Understanding What the Bible Says About Generational Curses

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By Pamela Rose Williams

Understanding What the Bible Says About Generational CursesThe doctrine of generational curse is a popular teaching in many of today’s churches. Truth be told, I have done a little study on this teaching and quite frankly I questioned whether or not the Bible really supported it. This should be a question that every Christian asks when they are first exposed to any doctrine. You should not count on someone else to do your Bible study for you. You should always know why it is that you believe what you believe and as a Christian your beliefs should be supported by Scripture. You must “study to shew thyself approved unto God … rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15). The only way to do this is to get into your Bible, so before we continue, go get your Bible and look up these Scriptures that I mention so that you may study them within the context of the whole chapter and even the book in which they are presented.

What is the popular definition of a generational curse?

Generally speaking, a generational curse is a sort of spiritual bondage that has been passed down from generation to generation. This bondage will cause generation after generation to get caught up in things like pornography or other sexual sin, for example. In this case proponents of the generational curse theory will say that even a Christian can be “cursed” with the “spirit or demon” of lust because his grandfather was caught up in the same practice.

Or some would say that a Christian can have an “unloving spirit” because a family member in times past was sexually abused.  The list of possible “curses” is quite large and includes things such as alcoholism, cigarette smoking, drug abuse, anxiety, rage, obsessive/compulsive disorder and more.

What is the practice to get rid of generational curses?

In some churches special services are held to cast out the “spirits or demons” from the Christian. Some believe that once you are able to trace the “curse” back throughout the generations you then can verbally break the curse. In other practices families are encouraged to pray together to break the curse.

Some of the high profile evangelists and motivational speakers that come to mind when I think of these practices include: T.D. Jakes, Tony Evans, Joyce Meyers, Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, and Kenneth Copeland.  Though practices such as this are found in many local churches as well.

What does the Bible say about generational curses?

Here are some popular verses that are used to support the doctrine of generational curses:

Exodus 20:5 (KJV) Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

Exodus 34:6–7 (KJV) And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, 7 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

Numbers 14:18 (KJV) The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.

Deuteronomy 5:9 (KJV) Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me,

There are more verses that might be cited to support the doctrine, however I think it is very important to note that when you study it out you will see that this “iniquity”, in other words “sin” that these Scriptures are speaking of, is the sin of idolatry. It is a specific sin and it is referring to a specific people – the nation of Israel. And the good news is that God has already provided a remedy – repentance – for that sin as we see in the following passages (let Scripture prove Scripture):

Judges 3:9 (KJV) And when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer to the children of Israel, who delivered them, even Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother.

Judges 3:15 (KJV) But when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, the LORD raised them up a deliverer, Ehud the son of Gera, a Benjamite, a man lefthanded: and by him the children of Israel sent a present unto Eglon the king of Moab.

1 Samuel 12:10–11 (KJV) And they cried unto the LORD, and said, We have sinned, because we have forsaken the LORD, and have served Baalim and Ashtaroth: but now deliver us out of the hand of our enemies, and we will serve thee. 11 And the LORD sent Jerubbaal, and Bedan, and Jephthah, and Samuel, and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side, and ye dwelled safe.

So while it is true that God promised to “visit the iniquities” of the fathers to future generations, this was specifically for the nation of Israel. Even greater is the fact that God promised and delivered such people because of repentance.

If God indeed will curse future generations for the sins of the fathers then we can say that we are not responsible for our own sin. When we call it a “spirit” or “demon” we are simply not calling it what it truly is – SIN. I would call that blame-shifting and then I would have to tear the following verses out of my Bible:

Deuteronomy 24:16 (KJV) The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.

Ezekiel 18:20 (KJV) The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. (I encourage you to read the entire chapter 18 of Ezekiel)

What about disease and sickness

No doubt, the choices that our parents and grandparents make can have a consequence on us. Also, even for the Christian who is totally devoted to the Lord, disease and sickness abound. Why? Because we live in a sin-cursed world and God “allows” sin to continue in families that do not seek God and this can go on for several generations. What I mean by this is that when generations and generations have lived ungodly lives it is going to take generations and generations of God-seeking people to infuse godly lifestyles back into the family.  We can trace this all the way back to Cain and Seth. Cain left the presence of the Lord (Genesis 4:16) and his descendants followed in his example. Seth, Cain’s younger brother was the one who caused people to “call upon the name of the Lord” again (Genesis 4:26). Seth’s descendants followed in his example all the way down to Noah (10th generation from Adam).

Quite frankly, things that we suffer from in this life are greatly dependent upon our own choices and even the choices of our fathers. These are behavioral failings and they can be physical or spiritual. This is a sad truth and it is the result of sin.

Claim the promises of the Bible 

For the Christian we can choose to call upon the Spirit for power to overcome life challenges. I am not proposing that we can be perfect this side of heaven, however Jesus promised that He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10). Since these are the words of my Savior, I believe it, do you?

I find the following Scriptures to be of great comfort regarding our life as believers (emphasis mine):

Romans 5:6–10 (KJV) For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

Romans 8:1–2 (KJV) There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

Romans 8:15 (KJV) For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

Romans 8:21 (KJV)21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV) Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Galatians 3:22–26 (KJV) But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

Colossians 1:12–17 (KJV)12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: 15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

Hebrews 2:14–15 (KJV) Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

But of all the Scriptures in the Bible, I find this one from Galatians to be of the utmost importance when we speak of a need to break a generational curse. The greatest message of the Bible is how we have victory in Jesus. We can do nothing to “break the curse”. He has already done all that needs to be done. He has made us free. Take a look:

Galatians 5:1 (KJV) Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

Final Thoughts

As we study Scripture looking for what the Bible truly says we must study it in context. We must compare Scripture with Scripture and be careful not to be compelled to believe something because it was told to us from a very popular preacher or even someone that we consider to be very strong in the faith. We must study for ourselves and always know why we believe what we believe so that when someone asks us we can stand on the only truth that exists – the truth of the Bible, the very Word of God (1 Peter 3:15).

So the fact of the matter is that disease and sickness can be generationally inherited and they still exist in our sin “cursed” world. Because of this every human must deal with the effects of that first sin that was committed way back in the Garden. While we are on earth we live in an ever degenerating human body. As a believer we are no longer under bondage. Jesus rose from the dead to claim victory over sin and death (1 Corinthians 15:1-5). He has already provided all that we need to “break the curse”. Do you believe it?

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Pamela Rose Williams

Pamela Rose Williams is a wife, mother, and grandmother. She and her husband, Dr. Michael L. Williams, have served in Christian ministry since 2001. She has a bachelor's Degree in Christian Education and spends most of her time as a professional editor and writer, working with many Christian authors and artists. Additionally, she works with her husband using their extensive experience in information technology to provide Christ-centered teaching and resources to people all over the world. To learn more about Pamela visit her About page.