(Except otherwise stated, all Bible quotations are from the New King James Version).
Many Christians in Africa believe that ancestral curses are actively working against them, negatively impacting on their successes and achievements in life. These followers of Christ, despite their new birth experience and faith in Christ, still believe in the potency of generational curses, blaming their setbacks and failures in life on the outworking of curses incurred by the sins of their ancestors. For this reason, we see many believers undergoing endless curse-breaking and family liberation/deliverance sessions, all in a bid to free themselves from the stranglehold of familial curses. Is God still punishing children for the sins of their forebears? Do generational curses actually work against born-again Christians? We shall examine the Scriptures to answer these questions.
The doctrine of children receiving punishments for the sins of their fathers was first expressed in the Mosaic Law. In the Law, God promised to visit the iniquities of fathers upon their children, to the third and fourth generations of those who hate him, while holding out mercy to thousands of those who love and obey him. Based on this principle, we see many children and families in the old testament being punished for offences committed by the family heads. For instance, Achan stole the accursed things during Israel’s victory over Jericho, and he and his entire family were stoned to death. The Moabites and Ammonites were banned from entering the assembly of the Lord, because of the opposition of their forebears to Israel, and their ancestors’ lack of support for God’s people during their migration from Egypt to Canaan. In the same vein, God declared Amalek a perpetual enemy, for their ancestors’ unprovoked attack against the Israelites during their sojourn in the wilderness. We see the children here being visited with punishments for the sins of their forebears. At the other end of the spectrum, we see the descendants of favoured people like David being promised an everlasting covenant of peace, for the good relationship their progenitor had with God. The descendants of Phinehas, Aaron’s grandson, were also promised God’s blessings, because of Phinehas’ love and zeal for God. That’s the mercy of God being extended to the generations of those who fear and love the Lord. Thus, while the progenies of those who hate God are cursed, the descendants of those who love God are assured of divine favour and peace.
Exodus 20:1 And God spoke all these words, saying:
Exodus 20:2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
Exodus 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before Me.
Exodus 20:4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—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;
Exodus 20:5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me,
Exodus 20:6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
Exodus 34:5 Now the Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord.
Exodus 34:6 And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth,
Exodus 34:7 keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”
Joshua 7:1 But the children of Israel committed a trespass regarding the accursed things, for Achan the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed things; so the anger of the Lord burned against the children of Israel.
Joshua 7:24 Then Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, the silver, the garment, the wedge of gold, his sons, his daughters, his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent, and all that he had, and they brought them to the Valley of Achor.
Joshua 7:25 And Joshua said, “Why have you troubled us? The Lord will trouble you this day.” So all Israel stoned him with stones; and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones.
Joshua 7:26 Then they raised over him a great heap of stones, still there to this day. So the Lord turned from the fierceness of His anger. Therefore the name of that place has been called the Valley of Achor to this day.
Deuteronomy 23:3 “An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter the assembly of the Lord; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the Lord forever,
Deuteronomy 23:4 because they did not meet you with bread and water on the road when you came out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you.
Deuteronomy 23:5 Nevertheless the Lord your God would not listen to Balaam, but the Lord your God turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the Lord your God loves you.
Deuteronomy 23:6 You shall not seek their peace nor their prosperity all your days forever.
Exodus 17:8 Now Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim.
Exodus 17:9 And Moses said to Joshua, “Choose us some men and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand.”
Exodus 17:10 So Joshua did as Moses said to him, and fought with Amalek. And Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.
Exodus 17:11 And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.
Exodus 17:12 But Moses’ hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.
Exodus 17:13 So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
Exodus 17:14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this for a memorial in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.”
Exodus 17:15 And Moses built an altar and called its name, The-Lord-Is-My-Banner;
Exodus 17:16 for he said, “Because the Lord has sworn: the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”
Psalms 89:1 I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever;
With my mouth will I make known Your faithfulness to all generations.
Psalms 89:2 For I have said, “Mercy shall be built up forever;
Your faithfulness You shall establish in the very heavens.”
Psalms 89:3 “I have made a covenant with My chosen,
I have sworn to My servant David:
Psalms 89:4 ‘Your seed I will establish forever,
And build up your throne to all generations.’” Selah
Psalms 89:19 Then You spoke in a vision to Your holy one,
And said: “I have given help to one who is mighty;
I have exalted one chosen from the people.
Psalms 89:20 I have found My servant David;
With My holy oil I have anointed him,
Psalms 89:21 With whom My hand shall be established;
Also My arm shall strengthen him.
Psalms 89:22 The enemy shall not outwit him,
Nor the son of wickedness afflict him.
Psalms 89:23 I will beat down his foes before his face,
And plague those who hate him.
Psalms 89:24 “But My faithfulness and My mercy shall be with him,
And in My name his horn shall be exalted.
Psalms 89:25 Also I will set his hand over the sea,
And his right hand over the rivers.
Psalms 89:26 He shall cry to Me, ‘You are my Father,
My God, and the rock of my salvation.’
Psalms 89:27 Also I will make him My firstborn,
The highest of the kings of the earth.
Psalms 89:28 My mercy I will keep for him forever,
And My covenant shall stand firm with him.
Psalms 89:29 His seed also I will make to endure forever,
And his throne as the days of heaven.
Psalms 89:30 “If his sons forsake My law
And do not walk in My judgments,
Psalms 89:31 If they break My statutes
And do not keep My commandments,
Psalms 89:32 Then I will punish their transgression with the rod,
And their iniquity with stripes.
Psalms 89:33 Nevertheless My lovingkindness I will not utterly take from him,
Nor allow My faithfulness to fail.
Psalms 89:34 My covenant I will not break,
Nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips.
Psalms 89:35 Once I have sworn by My holiness;
I will not lie to David:
Psalms 89:36 His seed shall endure forever,
And his throne as the sun before Me;
Psalms 89:37 It shall be established forever like the moon,
Even like the faithful witness in the sky.” Selah
Numbers 25:10 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying:
Numbers 25:11 “Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned back My wrath from the children of Israel, because he was zealous with My zeal among them, so that I did not consume the children of Israel in My zeal.
Numbers 25:12 Therefore say, ‘Behold, I give to him My covenant of peace;
Numbers 25:13 and it shall be to him and his descendants after him a covenant of an everlasting priesthood, because he was zealous for his God, and made atonement for the children of Israel.’”
However, during the time of the Prophet Ezekiel, the concept of generational responsibility in God’s dealings with Israel was abandoned, with individual responsibility instituted in its place. Now, the children of evil men would no longer be automatically punished for the sins of their fathers. Such children would now be dealt with on their own merits. If they were righteous and had faithfully served the Lord despite the wickedness of their parents, God promised to bless and prosper them, even though their parents were cursed. The children of wicked and ungodly men were no longer to be automatically punished to the third and fourth generations, for the sins of their fathers. Also, fathers would not be punished for the sins of their children. Every individual would now bear responsibility for their sins, while every man’s righteousness would earn them favour with God, irrespective of their ancestral backgrounds. Ancestral curses and blessings would not automatically be transmitted to progenies now. That was a monumental change from the concept of ancestral and generational curses as earlier pronounced by Moses. One would expect the people to be happy with this new principle of individual responsibility, as people would no longer suffer for the sins of their forebears. Unfortunately, the people seemed to prefer the status quo to be maintained! They were actually happier with children suffering automatic punishments for the sins of their fathers, no matter how righteous the children lived! The people preferred to continue to use the proverb that “the fathers had eaten sour grapes and the children’s teeth were set on edge” (meaning children being punished for the sins of their parents, as was previously operational in Israel). For abolishing generational curses and instituting personal responsibility and accountability for sins, the Israelites considered God to be unfair, preferring instead that generational curses had continued! What a warped way of reasoning! The people had become so used to ancestral and generational curses that they had actually fallen in love with them, and didn’t want them abolished! It’s like a slave being in captivity for so long and getting so used to living in bondage that when set free, refused to walk away, considering release from captivity as being unfair! This is nothing but Stockholm syndrome! This is insanity! But, that was what actually happened in the time of the Prophet Ezekiel, as recorded in the Scriptures below.
Ezekiel 18:1 The word of the Lord came to me again, saying,
Ezekiel 18:2 “What do you mean when you use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying:
‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes,
And the children’s teeth are set on edge’?
Ezekiel 18:3 “As I live,” says the Lord God, “you shall no longer use this proverb in Israel.
Ezekiel 18:4 “Behold, all souls are Mine;
The soul of the father
As well as the soul of the son is Mine;
The soul who sins shall die.
Ezekiel 18:5 But if a man is just
And does what is lawful and right;
Ezekiel 18:6 If he has not eaten on the mountains,
Nor lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel,
Nor defiled his neighbor’s wife,
Nor approached a woman during her impurity;
Ezekiel 18:7 If he has not oppressed anyone,
But has restored to the debtor his pledge;
Has robbed no one by violence,
But has given his bread to the hungry
And covered the naked with clothing;
Ezekiel 18:8 If he has not exacted usury
Nor taken any increase,
But has withdrawn his hand from iniquity
And executed true judgment between man and man;
Ezekiel 18:9 If he has walked in My statutes
And kept My judgments faithfully—
He is just;
He shall surely live!”
Says the Lord God.
Ezekiel 18:10 “If he begets a son who is a robber
Or a shedder of blood,
Who does any of these things
Ezekiel 18:11 And does none of those duties,
But has eaten on the mountains
Or defiled his neighbor’s wife;
Ezekiel 18:12 If he has oppressed the poor and needy,
Robbed by violence,
Not restored the pledge,
Lifted his eyes to the idols,
Or committed abomination;
Ezekiel 18:13 If he has exacted usury
Or taken increase—
Shall he then live?
He shall not live!
If he has done any of these abominations,
He shall surely die;
His blood shall be upon him.
Ezekiel 18:14 “If, however, he begets a son
Who sees all the sins which his father has done,
And considers but does not do likewise;
Ezekiel 18:15 Who has not eaten on the mountains,
Nor lifted his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel,
Nor defiled his neighbor’s wife;
Ezekiel 18:16 Has not oppressed anyone,
Nor withheld a pledge,
Nor robbed by violence,
But has given his bread to the hungry
And covered the naked with clothing;
Ezekiel 18:17 Who has withdrawn his hand from the poor
And not received usury or increase,
But has executed My judgments
And walked in My statutes—
He shall not die for the iniquity of his father;
He shall surely live!
Ezekiel 18:18 “As for his father,
Because he cruelly oppressed,
Robbed his brother by violence,
And did what is not good among his people,
Behold, he shall die for his iniquity.
Ezekiel 18:19 “Yet you say, ‘Why should the son not bear the guilt of the father?’ Because the son has done what is lawful and right, and has kept all My statutes and observed them, he shall surely live.
Ezekiel 18:20 The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.
Ezekiel 18:21 “But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die.
Ezekiel 18:22 None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has done, he shall live.
Ezekiel 18:23 Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?” says the Lord God, “and not that he should turn from his ways and live?
Ezekiel 18:24 “But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die.
Ezekiel 18:25 “Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not fair.’ Hear now, O house of Israel, is it not My way which is fair, and your ways which are not fair?
Ezekiel 18:26 When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity, and dies in it, it is because of the iniquity which he has done that he dies.
Ezekiel 18:27 Again, when a wicked man turns away from the wickedness which he committed, and does what is lawful and right, he preserves himself alive.
Ezekiel 18:28 Because he considers and turns away from all the transgressions which he committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die.
Ezekiel 18:29 Yet the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is not fair.’ O house of Israel, is it not My ways which are fair, and your ways which are not fair?
Ezekiel 18:30 “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways,” says the Lord God. “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin.
Ezekiel 18:31 Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel?
Ezekiel 18:32 For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord God. “Therefore turn and live!”
With the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and the abolishing of the Law, following his substitutionary and sacrificial death for mankind on Calvary, the curse of the Law was removed from God’s people. Christ became a curse for us, by taking our curses upon himself on Calvary, so as to transmit God’s blessings to us. Anyone who is in Christ Jesus, by virtue of the new birth, becomes a new creation: old things in his life (including ancestral and generational curses) pass away, and all things become new. The curses incurred from the violation of the Law by the individual, as well as those inherited from his ancestors, all pass away. The born-again believer, in the place of curses, now enjoys the blessings of Abraham through Christ. No matter your ancestral background, the moment you become a Christian through the new birth, you become a new creation, and your ancestry (however vile and cursed) no longer counts against you in the sight of God. You become discharged and acquitted from all charges and curses of the past! No one can lay any charge on God’s elects! No one can condemn whom God has justified, and no one can curse whom God has blessed! It’s impossible! Thus, the idea of a born-again Christian suffering from generational or ancestral curses is unscriptural! It’s contrary to the principle of God’s justification and blessings in Christ! You cannot be in Christ and still be experiencing the effects of ancestral curses! Just as light and day cannot coexist at the same time, and fresh water and salt water cannot proceed from the same spring, it’s impossible to be in Christ and still be suffering the effects of generational curses! All curses on all children of God were broken at Calvary! Therefore, no one should deceive any child of God about the necessity of performing special curse-breaking and family-liberation/deliverance services for breakthroughs! The only method of curse-breaking preached by the original apostles of the Lord is the new birth experience. Once you’re born again and in Christ, you become a new creation, and old things pass away in your life, while all things become new. Being in Christ makes you sit in heavenly places, far above all principalities and powers! If the Son sets you free, you’re free indeed! As Christians, we’re empowered to trample upon serpents and scorpions and all the powers of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt us. We’ve been delivered from the powers of darkness (and all the curses associated with them) and have been conveyed into the glorious domain of the Lord Jesus Christ, where only blessings flow! Hallelujah!
Galatians 3:10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.”
Galatians 3:11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.”
Galatians 3:12 Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.”
Galatians 3:13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”),
Galatians 3:14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
2 Corinthians 5:18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,
2 Corinthians 5:19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
2 Corinthians 5:20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.
2 Corinthians 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Colossians 1:9 For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
Colossians 1:10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;
Colossians 1:11 strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy;
Colossians 1:12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.
Colossians 1:13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,
Colossians 1:14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.
Romans 8:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Romans 8:32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
Romans 8:33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.
Romans 8:34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.
Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Romans 8:36 As it is written:
“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
Romans 8:37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
Romans 8:38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,
Romans 8:39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Numbers 23:19 “God is not a man, that He should lie,
Nor a son of man, that He should repent.
Has He said, and will He not do?
Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?
Numbers 23:20 Behold, I have received a command to bless;
He has blessed, and I cannot reverse it.
John 8:36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.
Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
Ephesians 1:4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,
Ephesians 1:5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,
Ephesians 1:6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.
Ephesians 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace
Ephesians 1:8 which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence,
Ephesians 1:9 having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself,
Ephesians 1:10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.
Ephesians 1:11 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will,
Ephesians 1:12 that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.
Ephesians 1:13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,
Ephesians 1:14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
Ephesians 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
Ephesians 2:5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
Ephesians 2:6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
Ephesians 2:7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Luke 10:17 Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.”
Luke 10:18 And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.
Luke 10:19 Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
In conclusion, generational curses were part of the Mosaic Law, wherein God promised to visit the iniquities of fathers upon their children, to the third and fourth generations of those who hate him, while holding out mercy to the progenies of those who love and obey him. During the time of the Prophet Ezekiel, God abolished the concept of generational responsibility for sins committed by forebears, making each person now solely accountable for his or her actions. No longer would children suffer for the sins of their parents, or automatically benefit from their parents’ righteousness. The soul that sinned would be individually punished, while the righteousness of a parent would no longer benefit an ungodly child. Thus, the children’s teeth would no longer be set on edge because the parents ate sour grapes. With the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and the abolishing of the Mosaic Law and its curses, every believer in Christ is automatically delivered from the curse of the Law and from all ancestral curses, and becomes a new creation at the new birth. We’re no longer under the domain of Satan where curses operate. In Christ Jesus, we’re seated in heavenly places, far above all principalities and powers, and are eternally blessed. We’re empowered by the Holy Spirit to trample upon serpents and scorpions and all the powers of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt us. Nobody can curse a believer in Christ, simply because we’ve been blessed by God by virtue of our being in Christ. The idea of a believer in Christ being under generational curses is therefore unscriptural and a belittling of the great exchange that took place at Calvary. It’s a great trivialising of the power in the blood of Jesus Christ to deliver from all sins and from all curses. The breaking of all curses took place at Calvary, and anyone who places faith in that great atoning and redeeming sacrifice of Christ becomes completely delivered from all curses, whether personal or ancestral. It’s therefore dubious and heretical to persuade any born-again Christian to undergo any curse-breaking exercise outside of what Christ did at Calvary. A born-again Christian is not under any ancestral curses because he’s been delivered from his old ancestry and now belongs to the lineage of Christ where no curse exists! You cannot be in Christ and be under the influence of any curses, because blessings and curses cannot coexist in the same place at the same time, just as light and darkness cannot exist at the same time. As Christians, let’s then enjoy our liberty in Christ, for he whom the son of man has set free is free indeed!
Thanks for visiting. We hope you were blessed by the message. We’d love to have your feedback on this and other messages on the blog. You can also follow the blog to have new posts sent directly to your email. God bless you!