The subject dealing with generational curses is a challenging topic for many people.
There are a variety of viewpoints on the matter. A person can easily find those who support and those who oppose various points of scripture. It is not my intention to provoke controversy or debate scripture. I can only tell you what I have found to be true by my personal journey and share my testimony, which I will do a bit later in this chapter. I cannot tell you how others may have arrived at their understanding of generational sin and the effect of unbroken curses. I can only share from what I have personally walked through. It is one thing to try to arrive at understanding based on what others may or may not teach. It is something altogether different when God gives it by revelation.
When God first began speaking to me about this subject, I did not hear Him reference the scripture in Exodus 20:4, 5 that says, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: You shall not bow down yourself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of them that hate me,” (KJV). This is one key verse that many deliverance ministries utilize and seemingly what causes a great deal of controversy. I did, however, hear Him clearly ask me a very specific question in regards to the sins of those in my generational line.
Before I get into the scriptural explanation, let me ask you something. Have you noticed anyone in your family that seems to have repeated the same pattern as a parent or a grandparent? Do you or anyone in your family have a history of things like addictions, alcoholism, anger, rage or abuse? What about adultery, broken relationships, divorce or controlling behavior? Is anyone in your family an atheist, a practicing witch or warlock, or exhibit an unnatural affection for the occult and supernatural realm? What about things such as mental illness, untimely death, poverty and inherited disease? Has a parent or grandparent gotten pregnant out of wedlock only to have the same unfortunate pattern reproduce into the children and grandchildren? Sometimes the children are even the same age as when the sins first appeared in the parents.
Many of these things repeat from one generation to the next. Who do you think gave you and your family those things? God did not, and they do not exist in heaven. Sickness, disease, poverty, repeated cycles of loss and all those things are a result of unbroken curses. They didn’t come from God because those things do not exist in heaven. So where did they come from, and who placed those curses into the family line? The question isn’t whether or not they exist in people’s lives; the question is why more Christians don’t have the victory.
The evidence is all around us. Even many Christians do not have total victory in their life. If sickness doesn’t exist in heaven and God didn’t give us sickness and disease, then why isn’t every Christian healed? His intent is very clear in scripture that it is His will to heal. If every curse is broken then why isn’t every Christian walking in victory? Why don’t we see every Christian running around casting out demons, healing the sick, working miracles and turning the world upside down?
The problem is not with God; it is with our understanding. We can be saved, but people still perish for lack of knowledge. Salvation is not the same as deliverance. The effects of unbroken curses are not a salvation issue. They are a deliverance and sanctification issue. There can still be areas of a person’s life – habits and mindsets that are not yet renewed. We have to appropriate that victory Jesus won for us by cooperating with our own deliverance.
Most of my Christian life seemed extremely difficult and it felt like trudging through concrete. Although I was saved, loving and serving God to the best of my ability, there were definitely some things I knew were old cycles that kept repeating in my life. For instance, though it occurred in different years, both my brother and my father died right around the anniversary date of one another. My brother died unexpectedly in boot camp at the young age of 17. It occurred the first week of August. My father died the last week of July some years later. I also suffered a miscarriage the last day of July many years after that. The timing of the dates did not seem coincidental as they all took place within about a week’s time from one another. July and August were anniversary dates of death and sorrow.
For years, I had a curiosity about the odd occurrence of the timing of those events, but it never occurred to me that it might be attributed to the possibility of a generational curse. Alcoholism also ran in both sides of my families. Inherited diseases such as cancer and heart malformations were evident. My father had mental illness; I struggled with depression and mental health issues and others in my family were also affected. Three generations of women got pregnant out of wedlock. A poverty spirit hung over my family for at least several generations that I am aware of.
I also knew without a shadow of a doubt that there were particular spirits attached to my life, such as fear and lust. There were certain things that had been with me all my life. Even as an adult and a person committed to Christ, no matter how much I asked God to help me something was there to hinder my deliverance. In some ways, I felt as if I was a magnet that drew the same type of troubled people into my life. Each time I was left in a worse state. No one had to tell me I had a demonic attachment in my life; I was well aware of it. The problem is, I had no one to tell me how to get delivered because the church I was a part of didn’t teach on this subject.
They taught that every curse was broken once a person came to Christ. While that is true, it’s only half of the answer, and I needed the other half! I had no understanding for any of it at the time. In addition, I was doing everything I knew possible to do to live right and honor God. I went to church, I worshipped, prayed, devoured the word of God, tithed, and I did not socialize with others that were not Christians. I was serious about turning over a new leaf in my life but the enemy was equally serious about hindering me any way he could. I went up for practically every altar call and still did not experience victory the way I thought it should be lived out in a believer’s life. I was in spiritual and emotional poverty. I was plagued with spirits of fear, lust, anger and other things I could not get free from. If every curse was indeed broken upon my salvation and coming to Christ, then why was I still living with the effects of unbroken curses? A curse does not occur without a cause, according to Proverbs 26:2. Let’s examine what exactly constitutes a curse and how to recognize it.
Miriam Webster Dictionary defines a curse as:
1) a prayer or invocation for harm or injury so come upon someone;
2) something that is cursed or accursed;
3) evil or misfortune that comes as if in response to imprecation or as retribution; and
4) a cause of great harm or misfortune: also torment.
The effects of a curse produce many things. A curse produces loss. It produces defeat, failure, and an inability to prosper. The spirits of death and hell are attached to everything in that person’s life. It causes health issues, mental and emotional troubles, hopelessness, fear, loss of finances, employment, broken relationships and divorce and many other troubles. Nothing works right. It’s impossible to get ahead. Blessings, however, cause a person to do well and prosper. It’s the complete opposite effect.
I know what some people say; some would say that the subject of generational curses is false teaching. I get all the reasons why. That was me many years ago. I had a religious answer, but I didn’t have spiritual insight. I understood the scriptures, or at least I thought I did; but it still didn’t answer the questions why I had no victory and why the effects of Satan’s handiwork were still evident?
I couldn’t reconcile the two. People can tell others what scripture says all day long; but if that person needing deliverance walks away and doesn’t have an answer that heals and delivers them from bondage then it really hasn’t helped them at all. They truth is, that someone is missing the truth somewhere, because Jesus assured us “It is finished.”
The fault doesn’t lie with God; it’s with people and their understanding of His word. People need answers for their problems, not just religious answers. I was left wondering, “Did Jesus really set us free from the law and the curse?” If so, why wasn’t I seeing more victory in my life? Why didn’t I see other Christians living in victory? Everyone I knew was just as messed up as the world. They weren’t walking in peace, victory or wholeness either. They had no real power in their life.
I knew there had to be something I was missing. It was that conflict between what I read in God’s word and what I saw lived out in those around me that made me question everything I had been taught. I wanted to know the God of Moses, Abraham, King David, Joshua and all the heroes that saw the mighty works of God in their everyday lives. I wanted to know the Jesus that the Apostles knew, and do the greater works of Christ. I felt like Gideon in the winepress who cried out to the angel of the Lord, “If God is really with us, then why has all this happened?” (Judges 6:13). Where is the God of miracles that we’ve heard about?”
People can look for reasons to disbelieve, debate the issue and have a scriptural answer, but it may not necessarily be a spiritual answer. I think perhaps some of the confusion and where people differ is found in the words people focus on rather than on the spiritual principles. We are not just looking for the letter of the law, but the spirit of the law that helps us understand the intent of why it exists.
The Old Testament says,“You shall not worship them or serve them; 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, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments,” (Exodus 20:5,6). The promise of blessing was conditional upon obedience. Curses were enacted upon those that refused to serve God. When God’s people entered into covenant with Him, they were to serve Him out of love and loyalty. They honored the covenant relationship through their obedience; anything else was considered adultery and breaking covenant.
Those who broke covenant were subject to the penalties of the law, which was rigid and not the least bit compassionate to human failure. God knew that no one could keep the law meticulously no matter how much they tried, and that the law in itself could not make a person righteous. That is why Father sent His Son, Jesus to pay the price that none of us could pay. He traded His life for ours, and through that act, redeemed all mankind and made a bridge between sinful man and a holy God.
Jeremiah 31:29-30 tells us, “In those days they shall say no more, ‘The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge. But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.'” What this means is that God no longer punishes His children for the sins of their forefathers. God does not curse His children, but Satan does. And, though some things may not necessarily be transferred from our ancestors to us as punishment from God, we still have to deal with the things that existed prior to our salvation. Before we came into covenant with God, we were in a covenant relationship with Satan. We might not stop to think about it in those terms, but that is the truth. Before we came to Christ we were under the law of sin and death.
God gives each person an ultimatum, and it’s found in Joshua 24:15. Joshua, who was the commander of the people of Israel, said: “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
Every person has to make a choice whom they will serve. People either serve God, or they serve the world and the ruler of the world. Proverbs 26:2 tells us, “As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come.” The enemy cannot throw a curse on a person for no reason, so he looks for open doors that we might not understand are there. It becomes our job to pursue God and find out if the enemy sees something about our life that gives him access to us and our family. Jesus became the answer we need to redeem us from the power of the curse!
“But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for the just shall live by faith,” (Galatians 3:11). And, Galatians 3:13 tells us: “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, ‘Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree,’” (KJV). He took the punishment and the penalty for our sins upon Himself so that we might live free. 2 Peter 1:3 tells us: “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”
Jesus made everything available to us through His death and resurrection. The legalities of what He accomplished on our behalf and what he made available to us are finished. Jesus does not need to do anything else. He died for our salvation, healing, wholeness, restoration and victory, but if we never accept Christ as our savior, then whose fault is that?
It isn’t God’s fault. He made everything available but you or I would not get the benefits of salvation or any other promise that comes by faith in the Son of God if we never chose Him as Lord or chose to serve Him. Let’s make this personal and apply it to ourselves. Think of it like this: Jesus won the victory for me, but if I do not read my Bible or study His word, then how will I really know everything that is available to me? If I want the benefit of God’s promises then there are some things I need to do to insure the promises come to pass.
It is all available in seed form. The seed of the promise exists, but I have to cooperate with God to make sure I have broken agreement with the enemy in every area of my life. That means I need to take the authority God gave me and cast the devil out of my life. In Matthew 18:18,19 Jesus told us the principle of “agreement” is at work in the kingdom. It’s a spiritual principle. Either we are in agreement with faith and obedience, or we are in agreement with a lie and compromise. We speak life or we speak death with our words; we choose life or we choose something that has death attached to it. Every time we make a choice, we choose who we are going to follow. Every promise is ours through faith, but people can be saved and still perish for lack of knowledge. It is our job to understand what the scriptures mean and enforce the victory that Christ made available for us.
The evidence of our faith is obedience to God’s word. John 10:10 tells us, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” The enemy is a liar, murderer, a thief and a rule-breaker. Satan is a career criminal. That’s his job. A career criminal is not going to abide by the rules or obey the law UNLESS someone ENFORCES the law. That is our job! If a person thinks that the enemy cannot rob, steal or mess with their life simply because they are under a new covenant of grace, that person is quite mistaken. If we do not exercise the authority that has been made available to us, then we will not experience victory.
It is not my intention in any way to bring people back under the condemnation of the law. Teaching on this subject is intended to be used as a means of learning from the entirety of God’s word, and show the reader how a lack of faith and misunderstanding scripture can cause people to suffer and struggle unnecessarily. We cannot afford to judge ourselves by our own opinions. Jesus Christ paid the price to make it possible for all mankind to live in freedom, health and victory – in as much as they are willing to appropriate that victory and live inside of covenant with God. When we step outside of covenant, we are in disobedience and open doors to the enemy to bring in a curse. God did not throw out obedience simply because we are under grace.
I am so grateful for God’s grace and mercy, but at the same time we cannot afford to have a false sense of security in thinking that it becomes a substitute for our obedience. We must endeavor to fulfill our part of this covenant relationship.
Disobedience and idolatry release a curse. You can read Deuteronomy 28 to understand the difference between the blessings and the curses, and what released the curse. We find the scripture in the Old Testament, but the principle is still applicable today because “we shall have no other gods,” according to Exodus 20:3. We can only serve one god, and we have to choose. Jesus is not going to compete for our affections. Either we give our love to Him willingly or we let other things crowd Him out. When other things are more important than elevating Christ to the number one position in our life, we have idols. That’s just the truth.
Jesus went to the cross and broke every curse, but if we choose to live in disobedience and hold on to the things God calls idolatry, then saved or not, we are going to find ourselves dealing with devils. The question we still need to resolve is, what causes generational curses to activate in a person’s life?
We know that the curse is upon all those that have not accepted Jesus Christ as Lord. But, what about the believer? Here is the key factor to why people don’t understand this issue: We still have to deal with whatever was passed down to us through generational iniquity before we got saved.
God revealed to me in a dream that two very powerful demons attached themselves to me at my birth. I didn’t find out about that until just about a year ago. It’s not like I could take authority over them when I first got saved, because I didn’t know they existed, although I did do many prayers of renouncement some years ago and from time to time, I still do them, just as ‘spiritual maintenance.’ I want to make sure those doors stay shut.
When I first got saved I knew my life was a mess, but I didn’t know how to address demonic attachments. Those things remained with me for years, even after become a Christian, because I did not know I needed to tell them to go. Demons will only listen to someone with spiritual authority. The reality of generational curses can be understood by the evidence in a person’s life. Sometimes those things always seem to be in progress, unraveling every bit of success and blessing in a person’s life. At other times, it would seem as if life was generally going okay and then something triggered the demonic realm to begin to destroy a person’s life. Unforgiveness and unresolved sin issues, for instance, allow the enemy to have legal access to a person’s life, and may be some of the things that seem to release the effect of a generational curse.
People tend to repeat patterns and behaviors of their parents. They can inherit spiritual traits just like a child inherits physical traits such as eye or hair color or other physical characteristics through genetics. In a similar manner, families can inherit negative spiritual patterns. Some things can be attributed to children repeating learned behaviors from what they have observed in others in their family. Other things are reproduced spiritually through unbroken patterns and the propensity to have a weakness for certain sins.
Though we are saved, there can still be demonic attachments to our lives that need to be severed . Is it God that puts the curse on us? No. The curse comes from the enemy. I don’t want to simply refer to an Old Testament scripture because everything in the Old Testament must first come through the cross. But, there are some principles of God’s word that still apply.
If we have idols in our lives (and many people do); if we are holding on to unforgiveness, bitterness, or have cursed others with our mouth; these things release the effect of a curse. God withholds his blessing until those things are resolved. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. We are judged based on the law of love. We are to elevate God to the highest authority in our lives and honor Him first, and love our neighbor as ourselves. This is what fulfills all the commandments.
People tend to repeat the same familiar patterns and behaviors as their parents or grandparents. Just because the things we do are normal to us doesn’t mean those things warrant God’s stamp of approval. People may suddenly get a different perspective on the things they do when they read God’s word and learn to apply it to themselves, but again, it requires something from us. What people consider normal behavior can often be repeating a familiar pattern of things they’ve grown accustomed to. That is where generational sin comes in. The things we think may be harmless enough may not harmless at all.
Habits and behaviors that we don’t think much of, can lead us backwards into things that are tied to generational sin patterns. The things we don’t want to let go of can cause us to clothe ourselves in garments that don’t reflect the nature of Christ. We put back on the old man instead of putting on Jesus Christ. “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh,” (Romans 13:14). Learned behavior does have something to do with it, but spiritual bondage is much more than that.
The Pharisees and those that lived by Old Testament law were concerned about requirements of the law but Jesus told us that we must surpass the righteousness of the Pharisees in that we were to honor God with more than just duty or obedience. The Kingdom of God is concerned with heart, motive, our thoughts, and our actions. The kingdom is not only about obedience, it is about what has our heart. When we look at all scripture in the light of God’s intended purpose it was not to cast curses upon His people.
God is not some evil warlord that likes to punish people unnecessarily. When He established our worlds and enacted spiritual laws, it was to keep God’s people inside the boundaries of accepted behavior that would also serve to keep them safe from the repercussions of breaking spiritual laws.
The law as it was given in the Old Testament, was never designed as a means of salvation, because no one could be saved by keeping it. In Galatians 3:24 scripture indicates that the law was given as a guardian, a schoolmaster or a tutor to instruct mankind in the spiritual laws of God. The law was never given as a way to achieve righteousness. It acted as a school teacher in the sense that it corrected and instructed God’s people to know His ways. It taught people the difference between sin and righteousness. Its purpose was to give mankind a means of defining sin and also protecting God’s people. They were graciously taught to follow God’s ways for their own protection.
Adherence to the law was for their own benefit, so that they did not incur misfortune, disaster or harm, (otherwise referred to as a curse). The law in itself was not considered a curse; it was considered a gift from God to His people. God gave His people an acceptable standard of conduct and boundaries to keep them in right behavior. Those that kept God’s testimonies were blessed. Remember that when Jesus appeared, He came as the fulfillment of the law.
In Matthew 5:17,18 Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” Jesus did not come as an opponent of the law. John 1:1,2 says, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.”
It’s important to realize that Jesus was the Word of God in the Old Testament and He came as the fulfillment of it in the New Testament as well when he took the form of a human child. When we use the word “law,” it simply means God’s word, or instruction. Jesus is the living word of God, so it makes sense to us that He did not come to destroy the law. It was ultimately designed for our greater good so that mankind would learn what it meant to walk in love and treat others the way they would want to be treated. That has never changed.
The principles are valid as our teachers. The scripture in 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us ,“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives.” (NLT) The KJV says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”
The Word corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. In Matthew 22:34-40, one of the Pharisees came to test Jesus in His knowledge of the law and he asked Jesus what was the greatest commandment . In verse 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
We learn to look at all sin in light of what causes separation from ourselves, God and others. Left unresolved, these things become inherited tendencies, reproduced by demonic influences and attachments in the lives of our loved ones. This is how similar behaviors, sin and curses repeat from one generation to another. People did not stop to repent and ask God to cover these sins with the blood of Jesus.
Where there is no blood covering, there is no remission of sins. That is why these type of things cause inherited disease, sickness, sin, poverty and many other things that are the result of unbroken curses.
If you would like a prayer to break generational curses, please go to this link: “Breakthrough Prayer.”
~ Laura Gagnon
Laura Gagnon is a woman who has been blessed with the gift of understanding God’s restorative work through her own personal experience. Through her insights and revelation, God has led her to influence many individuals into a restored relationship with Jesus Christ. She is a woman who stands on the promises of God, encouraging others in an elevated expectation of the miraculous and declares the gift of His life. Laura is the author of Healing the Heart of a Woman and writes for her blog, Beyond the Barriers.