In the previous post, we looked at some of the secondary supporting texts for the idea of Generational Curses from categories 2 & 3. Those texts are utilized to argue that Children indirectly suffer for the sins of their fathers and Generational Curses are broken by “calling out” to the Lord. We worked through each text in the list and showed how they don’t teach Generational Curse theology at all. Now, it’s time to finish off the list of secondary text with the three remaining categories of texts.
For those of you who have endured this series, I applaud your persistence. This series is not meant to be a “read through to the end” sort of series, but rather a “resource you can use in the future” that will deal with a bunch of texts that cover all the main beliefs that make up generational curse theology. So even if someone tosses a bunch of verses at you that I haven’t dealt with specifically, I’ll have dealt with the concept and will hopefully provide you with a bit of help in sorting through the concept.
The whole concept of Generational Curses is a theology that is the sort of “doctrines of demons” that Paul warned Timothy about in 1 Timothy 4:1. So, let’s tear down what remains of this paper house and close off this series.
Category 4: A person needs to repent of the sins of their predecessors: Neh. 1:5-6; Jer. 14:20; Dan. 9:16. The supposed story with all three of these texts is that the person in the text had to repent of the sins of their forefathers in order to gain some sort of blessing in the present.
And I said, “O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned.
Let’s make some quick observations:
a. The fact that Nehemiah, as a government official, prayer for the nation and took ownership for national sins doesn’t even support the premise. If anything, this passages teaches that national officials take national blame for national actions. This isn’t an individual person being blamed for the sin of an individual who preceded him by a few generations. A parallel would be if a Christian Prime Minister repented, on behalf of Canada, for the nationally sponsored abortions that his country has been paying for over the years. Because that Prime Minister actually represents the nation, he can also turn that nation away from their national sins (including long-established ones).
b. Nehemiah admitted to participating in the sins of his ancestors. Look at the end of vs. 6. The Generational Curse idea of “confessing the sins of your ancestors” is not personal identification with, and repentance of, the sins of your forefathers that you also commit. In Generational Curse theology, the idea is repenting of sins that your forefathers committed that you don’t commit. Sometimes, it’s even repenting of sins that you didn’t even know your forefathers committed.
c. Nehemiah doesn’t excuse the sin of his contemporaries on the basis of their forefathers. In Generational Curse theology, a person is said to be sinning essentially against their will. Someone is a drunk in Generational Curse theology, it’s because of the curse, not their willful rebellion. That’s not saying that generational curse theology teaches that people are automatons, but rather that the main driving force to committing specific willful sins is one of a generational curse rather than a person’s own wicked desires.
We acknowledge our wickedness, O Lord, and the iniquity of our fathers, for we have sinned against you.
I could say something, but essentially I’d be repeating points (b) and (c) above. Jeremiah is calling on Israel to stop participating in the sins of their forefathers.
O Lord, according to all your righteous acts, let your anger and your wrath turn away from your city Jerusalem, your holy hill, because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and your people have become a byword among all who are around us.
I could say something, but essentially I’d be repeating points (b) and (c) in my treatment of Nehemiah 1:5-6. Daniel is calling on Israel to stop participating in the sins of their forefathers.
Category 5: Children are blessed for the righteousness of their fathers: Prov. 13:22.
A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children,
but the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous.
Let’s make some quick observations:
a. This is clearly talking about money. It’s been long enough ago that I don’t even remember where I found this passage, except that it was on multiple websites and in multiple books. Clearly, this isn’t talking about transferring spirits, curses, or even spiritual blessings from one generation to another. It’s talking about how the wicked save up money and treasure for other people find and spend. That’s a story we all know too well, at least in its most extreme manifestation…
Category 6: Generational curses were broken, at specific times in the past, for Israel: Ez. 18:2-3; Jer. 31:29-30.
What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’? 3 As I live, declares the Lord God, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel.
The only thing that I’ll suggest here is that this is a proverb that is wrongfully used in Israel, if one reads the rest of Ezekiel 18. I’ll address that below.
In those days they shall no longer say:
“‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes,
and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’
30 But everyone shall die for his own iniquity. Each man who eats sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge.
The same scenario that Jeremiah is addressing is the scenario that Ezekiel addressed as well. Let’s shift gears with these two text that are apparently used to argue that generational curses existed and were broken in Israel’s past.
The Positive Biblical Teaching on Generational Curses
So far, I’ve been doing a project that has been essentially negative; I’ve been tearing apart all the apparent textual support. I’ve dealt with Ex. 20:5-6, 34:6-7; Num. 14:18; Deut. 5:9-10, 7:9, Deut. 23:2; Judg. 3:9; 1 Sam. 2:27-34, 3:11-14, 12:10-11; Neh. 1:5-6; Prov. 13:22; Jer. 14:20, 32:18; Lam. 5:7; Dan. 9:16; Matt. 27:24-25. With all those texts removed from the foundation of Generational Curse theology, there’s no positive reason to believe that the Bible teaches anything close to Generational Curse theology. That’s good, but what’s better is actually realizing that the bible positively teaches against Generational Curses. That brings us up to Ezekiel 18 (and tangentially to Jer. 31:29-30).
Let me quickly take you through Ezekiel 18 to see what it says:
vs. 1-4. At the time of Ezekiel, there was a proverb that ran rampant throughout Israel. People would blame their trouble on their forefathers, saying “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge” (vs. 2). God announced, through his prophet, his intent to wipe that proverb out in Israel (vs. 3).
vs. 5-9. The Lord then speaks through Ezekiel and says that if a man refrains from wickedness and walks in uprightness (vs. 5-8), “he shall surely live” (vs. 9).
vs. 10-13. The Lord then states that if a righteous man fathers a wicked son (vs. 10-12), that wicked son will not be blessed on account of his righteous father. Rather, “He shall not live. He has done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon himself” (vs. 13).
vs. 14-18. But, if the tables are turned and a wicked man fathers a son who does not follow in his father’s example (vs. 14-17), “he shall not die for his father’s iniquity; he shall surely live” (vs. 17). His father will die for his own sin, but the son will not die on account of the father’s sin (v. 18).
vs. 19-20. God explains that the son who does what is right shall live (v. 19) and then God explains the overriding principle behind this all: “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself” (vs. 20). This is the centerpiece of the chapter and the under riding principle of everything in Ezekiel 18.
vs. 21-24. God then explores two hypothetical scenarios. First, God states that the the wicked man who turns from his wickedness will live (vs. 21-22). Secondly, God states that the righteous man who turns from his righteousness will die (v. 23-24).
vs. 25-29. God then deals with the opposition he receives from Israel. Israel thought that previous acts of righteousness should be called into account when a man turns wicked, but God declared their ideas were in error (vs. 25-26). Also, Israel thought that previous acts of wickedness should be called into account when a man turns to righteousness, but God again declared their ideas were in error (v. 27-29).
V. 30-32. God comes out and clearly states that he will judge “every one according to his ways,” therefore “repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin” (v. 30). The important thing is to turn from wickedness now (vs.31) since God doesn’t want anyone to die in their sin (v. 32). The fact that God doesn’t want anyone to die in their sin is the second principle underlying what’s going on in Ezekiel 18; this principal is what gives urgency to the application of the truths of the passage.
So what is going on in Ezekiel 18?
It seems pretty clear that Israel was in the business of justifying themselves. They wanted to be able to blame their sin on someone else, and parents are an easy and popular scapegoat for disobedience to God (v. 1-20). People have been blaming their parents for their problems for a long, long time.
As a secondary fall-back, if they couldn’t blame their parents for their sin, Israel wanted to create a system of justice/judgment that could be easily manipulated for their benefit (v. 21-29). If you’re the one being judged, you want your righteous deeds to outweigh anything else you’ve done. If someone else is being judged, especially someone you dislike, you want the ability to overlook anything else they’ve done.
So in Generational Curse theology, the first issue of blaming something other than oneself for one’s own sin is the error. This is what was happening in v. 1-20 of Ezekiel 18, and this is what is happening in Generational Curse theology. Are you struggling with a relationship, or workplace performance, or handling money, or sexual lust?
Well, it’s likely because of a curse that entered your family line before you were born.
In other words, it’s not your fault.
Talk about the #1 best-selling lie of all time.
Did you punch out that annoying barista who made passive-aggressive judgments about you every time you came in?
It wasn’t your fault.
But, reality says otherwise: “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself” (Ezekiel 18:20).
People don’t suffer for the sins of others. People suffer the consequences of their own sin, and only their own sin.
But wait! What about someone who suffers due to demonic spirits, strongholds, sinful habits or other miscellaneous “spiritual bondage” that is passed down through their family line?
This brings up the question of why people commit specific acts of sin. The Bible is clear on this:
– “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” – James 1:14-15
– “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” – Ephesians 2:1-3
– “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” – Galatians 5:16-17
– “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” – Matt. 5:19
People act on the basis of their sinful desires, and those come from the heart.
In other words, your sin is always your fault and yours alone.
After 6 posts of exploring this subject, I can confidently say that there’s not a single shred of biblical evidence to support the idea that anyone, anywhere, ever sins or otherwise has hardship in their life because of a Generational Curse.
I hope this series has helped those of you who have expressed interest in this subject over the past few years, and I thank you for your patience in waiting for this to happen and finish.
Until Next Time,
Lyndon “Cursed by myself and nobody else” Unger