, don’t suffer for our parent’s sins. If your parents were thieves and spent 10 years in jail, you suffered as their child, as someone else was raising you and taking care of you. That’s indisputable. What we’re talking about here is God. Does God actively, sovereignly say, “I don’t like you and so therefore I’m going to curse you. And I want that curse to jump onto your kids, your grandkids and your great-grandkids, so they’ll be suffering for four generations for what you did”? I’m saying, Ezekiel 18 says, God says, “I don’t do that.”

Then you have other passages of Scripture. There’s a lot we could look at. Of course the whole Bible talks about God’s justice and fairness. Take, for example, Deuteronomy 24. God says to his people, Israel, under the most Mosaic law, “Don’t be doing this. Don’t be punishing anybody for the sins of their parents.” That’s fundamentally wrong and unjust and God doesn’t like that. Is God contradicting himself in this case? No, of course not, so let’s go back at Exodus 20 and let’s ask ourselves, “What is God actually saying here?” Is He saying, “I’m going to put a generational curse on somebody?” I don’t think so. I think he’s talking about doing something that, when you consider it, is completely just, completely fair. It couldn’t be more fair! He doesn’t say, “I’m going to punish the children for their fathers’ sins.” Here’s what he says, “I’m going to visit the iniquity of the fathers…” Whose iniquity? The iniquity of the fathers. What kind of iniquity in particular? The iniquity of the fathers on the children. This is iniquity that parents commit against their own children, and God says, “I’m going to be visiting that to the third and fourth generation.”

Now, a lot of times people blame their parents. “The reason I’m like I am, the reason I sin like I do, is because that’s the example my parents set and it’s all their fault.” People are navel-gazing to try to explain themselves, taking no personal responsibility. That’s kind of hard to accept. Don’t be blaming other people all the time! But there is an element of truth to this, isn’t there? That we are product of our environment, and your parents did influence you, and many people are very disadvantaged because of the parents they had. Or the grandparents, or the great-grandparents, because people do pass down wrong examples, wrong teaching, wrong living. Right? Right.

God is saying here that, “I’m not just going to hold you accountable for your own sin. Oh no, I’m very holy and just. I’m going to hold you accountable at least in part.” Now of course, you take the whole Bible, just in part, not in full. “I’m going to hold you responsible in part for the sins that you pass on to your kids, and if your kids pass that sin on to their kids, I’m going to hold you partly responsible for that as well. If they pass that sin onto your grandkids, I’m going to hold you partly responsible for that.” Now that is perfectly fair. It makes us think, “Wow, how holy God is and how, If I haven’t repented of my sin yet and started serving the Lord Jesus Christ, I better do that, because when I stand before him, I’m not just going to be in trouble for what I’ve done, I’m going to be in trouble for what, in part, what my kids, grandkids and great-grandkids do, because of the sins that I set as an example before them.” Okay?

And that’s what the verse does say: “For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me” (Exodus 20:4). That interpretation much better fits the rest of the Bible.