I’ve had quite a number of people ask me this question before. Some variations to the question include: How can I break a generational curse? Is my family under a generational curse? Is it because of a generational curse that bad things are happening to me? Could it be that a generational curse is the reason I am unable to get past some areas of sin in my life?
Let me begin by citing the passage from which the belief in “generational curses” has emerged:
You shall not bow down to them or 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 those who hate me… (Deuteronomy 5:9)
A great many Christians have been taught about generational curses from this passage. They have been told that an ongoing curse from the Lord may be happening in their life resulting from the past sins of family members, perhaps even before they were born. This has given rise to complex strategies on “how to break generational curses” and the constant blaming of such curses for anything bad that may be happening in their lives.
But is this true? Is that what this passage is saying?
The answer is NO!! But the reason so many stumble here is because they ignore the five very critical words found at the very end of the verse — “of those who hate me.” This passage teaches us that God visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the sons to the third and fourth generation OF THOSE WHO HATE HIM. In other words, the children are carrying on what the parents started — a hatred and rejection of God. This is the reason why the judgment continues “to the third and fourth generation.”
But about those who come to Christ — who love the Lord? Are these still under the Lord’s judgment for the sins of their parents or grandparents?
There is a fundamental truth that all Christians need to learn and accept and it is this: generational judgments are broken when we repent of sin and turn to Jesus in faith. I will say it again: coming to Jesus in faith breaks every chain. I can’t emphasize this enough — Jesus is the One who sets us free from every tie to the past. That is why the Apostle Paul wrote: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Notice Paul mentions nothing of generational curses. Why is that? It’s because if generational curses still exist for the believer, then the old has NOT passed away and the new has NOT come. Paul’s statement would be categorically false if generational judgments are still in place for those who have put their faith in Jesus.
Jesus breaks every chain when we come to Him by faith! You are a new creation! Do you know what that means? That means your past, even the horrific things done by you or your relatives — even strongholds of sin — cannot control you or dominate you any longer. As Jesus declared, “...if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36)
But be careful here. Just because Jesus has set you free from the dominion of sin doesn’t mean you can’t go back and live in your sin once again. There may no longer be anything compelling you to live the way you did before you met Jesus, but you can still choose to be under the dominion of sin. That’s why the Apostle Paul wrote what he did to the Galatians when he said, For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1). Jesus set you free from the chains of your past, so you no longer have to live that life of slavery to your sinful impulses. But that doesn’t mean you can’t choose to go back and live like a slave. Sadly, some people do.
I hear Christians saying: “This stronghold of sin has taken control of my life,” or “This is why divorce is rampant in my family.” Still others say: “We have a spirit of anger over our family,” or “We’re all struggling with a spirit of fear and that’s why our family is so fearful.”
They say such things as if there’s no power in the Gospel — no overcoming victory in the cross. And yet, the Bible says that we are “more than conquerors” through Christ (Romans 8:37). I sometimes wonder how many Christians are living defeated in the condemnation of their family’s sinful past, enslaving them to a hopeless existence that robs them of the joy that ought to be theirs in Christ Jesus.
I’ve got news for you. If you’re in Christ, you ARE a new creation! You’ve been birthed into a new family with an entirely new family identity. This new identity is what controls your life — not your family’s sinful past. The Bible declares that we are “from God and have overcome...for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4) Greater is He that is in you NOW than the old self that controlled you in the past.
You have a new “family likeness” not founded on the past patterns of family-related sins but rather on the Person of Jesus Christ. Just respond with a heart of faith to what the Bible tells you about your new life in Christ, and boldly declare, “I am no longer bound to my past or the past of my family. I am free in Christ to follow a new Master — Jesus Christ my Lord.”