CURSES: CONCERNING CURSES PART 2
In this (second) article ( the first one was concerning " repenting for the sins of the nation" ) we want to look at this idea that "curses" from the past
Ė whether from the personís own life or from previous generations - can keep Christians in bondage and deprive them of the blessings of
God and of their inheritance in Christ?
From the start, let us make it clear that we are talking about someone who has been convicted of their sin, repented, turned from their sin
and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ for their salvation. They have been born again and filled with Godís Spirit. They have been brought
into the New Covenant, in and through Jesus Christ. No more, no less. Christians Ė as described in the New Testament (NT) Ė such
Christians as the apostles were writing to.
WHAT then, DO the apostles WRITE to Christians in the New Testament?
HOW do THEY deal with the various church and personal problems that arose among the Lordís people?
HOW do THEY diagnose such problems and what council and instruction do they give?
For any modern teaching dealing with counsel and instruction to Christians must be based on, or find support from the apostolic writings or from the teachings of Yeshua (Jesus).
So, WHAT do the apostles say and teach concerning this idea of past curses hindering the lives of Christians - or of churches or of countries?
THEY say nothing. Absolutely nothing. No. Not one verse about it. THEY donít even mention it or touch on it. It doesnít arise in their thinking!
WHERE are their exhortations to Christians to investigate their lives and make sure there is no curse at work, if they find difficulties in their personal or spiritual walk?
There are NOT ANY such exhortations! Yes, Paul speaks about "curse", but in a completely different context - namely, about Christ having "delivered us from the curse of the law". We will look at this a little later.
NOWHERE does the New Testament Scriptures even mention that curses from the past can, or are hindering the spiritual or personal walk of Christians, or of churches or of countries.
WHAT REASON can we give for this? This modern teaching is very specific, detailed and extensive, and would represent an essential and necessary part of our deliverance in Christ, IF it were true. Books have been written about this and of course we should expect some apostolic foundation for this new teaching, some biblical basis.
WHY then, do none of the apostles even mention such a thing in their letters to the churches?
Were they ignorant of such a vital truth?
Are they responsible for leaving not only the Christians of their day but also of many succeeding generations in ignorance and therefore deprived of true liberty in Christ?
Have they left multitudes in bondage and darkness down the centuries because of their failure to recognize and teach this doctrine? Certainly there was much idolatry and occult practice in NT times, so why donít the apostles warn the Lordís people that any problems they have may be due to some curse from the past?
Why donít they exhort them to investigate their lives to see if they or their ancestors have been involved in something evil Ė and many of them would have been - and to confess these things and repent, and then proclaim their freedom in Christ?
Where do they suggest this is relevant either for individuals, churches or countries?
If these things are true, it is a very serious matter. We cannot be left in ignorance; we cannot be left in bondage! But nowhere is such a thing mentioned, let alone taught. It is no part of the Apostolic or NT teaching to the churches. Nowhere in the NT do Jesus or the apostles apply the curses of the OT covenant between God and Israel to those who have been brought into the Kingdom of God through the new birth, as these modern teachers do.
Is it that Christians in NT days had a "cleaner" and more "thorough" conversion, and that once converted; the saints didnít have any problems, and so didnít need this kind of teaching? But of course this is not true, as the Scriptures themselves show us.
People got saved or responded to the Gospel message as individuals or by the thousands at one time. Maybe the heart condition of some of them was not right or having started well, they didnít continue to walk in the obedience of faith and love. As it was in those days, so it is today. People are basically the same and they respond in their various ways to this salvation that God offers them. And as it is today, so we read in the NT, namely, people and churches had all sorts of different problems Ė sin, carnal behavior, wrong attitudes, bitterness, contentions, etc. Just read Corinthians or Galatians for example.
Well, if Godís salvation is the same today as it was then, and if people, their responses and their problems are also the same today as they were in NT times, then why, oh why, did Jesus and the apostles not teach the saints or churches (or even unbelievers!) that curses from the past can keep the Lordís people in bondage or darkness Ė like we are being told today? Why did they never indicate that our present problems as the Lordís people are, or could be due to curses from the past? This dare not be a matter for human guesswork. It is so serious in its implications that we must be able to clearly identify this teaching from the scriptures, especially from the NT, as this is the full record of our redemption and salvation in Christ. But it is nowhere to be found there!
This should be enough to warn us that there is something very wrong with this teaching and that we should not receive it into our hearts! It is an addition to the Gospel. Even if people believe they can find verses in the Old Testament ( OT ) to support this idea, yet we must realize that everything that is needed for our salvation, deliverance and godly life is incorporated and revealed in the NT. The OT prefigures this salvation and deliverance in various ways and this helps to further illustrate and explain what is taught in the NT. But, if we teach something as vital for our salvation or deliverance as Christians, and we can only find some texts in the OT in our attempt to support it, without it being taught or mentioned at all in the NT, then our teaching is contrary to the Gospel of truth. It is wrong; it is a deception and we are deceiving others by teaching it. It opposes the preaching of Christ and Him crucified. It is an addition by man to the Gospel of God, like we find in the letter to the Galatians. Obviously, there is no contradiction between the OT and NT, but a progression and a fundamental change has taken place because of Calvary.
As with most errors, and particularly modern ones, this teaching is not derived from the Bible. Men start with their own an idea or system of thought, and then interpret the scriptures according to this system; and they will bend and change the meaning of any scripture they use until it does fit in with their system of thought! And this is what they do with this doctrine.
There is nothing they can use in the NT to support their doctrine.
Let us look at HOW THEY would interpret the few NT Scriptures that they quote.
James 3:7-10 and Rev. 22:3 are frequently quoted to show that curses and cursing still exist today. So far there is no problem.
But then they go on to say that because curses still exist, then Christians themselves must recognize that they might be, and probably are influenced and hindered in their lives by curses. But the scriptures make no such "jump" in thought. This is simply not taught by these two texts.
These two texts tell us that curses still exist today and people are doing what they shouldnít do, namely cursing others, and that in the new heaven and earth there will be no more curse, or we could say judgement for sin and rebellion.
However, these verses make no connection between the problems in the lives of Christians, and curses that may have been put on them or their ancestors, as though these are, or could be the cause of their problems! Nowhere in the NT letters are curses considered or even remotely mentioned as the possible cause of any problem or spiritual bondage or affliction in a Christianís life (or in the life of a city or nation).
James does not say, " Look. People are cursing, so you see, curses still exist and so your life might be hindered by a curse. And if youíve got a continual problem in your life this might very well be the effect of some curse from the past. So you need to investigate your ancestry very closely to discover the probable root of such a curse in your life and seek deliverance from it."
It is nonsense to teach this from James. He is plainly telling us that our language should not be sweet and bitter, foul and pure, blessing and cursing. This is clear, healthy teaching, exhortation and rebuke concerning our conversation! But as I mentioned above, they will use any text they can, and then bend, change and stretch the meaning beyond what it really means.
Perhaps somewhere, one of these writers quotes Jesus where He says "Öbless them that curse youÖ", ( Luke 6:28 ), but in the material that I have read I havenít discovered a single place where these writers refer to this verse when trying to support their ideas about curses. And perhaps it is not surprising. This teaching of Jesus doesnít "bend" too easily to conform to their system of thought. James tells us that people are still cursing and that they shouldnít. The modern teaching tells us that if people are still cursing, then lives of Christians could be harmed by this. But Jesus doesnít say, " If someone curses you, be very careful. It might have power over you. Are you sure you havenít sinned? You might already be under the power of such a curse in your life and you must make sure you get free of it." No. Even before Calvary Jesus tells people what it means to live according to Godís will and Godís nature. If someone curses you - bless them! Amen. Thatís all. Just bless them! Thatís His teaching. Christ doesnít fill our minds with superstitious and false thoughts about what evil thing might befall us if people curse us. Nothing can harm us if we are followers of that which is good (1 Peter 3:13). This is a rare reference to curses in the NT given by Christ Himself. Surely, it has something significant to teach us. It is the only reference in the NT that tells us what to do and what our attitude should be if someone curses us! So, why do these modern teachers totally ignore what Jesus Himself says about what we should do if people curse us?! Why donít they teach what He teaches?
So there it is. James 3: 7-10 and Rev. 22:3 - that is their "evidence" from the NT which they use to show that Christians today can be, and are in bondage, darkness or illness because of curses from the past, and how we need to "trace" or discover these curses from the past, which maybe go back hundreds of years!!
Dear reader, what do you think? Do you believe that these verses teach us these things? Is this the teaching of Jesus and the apostles? Can you find this teaching in the NT anywhere at all? It is interesting that probably the most popular and influential book that propagates this error worldwide does not even try to give any NT evidence to support this teaching.
Although he quotes the verses from James to show the power that words can have, the writer doesnít quote anything from the NT to prove this idea that curses from the past can and do harm to the lives of the Lordís people. Right from the beginning of this book and chapter after chapter he quotes from the OT when trying to prove his ideas. On the one hand, this is wisdom on his part since there is no such support in the NT, but on the other hand, it only highlights the fact that his teaching has nothing to do with the New Covenant, nothing to do with the Gospel of truth, which is the Gospel of our salvation. He uses OT scriptures and develops them in his own way to produce a most unhealthy and unbiblical teaching of superstition that can only oppose and undermine the Gospel of Christ and Him crucified.
This should settle the matter for us. We could and should now reject this teaching, since it finds no support in the NT, and Jesus Himself advises us quite differently to these modern teachers, as does Paul in Galatians 3.
However, for the sake of those who have been influenced by the other arguments of these writers, I will proceed to look at those other arguments and the consequences of such teaching. But I also very much hope we will gain some helpful biblical instruction in the process.
I know of Christian friends in Tanzania who are at times the subject of curses from the local witchdoctor and evil charms are placed in or at their homes. But this has absolutely no power over them. It cannot touch them or harm them, and they rejoice in Christ Jesus their saviour and in the victory and peace that He has given them! Oh yes, of course there is a devil and there are evil spirits too, and they can influence and harm the lives of those who donít believe. But for those who are in Christ, they have been delivered from all the power of darkness and the wicked one cannot touch them (Col. 1:12, 1 John 5:18). They have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. Praise God! What superstition and what a denial of the Gospel it is, to imply that those in Christ can be harmed by other peoplesí curses.
But now, more recently, I have heard from Christian friends in that same country that they have now been taught that if they are injured while working in the field, that this is / could be because of a curse! This teaching is just received without any searching of the scriptures, so that it is being accepted for the cause and explanation for all sorts of mishaps and troubles. Because the teaching comes from well-known authors from the West, it is simply accepted and applied to any and every situation in a way that is causing confusion, fear and heartache, and putting terrible burdens on people. And this is not just because people are misapplying the new teaching, for as we shall see shortly, the very way in which these ideas are taught in these books results in people feeling or believing there is a curse behind most things.
I know of another Christian person who got ill and the pastor told them that itís because of a curse on them. How did the pastor know? Well, because he had been on one of the seminars that are so popular today and that are supposed to bring "good teaching" and "revelation" to African pastors from the West. Thatís how he "knew". And so this poor sick person, who had to live with this thought that she was under a curse, was prayed for over the course of a month to release her from this curse Ė but to no avail. In the end she started to get better when she went to the doctor and got some medicine. ( Iím not saying we shouldnít pray to the Lord for healing, but this is just one of many cases that highlight what damage, physically, mentally and emotionally this teaching can cause.)
What a heart-break this is; to see saints who had been set free from the power of the devil and the influence of witchcraft, who rejoiced in the liberty and victory that they had in Christ, to now have doubt and fear sown into them again, to be baptized as it were back into their old ways of superstitious thinking that belonged to the witchcraft culture that they were in bondage to before they were saved - and all this in the name of new "Christian" revelation! Paul says with the same kind of amazement, "I marvel that you have so quickly departed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another Gospel Ė which is not another but there would be some that trouble you and would pervert the Gospel of Christ." What a terrible state to bring the Lordís people into, that when anything goes wrong in any way in their lives, they think that some dark mysterious force from the past is affecting them and has power over them. These teachings are causing trouble and are bringing people into bondage and they are not according the grace or Gospel of Christ or the wonderful redemption that is in Him.
I was preaching on one occasion and someone came up to me afterwards to say that the ministry had touched on a serious problem this person had in their Christian walk. But then the person said they didnít know whether they could really do anything about it because some months earlier someone had told them that this problem might be due to a curse that went back 500 years! I knew this person and could see what serious confusion and delusion this modern teaching causes Ė and actually keeps people out of their wonderful inheritance in Christ, since it doesnít really deal with the root of a personís problem, and it keeps them in an unresolved and un-liberated state because the person is forever searching and guessing as to how many curses are at work, what kind of curses they are and from what period in history they come from! Or whether their problem is because of a curse at all! This is not an exaggeration, as we shall shortly see. It is having this kind of effect on some people because the teaching itself promotes this kind of thinking.
I have a friend who received this teaching into her heart. She is a Christian who is very zealous to please the Lord and wants to live in a way that will commend Christ to others, so she is particularly grieved if she fails in any way to be as Christ unto others. She wants to be free of all carnal behaviour. But complete success evades her. ( Perhaps others can identify with her! ). Solution? To trace her genealogy to see if there might be some curse from the background. Why? Is it because the Bible tells her to do this somewhere? Anywhere? No. Well then, is it because the Holy Spirit convicted her or showed her there was something from the past hindering her? No. She was doing this because she had gone to hear one of these preachers who promote this teaching on curses. They quote from Exodus 20: 5, where it talks about God visiting the iniquities of the fathers to the third and fourth generation. This new teaching tells us that this involves a lot of people. Namely, your father and mother each had a set of parents, and each one of those had their own set of parents, and if you follow this through to the fourth generation, this results in a genealogy of 32 people from whom you descend. And you are asked in the most popular of these books, whether you can really be sure that none of them was involved in any form of idolatry or occult. Because if they were, then Godís judgement still rests on you and/or the devil has a right to afflict you! Do you see how these ideas sow doubt and fear into men and womenís hearts, contrary to the Gospel of peace? So my friend had drawn up her genealogy on paper, tracing her genealogy back to four generations in order to see if she could discover any occult connection in their lives. She was hoping to discover some curse from the past, to do with one of her forefathers, that was preventing her from entering into her inheritance in Christ! After going through the scripture with her, she was able to see that this teaching had no biblical foundation. Having read these teachings, I can see how someone might not only do what my friend did, but how these books actually lead you into this kind of thinking and action.
Now let us consider what these modern teachings say that lead people to think and act in these ways. Why all this searching, uncertainty and confusion that only generates fear and bondage.
Firstly, according to this teaching, what are the signs that a curse is at work in a personís life?
Secondly, how can we definitely know if a curse is at work and identify what kind of curse it is.
Thirdly, how is it possible that curses can affect a Christian?
Well, they cover nearly every problem that a person can have. Some of the major ones that they list are the following: Mental or emotional breakdown; break-down in marriage or other family problems; recurring or serious illness; financial needs. Now although it is said that one or two of these problems doesnít necessarily mean a curse is at work, the more of these problems you have, then the more probable it is that a curse is at work. However, as one reads these books it soon becomes apparent that any kind of ailment or problem could be due to a curse - lack of success in business or any aspect of life could be due to a curse, as well as: poverty; barrenness; oppression; depression; a sense of failure; rebellious children; feeling up one day and down the next; never achieving real success; and a sense of frustration Ė you can never really achieve what you want! All these above "indications" of a curse they get from Deut. Chpt.28, and apply them to Christians today! Well, there is hardly anything that is not included! And they write in such a way, that it is easy to feel that whatever problem you might have, is due to a curse from the past. They admit that curses are not the cause of every problem, but it is difficult not to get this impression when you read their material. One writer states that although not every problem is caused by a curse, nevertheless, the "reality" is that Christians often need deliverance from curses Ė and this he says is even true of experienced and mature Christians! This is a terrible deception. In terms of what Jesus suffered and died for, this is a lie. There is a total lack of balance in these teachings that donít even mention what other reasons there might be for these problems. And so it is in the most popular of these books. Not one indication, for example, as to what else might cause problems in a marriage, apart from a curse!
What scriptures from the NT do they give us then, to support this idea that curses could be the cause of any one of these problems that they list? They donít give us any Ė because there arenít any! They teach what the NT doesnít even mention in any way, and what council and instruction the NT does give regarding problems that might arise in the Christianís life, this they donít even mention in the material that I have seen!
What scriptures in the NT do they refer us to, in order to help us truly know if a curse is at work? Surely this cannot be a matter of guesswork or uncertainty. It is too important a matter to be left in the dark about. Our feet need to be on solid ground! We must be able to pray with confidence if we are to pray effectively.
Well, they donít refer to any NT verse to help us identify if there is a curse at work in our lives! But how can I then know with biblical certainty if my problem is due to a curse? And if I canít know it for certain, how can I pray with confidence and power against the curse? So why donít they give us any NT examples of Christians who had problems because of curses. They donít, because there are no such examples in the NT! Why donít they refer to the scriptures in the NT that tell us how to identify if a curse is at work in our lives? They donít do this because there are no such scriptures in the NT! Why donít they give us examples from the writings of the apostles to the Lordís people of how curses, that were causing problems in their lives, were broken. They donít do this because no such verses exist! (Certainly, in places like Ephesus people were delivered from their involvement with the occult and witchcraft Ė Acts 19:10 and 8:9. But these are examples of people hearing the Gospel and being converted to the Lord. But what we are considering in this article is ministry to the Lordís people.) When writing to the churches and addressing all the different kinds of problems in churches or in individual Christian lives, the apostles never mention or indicate, let alone teach, that a problem might be due to a curse from the past. It doesnít come into their thinking! For them, as it should be for us as the saints of God, they see the problems as lying somewhere else.
Everything I have said here also applies to the idea of curses upon countries, which has really been dealt with in the first article. But let me state again, that there is not a single NT example, there is no scripture or teaching, not a single verse that indicates that any kind of curse is hindering the work of God in any town, region or country. Nor is any kind of regional or local problem said to be due to a curse! Nor does Jesus or the apostles pray, or teach us to pray, against any such curses over towns, regions or countries. It is simply not taught nor done. We are not exhorted to search out national or regional "curses" and to pray for "release" from them. (There were things that related to Israel from the OT, but that is quite different and belongs to the covenant that they had with God in the OT.)
How do these modern books then help us to establish with certainty if a curse is at work in our lives? They donít. They canít. Depending on the seriousness of the problem, they constantly use such language as, " it is likely", "it could be thatÖ", "perhaps", " if you believe that a curse is affecting youÖ", "it is very likely that Ö", " most probably", " you need to seriously consider whetherÖ". And even more seriously, if not more threateningly, they tell us that God does not hold us guilty for the "fact" that our ancestors brought a curse on us, but that He will hold us guilty if we donít use what He has provided to give us release from a curse! What legal bondage and deception is this to put on the people of God!
One of the scriptures they love to quote, is Proverbs 26:2, which tells us that a curse doesnít happen without a reason. This is clear and simple. If there is a curse, of course there is a reason for it. But they use this verse to make us think that whenever there is a problem, then this "could" be a curse, and "if you decide" it is a curse, then you ought to "find out" where it came from, that is, what caused it. This teaching of theirs does nothing to help us to identify if a curse is at work in our lives; it only encourages people to think that there "might be" a curse behind every problem! Something goes wrong and they want you to think, "Oh, dear. Whatís the cause? Nothing happens without a cause! Is the cause of my problem a curse?" And so they encourage unbelief and superstition in the hearts of the Lordís people.
But again we ask, how can we clearly know if a curse is at work in our lives? Their answer is, that in the end, after all our considerations, only the Holy Spirit can give us a completely accurate diagnosis! The Spirit Himself must show us! This is their answer. This is how we are to know with certainty Ė the Holy Spirit must show us. But this can become a very subjective matter! All sorts of considerations and factors may influence my perception and conclusions. And if I have a serious personal problem, am I in a proper state to be able to receive such supernatural knowledge from the Spirit? Must I then find someone who has the "spiritual gifting" to discern curses?
This is truly amazing. Can it be possible that Godís Spirit will witness to something that is not taught in Godís word? But of course they are forced to tell us that the Holy Spirit must show us, because nothing is taught in the NT about this. So you, or someone else, must decide if the Holy Spirit is showing you in a definite way that a curse is at work in your life! And thatís not all. If you believe the Spirit is showing you that there is definitely a curse over your life, then you must also try and discover the cause and nature of that curse! Because when you discover the cause of the curse, then you will be able to take the right action against it!!! What a madhouse of error and confusion that can only lead people into deception. It seems that we cannot effectively deal with a curse without supernatural knowledge by the Spirit concerning the cause of the curse Ė where it came from and what kind of curse it is! Is this not a form of cruelty? To tell people their problem is due to a curse but itís up to you or someone else then to discover by prayer and supernatural gifting where itís come from and what it is? And, my dear reader, it is cruel bondage! No wonder the people I mentioned above, who were trying to deal with supposed curses, got into such heartache and confusion Ė ever seeking but never really coming into anything of God! Praying, searching, looking inwards, looking backwards to past generations, wondering, questioning, getting others to pray, asking others for their insights or to exercise their special spiritual gifts of discernment Ė feeling at times they might be getting somewhere, getting some relief but never into the true liberty of Christ. Now, these books do offer model prayers of release from curses, but they continually teach how you need to identify the curse and its source first.
Now in what I am saying, I am not exaggerating. Indeed, a real-life example from one of the most popular books on curses supplies one of the best illustrations of this, and this illustration also provides one of the best examples of why this article has been written. Let me mention, if I may, the testimony of a person mature in years and also regarded as mature in the Lord and involved in ministry. Over 20 years ago, she says she had pains in a part of her body. Her husband, who has been involved in international ministry for many years and who is the author of that best-selling book on curses, immediately believed this was due to a curse. He prayed and the pain subsided and his wife thought that would be the end of the matter. But several years later she had a far more serious problem in the same area and needed medical attention. She writes that it appeared that there were still curses on her body and maybe on her life. She tells us that for the next few years Ė until the writing of the book Ė she was still struggling with her health. We are told that during this time the Spirit "revealed" many different kinds of curses, from her own life and from her ancestors. She and her husband also got thousands of Christians to pray for her and also they have had supernatural direction through words of knowledge about these curses. Even so, she confesses that renouncing all those curses has been a long process; and later in the book we are told the battle against these curses is still going on, as she seeks complete deliverance, with her and her husband using the scriptures several times a day to declare their freedom from curses! We should not be surprised if some of our African brethren along with us think that they are being returned to some kind of witchcraft culture of fear, uncertainties and charms and spells against curses! What a tragedy all this is. That mature people could be so deceived by the devil and brought into bondage to such superstitious thinking and useless praying! Here we also see that even their own teachings fail to bring them into true blessing and liberty. While a problem still exists, they automatically believe a curse is still at work and they are left with this unedifying and unbiblical thought that a curse is hanging over them for years!
These things sadden and grieve me deeply. How can anyone believe such things? I am not writing these things just to run down others or because I have a cold concern for "correct" doctrine. No. It is because people I know and love have been affected by these ideas and it has caused confusion, deception and heartache. People, the Lordís people, are being brought into an endless labyrinth of confusion and deception like we have just read about in the story above, and some have asked me to put into writing those things that I had ministered to them. Of course it is very grieving to see people robbed of the truth as it is in Christ; to see the Gospel so attacked and corrupted. Christ has done much more, and brought us into much more than these modern teachings recognise. Worse than that, these modern teachers bring us into a darkness and bondage that was never designed by God for us!
Firstly, we see that any problem, whether serious or not, is quickly and easily interpreted as being due to a curse. In other words, people who receive this teaching into their hearts are ready to see a curse behind any event in their lives, as does the author himself in the book when considering his wifeís problem. Certainly the more serious events can be taken to be due to, not one, but many Ė almost endless Ė curses. As people go down this road of thinking, little or no room is given to any other possible cause of the difficulty. And if a difficulty lasts for years, then they believe this is because they havenít discovered all the curses that are at work in their lives, so they go on digging around in the past for possible causes! This allows a fearful and superstitious mentality to develop in the heart of the person, which is quite different to the hope, peace and joy that are our inheritance in Christ, who has redeemed us from all the power of the devil and from the spirit of bondage which produces fear. What a terrible way to live Ė that every time there is a mishap or problem you think that some dark force or judgement from the past is striking your life!
Secondly, because biblical truth, instruction and guidelines are ignored, the soul is inevitably thrown into a state of guesswork and ( endless? ) speculation as it tries to discover the nature and source of the curse. As there are no scriptural examples or teaching for this kind of process, the person is again inevitably left to personal "impressions" and "revelations" of the Spirit, whether their own or someone elseís. The great danger now is, that because they ignore Godís own Word on these matters, and because they choose to believe ideas that are not according to the Gospel, they make themselves susceptible to deceiving spirits as they search and wait for answers through impressions and gifts of the Spirit. Not being grounded on the word of God but believing a lie, they now fall prey to a deceiving spirit. This spirit then only strengthens and confirms them in their delusion and deception Ė giving them all sorts of feelings, impressions and "revelations" and bodily sensations. Then one is caught in this terrible cycle of "blessings and curses", just like in the tragic story above. Indeed, in this story we are told that over this long period of time, the Holy Spirit with great patience and thoroughness revealed to her the sources of these curses, step by step, and it seems this process was still going on!
Yes, these matters are very serious and I donít say these things lightly. What is happening here is what we find in 2 Cor.11. It is the devilís deception. The Lordís people leave that wonderful, powerful simplicity that is in Christ; they leave His word and follow after other things, which results in them falling victim to another Jesus, another Gospel and another spirit. And it is happening today among Godís people as it did even in NT days. Yes, they are the Lordís people, but serious deception has got in.
Thirdly, this story makes it very clear that this teaching is not just meant for the unconverted or those who want to respond to the Lordís offer of salvation, or for those who have never really understood the implications of the Gospel, or for Christians who are living carelessly and who perhaps get involved in wrong things. No, it is by no means limited to such people. On the contrary, this story makes it abundantly clear that what they actually teach is this - namely, that any Christian can be, and probably is affected by some curse from the past. You can be mature in years; you can be a mature experienced Christian Ė even with a world-wide ministry; you can be serving the Lord and zealous to live a holy life; and yet for all this, curses from the past can bring bodily affliction on you, can cause problems and bondage in your spiritual life and difficulties in your circumstances. What superstition is this! What a denial of the power of the Gospel in the lives of the saints. What a return to a witchcraft mentality. To believe this teaching, is more of a "curse" than anything else, in the sense that it plagues the soul and brings it into darkness and bondage.
This now brings us to our third consideration:
These modern writers certainly think so. One recent book states that Satan uses the sins of previous generations nearly more than anything else to afflict both Christians and churches, as well as cities and countries Ė although there is not one verse in the NT to support this! This teaching is a monumental deception. Such a statement is geared to make a person see a curse behind nearly every problem or difficulty in their life.
How can this be so? Well, this book says that the "un-forgiven" sins of our ancestors still have a legal right to affect and afflict the Christian Ė we still reap the consequences of their un-forgiven sin! They quote only from the OT to try and support this anti-Gospel idea, mostly from Exodus 20:5 and parallel passages, which we will look at later. It further says that there is a difference between forgiveness and pardon, so that when God forgives us He cleanses us from the guilt of sin, but the "un-forgiven" sins of our ancestors which have not been cleansed in the blood, are not "pardoned", which means the punishment for those sins is still in force and can still affect us and damage us Ė even to the fourth generation! Dear reader, it grieves me to even mention such terrible inventions and injurious deceptions which have no effect except to destroy the truth of the Gospel.
But we are now in the New Covenant; born again of Godís Spirit and washed in the blood of the Lamb. So how can this be? How can the sins of past generations affect a Christian? The book just referred to actually asks this question. And what answer do they give. Well, they say it is " a mystery"!!! They say they cannot explain why Christians today Ė even holy and dedicated people - can still suffer the punishment or consequences due to an ancestorís sin! They actually say that they cannot explain why the cross of Christ does not cut off the effects of a curse when a person repents and is born again. Thatís it! This awful teaching is based on a "mystery"; in other words, on something that God hasnít revealed and on something that cannot be explained! They say, "it seems" that because of Godís laws, some ancestral sins still can damage the lives of Christians Ė however holy you may be living - until these sins or curses are "discovered" and prayed over specifically. And how are these curses diagnosed? How do you know if it is a curse at work and then where it comes from? Well, by the Spirit, they say. As I have said before, this has much more to do with superstition and occult practices than with our redemption in Christ. It is destroying the knowledge of God in people, which Jesus died to give ( 2 Cor: 4:6 ).
Although fearfully wrong and deceived, at least the writers of this recent book are more honest than other books that try and pretend that there is some biblical basis for this erroneous teaching.
We come now to the crucial Chapter 3 of the Galatian letter, which teaches us that we have been delivered from the curse of the law (verse 13). How do these modern teachers interpret this passage? Well, they acknowledge in clear terms that Christís work on Calvary is complete. He has provided the forgiveness of all our sins and He has delivered us from all the power of Satan. It is a full redemption and we can be free of the guilt and power of sin, including curses. This is wonderful. But, then they go on to explain that this doesnít all happen at conversion when you are saved. Yes, God forgives you your sins and delivers you from the power of the devil when youíre saved by His grace, but the curses that are the result of your ancestorsí un-forgiven sins continue to affect, hinder or damage your life.
They can cause marriage break-ups, accidents and death in your life! Your salvation in Christ is not complete at conversion - when you repented of all your sins and turned to God - because this does not stop the consequences of the sins of your ancestors damaging you! Christís death at Calvary cannot affect your deliverance from the punishment or consequences of their sins when you are converted and born again! Thatís what they teach. And of course itís what they have to teach if they want to justify their inventions. How then do we get deliverance from these curses? Well, they say that after our conversion, as problems arise and difficulties occur (over years?), we have to discern if a curse is at work, and then we have to identify what kind of curse it is so that we can then deal with it by the cross.
So, the message of "Christ and Him crucified" is not enough to deal with sin and judgement when we repent and turn to God with faith in His finished work on Calvary! They say that the new way to complete freedom is Christ plus discernment and diagnosis of past curses through spiritual gifting! This is exactly the kind of error Paul was fighting against among the Galatian churches. To be fully saved, Christ and Him crucified is not enough Ė you need something extra, and that something extra is based on OT texts! In Galatia some taught circumcision as a necessary addition to believing in Christ as a means of salvation. These modern writers teach that the need to discern and diagnose past curses through spiritual gifts and discernment, is a necessary addition to believing in Christ, if you want to start entering into your liberty as a son of God. And they teach that you are not to blame for your ancestorsí sins, but that you are to blame if you fail to discern and deal with the curses that are the result of their sins! This is a cruel deception and they seek to justify this gross error by using Ex. 20:5; 34:7 and Deut. 28:45. So we are supposed to believe and receive this new teaching which has no mention in the NT, but is based mainly on two passages from the OT which relate to Godís judgements under the Old covenant.
Let me again say here that if anyone involves themselves in the occult, witchcraft or in anything evil, of course they are both sinning and giving the devil power over their lives Ė whether they be unbelievers or Christians. We are to have nothing to do with these things. God has called us to leave such things and to be holy. Also, if someone has responded in some way to Christ but doesnít see anything wrong with these things and has been involved or still is involved in them, then of course they need further instruction and council. They have obviously never really heard the Gospel or understood it, and therefore would not be able to benefit from its power in their lives. All such people will need council and ministry, and deliverance from any evil involvement. But in all these cases, the way to liberation is through true repentance and true faith in Christís work on Calvary Ė this will break the power of any and every curse! Hallelujah!
But what we are considering in this article is the council and teaching that should be given to those who understand these things and want to live by them, having been born again not of corruptible, but incorruptible seed. But these writers make these teachings apply to all Christians, however mature or holy. It is one thing to say that some people need deliverance from the influence of curses when they turn to the Lord Ė which I accept Ė but it is quite something different to teach that those who are now in Christ are affected and hindered in their lives by curses from hundreds of years ago!
And one of their chief errors is that they make curses the cause of spiritual and other problems, or see them as the barrier to our obtaining our inheritance in Christ, keeping us out of the liberty and full salvation that is in Him. Whereas the NT identifies the causes as lying elsewhere Ė for example in carnal or sinful behaviour, in a lack of repentance or a lack of faith in Christ and His work on Calvary.
One of the most popular writers actually states this, and more Ė namely, that we normally come into the provisions of our salvation in stages. For example he says that some people never go beyond receiving the forgiveness of sins. ( But this does nothing to prove his point, it just raises further questions! ) He further states that someone might be wanting God to bless them with prosperity but that God is withholding that, because Godís first concern is righteousness. What does this mean? That prosperity is one of the provisions of salvation just like forgiveness and righteousness are? Then he tells us that the way, and stages that we come into the provisions of our salvation is a matter of Godís sovereignty! What? The fact that someone never knows anything more than sins forgiven Ė this is due to Godís sovereignty? All this is an invented doctrine to justify adding their teaching of curses to the message of the cross. There are just so many things wrong with this teaching at every step, that it is simply not practical nor profitable to investigate every point in detail.
So he has now invented salvation "in stages". We donít come into all our inheritance in Christ when weíve repented and been born again and received Godís Spirit. No. We "progress" into the salvation that God has provided, as we identify the curses from the past that are acting as a barrier to our full salvation! And this comes from the pen of an international bible teacher of many years. It is very sad and it is very wrong. Let me say, that because of half-truths that people hear, or because of ignorance for any reason, or because of unbelief, certainly people will have different experiences, and certainly they might not know all the fullness that God offers in Christ. But this is not because God isnít offering this full salvation to people, it is because they have not heard the fullness of the Gospel or they have not believed it and obeyed it. The message of the cross is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes, and he who has believed has been translated from the power of darkness into the Kingdom of Godís beloved Son. Amen! Godís eternal and sovereign will is that we know all the salvation that is in Christ Ė today, through believing the message of the cross, by which we are made dead to the law, dead to sin, dead to this world and delivered from the devilís power.
Let us consider what curse is talked about in Gal. 3. It is clear that it is the curse that God imposed through the law, and this fact is acknowledged by these writers. It is not the curse of the devil or of man. They also acknowledge that because of Calvary, God forgives us all our sin when we repent and believe, and that through Calvary we are delivered from the power of sin, the power of the devil and freed from condemnation. But although God cleanses us from our sin and the judgement it deserved, they teach that when we are converted Calvary does not deal with the judgement due to the unforgiven, unconfessed sins of our ancestors, as we saw above. The judgement due to us for our sin is removed when we believe in Christ. However, the judgement due to our ancestorsí sin carries on even after our conversion and Calvary cannot or does not deal with it until you recognize a problem in your life and decide that it is due to a curse, whereupon you must identify the curse that is both the consequence of your ancestorís sin, and the cause of your problem. Then you can apply the benefits of the cross. They teach that these curses pursue us beyond our conversion because Jesus death wasnít sufficient to deal with "ancestral" sins when we repent and turn to the Lord, and because of this nor was it sufficient to deal with the judgement due to those sins Ė not until you have identified them in your life and confessed them and specifically applied the cross to them! Those ancestral sins and their consequences are only and finally dealt with (and atoned for?) by your ability to discover and identify them in your life! This is what they are saying and what a terrible error and delusion it is! Though it is Godís own curse through the law, and though God sent His Son to die in order to deliver us from the law and its curse, these writers maintain that His Sonís death only allows God to forgive you your sin, but He allows the consequence of your ancestors sin to plague you because it hasnít been confessed or forgiven. They teach, in effect, that Godís own curse through the law was not lifted by Him at Calvary! In other words, God will forgive us our own sin, but Godís curse is still on you because of the unconfessed sins of your ancestors! But why did Jesus die on the cross? It was to bear the sin of the world and the consequences of those sins. This teaching makes us bear the consequences of our ancestorsí sins. This teaching is contrary to Godís own words in Ezekiel 18:20 and Jeremiah 31:29,30. It is also contrary to the very heart of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and what He has done for us. God said that He would make a new covenant, and under that new covenant God declares that our sins and iniquities He would remember no more! ( Jer.31:34; Heb.8:12; 10:17 ). But these modern writers change Godís own covenant by saying that, "Öoh yes, God does not remember your sins anymore when you repent and turn to Him, but He certainly remembers the sins of your idolatrous and sinful ancestors, and not only that, but He will still plague and curse you because of their sins ( because of Ex.20:5 and Deut.28:45! ) until you realize that any problems you have could be due to their sins, which you will need to confess before true deliverance can come! Of course they do not write in exactly this way but this is the true substance of their teaching. But what they teach wasnít even true in the OT, as we shall see, for they misinterpret and misapply the whole idea of "the curse of the law".
As we have said, this is Godís curse which He proclaimed and established through the law. This curse is not some dark mysterious power out of Godís control. Godís curse is nothing other than Godís judgement against sin and disobedience. It is what He instituted according to His own purposes through the law, and it is by His own wisdom, grace, righteousness and sacrifice, through the death of His Son, that He Himself has found a way to deliver us from the curse of the law and its judgement! Praise His Holy name! God made Him to be sin who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him ( 2 Cor.5:21 )! There is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ ( Rom.8:1 )! How can we be condemned or cursed because of the sins of our ancestors? Jesus Christ, the Son of God was made a curseÖ..for us ( Gal.3:13 )! Jesus Christ was not made a curse for us in vain. He did not suffer all that sin upon Himself that we should continue to bear the judgement of our ancestorsí sins. He overcame it all Ė the sin, the darkness and the devilís power; and I am blessed with all the benefits of His death and resurrection when I repent and turn to the Lord, believe the Gospel and receive His Spirit. I am now blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ! It is finished and it is done. And it does not depend on my psychic ability to "discern" ancestral sins from way back in history! How should we now bear curses after we have been justified, cleansed and sanctified, and been made sons of God! "If God be for us, who can be against us?ÖWho shall lay any thing to the charge of Godís elect? It is God who justifies ÖWho is he that condemns? It is Christ who diedÖwho intercedes for us." ( Rom.8:31,33,34 ). God is for us. He has justified us through the blood of His Son and His Son is not condemning us but praying for us, having redeemed us from the curse of the law. In view of all this, how should God now allow or put His curse on us because of the sins of our ancestors?! Do not these modern writers blaspheme with their teachings?
As we have seen, it is true that these writers also acknowledge that these things are true - namely, that the cross of Christ has dealt both with sin and its consequences, which includes curses. They do teach this. But what is at issue here, is that they say that you do not benefit from Jesusí death with regard to curses when you repent and turn to the Lord at your conversion. It is only as problems occur in your life and you identify them as coming from a curse (how?!) that you can apply the benefits of Jesusí death. But the problem with this teaching is that it is not taught in the NT, and as we shall see, it does not really represent the teaching of the OT. Secondly, how can you identify if something is due to a curse. And thirdly, as we have seen in the case above, even when someone "identifies" curses in their life, it took them years of praying and she still didnít get total relief from these "curses"! But why should it take years to get release from a curse after you have repented and prayed the prayers of release from curses that these modern books teach you? Why should you continue to suffer because of ancestral sins even after you have "identified" these curses and renounced them? These curses are the curses of the law which were imposed by God, so how is it that God chooses to leave you with these curses for years after you have repented for them and after Christ died to redeem you from the curse of the law? We have to say this teaching makes no sense. It has no biblical or theological foundation.
That same death on Calvary which grants us the forgiveness of our sins, that makes us free from sin, that frees us from the devilís power and that makes us free from condemnation, this death Ė His death Ė also delivers us from the curse of the law, when we believe the Gospel of our salvation with all our heart! The sins of our ancestors have no power or jurisdiction over us ( 2 Cor.5:17-19; 1Peter1:18 ).
"If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Old things are passed away and behold all things have become new! And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself by Jesus ChristÖ"
How can these modern teachers make past sins and the law with its curse, part of this new creation in Christ? The law has no power or jurisdiction over us Ė unless we ourselves choose to go back and live under the law, as they were being taught to do by false teachers in the Galatian churches and as these modern writers want us to do! But dear reader, donít be entangled in the yoke of bondage again. Stand firm in the liberty with which Christ has made you free!
All this is clearly illustrated in the OT. If we look at Joshua chapter 3, we see how God brought them into the Promised land Ė into their inheritance. The priests were to carry the Ark of God into the midst of the river Jordan. As soon as their feet touched the edge of the river, by Godís power and ordination the waters that flowed from above stood still! (verse16). They stopped and stood up as a wall. And where did these waters flow down from? They flowed down from the city of Adam, which we are told was very far away! And they flowed down to the Salt Sea. (This is also known as the Sea of Arabah, which means Sea of the Plain, which refers to the plain of Jordan. It was the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, which were cities of the plain of Jordan that God destroyed by fire, brimstone and salt. It is said that the salt minerals of this judgement were washed down into the sea making it so full of salt that nothing could live in it. Today it is also known as the Dead Sea because of the salt.) The waters on the other side of the priests "failed" and were "cut off", and the river became dry ground (verse17). The priests that carried the Ark then stood in the middle of the river on the dry ground until all the people had passed clean over on dry ground. They didnít get wet at all with anything that flowed down from (the city of) Adam. Not a drop of water touched them as the Ark of God stopped the tide for them! And Israel had to build a memorial for ever ( Josh.4:7 ) of 12 stones where the priests had stood in the midst of the river, bearing the Ark. This was to remind them of what the Lord had done in cutting off the waters of Jordan until everything was finished that the Lord had spoken, Josh.4:10.
Can you see, dear reader, how that a river of sin flowed from Adam down through the generations, bringing death and judgement on all. Can you see, that Christ, on the cross stopped the whole river of sin that Adam had introduced into the whole world right at the beginning, which lead to death and judgement, (Rom.5:12). Jesus stepped into that terrible river of death for us (Hebrews 2:9,14) and hung there for three terrible hours while He bore our sin clean away Ė until it was finished. Jesus was "cut off" from God that He should cut off that tide and flow of sin, death and judgement that has been flowing down the generations from the time of Adam. In Adam all die. In Christ shall all be made alive! He cut it all off and brought us clean over at the cross, with Himself (Rom.6:3-5; 2 Cor.5:14,17,18; Eph.1:3; 2:5,6). We have been crucified with Christ, buried with Him, made alive together with Him, raised with Him and are made to sit with Him in heavenly places, where God has brought us into our inheritance and blessed us with all spiritual blessings. Praise His holy name! Thereís nothing about curses here!
Let us be clear that Jesus hasnít just dealt with the individual sins of individual people, but He has dealt with the whole power and law of sin that caused everyone to sin. Jesus has dealt with it all, root and branch. He hasnít just forgiven us our sins, He has set us free from the law of sin and death which made us captive to sin, Rom.8:2; "for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death."
But the writer of the most popular books on "curses", teaches you can be more easily delivered from curses that result from sins in your own life, than from the curses that result from the sins of past, idolatrous generations! He says that the curses that result from your own sins can be represented by the side or lateral roots of a thick, deep, main root, which goes deep into the earth. But this strong, main root, which is much more difficult to get out, represents the generational curse with all its sins, that goes back hundreds of years! He would be right if he agreed with scripture that the root of sin goes back, not just many generations, but right back to Adam and what Adam did. What Adam did, infected the whole human race with the very power or law of sin that made them subject to death. This is the root and the power of sin that had made everyone a slave to sin, Rom.6:17. And it is this root that Jesus dealt with on the cross, which had infected the whole human race since Adam, and had made everyone a sinner, Rom.5:12; 6:6; 8:2. If you read Romans chapter 5 from verse 12, you will see that it was Adam who brought sin, death and judgement upon all mankind. But it is Jesus who has not only forgiven us our sins, but who has freed us from the power of sin and saved us from its judgement! The scriptures teach that people commit sins and that because of the cross we have forgiveness of those sins. But more than this, the scriptures teach that Christ has delivered us from the dominion of sin, which was the thing that made everyone sin! This is the comprehensive and complete salvation that Christ has purchased for us. But it is under attack from these new teachings!
This author has invented a "new category" of sin Ė not the sins you had committed in your life, for which Christ has obtained free forgiveness; nor the dominion and law of sin and death brought in through the disobedience of Adam, that has enslaved all mankind, including you, before God saved you, and from which Christ has delivered us. No, now there is what they call the "generational curse" and comes from the sins of your ancestors! And we are told, as Christians, we need deliverance from these generational curses. But unlike the forgiveness of sins, and deliverance from the dominion of sin, which we obtain when we turn to the Lord in faith and repentance and are born again, this "deliverance" from ancestral curses can happen at any time in your Christian life - as problems appear! He teaches that this "generational curse", gets past the cross of Christ at our conversion and pursues us in our lives until we discover its effects in our lives! They say there is no immediate and complete forgiveness for ancestral sins when we turn to the Lord. Those curses still work to plague our lives until they are discovered and confessed! Surely, this is another kind of Gospel! This is darkness. This is bondage. This is superstition.
( In the case of this authorís wife, she got serious trouble in her legs and health some years after having no real trouble at all, and after having been prayed for to be released from a curse in her legs. She writes that when she got trouble the second time, that she then needed release from many curses, including "generational curses". Now, if these curses are based on Godís law in Deut.28, then it must be Godís curse.
And if it is Godís curse, then why was she not troubled with it continuously from the start of her conversion? Or from the start of her life? Why did God not make it clear to her, or to us in our lives, that there is a curse at work? If God has done everything to redeem us from sin and its judgement, then why has He left this matter of curses so in the dark, with things appearing or striking us at any time? Why was there a gap of some years before she had the serious problems? Do curses (or God) choose when to plague people? Do they play games with people? "Now you see me, now you donít!" Do they just come and go, not according to any law, but just as they please? If it is Godís curse, why was it being applied as an illness at one time and not at another? Surely a curse is a curse, and its affect would be continuous and apparent from the start! And if it is Godís curse, surely He would want us to be free of it, especially since the curse is not because of our sins but our ancestorsí sins; and particularly since Christ, His Son, had died to redeem me from the curse of the law? Why all this mystery and guesswork? This seems like a terrible and cruel game that is being played here. But the author of this game is not God! This has nothing to do with the Gospel and its teaching, and much to do with the culture of witchcraft and its teaching! And of course nothing like this is taught in the Bible at all.)
To read Romans chapters 5 to 8 is to discover that Jesus has dealt with sin at its very root, the very tide and flow of sin has been dealt with at the cross, not just from many generations, but right back to Adam who started it all and introduced it all. Our old man has been crucified with Christ (Rom.6:6) and we are no longer "in Adam" but "in Christ". That tide and flow of sin, death and judgement exists in Adam, not in Christ, who has cut us off from Adam and that river of sin. Jesus has brought us not just forgiveness of sins but also freedom from sin and its dominion; but this modern teaching has now invented a new category of sin, called generational sin, from which they say we need "deliverance" as Christians. This is a most serious error and deception.
As we saw in the book of Joshua, so in Exodus we read of Pharaoh together with his army pursuing after Israel who were crossing the Red Sea. They had been saved from judgement by putting the blood of a lamb on their doorposts, as God had told them to. Now, Pharaoh represents the devil and his power, but he couldnít pursue Godís people through the Sea, which God had opened up when Moses lifted up his rod. Israel passed clean over but it was right in the midst of that same sea that Pharaoh and his army were destroyed! Heb.2:14; Acts 26:17,18, Col.1:13; 1 John 3:8. This event shows us how God has delivered His people from the devilís power and from his bondage and slavery. "We have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father!" Rom.8:15. But this teaching is bringing people back into bondage and fear! Pharaohís power could not pursue Israel through the sea to capture them and bring them into bondage again. Pharaoh couldnít even hold onto a hoof, Ex.10:26! On the contrary, the Lord so favoured His people that they were able to spoil the Egyptians by getting their silver and gold, Ex.12:35,36. But by their teachings, these modern teachers want to make us a spoil for the devilís power and interference and for generational curses, and to rob us of our inheritance in Christ. Having started by saying that these curses are Godís curses through the law, nevertheless these writers then forget this fact, and say that not only do curses have dominion in our lives because of ancestral sins, but the devil also now has "a right" to trouble us in our lives because of those ancestral sins! Is this not blasphemy against the work of Christ on the cross? No such thing is taught or mentioned in the NT, and properly speaking it is not taught in the OT.
Please let me illustrate how far into deception this teaching brings people. In one modern book that promotes this teaching, the writer tells this story: there was a church in the United States that had had several pastors, all of whom had been married. But the wives of four successive pastors had died of an illness that had weakened their bodies, or they had been killed in an accident.
This writer and his wife were counselling in this church and discovered that about five pastorships back, the wife of the then pastor had jealousy and rivalry in her heart, and so the writer decided that the four subsequent pastorís wives had all died because of the sin of that earlier pastorís wife! And the writer also points out to his readers, that those other four pastorís wives were quite innocent, but they had nevertheless suffered and died because of the sin of that first pastorís wife! He concludes by saying that those other four wives had reaped the generational sins of the first woman! Of course he prayed to "cut off" any further effect of that generational curse. They say they did this by repenting and praying for forgiveness!
Such is the depth of deception that this false teaching is bringing people into. It is the teaching of occultism and witchcraft, not of the Gospel.
The scriptures do not teach that "generational sin", or its "curses", or the power of the devil can overcome Ė legally or spiritually Ė what Jesus did at Calvary. It shows and teaches the opposite. They cannot "get past" the cross of Christ and pursue, plague or have dominion over those who are in Christ and are living in the benefit and blessing of being one with Christ in His death and resurrection! Towards the end of this article we shall look at the reasons why Christians have difficulties in their lives and again we shall see that curses are never even mentioned as the cause of a problem.
So we have seen that it is Godís curse. Secondly, it is Godís curse through the law. It is the curse of the law. The law was given to Israel through Moses as an essential part of the covenant between God and the people of Israel. The law applied to that covenant. While that covenant lasted, Godís people were to live by it, to live by its standards and to be a holy people. The person who didnít continue to keep the whole law would be under Godís curse, or we could say, subject to Godís judgement, Deut.27:26. We know that the law could tell us what we needed to do and how we needed to be, but it could not empower us to do or to be these things ( Rom.8:3,4; Heb. 7:18,19; 10:1 ). We could not really live according to Godís righteousness in our own strength. The efforts of our flesh were futile in fulfilling His righteousness because of the law of sin and death in us. To live under the law is to discover that you fall short of the glory of God, far short, and that you cannot fulfil the righteousness of God ( Rom.3:10,23 ). To live under the law is to discover how strong the law of sin and death is in your life. And of course, this is one of the main purposes for which the law was given Ė to convict men of their sin and to reveal to them that they are guilty before God ( Rom.3:19,20 ). And they needed to know this if they were to be led to true repentance and to be saved from their terrible condition ( Gal.3:22-2). For this sin in us, which the law convicts us of, is the thing that separates us from God and keeps us in spiritual death. God illustrated this to us clearly by not allowing anyone into His presence in the Holy of Holies upon pain of death Ė except the high priest once a year, where he prefigured Christ. And because of this sin, the judgement of God rests on every soul of man Ė "Öcursed is everyone that doesnít continue in all the things that are written in the book of the law to do them". Paul quotes this verse from Deut.27:26 in Gal.3:10. You will notice that in verse 26, the curse that God pronounces is not for a specific sin ( as is the case in the preceding verses ), nor does this verse mention a specific kind of curse or punishment, such as illness or disaster, as in following chapter. No, this is a fundamental truth that God is expressing here, namely, to show that men are sinners and under Godís judgement for sin if they do not keep his righteous commands continually. As James tells us ( James 2:10 ), if someone keeps the whole law, yet transgresses in just one point, then he is guilty of breaking the whole law! Godís standard of righteousness is complete and total and there is none that can live up to it by trying to keep the law! So that verse is true of every one that has ever lived Ė no one has ever truly fulfilled the righteousness of God in their lives, outside of Christ, whether they were living by the law or not ( Rom.2:12 ). This is the great and fundamental meaning of this verse in Deut.27:26. Not only will it reveal men to be sinners, as the verses in Romans above show, but it also declares Godís judgement on that sin. Now, we have stated that God gave the law to Israel, which is quite true. But in terms of keeping Godís righteousness and being righteous, verse 26 in Deut.27 exposes all men to be sinners and under Godís judgement. As we have said, the law only reveals manís inability to keep Godís righteousness in his own strength. The "law" cannot gives us righteousness nor make us righteous ( Gal.3:21,22 ). But God, in His great mercy and grace has found a way to justify us and to make us righteous and partakers of His holiness, Gal.3:24; 2Cor.5:21; Heb.12:10. Praise His Name! He has given us His Spirit and made us His sons so that we can now boldly come into His presence ( Gal.4:6 ). But how is this done and fulfilled? It is by a new and living way. It is through Christ because of His death on Calvary, and it is of faith that it might be by grace ( Rom.4:16 ). The law, as a means of making us righteous was ineffective, so God has given His own Son to provide a better way and a better covenant. And it is in this New Covenant that we receive abundance of grace and salvation ( Eph.2:7,8 ). But the Old and the New cannot operate together, side by side ( Rom.7:1-4 ). We cannot follow and believe in Christ, and follow the law of the Old Covenant ( Gal.3:3 ). This is confusion. This is to make Christ of none effect in our lives and to deny the faith ( Gal.2:21; 3:4; 4:11,20; 5:2-4! ). Now through the New Covenant in Christ we are made dead to the law as a means of attaining righteousness. Since the law could only convince us of our sin and strengthen sin in us as we tried to overcome it, Christ has delivered us from the law ( Rom.7:4-6; Gal.2:19 ) that we might receive His Spirit by faith and be set free from the law of sin and death ( Rom.8:2-4; Gal.3:14 ). Nowhere do Christ or the apostles commend the law as a means of receiving forgiveness, being set free from sin and its judgement or attaining righteousness before God. On the contrary, the use of the OT law in this way only results in failure, sin and condemnation ( Gal.5:16-18; Rom.3:19 ). So in Christ, God has done away with the old, and established the new. Paul challenges those who want to be "under the law" ( Gal.4:21 ) and shows them from the events in the OT itself, that God has done away with the law as a means of blessing us and that it can only bring us into bondage. Faith in Christ is the only way and the only means of receiving forgiveness and freedom from sin and its condemnation Ė no application of the law can do this. Therefore, we are no longer under the law. Christ has redeemed them who were under the law to make them Godís sons ( Gal.3:25; 4:5 ). Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law Ė that is, we have been redeemed from the judgement of God that was due to us because of our failure to keep Godís righteousness. The law could only expose us as sinners and condemn us as such. Christ has borne our sin on Calvary and delivered us from condemnation. Hallelujah!
This is what the letter to the Galatians teaches us. Indeed, according to Paulís teaching, who is under the curse of the law? Galatians 3 tells us clearly Ė it is those who are of the works of the law, Gal.3:10 ! Those who live under the law and want to follow the law and seek righteousness and deliverance through the law Ė they depart from faith and the power of Godís salvation; they end up in sin and failure; they end up under Godís condemnation, that is, under His curse! Therefore Paul warns them in the strongest terms and urges them not to return to the law nor to put themselves under it. To return to the law is to put oneself under Godís judgement! It only brings you into bondage and condemnation, Gal.4:21-31.
So the only thing that brings Godís curse ( judgement ) on us, is not the sin of our ancestors, but living under the Law of the Old Covenant!
Can you see how these modern writers stand everything on its head and actually teach the opposite of the scriptures? For this is exactly what these modern writers and teachers are doing. They are bringing people back under the tenets and condemnation of the law! Because of verses like Ex.20:5 and Deut.28:45, they teach that the curse of the law still applies to those in Christ today because of ancestral sins. Paul says, "No. The curse of the law only applies to those who want to live by the law instead of through faith in Christ. Those who live by faith in Christ are redeemed from the curse of the law." No part of the law nor any ancestral sin can afflict them if they are in Christ! But these teachers say, "No. Curses still apply to Christians, even mature ones, and we are delivered from the curse of the law only, and not until we identify the ancestral sins which act as a curse in our lives and which are the cause of our problems, and then apply the cross to them! And this process could last years, if not most of our lifetime!" This teaching is in contention with the Gospel!
This teaching does not deliver us from curses Ė it would bring a curse on us by opposing the truth and Gospel of God! They directly contradict the clear teaching of Galatians. The very verses that declare us free from the curse of the law, they misuse to support their own ideas Ė and without knowing it, bring the curse of the law down upon us as a consequence! Furthermore, this teaching wants to turn us into some kind of psychic or occult mediums where we have to develop the ability, "in the spirit", to discover what sins occurred perhaps hundreds of years ago by one of our ancestors! Godís answer is to believe in the full salvation that He offers us in Christ!
Now, as I have said, these writers freely confess that we are justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, but their whole teaching then goes on to declare that the law and its curse still applies today to Christians after they have truly repented and been converted. Because of what the law says in Ex.20:5, Deut.28:45 and Lev.26:40, they teach that it is only as we discover the effects of ancestral sins in our lives that we can begin the process of deliverance through "spiritual gifting and discernment" and repentance for ancestral sins. In other words, they proclaim Christ plus the law. Paul says this is a denial of the faith and a departure from Christ!
Let me say here, that insofar as the law was a reflection of Godís own righteousness, goodness and holiness, there is an enduring quality about the law. Not in the ceremonial, outward aspect, but in terms of the righteous nature of God, which God wants to fulfil in us and for us to be partakers of Ė not through the keeping of the law but through faith in Christ, Rom.3:31; 8:3,4; 2Peter1:4. Thatís why Paul says in Romans 3:31, through faith in Christ we establish the law. He is not here talking about the outward or ceremonial things of the law, like circumcision (which he warns them against); he is here talking about that righteousness which the law was supposed to bring us into but couldnít (Gal. 3:21). In these chapters in Romans as well as in the Galatian letter Paul is expounding how we are justified and how the righteousness which is required by the law is fulfilled in us Ė and it is through faith as we walk and live in the Spirit. It is not through any application of the law!
These modern writers apply the law in a way that has no NT or even OT validity, as we shall see. We have already seen that Paul quotes Deut.27:26 in Gal.3:10. We have also already noted that this is a fundamental verse relating to Godís absolute righteousness and His judgement on even one failure to keep His commandments. There is no reference to a specific sin here as in preceding verses nor is any particular curse or judgement mentioned for this failure as there is in chapter 28. This verse is a reference to the fact that Godís judgement is on any who sin; and it is because of this that Jesus came Ė to deal with the power of sin in peoplesí lives and its judgement over them. When these modern writers refer to Gal. 3:10, they miss the point of what Paul is teaching. He is quoting from Deut.27:26, but they say this verse includes the curses of Deut.28:45 and this is what they then concentrate on Ė all the different types of curses in chpt.28, and tell us this is what Paul is referring to in Gal.3:10! They tell us that a Christian can be afflicted with any of these curses in Deut.28 because of the sins of their ancestors! All types of illnesses, calamities, disasters, defeat, failure in business, family and marriage breakdown and insanity can plague and afflict you because of ancestral sins! Thatís what they teach from Gal.3:10! My dear reader, is that what the apostle Paul is teaching the Galatian churches? Is he writing about outward plagues and judgements that can come upon Christians because of ancestral sins; how you must be careful to identify these plagues and curses in your life, repent for those ancestral sins and then apply the benefits of the cross of Christ??? Does Paul use Deut.27:26 in this way or to teach these things? No. Not at all! As we have abundantly seen, Galatians chpt.3 as well as the whole letter, is teaching us about faith, justification, righteousness and living in the Spirit and in the liberty of the sons of God, as opposed to the works of the flesh and living under the law, which brings judgement and failure. These are the great fundamental issues of the Gospel. But as we saw in the previous article on repenting for national sins, these modern writers misinterpret the Gospel and do not really understand the New Covenant and what it is all about. They love to concentrate on outward, carnal things. Even so their interpretation of the Bible is carnal and focuses on outward things. But the Kingdom of God is not in food and drink (outward things), but in righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom.14:17). Jesus came to bring about a fundamental spiritual change in us whereby we are born into Godís Kingdom, justified, cleansed and set free from sin and its judgement; but these teachers concentrate on the outward things of the law, thinking that this will set us free and bring us into the righteousness of God and into the Spirit of God. Even as the false teachers in the Galatian churches were wrong (Gal.3:1-3), so these modern teachers are sadly and dangerously mistaken.
What a terrible falsehood and deception this is, as though God is allowing or sending these plagues or afflictions on His people today like some kind of "mysterious, unknown curse" from the past, which we have to discover and identify and then repent of and apply the cross to. This false teaching is in serious danger of corrupting the true image and nature of God. They almost represent him in the style of some kind of witchdoctor, who mysteriously allows curses to plague us because of hidden ancestral sins, and this then leads us into fear as to whether any difficulty or problem that may occur in my life might be due to some curse for which atonement must be made. But this is what my African brothers and sisters have been redeemed out of. This is exactly the atmosphere and culture that put them in fear and made their lives a misery before they heard and believed the Gospel of their salvation. This is cruel superstition! And now these modern teachers want to baptize them again into this atmosphere and culture of fear and superstition - all in the name of Christian revelation!
Let us now consider what the curse of the law is, as portrayed in the OT, and we shall see how they misrepresent even the Law of the OT.
These modern writers try to support their ideas concerning curses mainly from two passages of scripture. Perhaps the most significant of these is Exodus 20:3-5 (and its parallel passages in Exodus 34:7; Numbers 14:18; and Deut.5:9). From this passage they want to tell us that the judgement or consequences of the sin of one parent (which they call a curse) is carried over to succeeding generations (up to four) with the result that those generations are plagued or afflicted with this curse Ė this includes people today who are converted and living as Christians in Christ! ( Please refer to the first article for further exposition of this passage.) They invent the term "generational curse" from this passage.
Firstly, in this verse from Exodus 20:5, God says that the fathersí sins are visited upon them that hate Him. So it seems that those in Christ today are counted among those that hate God, according to the interpretation of these modern writers! Since the scripture says that God visits the sins of the fathers on the children of them that hate Him, and these modern writers teach that Christians suffer because of, and are visited by, the parentsí sins - even if they are living holy lives! But such Christians are not those that hate God, so these writers need to explain how they can apply this verse to Christians for whom Christ has also now died!
Secondly, as we have already noted, this passage doesnít say that God will punish the 3rd or 4th following generations, but that He will visit them with their parentís sin. Ezekiel 18 supports this meaning by clearly stating that the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, but he shall be judged for his own sin; though the implication is also there that the son can be ensnared by the fatherís sins and follow in his fathers evil ways Ė and so the fathers sins are visited upon the children. But if the son turns to the Lord in repentance, then the son will not suffer because of his fatherís sins. His repentance clears and justifies him completely before God without him needing to repent for his fatherís sins Ė this was simply not required and indeed it could not be! This is the clear teaching of Ezekiel and it goes hand in hand with the passage in Ex.20. In fact, through Ezekiel, God was rebuking the Israelites for complaining and maintaining that the children suffer because of their parentís sins. Those Jews who were in the Exile were saying that they were suffering for their fathersí sins, but God said, "No. Each one will suffer for his own sins!" ( In Isaiah 65:7, God makes it clear that His judgement came upon them because they had sinned, together with their fathers. They had not turned away from their fathersí sins and so they reaped Godís judgement, which of course is the meaning in Ex.20:5). But these modern writers oppose God even more in these days of New Covenant grace by saying, "Yes, the children do suffer and bear the iniquities of their fathers Ė even after the children themselves have repented and turned to the Lord!" Thus their teaching is based on two fundamental errors.
It is contrary to both New and Old Testament teaching. In the OT, children who do not turn away from the evil ways of their fathers can be ensnared by and suffer the consequences of their fathersí sins. However, the whole of the Bible shows and teaches us that upon repentance, a person (or the people of Israel in the OT) is cleared of guilt, is pardoned, is freed from his parentís sins, is cleansed and is justified by God. In oneís own relationship with God, one is not hindered by, or suffers from, the sin or guilt of parents or ancestors. This is consistently shown in the Bible both in teaching and by examples. The idea that past curses can afflict a person in their walk with God after they have truly repented is not found in the Bible. Or can you find one such example?
Of course in another sense, certain actions have their inevitable consequences. For example, if parents neglect to look after their child or feed him properly, then that child could fall into serious ill-health or the child may fall into bad company. And as we saw, the parents own evil ways can ensnare the child in the same sins.
Evil in society also can act as a snare to the people who live in it. Also, if a person divorces and marries again and then is converted to the Lord, that person cannot always undo all the practical consequences of their previous actions. Though these things are so, yet if any person in any of these or other situations turns to the Lord in true repentance, then they are completely cleansed and set free before God who will not hold their past against them nor the past sins of their ancestors Ė they are justified and completely cleared by God in their relationship to Him. Whatever inevitable practical consequences they still may have to bear from their past actions, in their spiritual walk with God they are not hindered or plagued with curses from the past after they have truly repented. In their walk with God, curses cannot pursue them beyond true repentance. Praise the name of the Lord!
This is the teaching of the Bible and there is no exception in the whole of Scripture to this fundamental truth! True repentance restores or brings a person into a clear relationship with God where their sins are remembered no more and where the past has no power over them while they walk with the Lord.
Perhaps it is worth mentioning what some Bible commentators point out, namely, that in ancient cultures such as Israel, as with certain cultures today, it is not unusual for families to hold together and live together, either in the same dwelling or nearby. So it would not be unusual to have three or even four generations of a family living together or very close to one another. This might explain the significance of God counting up to four generations for the evil of the father. The father might very well be alive and have an influence over all the children right down to their great grandchildren. Consider the case of Korah who opposed the Lord and stood at his tent door with all his family, ( Numbers 16 ). Surely, those that we have known in our own childhood and lifetime are the ones who have influenced us the most, and perhaps this helps us to understand the meaning of Ex.20:5.
The only apparent exceptions to what I have written above has to do with Godís dealing with His chosen people in the OT. Israel were His chosen people and they were represented by one physical nation. As well as consisting of individuals, God also dealt with them as one people who were corporately responsible for their actions in history. This is quite different to the church today, which is comprised of people out of every tribe and nation. Please refer back to the article on Repenting for the Sins of the Nation, where this point is further illustrated, where I refer to the sins of Achan and Saul. We could also mention the rebellion of Korah, or the wanderings of Israel in the desert, where the children had to wait to enter the Promised Land because of the unbelief of their parents. But all these examples have to do with Godís unique dealings and judgements on Israel as a nation, even though some of these sins were committed by individuals. But none of these examples change what we have been saying or what is taught in the whole Bible. Namely, that when someone truly repents then they are completely pardoned and set free so that the past has no hold on them as they walk with the Lord. And this is also clearly illustrated in the history of Israel. We also see that Daniel too was carried away captive because of Israelís rebellion against the Lord, although he himself was guiltless. But the sin and rebellion of his generation and of previous generations did not in any way hinder, obstruct, damage or afflict his personal relationship with the Lord, or his spiritual walk with God. On the contrary, he is an example of someone who is blessed, righteous and loved of God.
If you want to use the Law in this way, surely what applies to Christians is what we find written in Ex.20:6, where God promises His mercy unto thousands of them that love Him. Here we have a contrast between God visiting the sins of those that hate Him, to up to four generations, and God extending His mercy to a thousand generations of them that love Him! Truly, His mercy rejoices over His judgement. This figure of a thousand indicates that it is His eternal blessing that is on them that love Him Ė nothing of curses! But these modern teachers put the "curses" that belong to unrepentant people who hate the Lord, onto Christians today! This wasnít even true in the OT, where those who repented and love the Lord are blessed with Godís eternal mercies, even as these verses in Ex. 20 show us!
But what do the scriptures say? Paul tells us that we have been blessed (not cursed) with all spiritual blessings (not curses) in Christ, Eph.1: 3. If God be for us, who can be against us? And who is he who condemns us now? Who shall lay anything to the charge of Godís chosen ones? (Rom.8:31-34). Perhaps this modern teaching is in danger of doing this very thing! But God is for us, and it is Christ who has justified us and intercedes for us. How should the Father and the Son bring the judgements due to dead people on us, when we are in Christ?
We need to distinguish the two covenants and we need to know which people the scriptures refer to. Because these modern teachers fail to recognise not only how the law and its curses apply, that is, under what circumstances, but also to whom they apply. These teachers apply the law and its curses to all people Ė Jew or Gentile, saint or sinner Ė over all time! Before we go any further, let us now look at this.
Godís warning in the first commandment in Ex: 20:3-5 is against those that commit idolatry. These modern teachers say that it is therefore particularly because of this sin that curses come upon succeeding generations, whoever these people are Ė Jew or Gentile, saint or sinner. Not content with this, they go on to teach that almost any sin that a person commits can bring curses on succeeding generations!
But let us look at what God says in verse 5. He says to the Israelites, "Öthe Lord your GodÖ" God is emphasising the fact that He is their God and they are His people Ė through His choice of grace and love as He told them in Deut.7:6-8; 10:15, and by the fact that He redeemed them out of Egypt by the blood of a lamb. And this is how God introduces the giving of the Ten Commandments in verse 2. "I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before meÖ" God is here giving the basis and reason for the commandments that shall follow. He is their God by virtue of His choice of them and by virtue of having saved and redeemed them! He has made them His people; bought them, revealed Himself to them, saved them and blessed them with His presence and with His word. He tells them that they are a special people over all the people of the earth. Because of these things He expects them to be faithful to Him, for He tells them that, "...the Lord your God is a jealous God". They are His and He is jealous for them, for His own. They are His and therefore they need to behave like His, that His name should be sanctified and glorified and not profaned among the other nations. God is jealous that His own Name should be honoured. He will not allow influences among His people that will turn an individual or the community of Israel away from Him. ( This may help to explain some of the unique judgements that came upon Israel, such as with Korahís rebellion, where all of his household perished, Deut.16 ). In view of what He had done for them to make them His holy people, which He hadnít done for any other nation, they would also be subject to His unique corrections and judgements, which wouldnít apply in the same way to other nations. In other words, both these blessings and the judgements of God were unique to Israel, and God established His Covenant with them and gave them the Law at Sinai which confirmed these blessings and the curses or judgements as part of His Covenant with them. God Himself makes this point clear in Amos 3:1,2 :
"Hear this word that the Lord has spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying, you only have I known of all the families of the earth, therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities."
We know that God never changes. But some things do change. Very much and quite significantly. There is a difference between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. In the Old Covenant there was a difference between Israel and the other nations. But the mistake that these writers make, is to take (or corrupt!) verses from the OT that related specifically to Israel and the unique covenant between God and them, and apply them to all people for all time. Has God then promised all other nations the land of Canaan as an inheritance as He did to Israel? Did he redeem other nations out of a land of bondage, save them by His mighty power and reveal His glory and word to them? Does everyone then need to be circumcised in order to be saved today? If not, why not? Well, for the same reason that we should reject this modern teaching, which cannot distinguish between the Old and New Covenant, between Israel and the nations, between flesh and Spirit and between the world and the church!
To other nations God had not revealed Himself as He did unto Israel, and to whom much is given, much is required. Whereas we have seen that Paul could say that God could wink at the time of ignorance among the nations, from Israel He expected much, much more, insofar that Jesus wept over Jerusalem Ė He came to His own and His own received Him not. God had greater expectations from them as His own people, and insofar as they refused Him, greater would be their judgement. Even as their privileges were unique and belonged to no other nation (except that others could join themselves to them), so His judgements and punishments would be unique because of the covenant He had established with them.
We have seen how God chose and spoke to His people Israel in Ex.20. But how can Gentile nations be expected to worship the Lord "their" God and not turn unto idols, when they were already worshipping idols in their ignorance, and generally didnít know God or His commandments; they hadnít had His law revealed unto them nor had they entered into a covenant with Him! How could they break a covenant that they had not been brought into and about which they were ignorant? They were not partakers of the unique blessings, how should they be subject to the unique judgements that were meant for Israel?
The truth of this is brought out by Paul in his letter to the Romans; Rom.3:20; 4:15; 5:13; 7:7. Here we see that sin is not imputed where there is no law. Although he knew the law as a Pharisee, yet it was on this principle of genuine ignorance of Godís will that Paul received mercy and forgiveness so freely. He states this in 1Tim.1:13,
"Öwho was before a blasphemer and a persecutor and injurious; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief." He hadnít been deliberately or consciously rebelling against the Lord. He wasnít aware that he was opposing the Lord, Acts 9:5, and the revelation to his heart that it actually was so, must have come as a terrible shock to him. And because of this, he freely received Godís mercy and pardon and was not treated as someone who had deliberately violated Godís will.
Jesus also makes this point, in Luke 12:47,48. "Öunto whom much is given, of him shall much be required." Those who know Godís will and donít do it shall suffer a severer judgement than those who broke Godís command in ignorance.
This truth is also made clear when Paul is preaching to the Gentiles in Acts 14:15-17, where he says about God,
"Öwho in time past suffered all nations to walk in their own waysÖ"
In verse 17 he doesnít say that they are being plagued with Godís curses because of their ancestral idolatry. On the contrary, he makes it clear to them that God has actually blessed them with natural things, giving them rain and food. In Acts 17:30, where he warns them against idolatry, he could have told them about Godís curses coming upon people who practice this and how they needed to repent and be freed of generational curses, but he doesnít take the opportunity to do this. Instead he says,
"And the times of their ignorance God winked at, but now commands all men to repent."
Paul does not apply the curses of the Law of Moses to these situations. It is not part of the Gospel message to the nations! Not here, not in the Acts, and not when writing to the saints in his letters. He does not warn them or teach them that the curses of the OT apply to them. How different is NT teaching to these modern errors!
So we see from all these scriptures, that where people donít have the law or know the law, when they act in genuine ignorance of Godís will, then God does not impute to them those sins that they commit in ignorance of His law, Rom.4:15; 5:13. (Though actual sins need to be atoned for, but this was provided by God through the death of His Son, to everyone who believes.) Nor do they suffer Godís (providential) judgement in the same way as people who knew Godís will and were in a covenantal relationship with Him, as was the case with Israel. Let us remember, that it was Israelís repeated rejection of Godís special or unique offer to them that resulted in free salvation and the blessings of God coming to the Gentiles, Rom.11:11,12,15. So, Israelís judgement for rejecting Godís special covenant with them resulted in our blessing. Dear reader, can you see how different the relationship between God and the Gentiles ( who were not in covenant with God ) was, compared to Israel, who were privileged to have received a unique covenant with God?
So it is no surprise when Paul says, "whatsoever things the law says, it says to them who are under the law."
In other words, the law only applies to those who are under the law Ė or to those who put themselves under the law, as some of them were doing in the Galatian churches, and as these modern teachers want us to do! We have seen that the Gentile nations were not "under the law" because they were not in covenant with God nor, generally speaking, did they know His law; and we have seen that Christians are not "under the law", since the law can only condemn us and Jesus died to redeem us from the curse of the law.
[Although the Gentiles were not under the law and therefore didnít have that knowledge of sin that the law gives (Rom:3:20; 7:7), this did not mean that they were without excuse or without sin. The scriptures teach that all men have sinned and are guilty and in need of salvation, Rom.3:19; 5:12. It also teaches that men are without excuse because they have been created by God to know Him and to recognise His power and Godhead through created things, Rom.1:18-25. Having been created by God and to know God, it is not surprising that the Gentiles have hearts and consciences that witness to them if their actions are right or wrong. So Paul says that when the Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, this shows the work of the law written in their hearts, Rom.2:14-16. But here Paul is obviously speaking about our consciences which convict us about basic righteousness and which every person has been born with. He is not talking about the Mosaic law with all its rules and ceremonies. So all men shall be judged according to their works (Rom.2:6-9), whether Jew or Gentile, and all that have sinned shall be judged. And to rescue and save both Jew and Gentile from sin and its condemnation, whether under the law or not, Jesus came! The law is holy, good and just (Rom.7:12), but its application to our lives could not make us holy, justified or good! The only way anyone can fulfil the righteousness required by the law Ė whether it is the righteousness that your conscience witnesses to, or whether it is the righteousness demanded by the Mosaic Law of the OT Ė is by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ!]
The other passage that these modern writers use, as we have already seen, and which is a foundation stone to their teaching, is Deut. 28:45. From this passage in the OT they want to tell us that we as Christians can be afflicted and plagued with any of these curses, which are contained in this chapter, because of the sins of our ancestors. They further teach that not only can we be afflicted with the sins of our fathers up to four generations back, but even much, much further back Ė up to hundreds or even thousands of years back.
This is completely their own invention. Even according to the scripture they use in Ex. 20:5, God mentions up to four generations. But they think nothing of corrupting the word of God and apply their own reasonings. They say that if each generation doesnít repent and many generations continue in idolatry against the Lord, then this number of "four" multiplies itself many times, so that you could be affected by sins that go back even a thousand years! Superstition so takes hold of them, that they ignore Godís word and create their own system of teaching! They also magnify the law against grace, and Godís judgement against His mercy. This is not surprising since, as we have seen, this teaching wants to bring us under the law, and to be brought under the law, is to be brought under judgement. But what does even the Law say? Apart from limiting it to four generations, the next verse, Ex.20:6, tells us that it is His mercy and goodness that extend to thousands of them that love Him! His mercy rejoices over judgement (James 2:13) and His blessings are poured out far more abundantly than His curses! This is the revelation both of the OT and the NT.
Now, if we look at Deut.28 we see that the curses relate to the law and covenant established between God and His people Israel. So these teachers now take this unique law which was based on the unique covenant between God and His unique people Israel and apply it to all nations for all time, and to believers as well as unbelievers. But in Acts chapters 14 and 17, as we have seen, Paul makes no such mention, application or use of the Law and its curses when preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles! On the contrary, as we have already pointed out, Paul declares that God had winked at their time of ignorance and had blessed them (and not judged them according to what their sins deserved at that time) because He knew they were unaware of His Law and nature, unlike Israel, to whom God had revealed Himself by word and various revelations and manifestations.
Ex. 20:5 tells us that an unrepentant, wicked person (those that hate the Lord) will reap or be visited with the sins of their rebellious ancestors up to four generations. But verse 6 tells us that if a person has turned to God and loves Him, then God shows His mercy in overwhelming abundance! There is no hint of being pursued by curses once the person has turned to the Lord with all their heart. For as we have said, mercy rejoices over judgement and indeed, this is the unique revelation that Moses received of the nature of God at Sinai and that is also revealed in the NT, namely, that God is "merciful and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in goodness and truth", Ex.34:6,7. And it would not be difficult to quote many verses in the NT that declare the same truth and message, such as, John 1:17; Rom.2:4; 15:5; 2 Cor.1:3; Eph.1:6,7; 2:4,7.
Just as horrendously and erroneously these modern writers apply these curses or judgements in Deut.28 to all Christians. But they are those who have repented, turned to the Lord and who love Christ! In Deut.28 these curses apply to unrepentant Israel, that is, when one generation continues in rebellion and refuses to acknowledge their sin and to return to the Lord in repentance. And these judgements or curses accumulate as one generation continues in the sins and rebellion of previous generations. In verses 20, 45 and 62, for example, we are told that these curses will come upon Israel if they do wickedly and if they donít keep His commandments but turn away from Him. These curses will come upon Israel for their continued disobedience. The curses do not apply when Israel are walking in obedience to God! That is what we find in Deut. chapter 28. We find a parallel passage to Deut.28 in Leviticus 26, which helps to make this even clearer. ( Please see the first article, where this point is fully illustrated.) Godís judgements (curses) are not plagues let loose without purpose as an endless punishment on subsequent generations for the sake of the disobedience of one generation. No! Read Lev.26 and you will see that as one generation of Israel rebelled against the Lord and against His word, God said He would send judgement upon Israel in order that Israel might realize its foolishness and repent and return to the Lord. If they continued to rebel He would send further judgements in order to bring them to their senses and to repentance. His judgements were simply a form of His mercy, in that, since Israel wouldnít listen to His word, God sent outward judgements to bring them back to Him. And if they did return to Him then they would be pardoned, cleansed and brought back into a clear relationship with God, without the need to seek deliverance from ancestral curses. This point has already been fully made in the first article, where we mentioned the cases of King Hezekiah and Josiah, who when they turned away from continuing in their fathersí sins and turned to God, did not need to be released from any curse. Repenting from sins deals with the judgement of those sins, whether they began with you or your fathers. No curse remains to hang over you after true repentance. In the covenant that God had established with Israel, curses came upon the unrepentant children or nation, who continued in the evil ways of their fathers. But curses did not pursue or plague them after they had acknowledged their sins and repented!
What is stated in Deut. chapter 28 is very clear; for repeated and continued disobedience against God, God would send specific, severe judgements Ė but with the aim of bringing Israel back to Himself in repentance.
When Israel sinned, God sent them prophets, rising early, to declare their sins to them and to warn them of judgements that would follow if they didnít repent; the prophets urged the people therefore to turn to the Lord, who would abundantly pardon them, ( Isaiah 1:18,19 )! Israel was left in no doubt as to what their sins were, and why God was sending such judgements on them. Nor were they left in any doubt about what they had to do to be fully pardoned and to walk again in Godís blessing and favour. They were told all these things by the prophets, continually. How different is this to these modern teachings, that say that curses can mysteriously appear out of the distant past and plague us, after we have repented and turned to the Lord. They further teach us that we have to look back into our past, perhaps hundreds of years, for the cause of the curse, and even then it could take years of "discernment" and prayer before one gets release! What a corruption of Godís word!
The people of Israel truly had it better under the Old Covenant than the condition these modern teachers want to bring us under. At least in the Old Covenant the reasons for judgement or curses were clear. And for the people who truly wanted to repent and turn to the Lord, there was no guesswork involved in knowing why these curses had come upon them. They knew exactly what they had to repent of. Both the Law and the prophets made that very clear! The remedy was also clear and immediate. Upon repentance, they received pardon and were returned to Godís favour as His own precious people! This is our God, who dwells in light and deals righteously with us! Praise His wonderful Name! But what have these modern teachers created?
It would be bad enough if these modern teachers wanted to bring us back under the Old Covenant. But what they want to bring us under is far worse than what even Israel knew! Namely, curses still plaguing you even after you had repented, then having to discover the mysterious sources of such curses, and then maybe having to pray for years to be set free! But dear reader, donít be entangled in such a yoke of bondage and deception! Christ has secured your liberty!
So again we see that these modern writers make two fundamental and serious errors. Firstly, they do not recognise that curses or judgements are cut off or come to an end upon repentance, that is, when a person repents. Nor do they recognise that the curses of Deut. 28 apply to the covenant that God made with Israel and that these curses are unique to Israel, even as the blessings and promises were unique to them. You cannot start applying them at random to all peoples for all time. And you certainly cannot apply them to Christians who have repented from their hearts and found salvation in Jesus Christ.
Let me finally say, that because God is Creator of all mankind, of course He can speak to peoples and nations and judge them, even as we find in the Old Testament accounts. But He spoke to them and judged them, not according to the Covenant that He had established with Israel, but when iniquity increased to such an extent among a people or nation, then God found it necessary to judge it and bring its influence to an end on earth. We have examples such as, Sodom, Nineveh and Babylon. But there are no examples of these kinds of dealings with nations in the New Testament. Of course the accounts of the book of the Revelation are an exception but these relate to the final judgements of God on the world. Obviously, as God and Lord of all, who had created us to know Him, (Rom.1:18-21), God could both judge and pardon the peoples of this earth according to His own righteousness and mercy and according to the dispensation of the time.
Let us now consider what the Bible has to say about the devil and his work in this matter of curses.
Firstly, it is clear that the Bible doesnít mention curses in relationship to the devil at all. It does not show him personally putting a curse on anyone. It does not use the expression the "curse of the devil".
You may like to think of Job as an exception to this, but in the case of Job, we see that what happened to him was not an ancestral curse coming upon him. No. It was God allowing or even using the devil to test His people, to bring forth their faith as gold. God allowed His people to be tested in the wilderness for this purpose, Deut.8:2,3, and Jesus was led by the Spirit of God into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And we read that Jesus went into the wilderness full of the Holy Spirit, and that He came out in the power of the Spirit, Luke 4 : 1,14. The testing had only strengthened Him, and that is what trials are meant to do for us Ė that we should grow in the knowledge and grace of the Lord and in faith. As Job said at the end of his trial, " I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eyes have seen you...". Job grew in the knowledge of the Lord through this difficult trial. Notice also in this story that the devil needs Godís permission before he can touch Job or anything he possesses. In all this it is God who is in control and His purpose is also to bless Job with more than he had at the beginning - not just in outward things but also in his relationship with God. The difficulty for Job, and perhaps for many of us, is that we donít always know the reasons why we suffer at times. There may be a difficulty or we may suffer, but we donít know the reason; we donít know and we canít see the spiritual background to the events that may have brought suffering. This is the test of faith, which is more precious to God than gold! 1 Peter 1:5-9. To suffer without knowing the reason why and yet to trust and love God in the midst of it all; this is what glorifies God and what will bless us abundantly if we let patience have its perfect work in us, ( James 1:2-4 ). Iím not saying that we never understand or know why certain things happen to us, but we all pass through trials like this where we donít know why things happen. Itís part of Godís way for us. If Job had known the spiritual background or context for his suffering, namely, that God was for Job but He was allowing the devil to test Jobís integrity and that this had nothing to do with punishment for sin, he certainly may not have suffered unnecessary thoughts concerning God and his own suffering. But no one knew the spiritual background to Jobís suffering, and this is what the test is for us all. Even as it was, not just for Job, but also for his friends, who thought they knew exactly why Job was suffering. His friends came with their theology and told him he was suffering because of his sins! And these modern teachers of "curses" think that they have eyes to see into the spiritual background as to why people are suffering certain things. And if they had been there with Job, no doubt they would have burdened and afflicted Jobís heart and mind with the thought that ancestral curses were causing all his suffering. Looking at Deut. chapter 28, they would have convinced themselves, and they would have tried to convince Job, that here was clear evidence that he was under a curse Ė his financial ruin! A clear sign of a curse, Deut.28:16,17; also loss of livestock, 28:18,31; and family problems and distress is another clear sign of a curse, 28:18, 32,41; and how can we doubt that he is under a curse when he is suffering illnesses described in chapter 28 of Deuteronomy, verses 22, 35?! Had they been there and had they had the book of Deuteronomy then, as they have it today, no doubt these would have been their arguments. And how terribly wrong they would have been! They would have only added to Jobís suffering by leaving him with the thought that a curse was hanging over him, and perhaps spent years trying to discover through prayer and "words of knowledge", which ancestral curses were to blame! All in vain. Because this was not the cause of his suffering. They would have tried to bewitch Job with their delusions, Galatians 3:1. And so these modern teachers and false comforters would have also been rebuked by God because they had misrepresented God and so had sinned against Him, just as Jobís friends had done, Job 42:7,8. Likewise, these modern teachers today misrepresent God; they portray Him in a way that is not consistent with His nature nor with the revelation of truth in the Bible. They mislead and bewitch Godís people and bring them into further suffering and bondage.
The case of Job, together with Deut.8:2,3, Rom.5:3-5, James 1:2-4, and 1 Peter 1:5-9, also shows us how important it is not to think automatically that any problem or difficulty is the result of sin, or a curse, or just the devil having his way in our lives. Here we encounter an important truth in the scriptures and concerning Godís dealing with His saints. Difficulties do come and sometimes we do suffer, but God allows such things at times to prove us, to strengthen our faith in Him and that we should grow in grace and the true knowledge of God. What this modern teaching can do is to confuse and darken peopleís minds concerning God and the way He deals with us, since it certainly encourages people to see a curse behind every problem or difficulty.
Please do not misunderstand me. I am not saying that everything that happens is sent of God. For example, sin is never Godís will and He will never do anything that will cause us to sin, James 1:13. Trials allowed by God are meant to take us deeper into the knowledge of God and of His grace and love; they are not meant to make us fall. If we have thoughts or feelings against other people, like bitterness or unforgiveness, this is because of our own selfishness, carnal behaviour or sin Ė we are ignoring or disobeying what God has clearly taught us in His word. And if a marriage breaks up, it breaks up, not because it is Godís will, or because God has sent a curse on us because of ancestral sins, but because at least one person in the marriage is behaving in a selfish, carnal or sinful manner. The answer here is repenting of oneís own carnal behaviour, not looking for a curse as the cause of your own selfishness, as this modern teaching would have us believe.
To return to the original subject. I said that the scriptures do not speak of the "curse of the devil". The devil is not portrayed as cursing anyone. However, what we can see in the Bible, is that there are men who certainly want to influence other people and even put curses on them. And to do this they use occult powers. They get involved in things that are forbidden by God and enter into the realm of spirits which are demonic. They then become agents or servants of the devil. In Acts13:6-12, when Paul arrives at Paphos there is a sorcerer by the name of Elymas who resists Paulís preaching and who tries to prevent the Deputy of Paphos from believing. Paul rebukes him and calls him, "Öyou child of the devil". By this, Paul is indicating that this man is an instrument of the devil in this situation. In Acts 8:9, we read about Simon who "used sorcery and bewitched the people of Samaria".
So there are examples of men who used occult powers to influence people and make themselves important. And these occult powers make them agents of the devil. But the people they influenced were all unbelievers! However, in the Bible there is one example, and only one example, of someone trying to use occult powers to put a curse on Godís people. This is also a very detailed account, so we should look very carefully at it to see what the Bible has to teach us in this unique account.
Here we find a man famous for his use of occult powers, which he uses to curse people. There was no one like him in all the region and he got paid vast sums of money to perform his work. And this is what we find in this story. Balak, king of the Moabites sends men with money to Balaam so that he should curse Israel. Balaam, if he were a true prophet, should have realized what God had done for Israel and that they were His own special people and he should not have got involved in this matter. But it should be clear to us that Balaam was an evil man who loved money. He could make contact with the spiritual world but he was not a spiritual man! He used his powers for his own gain and the scriptures highlight him as a symbol of unrighteousness (Josh.13:22; 2 Peter 2:15; Rev. 2:14). That he is a totally foolish man is indicated by God opening the donkeyís mouth to rebuke Balaam. That he opposes Godís will is indicated by the fact that God sent an angel to kill him. But in the end God uses this man for His own purposes Ė to show the world and occult powers that Godís people are special. They are His own people who He had redeemed out of the house of bondage by the blood of a lamb. God would glorify His own grace towards Israel and His divine favour and protection over them!
So what happens when Balaam wants to curse Israel? He canít do it! Not all the occult powers that he could gather together in and through his being could touch Godís people! Not only did he totally fail, but God turned his curse into blessing, Num. 23:16-20. And Balaam declared Godís word in verse 23, which is wonderfully amazing and highly instructive for us!
" Surely, there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel."
Isnít this amazing! And remember that this is what God said about His people, and this is what God did for His people in the Old Covenant - before Christ had died on Calvary! How much more is this true in the New Covenant that has been purchased for us with the blood of Christ! There is only this one example in the whole of the Bible of a man trying to curse Godís people, and God uses it to show us that it didnít work and He uses it to teach us that, " there is no enchantment against Jacob and there is no divination against Israel."
As I said, God had redeemed Israel out of Egypt by the blood of the lamb. He had bought them. They were His. If they did wrong, He would judge them as He saw fit. No one else had the right to steal from God the judgement of His own people! And this is infinitely more true for those who have now been redeemed by the blood of Jesus. The curse of no man or woman, however much demonic power they have, can touch or harm you if you are Godís Ė if you are in Christ. They have no power or authority over you.
( God does allow the devil to tempt us. This is taught throughout scriptures, such as with Adam and Eve in the garden or with Jesus in the wilderness. But God allows this not that we should sin, but on the contrary, that we should grow stronger in faith and in our spiritual walk with the Lord. Such trials are meant for our growth and maturing in the Lord, and that is why James says that we should count it all joy when we fall into different kinds of trial and he also makes it clear that God never tempts or wants us to sin, James1:2-4, 13.)
Later, Balaam advised Balak to let their women mix with the Israelites in order to turn them away from Lord to idolatry, Num. 25:1-3; 31:16. But this was not a curse. It was a strategy to turn Israel away from God by tempting them in the flesh. But notice that even then it was God Himself that judged His people and decided what that judgement should be. And He judged them for what they had chosen to do Ė no one had forced them to sin. Balaam didnít get in with a curse after this idolatry of Israelís either! Soon after this he was killed by the Israelites.
So this confirms what I have been saying in this article. Namely, that neither the devil nor any man can lay a curse on those that are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb and born of Godís Spirit. This is clearly shown and taught in the scriptures.
Let us also notice that even at this time, it was not as though Israel was always behaving in a holy manner pleasing to God. In Num.21 they had complained against God again and He sent fiery snakes among them, and in Num. 25 they sinned again, as we have seen. So even in the middle of stumbling and falling, God still protects His people from this curse, because although disobedient at times, they are still His (disobedient) people, and therefore He will be the one to judge them Ė and if the devil has a role in this, it is only because God allows him to, for Godís own purposes. Obviously, I am not saying you will be all right if you sin! And Iím certainly not saying that we will be safe from harm if we choose to get involved in witchcraft or occult things. We shall reap what we sow. Godís people are to have nothing to do with these things. The example above is of a people who are still following God, even though they fail at times. But what we see here, as in the whole of the Bible, is that God is the judge of His people and it is He who determines how they will be judged.
So here we have a unique passage concerning this very matter of curses and how occult powers cannot touch or harm Godís people. Of course this doesnít fit in too well with the modern teaching on curses. So what do these modern teachers say about this passage? Well, the most popular writer on "curses" says something like this:
"You see, even God took Balaamís power to curse seriously, because He had to supernaturally intervene to stop him. So we as Christians must take other peopleís power to curse us seriously! If we donít watch out, we could be cursed!"
Thatís what he says. So what message or truth does this writer get out of this passage? Well, the opposite to what the passage is actually teaching or showing us. God didnít warn Israel that Balaam was coming or that they had to be careful of the danger of the curses of wicked men. Nowhere in the OT or the NT are Godís people taught by God that the curse of wicked men, or of any men, could harm them. God told them that He would judge them if they disobeyed Him. Israel wasnít even aware that Balaam was trying to curse them Ė so why should we be made afraid of the curses of men?! The great truth that these writers again ignore, is that God has already supernaturally intervened on our behalf at Calvary! Praise His Name! No curse of wicked men, whether witchdoctors or those involved in the occult in any way, can harm Godís people. This was true in the OT and it is far truer in the NT! But the above writer says that this passage shows us that evil men can put a curse on us if were not careful!!! But Jesus says that if someone curses you, you bless them! Jesus didnít ascribe any power to the curses of men. He didnít warn us concerning the curses of men, that they could harm us! Can you see how these teachings are not according to the word of God? So here we have a passage that is a tremendous encouragement concerning our salvation as Godís people and of His care and protection of us, but the above writer uses it to encourage doubt, fear and utter superstition in the hearts of the Lordís people!
Of course, we do have another example of someone cursing one of the Lordís people. Goliath cursed David by his gods, but again without any success, 1 Samuel 17:43. Within a few moments, Goliath himself was slain by David!
Here in England, there are churches that are having particular problems. And because some of these churches are near where witches meet, some Christians wonder if the churchesí problems are caused by those witches or people involved in the occult putting curses on the church! This is a delusion. The problems in a church are due to the carnal behaviour of the Christians in them. If you are Godís, you cannot put the blame for your carnal behaviour on the devil or on a curse of some evil persons! We can only tempt God with such delusions. Nothing like this is shown or taught in the Bible.
Nowhere in their writings, do the apostles suggest that any church problems are, or even might be, due to some curse! They always pinpoint the carnal behaviour of Christians themselves as the cause of any problem, for example, 1 Cor.3:3. And if the devil has an opportunity to deceive or influence them, it is only because Christians themselves give him the opportunity through their carnal behaviour. 2 Cor.11:3 illustrates this point clearly. Paul doesnít tell the Corinthians that the devil is attacking their close walk with the Lord and that they need to rebuke his influence. No. He is telling them that it is because of their own carnal behaviour Ė they judge things outwardly, 2 Cor.10:7 Ė that they are giving the devil the opportunity to deceive them, 2 Cor.11:4,13-15,19,20! They loved to see power and signs and loved men who exalted themselves, to such an extent that some of them didnít want to hear Paulís preaching Ė he was too gentle and meek, 2 Cor.10:1. And some of them didnít even recognise him as an apostle, 2 Cor.10:10; 11:5-7,16,23; 12:11,12. Because of this carnal attitude, they were ready to receive men who were deceivers and false teachers. He is not instructing them to bind and rebuke the devil in this situation; he is instructing their hearts with the truth so that they should turn away from their carnal behaviour and thinking. Many different modern teachings today want to make us the "innocent victim" of our past or of some other power. They have borrowed this idea from the world, because it is these very ideas that have had such an influence in western society today. Some Christians are just taking these ideas and corrupting the Gospel with them. On the cross, Jesus has dealt with our past and its influence, and with all the power of the devil, and we have already looked at the relevant passages that show us this. He has done everything for our salvation so that we cannot blame anyone else for our own carnal behaviour. Generally speaking, if we are Godís child, then the answer is repentance of our own selfishness and sin. If other influences have got into our lives because of our own sin and disobedience, then the root cause of everything is still our own selfishness and sin, and that is what we need to repent of. Then those other influences will also be dealt with. Again, here I am only talking about those who are already the Lordís people. Unbelievers who turn to the Lord in repentance may certainly need deliverance from the devilís power and bondage, and there is authority in the name of Jesus to set a person free and to keep him free!
This does not mean it is not a very serious matter if we sin. It is always a serious matter. But what we see here is that although Israel had been disobedient, God would not acknowledge Balaamís right to curse them. God alone can decide the judgement of His people and He does this in the context of the covenant that had been entered into. Again let me say that this was true under the Old Covenant. How much more is it true in the New Covenant!
I make this point because these modern writers want to tell us that as soon as you are disobedient or sin as a Christian, the devil can put a curse on you. Now, it is clear that we donít want to give anyone any reason not to obey God or to make them think it is not so serious if we sin. As I said, it is always serious and has serious consequences. We are to be holy people who pursue righteousness, meekness and love, and the NT clearly teaches that we will reap what we sow. But instead of quoting and applying the warnings and exhortations that are written in the NT, and some of which are very serious indeed, (Rom.8:13; 1 Cor.4:5; 2 Cor.5:10,11; Gal.6:7,8; 1Tim.6:9,10; 2 Tim.4:1; Heb.2:3; 10:26-31), these teachers ignore these verses and abandon the language and teaching of the NT. Instead, they want to fill our minds with the idea that we could be cursed at any moment if we donít watch out! The result is that they fill peoplesí hearts with superstitious attitudes and fearful thoughts. Again, this kind of thinking has more to do with the culture of village witchcraft than with healthy, serious biblical exhortations and warnings.
Do Paul or Peter or John warn us like this? "Beloved if you sin then the devil can put a curse on you or perhaps you will reap one of the curses of Deut." Is that their teaching or language? We have already mentioned the serious warnings contained in the NT, but the NT is also full of assurance and comfort. John says, "Beloved I write these things that you donít sin, but if anyone sins we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous." The NT emphasises and proclaims the abundant sufficiency of Christís salvation and redemption, including continued forgiveness of sins when we confess them. These teachers magnify curses and the law above the provision of Christ.
If you read the NT, you will see that the New Covenant established by God through Jesus Christ does not include or continue the OT application of curses. Please read it for yourself. Neither Jesus nor the apostles use this kind of language anywhere; they do not issue warnings of curses at all! No mention is made of any system of curses for sins. If we sin, we have an advocate with the Father. If anyone curses you, Jesus says, then you bless them!
Obviously, God in His righteousness and wisdom can intervene with temporal judgements into situations, particularly when gross sin or direct rebellion against Him occurs and especially when this has an effect or influence on others (Acts5:1-11; 1 Cor.11:30; Rev.2:20-23). But these are His sovereign judgements in specific situations and not the result of some stated or revealed system of curses in the NT or OT.
The death of Christ has changed things, including how God deals with us here on earth. In the NT there is more of an emphasis on Godís longsuffering and patience in these days of grace, which is to lead men to repentance, rather than intervening with judgements. Men are given time and are expected to respond to Godís declaration of love and salvation at Calvary (Rom.2:4; 2 Peter3:9; James5:6). "While we were yet sinners Christ died for us." But it is also abundantly clear that for all the sin and disobedience that men perpetrate and donít repent of, their judgement does not sleep, (2 Peter 2:3). Whether God intervenes with temporal judgements in our lives or not, we will all stand before the judgement seat of Christ on that day and be judged according to what we have done. This is the emphasis in the NT. It warns us of the consequences of sinful behaviour and of the eventual, unavoidable judgement of such behaviour on the day of judgement. Whether God intervenes providentially in our lives with certain judgements before that day, is a matter of His wisdom, righteousness and mercy. But sin will have its own damaging consequences in our lives if we choose to sin and not repent.
Perhaps one of the remarkable things to us, humanly speaking, is how God seems often not to intervene with judgements when people wilfully continue in sin and harm others. In James there is an instructive verse (James 5:6) where we are told how God doesnít (always) resist evil-doers. These unrighteous people seem to get away with their evil deeds and God doesnít seem to be stopping them, let alone punishing them. Indeed, this is something that has perplexed other people in the Bible, such as King David. Why is it that God doesnít intervene and bring judgement on unrighteous people (and even on some Christians) who continually commit evil and exploit or abuse others, or are a stumbling-block to others? This is the kind of question David was asking himself in Psalm 73:1-17. David wrestles with this problem until he goes into Godís sanctuary where the Lord makes him understand their end, verse 17. In other words, he sees that they have no security and shall not escape judgement.
And I believe this is very much the tenor or position of the NT, where, especially now because of Calvary, God patiently waits for people to respond to what He has done for them at the Cross and gives them fullness of opportunity to repent (Rom.2:4; 2 Peter3:9; James5:6). God also acts consistent with what He declared in 2 Cor.5:19, namely, " ÖGod was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their sins unto them."
Rom.5:6-10 and Acts 17:30,31, tell us much the same thing. At this time He is extending His grace and mercy and restraining His judgements. This is the main emphasis of the NT; God dying for sinners while they were still His enemies, not imputing their sins unto them, but bidding them repent - for everyone will face His day of judgement.
I have only touched upon these things and more could be said and explained. But I trust that this has been sufficient to show, not only how wrong and unbiblical these modern teachings are, but how they wrongly concentrate and exalt only one thing, namely the threat of curses in our lives, and ignore the truth and council that is revealed in the Bible.
I would like to mention another matter which is of importance because it has caused so much confusion, grief and bondage in the hearts and minds of the Lordís people. It is the subject of poverty or living in poor conditions, such as subsistence farmers are used to in some parts of Africa. They usually have to work very hard in order to get enough food and clothes of some sort for their families. Often it is impossible for them to get any secondary education at all, which means children continue to till the ground as their parents had done. If there is too much rain or not enough rain then their means of livelihood is destroyed and life becomes very difficult. I am addressing this general situation that exists in out-lying villages and not specific disasters where large-scale rescue is necessary, nor gross exploitation of others that obviously perpetuates poor living conditions.
Teachers, preachers, seminars and books have come to Africa and taught people in villages that their poor conditions are due to a curse or to a "spirit of poverty".
Again I ask you, dear reader, where in the NT do you find such an idea? Can you find one verse that even mentions such a thing, let alone teaches it? Do the apostles or Jesus suggest such a thing? Where do they identify poor conditions as being the result of a curse or a "spirit of poverty"? Let me say with all my heart that this is not taught anywhere in the NT. It is a cruel deception and a superstitious error. We sin against our brethren by bringing them into bondage and disappointment with such unscriptural ideas. We put a yoke upon them that weighs down upon their minds and hearts. We come and we teach such things and then we go, leaving them in a worse state than when we came with our teachings, books and seminars - because none of these false teachings have changed their situation or living conditions. If a preacher comes who believes this foolishness, then why doesnít he pray and rebuke this curse or "spirit of poverty" in Jesus name, in whose name we have power over all the power of the enemy and over curses? Why doesnít he release Godís people from the curse or spirit of poverty, if this is more than just an erroneous and powerless idea? Faith without works is dead ( James 2:20 ). If this teaching is of the Lord then donít just tell the people to believe it without showing them the power of it. This needs to be more than just "word only"; it needs to be "in demonstration of the Spirit and power" (1 Cor.2:4; 4:19,20). Otherwise, you will be like that man that James talks about in his letter (James 2:15,16), who says, "Yes. Be warmed and filledÖ" but does nothing to provide the person with the things that he needs! He leaves them as he found them! And even so these teachers come and then go and leave Godís people without having changed anything Ė apart from making Godís people feel the victim of some curse or of some evil spirit and so making them feel depressed! This teaching has changed nothing in the areas I have gone to in Tanzania, apart from causing confusion of mind and bringing people into bondage to erroneous ideas.
Such teachings are wrong. The New Testament does not teach this.
In chapter six of Acts we read about the poor widows. The church was collecting money and distributing it to the poor. This was the common practice in the NT church Ė Acts11:29; 24:17; Rom. 15:25,26; 1 Cor.16:1-3; 2 Cor.8:1-4; 9:12; Gal.2:10; 1 John3:17. But nowhere do the apostles say that poor living conditions are due to a curse or an evil spirit. There were poor people in NT times just as there are today. Nothing has changed in that respect. So why do people think they can change Godís word and His teaching? Neither Peter in Acts 6, nor Paul in 2 Cor.8, nor John in his letter say, "Ah, ha. Here is poverty. It must be due to some curse or spirit of poverty! Letís pray and break its power and then the people will be released into prosperity! (And then the church will not have to provide for them!?)". It would have been ridiculous for them to have done that and it is ridiculous when Westerners come to Africa and do this today!
In the NT, that poor conditions of life may exist, are generally considered to be nothing unusual, but a part of life in society. Life is so at times and in certain areas, and you have to deal with it as a natural circumstance of life and not as some evil spirit or curse Ė just as they did in the NT. Not because anyone wanted it to be so and not because anyone said it had to be so. Except that Jesus indicated that life among people in society is such, that we will always have poor people, John 12:8. And even Jesus Himself had the disciples carry a bag that contained money for the poor, John12:6; 13:29! Thatís what He and the disciples did. They collected money for the poor! Jesus didnít go around rebuking a spirit of poverty or breaking a curse of poverty. He knew all things and could discern all things and He had all power. Nevertheless, He obviously never discerned a spirit or curse of poverty and He never prayed against such a thing! Nor did the apostles. What about you?
In Acts 6 there were poor widows. Their husbands had died. Husbands die in England too, and I suppose they die in Tanzania as well. This is nothing extraordinary. It is part of life. It happens. It is not a curse or an evil spirit. There is no point in rebuking anything. It will not help the widow! As in Acts 6, so in Tanzania and other countries, if a womanís husband dies, that woman who may well have children, may be left without the means of earning enough money to support herself and her children. She may be left poor. This is a natural consequence of life in some situations.
And this is where the love and compassion of Christ is to show itself through the saints to those in need!
This is what we are to learn and to do, 1 John3:17. When the prophet Agabus in Acts 11:28 declared that there would be a drought in the whole region, the disciples didnít proclaim that this was because of some curse or evil spirit which had to be rebuked! Not at all. As far as we can see, it didnít enter their minds to think such a thing. What did they do? They decided to send money to the poor people in Judea. And this is what we find in the whole of the NT. The apostles didnít just leave the poor to be poor as if this was their "fate". Not at all. We are Godís children through the Lord Jesus Christ. We do not believe in some kind of goddess of Fate or to "leave" people to their "destiny"! We are to show the love of Christ when our brethren suffer and not to close our hearts to their difficulty. If the Lord has prospered you as a church, how much do you spend on your church building and how much do you spend in helping your brethren who are suffering at times?
Nearly all the money collected by churches in the NT was for the purpose of giving to poor brethren.
Study the Acts and the rest of the NT and you will find it is so! We read in the beginning of Acts that the church received a huge amount of goods and money, and they distributed this, " according to each personís need", Acts 2:45. Collecting for the poor seems to have been an expected or required part of church life and ministry. ( Rom.15:25-27; 1 Cor.16:1-3). Have we lost our way a bit? Have our "spiritual" ideas or teachings hardened our hearts to the need of our brethren who at times have not enough clothes and not enough food? There are some other references that show us that those who minister the word of God received some financial support at times. There are also some exhortations that encourage the saints to do this, (1 Cor.9:1-15; 1Timothy 5:17,18;). But it seems clear that most money that was regularly gathered by the churches was for meeting the needs of poor brethren.
I would not want anyone to misunderstand me. I am not saying that someone in particular will always have to be poor. I am not saying that things will never change. I am not commenting on individual lives. I am talking about the reasons or nature of poverty in village life and how we, as the Lordís people, should respond to situations as they occur in life and present themselves to us. And in case some one still might misunderstand me, let me add that if you are a Christian, then both Godís word and Godís Holy Spirit will teach you not to be lazy, but to be diligent in work and to be honest and faithful. And if there is not much work, then you will look for, or even create opportunities to earn some honest money Ė committing your way unto God and putting your trust in Him, so that you too, will have something to give to help others. And I have seen exactly this sort of thing happen among believers in these kind of situations. And for some people, who were not like this before they were converted, this new disposition and attitude in itself may improve their life considerably. But where conditions are nevertheless difficult, those that put their trust in God and seek first His Kingdom, they will know the blessing of God and His goodness and grace to see them through even these hard times. And I know there are many who can testify to this. Truly, God has made the poor of this world rich in faith! Whether we prosper a lot or very little, God wants us always to put our trust in Him and glorify Him, so that the world may see that we are different and that Christ means more to us than anything else. And where Godís people have done what they can but still suffer great need, then the church is to have compassion and send help.
I have been blessed when I have travelled in these villages and seen brethren with little clothes, not much food and little else, having to work very hard to get what they have and sometimes to see even that destroyed by the weather. Yet they are thankful in their hearts to the Lord and able to praise and worship Him in the midst of difficulties. What a testimony to the Lord! Please donít misunderstand me. I donít just come and look. I give what I can, according to my ability, to help my brethren. But some of these teachings today are just cruel. They raise expectations among the Lordís people that things could change dramatically, if only they could break the curse or rebuke an evil spirit of poverty. But of course there is no dramatic change from these kinds of prayer and our brethren are just left feeling the victim of some curse of evil spirit that they cannot get rid of. I know there are books that say this works. Itís not true and itís not taught in the NT. Again, dear reader, I encourage you not to just take my word for it, but search the scriptures to see if these things be so.
Let me illustrate what I am saying by referring to some places that I know. In the Udzungwa mountains in the region of Iringa, there is a village called Magome. To get to it you need to catch a bus from the town of Iringa, which will take you about four hours over some very rough dirt tracks. Then you will need to walk for about three hours. In this village there is no industry, no real businesses and no shops apart from some stalls. Most of the villagers are subsistence farmers. Now, if someone is born in Magome, it is most likely that their parents are farmers. They will probably be able to go to primary school, although that is also an expense, but there is simply no possibility of going to secondary school. There isnít one in Magome. The nearest one is too far away and the nearest private school is far too expensive. So children cannot get any secondary education and there are generally no opportunities for learning any trade skills, like carpentry or mechanics. Such training is also expensive anyway. So when the children finish primary school, they simply carry on helping their parents in the fields and then become farmers themselves Ė with the hard work and poor living conditions that this entails.
Now, there is another large village on the main road to the major town of Iringa. It is called Ilula and here there are many businesses, shops and tradesmen as well as farmers. There is also a secondary school. Now, if you are born here your family might perhaps already be better off. Or, with the presence of a secondary school there is more opportunity for you to attend it if your parents are prosperous or have saved for this occasion. Moreover, there are opportunities to get work at the local shops or businesses or to pick up a trade. With the education you get or the money you save, you might even be able to go to the town of Iringa to further your prospects. I know of people who have done exactly this sort of thing.
But it is something quite different if you are born in the major town of Iringa. Here there is commerce and industry, as well as countless shops, businesses and trades people. If you are born here, then it is possible that your family might already be quite well-off. There will be the opportunity of a good education right on your doorstep, not to speak of all the opportunities there would be to find a job or learn a trade. It is not easy for everyone, but the opportunities are certainly there to advance yourself. You could end up with a well-paid job and quite prosperous.
Now, what shall we say? That there is a big curse on the village of Magome; a smaller curse on the village of Ilula, and no curse on the town of Iringa?! And then what? That the commercial capital city of Dar-Es-Salaam is positively blessed of God? Of course this is a total delusion! But this is almost how some people are now thinking! They believe that the difficult living and working conditions are due to some kind of regional or local curse coming from their ancestors! Surely, this is how we thought before we were saved and when we lived in the fear of a witchcraft culture. I have been to all these villages and towns just mentioned, and I can tell you that it is not because of some curse that there are these differences. And it is simply not true that the larger town is "more blessed" than the village, though the life can be harder in the village. There can be even more greed and evil in a larger town than in a village. So why is it not plagued more than the village? No. The reasons that there are differences is because of the opportunities that people have, or donít have, to get an education or to get paid work. In a village, which is far away from a main road or town, there is no great opportunity or great need for businesses to start up. Life remains very local. Consequently, there are very few opportunities locally for further education or paid work. It is a natural consequence of a natural situation! And governments which donít have much money, find it difficult to pay for schools or training colleges in remote places, and business people see no reason to bring their business to a remote village where the population is not high. All these things are natural considerations. Obviously, there are historical, geographical and commercial reasons behind the emergence of larger towns and these towns inevitably provide many benefits and opportunities as well as requiring the presence of good education. These are natural considerations, not spiritual.
But this modern teaching is sinking people into a superstitious way of thinking that is blinding them to the most obvious things. Truly, this teaching is like an enchantment, Gal.3:1, that takes peoplesí eyes off Jesus and what He has done for them and sinks them into deception.
I have preached and taught in churches in all the above places. Let me say, on a personal note, that generally speaking, it has been easier preaching in the villages, where living conditions are harder, than in towns. I donít know if it is because of the lack of other things, that people in the villages have more of a hunger and desire to hear the word of God and to know Him, but certainly there is this commitment to the Lordís church and to His word, that is not normally found in the same measure in towns. I am talking very generally, as I know that there can be problems equally in a church which is in a village, as in a town. But what I can certainly say, is that Christians in a town or city are definitely not more blessed than those who live in poor conditions in a village. Everyone who keeps his first love towards the Lord shall be blessed, wherever he is! But if we can speak generally, it seems to me that people in villages are at least as much "blessed" as people in towns, with regard to their walk with the Lord, which of course is the most important thing. What is "blessing"? In towns it can be those material possessions themselves along with that prosperous or respectable job, which we call blessings, that can be a snare to the Lordís people and cause their heartís to grow cold towards the Lord. Then your "blessing" becomes your downfall! Please understand me. I am not saying that a good education or a good job are wrong. But please let us not misunderstand what it means to be truly blessed. If you read Revelation 2:9 and 3:17, this might help to illustrate what I am trying to say.
Finally, let me say that there may be some people in some villages who oppose changes that would be beneficial for that village. But this is not the same as there being a curse on the village. This is opposition from people. And perhaps they might be influenced by evil motives and you can pray for people and for the Lordís work to prosper wherever you find yourself. Both Jesus and the apostles met opposition from people in towns, but this was never ascribed to a curse over the city that had to be broken. The opposition to the Lordís work did not come from curses; it came from the hardness and unbelief of peopleís hearts, Matthew 13:58; Acts13:45,46; 17:32-34; 19:23-41. Both in Acts chapters 17 and 19 we find the people steeped in idolatry, but the apostles donít repent for this sin of idolatry that they found there nor do they go about trying to break some curse on the towns because of this idolatry, as though its preventing Godís work. Nor do they encourage or teach others to do so!
These modern teachings always want to put the fault or blame for problems on things outside the human condition, whether devils, curses or territorial spirits. They fail to realise that the cross has dealt with all these things, so that now the main problem is in the human heart itself. Christ has removed all the hindrances and barriers that stopped us coming to Him and knowing Him and has set us free from sin and the devilís power, so that we cannot now blame other things for our problems. Jesus said that when the Holy Spirit is come, He will convict the world of sin. Why? Because they believe not! It is their unbelief that is the real problem now. He will also convict the world of judgement. Why? Because the prince of this world is judged and the way is now clear for men and women to respond to God and to obey Him Ė if they will believe the Gospel. You canít now blame the devil since Jesus has destroyed his works for everyone who believes. This is why the praying and exhortations to prayer in the NT are so different to what these modern writers encourage us to pray for and how they exhort us to pray, which is a theme I dealt with in the first article.
I mentioned in my first article that we should not receive any teaching unless we can find it taught in the scriptures - even if the person who teaches it is internationally well-known and has written many books or even if it is an angel from heaven. We cannot add anything to the scriptures nor to the Gospel and neither should we receive such additions, no matter who teaches or brings it. The writer of the book about blessings and curses mentioned in this article is an illustration of this. He has an international ministry. He, along with other American leaders developed a doctrine concerning church government and discipline. They did this in response to the problems which were caused by individuals in churches. Some others who read about this new doctrine knew it had no basis in the NT. They knew it was an error which could only cause damage and bondage in the Body of Christ. But what could they do? These American men were well-known and respected by many around the world. Church leaders and pastors received the teaching without any discrimination and again it was so, that even the Lordís people will receive almost anything if it is presented by well-known preachers or authors, whether it is found in the Bible or not. They simply follow on without searching the scriptures to see if these things are true. And so this teaching spread around the world and caused heart-ache, bondage, abuse of power, divisions and untold damage to both individuals and to churches. This is not just my opinion. The author of the book on blessings and curses in the end recognized these things and publicly repented of this doctrine, which he himself acknowledged was a human invention. What am I saying? That because he made one serious mistake, therefore this new teaching of his must also be error? No, Iím not saying that. Iím saying this to prove the point that we cannot rely on a man, any man, or even an angel. What we choose to believe must be found in the Bible.
However, I do believe he has fallen into error again. His new teaching is the result of his lack of success in dealing with problems, not in churches, but in people. He states this openly in his book. His new teaching on curses is not the result of carefully studying the Bible first and then finding this teaching there, but of a lack of success in counselling people followed by "leadings", "promptings" and "revelations" of the Spirit after which he did go to the scriptures, but only to prove what he already believed. The result is another human invention, another human addition to the Gospel, and it is causing confusion, bondage, superstitious unbelief and havoc in peopleís lives all around the world Ė despite all the testimonies in his book. Nearly every book which is bringing some new teaching ( mainly from the USA ) is full of testimonies from people which would seem to validate the new doctrine. I shall say more about this shortly.
Let me state clearly here what the issue is. When people hear the Gospel and turn to the Lord, of course it may well be that they need deliverance from evil spirits if they have been in bondage to sinful habits or involved in anything of an occult nature, or oaths and curses. This is part of our salvation in Christ, namely, deliverance from all the power of the devil, and the Gospels and Acts makes it very clear that evil spirits do exist, and that they keep people in darkness and bondage and that it is part of the ministry of the Church to cast out such spirits and to deliver people from the bondage of Satan and all his power. None of this is at issue for me. But the ground for such deliverance is repentance and faith towards the Lord Jesus Christ. One must acknowledge and confess oneís sin and oneís need of salvation and turn with oneís whole heart to the Lord. What is at issue is that they apply their teachings to those who have already been redeemed by the blood of Jesus and have been born again. They counsel believers that their problems are, or could be due to curses from the past, although no such counsel is found in the apostlesí writings to believers.
Now, nearly every modern book that promotes some new teaching has many examples of people who seemed to have been helped by the application of the new teaching. And the author uses these examples to try and show that his teaching works and that it is biblical. But this is where we come up against a difficulty. Namely, that particularly in some cultures, it seems it is easy to be counted as a Christian or to count oneself a Christian, whereas the person has never really been convicted of sin, and their lifestyle is such that it is questionable whether they understand what it means to be a Christian. They are involved in habits, activities and attitudes that should have no place in a Christianís life and more significantly, they donít seem to see that there is anything particularly wrong in what they are doing. And if this is their background, it is no wonder that they need some very basic help and counsel, and this would mainly involve helping the person understand what the Gospel is, as well as the nature of sin and the need for repentance. And it is only on the basis of true repentance from sin that any deliverance and freedom can come. So, if there has been a lack of true repentance in a personís life, of course there will be all sorts of difficulties and problems, including spiritual bondage. However, even in such cases as these, the real problem is not the past with all its influences, but a lack of understanding of the Gospel and a lack of true repentance Ė for these latter things clear the way for deliverance from all spiritual bondage. And even these authors admit this, namely, the need to lead someone to repentance first, before there can be any liberation. So the kind of counsel we would give to people with the above kind of background would in certain basic ways differ from the council we would give to those that have been converted and understand these things, though the truths concerning faith and repentance are always foundational when dealing with any personís problems.
What I am saying here is that we can only judge a teaching by the scriptures, not by the accounts of some peopleís experiences which we read in a book. We donít know these people, their background or their true heart condition. Peopleís experiences may confirm a teaching as true, but they can never by themselves prove a teaching to be true and biblical. Only the Bible can do this!
So what we are considering is not ministry to the unconverted, nor ministry to those who have not really understood the Gospel or who, for whatever reason, have not understood the nature and reality of sin and the need repentance. What am I saying then? That if someone has problems he isnít really converted or that true Christians canít get themselves into serious problems? No! Not at all! For it is abundantly clear both from the teaching and example of scripture that the people of God, his saints, can get themselves into the most terrible mess.
That is what we are considering in this article, namely, the counsel and ministry to be given to the saints when they behave wrongly, have wrong attitudes, sin or find themselves in some kind of bondage. We are considering the nature of the teaching and exhortation the apostles give in their letters to saints.
What then are the basic scriptures that these modern writers use to try and prove their idea that past sins, our own or those of our ancestors - going back even thousands of years Ė can act as curses in the lives of Christians?
From the New testament, they are: James 3:9,10 and Revelation 22:3. (As we have seen, they do not normally quote the words of Jesus, Lk.6:28.)
From the Old Testament they use: Exodus 20:3-5, Dt. 28:45 and Proverbs 26:2.
These are the main scriptures they use which make a direct reference to curses. The scriptures in Galatians chapter 3 and Numbers 23 actually prove the opposite of their teachings!
So these verses are the foundation stones on which they build their system of ideas. Can anyone safely build on such a foundation? Would it not be better building on sand? But let us rather build on the foundation of Christ and Him crucified!
We now come onto another vital issue where these modern teachings attack the truth of the Gospel.
According to this modern teaching nearly everything is turned into a possible curse on your life. Any negative thought or any negative or critical word spoken can act as a curse on your life. A harsh word from a husband to a wife; a critical word from a father to a child; a negative thought about yourself Ė all these can constitute a curse from which a person will need deliverance. This is what they teach. And indeed, nobody would deny the effect that words can have, nor the pain and damage that they can inflict on people. But can we so easily classify the angry or negative utterances that people make, as curses? This is a vital question, since the way in which we diagnose a problem will also determine the remedy we apply.
So where does the NT support this teaching? Where does the NT reveal to us, or teach us, or even suggest that words uttered in the past by others or by ourselves, can act as a curse on us who have believed the Gospel and are now Godís children? Where does the NT tell us that although we are walking in the light, nevertheless the critical words of others, including Christians, can act as a curse on our lives? Where does the NT indicate that any of our present problems as Christians is due to words uttered in the past, acting as a curse now? Where does the NT tell us how to get free of such curses?
The answer to all of these questions is, "Nowhere!" This idea is neither mentioned nor recognised in the NT.
If Christians have problems in their lives, the NT never puts this down to any kind of curse from any source! The NT sees things differently to these modern teachers and writers. When the apostles write to the churches, they have to deal with all sorts of problems Ė just like the ones these modern writers are trying to deal with - but they see the cause of these problems as lying somewhere else, never in curses of any kind! There is no mention that words uttered in the past by others, or by ourselves, can bring a curse upon us as the Lordís people. As Christians, if we utter negative or critical things, then indeed the Bible has things to say about this by way of instruction, correction and warning. But it sees such problems as resulting from our unbelief, selfishness or carnal behaviour. The NT makes it clear that what we reap, we sow, and that of course things go wrong when our own heart state is wrong, but the NT does not turn everything into some kind of curse based on some OT text or other! Our own selfish behaviour, hardness of heart or unbelief are sins which of course will cause problems in our spiritual life, and the answer is repentance towards God and faith in His word. Now although these modern writers acknowledge that repentance is the way to cleansing and freedom, they say this only after having filled peopleís minds with unscriptural and superstitious ideas concerning curses, which obscure the real nature of our problem and the remedy that the cross represents. In fact the author of the most popular book on curses, together with his wife, quote certain scriptures daily to keep themselves free from the effect of curses. But this does not represent walking by faith. This is not glorifying God. It grieves me to say that this actually represents a mind or thinking that is obsessed with the idea or fear of curses. This superstitious attitude results in the author and his wife using the scriptures as some sort of superstitious charm to keep curses away. Of course we are to meditate on scripture for many reasons, including the building up of our faith. But to quote certain scriptures daily just for the sake of keeping yourself free of "curses" is unbelief in Christís work at Calvary and in Godís promised loving protection of us. It simply focuses the mind on the devilís work and glorifies him. It is a grief to think that anyone should feel the necessity of doing such a thing. However much of a blessing the above author and his wife may have been and however dear to many of us, Iím writing in this way only because of the grave seriousness of this error and for the sake of needed clarity.
Neither Jesus nor the apostles use this language of curses. They do not keep warning us about the various kinds of curses that can afflict us. The only exception to this is where Paul warns the Galatians that it is those who are under the works of the law that are under Godís curse -Gal.3:10 - or we could say under Godís judgement. It is those who leave the truth of the Gospel and return to living under OT laws that bring themselves under Godís judgement. And the thing today that would tempt Godís people to do this, is the very teaching of these modern writers! They are forever quoting the OT scriptures to bring us under the "curse" of their teaching, to bring us under their gospel, which is not preached or revealed in the NT.
Now, concerning words that people speak against us, Jesus Himself brings up this subject of what to do when people curse you. And what is His teaching on the matter? Well, He says that if someone curses you, then you are to bless them, ( Mtt. 5:44 ). Thatís all He says about it. Please notice what Jesus is saying here. He is instructing us in the way of Life. He is also giving us sufficient instruction to do this! Now Jesus had opportunity here to tell us about the dangers of curses and their effects. He could have told us about the damage they can cause and how we need to be freed from them. But He doesnít! He shows no regard for this at all! He doesnít tell us that those who follow His teaching can be harmed by words Ė whether from the present or the past! It doesnít come into His teaching at all. No wonder these modern writers donít like to quote Jesus! He is concerned that we love and obey Him and manifest His nature on earth. This is true liberty. Nothing can harm us if we live like this.
And those who may have previously been under the influence of a real curse, from their involvement with the occult or witchcraft, they are able to be delivered from these things when they repent and believe the Gospel. The cross of Christ deals with all these things. Nothing has power, dominion or authority over us once we have repented, believed this Gospel and been born again! The death of Christ on the cross has gone to the very heart of the problem and dealt with it all Ė sin and its dominion over us, guilt and condemnation, and the power of darkness in our lives, whether occult powers or curses or whatever. This is the Gospel of the Kingdom of God! The power of all of those things have been cancelled, annulled or destroyed at Calvary. ( Iím not saying that sin and the devil have been destroyed absolutely, or out of this earth. Of course they still exist and will operate wherever a person gives them opportunity, but in Christ we have been cleansed and are delivered from their power.) Christ has effectively dealt with it all, He and the Father paying a great price to do so. God now bids men and women repent and believe the Gospel!
The main problem that remains is the condition or disposition of the human heart. God Himself has dealt with everything else that stood in the way, and now it is up to our hearts to respond to Godís truth, and our hearts cannot be changed without true repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. But when a person turns to the Lord in repentance and faith and is born again, then our salvation and redemption in Christ delivers us from all those evil powers and influences that bound the heart. The problem with these modern teachings is that they see the main problem as coming from outside of ourselves Ė itís the devil, or itís a curse, or its how my father treated me; these are the things that are hindering my Christian life. Thatís the kind of thinking that these teachings encourage. And of course these things can and do have a devastating effect on lives, but God has provided a remedy that is deep and spiritual and because of Calvary these other things are not the main problem now. The Bible sees our main problem as within our own hearts. The main problem now is, whether a man or woman will repent of the old way of living and believe and obey the Gospel!
The case of Simon the sorcerer in Acts chapter 8 shows us this truth clearly. Simon obviously still wanted power and prestige, not now through his occult abilities, but through being able to bestow the gift of the Holy Spirit. He offers Peter money if he can bestow this power on him. But what does the apostle Peter say to him? He doesnít tell him of any need to be freed from past occult forces or curses that were binding him and blinding him. No! He tells him that his heart was not right! It was not the devil and his power, or curses that were hindering Simon knowing God and His fullness. No! It was the condition of his own heart! That is what was hindering him knowing Godís salvation! He hadnít truly repented at all! He was still proud and wanted glory for himself. He obviously hadnít understood his own need or the nature of Godís grace. Peter tells him that he needs to repent Ė not that he needs deliverance from devils or curses. Simon could not partake of the benefits of salvation and he was still in bitterness and the bond of iniquity because he hadnít truly repented; his heart was still hard Ė not because the devil was hindering him or because of a curse, Acts 8:18-24. This is the revelation and teaching of the NT. These modern teachings want to make other things the main problem in our spiritual walk. They are not the main problem, terrible though they can be. Christ has dealt with them already on the cross, and waits for men and women to humble themselves, repent and believe the Gospel and then they shall know the liberty that He has purchased for them.
This truth is further underlined by the account in Mark 5:1-20. Here we meet a man who couldnít be more demon possessed, so to speak. In verse 6 we read that he ran to Jesus and worshipped Him. If we read the accounts carefully in the Gospels, the man sees Jesus afar off and decides to run to Him and worship Him. It wasnít the demons who drove him to Jesus! The demons cried out after Jesus had commanded them to leave the man. This man wasnít delivered against his will! The demons didnít drag him to Jesus so that they could be expelled! No. This man was in terrible spiritual bondage. He recognised this and as soon as he saw Jesus he ran to Him and worshipped Him. Like many others in the Gospels, this man recognised Jesus as Saviour and wanted Him to save him from this terrible bondage, and Jesus did so and the man was restored wonderfully to his right mind. So we can see from this story that if a person truly humbles themselves before God, recognises their need and seeks salvation from the Lord, then nothing can stop them Ė no devil, no curse, no bondage Ė Jesus delivers us from all evil when we repent and believe Him and are made Godís children.
In neither of the above stories, are demons or curses viewed as the main problem or the main obstacle to coming to the Lord and finding salvation in Him. All these things are under the Lordís authority and power. In both accounts, coming into and enjoying the benefits of the Lordís salvation depend on the condition and disposition of personís heart! That is the central truth of all scripture that these modern teachings obscure and in effect oppose. The main question is whether the heart is right before God in repentance and faith. This is true both in the NT and the OT. If we are Godís, then the whole Bible consistently shows that Godís people cannot be harmed by curses pronounced by people with evil intent. The angry words or criticisms of others cannot bring you into bondage or cause physical illness. It is amazing that such things are being preached today. I heard one international speaker say that she believed that a severe illness that she had suffered from was brought on by the criticisms of other Christians. She had been told by someone she called a prophet of God that she had been a "victim of witchcraft". This "prophet" had told her that it was the criticisms of other Christians that had acted as a witchcraft curse on her and it was this that was responsible for her painful illness! And she believed him and was now communicating these errors to her hearers! This is dangerous and superstitious delusion. These teachers, preachers and prophets are turning all problems into matters of witchcraft and curses. There is no such teaching in the whole of the Bible! Those who have evil done to them but abide in Christ cannot be harmed by the evil words of others! Neither Joseph, Moses, David nor the apostle Paul suffered spiritually or with some illness because of the criticisms of others Ė whoever they might have been! Why do these modern teachers turn the truth on its head?!
As Godís people, we are, of course, not to curse others, since this would be quite inconsistent with the nature and life of Christ in us, Rom.12:14; James 3:10. And of course, saying negative and critical things can cause harm and damage, as James clearly tells us in this third chapter. Now although the scriptures clearly teach that words can have a harmful effect, and we know this very well from life as well, nevertheless, neither of these passages supports the teaching that we are under a curse because of what people have said in the past. Nor do they intimate that deliverance is needed from such a curse. These passages are simply telling us that our language should honour the name and nature of the God we believe in, and that we should avoid any kind of talk that might cause harm or that does not minister grace to the hearer, Eph.4:29. ( In the world, among unbelievers and those who involve themselves in the forbidden things of the occult and witchcraft, of course the devil uses such things to destroy peopleís lives. But Godís people are not harmed by such things. Obviously, if Christians themselves deliberately and repeatedly go into sin, then they shall reap what they sow and who can give assurances for Christians who turn again to evil ways? And therefore the scripture gives us strong warnings not to be involved, or to turn back to evil ways.)
The author of the most popular book on curses, picks up the point in verse15 of James chapter 3, where we are told that the wisdom ( or words ) that comes from bitter envying and strife, is earthly, natural and devilish. Now although the author admits that these words are not usually called curses, he makes the point that evil talk can be devilish and therefore can act as a curse and can have the same effect on people as a curse. This is his reasoning and his language. But let us be honest and accurate about this. Now, although the scripture tells us we mustnít curse anyone, it does not call any of our selfish and evil remarks "curses" Ė it does not do this anywhere; it never calls them curses. Certainly not in the NT and this is also basically true in the OT. Nor are we told anywhere that our critical talk can act as a curse on anyone. This is the invention of the author and the language he uses is here confusing and unbiblical. What does he now mean by "curse"? He admits that the Bible does not call these words curses - so why does he? Basically, it is to introduce a teaching of superstition. James clearly tells us that the wisdom that comes from bitter envying and strife ( verse14 ), is earthly, natural or soulish and devilish. In other words, if the state of your heart is quite wrong Ė involved in envy and strife Ė then the wisdom of your words cannot come from above, but is earthly, natural or devilish. This is a comment on the state of the heart of the speaker! James nowhere goes on to say that because someoneís heart-state is wicked, their words therefore have power to curse you! This is the teaching of witchcraft, not of James! But this is what the above author teaches.
Now I could agree, loosely speaking, that critical talk can act as a curse, in the sense that it can bring much damage or create the opportunity for the devil to cause much damage. But the damage is caused, because critical talk can provoke others into wrong reactions or give occasion for others to react wrongly. Critical talk might result in others becoming critical themselves, taking sides in an issue, becoming hard and unforgiving, or feeling unwanted and unloved - it can become a stumbling block to others. And the scriptures clearly teach that it is the one who puts a stumbling block in the way of others that carries the responsibility for all the trouble that follows, Rom.14:13; 1 Cor.8:9-12 and James chapter 3. Now perhaps many of us have all seen this kind of thing in church life. And I have seen how some people have become badly affected or have reacted badly themselves to the unedifying talk of others. On the other hand, I have also seen that others, who although grieved by talk that causes division and damage, kept themselves in the grace and love of God and were not personally harmed at all by the critical talk. Someone elseís talk cannot force you to do evil nor can it have an evil effect on you if you follow the teaching of Christ. This is the truth that is under attack by these modern teachings.
The author mentioned above, uses the word "curse" differently. He ascribes to the critical or evil words of others a kind of black magic power that is beyond our control Ė as though these words have a right or authority to harm us, whatever our own heart state is and despite what God has done for us at Calvary. He implies that the "devilish" words of others can effect and harm us even if our own heart state is, and remains right before God. This is contrary to the Gospel, indeed, it is contrary to the whole teaching of the Bible, and we have already seen how the Lord Jesus Christ makes nonsense of this teaching, Luke 6:28, where He doesnít ascribe any such power to the curses of others!
Let us return to how these modern writers seek to justify this teaching, that words spoken against us in the past or the present can harm us now as Godís children.
Unable to find any support from the NT for his teaching, the author of the most popular book on curses refers, of course, back to the OT Ė right back to Genesis. He looks for support for his teaching from the words uttered by Isaac, Rebecca and Jacob, (Genesis 27:4,13; 31:32 ). The words spoken by Isaac and Jacob were able to impart blessing or bring judgement. From their utterances this author tries to convince us that any negative or critical word spoken today by one member of a family to another can bring a curse on that person Ė from which they will need to be freed. The writer makes no distinction between what the patriarchs said in those days and the angry words spoken between family members today. What these patriarchs uttered were not some kind of occult or devilish curse spoken in anger from which the other person had to be freed; nor are they examples of repeated critical and personal attacks spoken during family arguments. No! The words of Isaac and Jacob spoken here are authoritative pronouncements by those who represented Godís authority on earth and with whom He had entered into covenant. God used their pronouncements to extend His own blessing on others or to bring judgement on those who commit evil Ė Gen.31:32. They are not examples of the selfish and cruel utterances quoted by this author, which are made by people who obviously donít know God or who are very obviously living contrary to what He requires of us.
For example, this author says that if a husband repeatedly says to his wife that he hates her cooking, then this can act as a curse on her so that later in life she wonít be able to cook properly! Or if a father continually tells his son that he is useless, then this can act as a curse and the son will never succeed at anything! Now although it is clear that cruel words spoken among unbelievers, or even among Christians, does and can have its terrible consequences, you cannot compare the utterances of Isaac or Jacob or any other OT person with the critical and evil words spoken by ungodly people today! What Isaac, Jacob or others uttered in the OT does not represent some kind of black magic from which the people needed deliverance! Nor are they examples of the kind of psychological damage that family members can inflict on one another. There are scriptures that tells us of the damage and hurt that evil words can cause, but there are no examples, even in the OT, of just the angry, personal words between family members bringing a curse on one another. But this is exactly what the above author maintains. The above writer takes certain examples from the OT, which had their own particular application under that dispensation, and applies them to Christians today in a totally different way! He is not comparing like with like! And more than this, Christ has now died for us that we should be born again and brought into the New Covenant, where we are blessed in Christ and delivered from the curse of the law. Neither Jesus nor the apostles use the OT to teach these things. This teaching is not only contrary to scripture, it is also clearly contrary to the normal reasoning God has given us to be able to distinguish one thing from another.
Let us be clear what is happening here. This author is taking the utterances of men chosen by God who represented or extended His blessing or judgement on earth, and comparing them to the evil utterances of ungodly men today, and giving the same kind of authority to their words as to the words of these OT men! More than that, the judgement pronounced by the OT men were for deceit, theft and idolatry which dishonored God ( as in the scriptures above ), but the words spoken by these ungodly people today arise out of their own selfish and hard hearts. And finally, if we have been subject to cruel and unkind words in the past, the author seems to think that our conversion to the Lord has altered nothing, but that we are still subject to the curse caused by evil, ungodly words spoken to us in the past! Most of us have been subject to cruel words in the past but we can still say both from scripture and from our experience that this teaching is delusion and error. Words spoken against me before I was converted lose their power and influence when I turn to, receive the truth of the Gospel and live in it.
We all acknowledge that malicious and critical words can do untold damage to people. There is no doubt about it and the scripture makes this clear. However, there is a difference between the kind of damage that words can do to a person, and a person having a curse put on them. And because there is a difference between these two, there is also a difference in both the counsel or instruction that you give people, and the remedy that applies in each case. This distinction is of vital importance, and we will look at this most important point shortly.
Having quoted the blessings and curses of people like Isaac, Jacob and Rebecca, to establish "the principle" of how family members can put a "curse" on one another, the writer then goes on to give what he considers are "modern-day examples" of these kind of utterances, such as we mentioned above. For example, the father always saying to a child, " Youíll never be any good"; " Youíll always be a failure." Or the husband always saying to the wife, "Youíre cooking is terrible! Youíll never be able to cook a decent meal! Youíre useless!" Such statements said over years, we are told, can lead to the marriage breaking up, and results in the wife never having the confidence to cook properly again and the child always failing at things because of the fatherís "curse". And because of Rebeccaís words in Genesis 27:13, the author tells us that there are also "self-imposed" curses! The kind of examples he gives of "self-imposed curses" are when people say, " I am no good"; "Iím useless!"; "I canít go on!"; "Things always go wrong with me!"; "I hate myself!"; "Nobody loves me!"; "Life is not worth living!", etc., etc. Now, dear reader, do any of these statements resemble in any way the kind of things said by Isaac, Jacob or Rebecca in Genesis? Are these the kind of things said by Jacob or Rebecca in Genesis? No, they are quite different and bare no comparison! Now, of course negative and critical words can have terrible a effect and long-lasting consequences in peopleís lives, but there is no biblical basis for turning all such expressions of hate, anger and unbelief in the family into something that resembles the curses of witchcraft.
This is quite remarkable, and I have to admit that I am not sure who the author thinks he is quoting with all the above statements! Are all these above statements supposed to be made by Christians? If so, is there not something seriously wrong with their lives and behaviour, apart from any supposed curses? But whether they are supposed to be Christians or not, such people as these need some serious counsel concerning Christian living and the Christian faith. They are certainly not living in Gospel faith and Gospel truth. They would need to be led to a true understanding of the Gospel and then to repentance concerning their behaviour and reactions, and to a true faith in a loving Saviour and God. The problems indicated by those statements above have to do with carnal and selfish behaviour on the one hand, and serious unbelief on the other. Those who make such destructive remarks to others certainly need to be led to repentance concerning their attitude and behaviour. Those who have suffered because of those remarks would need to be brought to a faith and trust in God, who loves and receives them in Christ Jesus, who also died for them. They will be blessed with a sense of His divine favour and love, which shall also lead them to forgive the wrong-doers. This faith and repentance from dead works, is what deals with the all these other problems! The real problem in all of these cases is not a curse, but either utterly selfish and cruel behaviour on the one hand, or deep-seated unbelief in the truth of the Gospel on the other - whatever may have caused it. As we shall see, the main problem for Christians entering into their inheritance has nothing to do with curses, and everything to do with carnal behaviour and unbelief. All the instruction and correction in the apostolic writings concerning the failings of Christians, centres on carnal and selfish behaviour or unbelief, as the root of their problems! And if we have such problems and failings, then these are the things that we as the Lordís people need to repent of, and then we shall find that those other things have no hold over us, neither shall they dominate our lives!
Let me say here, that I know that some of us have experienced very damaging things. And some folk in particular may need the love and encouragement of the saints to keep free of past things. I donít want to give the impression that conversion brings you into a state where you are carried along on clouds without needing any co-operation on your part afterwards, in terms of faith, love and obedience. No. And the church should be there to encourage and help people in their faith; people who may still be tempted to return to old ways of thinking or reacting. But the scripture clearly teaches us that if we walk in the faith and love of the Lord Jesus Christ then past things will not have a hold on us, nor power over us. We are made new creations in Christ Jesus.
A scripture the above author uses to try and justify this idea that we can impose curses on ourselves, is where Jesus says that we will give account of every idle word that we speak, Mtt.12:36,37. But again it is plain that Jesus is not talking about curses at all, or the need to be free of them. He is simply saying here that people speak out of the abundance of their heart and that if they say things without proper consideration, then they will be judged for the things they have wrongly spoken. I suppose this is just another example of how desperate these modern teachers are to find any support in the NT for their doctrines!
So, having satisfied himself that his doctrine is correct, this author gives examples in his book of these "self-imposed" curses. For example, a teenage girl does not like the shape of her legs and makes the remark that she hates her legs. Years later, as an adult Christian, she got some bad pains in her legs and the author believed this was due to a curse. He believed the pain was the result of what she had said as a teenager! ( But later on she had even more serious problems with her legs and so they decided this was due to a whole range of further curses from which she needed deliverance! ). His biblical "basis" for this belief is Genesis 27:13 and Mtt.12:36! Others might regard this as the exaggerated teaching of witchcraft! As it indeed seems to be! Now, if such a teenager is a Christian and loves Christ more than anything else, then of course she shouldnít be hating the shape of her legs. And if this matter is a worry to her then repentance from vanity and ungratefulness to God would be the answer; or perhaps if she is really over-weight she could go on a diet. She doesnít need deliverance from a curse! And if the girl was not converted at the time she said those things, then later when she did turn to the Lord in repentance and faith, she would have been cleansed from all her sins and those words could not have plagued her as some kind of curse. This teaching makes no biblical sense but rather turns our past failings, problems and sins into some form of occult curse almost beyond Godís control, or turns God into a mysterious figure who keeps punishing us until we find some further way to appease Him beyond what He has already done at Calvary.
Now I completely agree that as Christians, we should avoid negative and critical remarks and all language that is not edifying. And if we realise from scripture and through conviction of the Spirit that we have spoken things that we shouldnít have, then we need to repent. I also believe the scripture when it says, that as a man thinks in his heart, so he is, ( Proverbs 23:7 ). So that if we have allowed a negative or unbelieving attitude to develop in our hearts, this will definitely affect our lives for the worse. Indeed, how we think and what we believe is crucial to our spiritual walk, as the NT clearly reveals, and as we shall shortly see. But the idea that every negative or critical comment that someone makes about themselves, acts as a curse from which they need deliverance, is the invention of this author and not the teaching of the Bible. Many people have made many such remarks before they were Christians and such statements have never affected their lives after they have turned to the Lord Jesus Christ for their salvation! And if Christians make such remarks, then repentance from unbelief or vanity is the answer, and not deliverance from a curse. I have already remarked that unbelievers do untold damage to one another continually through the things they say Ė and Christians can do the same if they donít live according to the Gospel Ė and unbelieving attitudes in the heart of a Christian can hinder if not ruin his life spiritually, but in all these cases it is a matter of repentance from wrong actions and attitudes that leads us to life and liberty.
However, this modern teaching turns everything into a curse in a way that is simply not found in the NT nor in the Bible as a whole. This teaching simply encourages a superstitious attitude, as in the example above of the woman who had problems with her legs. According to this teaching, anything negative that you said before your conversion can now pop up at any time as a curse in your Christian life. This teaching comes dangerously close to creating a god who comes out of a witchcraft culture and mentality, rather than revealing the God of the Bible, who, out of the great love He has for us, gave His Son to deliver us from all evil.
There is an unpleasant expression that people use to say how much they hate someone. They basically say that they hate someoneís "guts". We are told in this book that a husband might say this to his wife, and this can then result in a curse on his wifeís stomach and she might suffer physically later on in that part of her body! Now the author doesnít tell us if they are supposed to be Christians or not. Nor does he tell us if this "curse" still has effect after a personís conversion. But what he is making plain is that he believes that any angry word can act like a curse and effect Christians just like a witchdoctorís curse effects unbelievers.
He makes this clear through a personal story. He tells us that he was in Europe and about to preach at a meeting, when suddenly he got terrible pains in his stomach. He prayed to the Lord and says that he then had a vision of two friends of his in the United States, who were speaking against him. He says he realised that the pain in his stomach was due to the two brothers speaking against him! So, there and then, he forgave them both and then bound the devilís power which was working through his friendsí words and then freed himself from those critical words that had brought a curse upon him!
I am relating his story here because it is very serious in its implications. The author is now telling us clearly what he really believes. Namely, that any critical words spoken against Christians can act as a curse on their lives, affecting them spiritually and physically! In fact, he suggests in this story that those critical words give the devil the right to plague him, although he is walking in the light as far as he knows and is not doing anything wrong! Let me say with all my heart, that neither the way he interprets his experience, nor the teachings he wants to support by using this experience, are of God. It is all deception. This is terrible superstition! You cannot forgive someone because of a vision! God is a God of righteousness and of Light and Truth. How can a person definitely know that such a vision is true? How can he accept conclusively that his brothers have sinned against him on the basis of a vision? Is he not in danger of sinning against his brothers by believing these things as a fact and trying to forgive them before knowing the truth of the situation and speaking to his brethren? If we believe this, shall it not expose Godís people to all sorts of delusions and errors? In fact, this author tells us that before he left the United States, he already knew that these brothers were in disagreement with him about a certain matter! Perhaps it is no surprise to us now that he had such a "vision". And now he wants to tell us the vision is of God Ė and its interpretation! But he is deceiving himself and now wants to bring many others into the same deception. I have already mentioned elsewhere that many of these writers and teachers base their ideas not on clear biblical texts, but on experiences they have which they believe to be of God.
The idea that the devil has a right to afflict you or has legitimate access to you, as a child of God, because of the words of someone else, is the teaching of witchcraft; it is not the teaching of the Bible and certainly not the teaching of the New Covenant in Christ Jesus, with whom our life is hid in God, Col.3:3, and where the wicked one cannot touch us, 1John 5:18. The idea that wordís themselves, spoken by a person, can harm you and bring a curse on you if you are Christís, is a myth! There is no such teaching or example in the Bible.
As I have already said, if we are walking in fellowship with God, the devil can only do what God Himself allows Ė which will always be for our growth and benefit. Read again the story of Balaam and what he says in Numbers 23:19-24. God has redeemed His people and He shall protect them and bless them. The devil with his curses has no access! And this is the Old Covenant! How much more are these things now true for us who have been washed in the blood of Jesus and have been accounted righteous in and through Him?! This teaching has no basis in the Bible and the only scriptures the above author can use to try and support his ideas are a few utterances in Genesis that have nothing to do with the kind of modern-day examples he gives us.
There is not one example in the Bible of someone forgiving another person because of information received from a vision! Yes, people had visions in the Bible and knew things by the Spirit of God. But not for exercising forgiveness, without knowing the truth of the situation! There is also not one example in the whole of the Bible that shows us or teaches us that the words of others can harm Godís people if they are walking in fellowship with Him. It is simply untrue! It is against the teaching of scripture ( and against all righteousness ), which tells us that nothing can harm us if we follow that which is good, 1 Peter 3:13. In this third chapter, verses 8 Ė 17, Peter follows the teaching of Jesus and exhorts the saints to love and compassion, and only to return blessing to people who speak against them. As in the whole of the NT, as well as in the scriptures generally, Peter also tells us that our conversation should be godly and peaceable, as is fitting for the people of God. He makes no reference to the idea that other peopleís evil language could in any way harm us: not here nor anywhere Ė and neither does the rest of the Bible either! It is simply not taught! On the contrary, Peter declares to us how blessed we are when people speak evil of us and we submit to God and His nature and only react by blessing people, verses 9 and14! We reflect the nature of Christ when we suffer injustices but donít react or fight for our rights. Jesus doesnít tell us that the words of others can hurt us. If someone curses you, then bless them and pray for them. There is no fear or superstition in His teaching! The apostle Paul had many evil things spoken against him, but nowhere does he even intimate that he had suffered physically or spiritually because of the words of others! I have been a co-pastor in a church and have had terrible things said to my face and behind my back, and I can only testify that I have never suffered physically nor spiritually because of any words Ė however terrible they were. ( Not because words canít affect a person; not because I am not tempted, not because I have the skin of a rhinoceros, but because if we keep ourselves in the grace and love of Christ as the scriptures exhort us, then truly nothing can harm us. And the Lord is faithful to His word. ) The idea that the devil has access to harm you because of the evil words of others is a deception. No such thing is taught in the Bible concerning Godís people who are in fellowship with Him. The idea that words themselves can harm or damage you, is the teaching of superstition and not of the Gospel or of the Bible.
Even the Old Testament is full of promises which assure us that we are safe from harm if we follow the Lordís commandments and put our trust in him. In Isaiah 54:17, we are told that no weapon that is formed against those whom the Lord has established in righteousness, can prosper. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, whose righteousness is of Him! And who then shall lay anything to the charge of Godís elect? It is God who justifies them and makes all things work together for good! And did not Joseph prove this to be abundantly true. Whatever people, or his own brothers did or said against him, none of those things could bring some sort of illness or spiritual affliction upon him. He suffered many extreme injustices but he didnít answer evil with evil; un-forgiveness and bitterness did not reign in his heart. Nor was any curse brought upon him. The things that were meant for evil, turned out to be for his good; and not for his good only, but for many others as well, Genesis 50:20. This is the heritage of the Lordís people, for whom God makes all things work together for good for them that love Him, Rom.8:28. In the midst of injustice and wrong, in the midst of being severely tested over an extended period, Joseph didnít react with bitterness and anger, but put his trust in God and submitted to God whom he regarded as sovereign over all his circumstances. Consequently, the very things that were meant to harm Joseph turned out to be for his good and blessing. And so it is for us, who have put our trust in Christ. It is not what happens to us that really harms us, it is how we react to those outward things which decides if they will be a blessing to us, or whether we will soured and hurt by letting bitterness, resentment, hardness or un-forgiveness arise in our hearts. People in the world suffer all their life-times because these evil things are allowed to reign in their lives. But if we go through the trials trusting and submitting to God, then we will come through having our spiritual character strengthened in grace and love, Rom.5:3-5.
We see this truth clearly declared by David in his Psalms and also portrayed in his life. In Psalm 119 David tells us that Princes spoke against him ( verse 23,24 ); that the proud have forged a lie against him ( v.69 ); that the wicked have waited to destroy him ( v.95 ), and that princes have persecuted him without a cause ( v.161 ). But none of these words or actions brought a curse upon him. No. They only led him to God. When he was spoken and plotted against, he didnít consider the injustices nor himself. He didnít let himself get all hurt and vengeful. No. He knew Godís word and what God required, so in the midst of being tempted and tried, how did he react? Well, he meditated in the statutes of the Lord; he kept Godís precepts with his whole heart, he considered Godís testimonies, and he stood in awe of Godís word. When these things happened to him, when the temptation or trial ( not a curse! ) came, he had a choice to make, and he chose to consider and follow God and His word. As a result, his heart was blessed and filled with the grace and goodness of God and the assurance of His blessing and protection! Thus in Psalm 31:18-20, he describes the blessing and safety of those that put their trust in God, in the face of lies and slander:
" Oh, how great is Thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee, which thou hast wrought for them that trust in theeÖÖÖThou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man; thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues"
What wonderful assurance! What wonderful blessing and safety! No words of men can harm him or bring a curse on him. Did he not prove this when Goliath cursed him, 1 Samuel 17:43? It had no effect on him whatsoever! It was Goliath who quickly met his end! And when Shimei came out and cursed King David it brought him no harm whatever. David submitted to what he knew was Godís own judgement, despite the words of one of his men who wanted to slay Shimei. But the words of Shimei could not bring any evil on David whatsoever! David trusted God and in the end it was Shimei who was in danger of losing his life and who had to repent! ( 2 Samuel 16:5-10; 19:16-23 ). Where do these modern writers get their teaching from? Not from the Bible which contradicts their very teaching!
Moreover, it doesnít matter if David hears the malicious words or not! They cannot bind his soul nor afflict his body when he puts his trust in God and abides in His grace and love. Let us remember that this is the Old Covenant. It seems that it would be better to be in the Old Covenant than to be brought under this modern teaching! But Christ has died and risen again to secure for us a far greater salvation through the blood of the New Covenant! And what a different picture the NT gives of our salvation in Christ compared to this modern teaching. The NT reveals that we are risen with Christ far above all principality and power and seated together with Him. God makes all things work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes, so that nothing can harm them or separate them from His love. Because of Calvary and Jesus bearing our sin there, and granting us life and righteousness, no one can lay anything to the charge of Godís elect! We are blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ and the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. If we are sorely tempted by the words of others, we shall find grace sufficient if we humble ourselves before God. We are to consider Christ and His word and not ourselves. The devil goes around as a roaring lion indeed, but we are to resist his temptations and lies and to take the shield of faith, which is able to quench all his fiery darts. Christ has already won the victory for us and on this ground we are to stand. It is sure ground. It is safe ground. It is the ground of truth where we walk in the light of His word. We cannot excuse our own hard-heartedness, selfishness or unbelief by blaming a curse. Our great need is to repent where necessary and to believe and walk in this glorious Gospel!
What a different picture this is to the one painted by this modern teaching, where curses from hundreds of years ago can suddenly appear to afflict us and bring us into bondage, or words spoken to us or about us behind our backs have power to harm us! It is like being in a jungle of shadows, darkness and sudden quagmires to sink into; a jungle of half-truths, where there are things that do not operate according to spiritual laws of truth and righteousness. It is like being plunged into a world of spirit-beings who can strike you at any time from any direction and without warning, for reasons you arenít sure about - except that these modern-day writers, who have invented this world of arbitrary and dark forces where we have become the victims of evil spirits, offer their remedies for the problems that their own imagination have created!
Paul conveys the glorious truth to us that we have been "blessed with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ", Eph.1:3. If you read one of these modern books on curses, you can come away feeling that you have been "cursed with every spiritual curse from your background, according to all the un-confessed and un-forgiven sins of your ancestors Ė until they afflict you and you discover their source!" One American writer is telling people they ought to destroy the citizenship papers of their deceased parents if they have them, because otherwise they can be cursed by the sins of their parents through such documents! This is the extent of the madness and superstition that this teaching is bringing people into.
Even the world has more sense and wisdom than this modern teaching. Here in England there is an old saying, "Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me." When people use this proverb, concerning themselves or to instruct others, they are saying that the words themselves that people use against us cannot harm us. It is only your reaction to those words that can harm you. And of course there is an important truth in this. But the problem with people who are "in the world" and not "in Christ", is that they are captive to sin and so their reactions are often wrong and consequently they do get offended and bitter, and want to take revenge on the other person, or end up feeling unloved, rejected and useless.
Now I have to make it clear that of course words have the potential to cause unimaginable damage and division. Both scripture and life itself illustrate this clearly. Proverbs 18:21, for example, tells us that, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue." And there are many other scriptures that tell us of the damage words can cause, such as James chapter 3. But if we are guided by the wisdom that is from above, we shall not only be unharmed by what people say but we will also be an instrument of Godís grace unto others, ( Eph.4:29; James 3:18 ). A soft answer turns away anger and a wholesome tongue is a tree of life, ( Prov.15:4 ). This is how we will be if we follow Christ, and nothing shall by any means harm us!
As a Christian, the words of others in themselves cannot harm me if I follow Christ. This is not to say that we shall not be tempted and tried, for indeed we shall be. Life is such that at times people do say things that are unjust, malicious and destructive, and we may both recognise and feel this. We may indeed be grieved and saddened at the damage, division and loss of fellowship that such destructive words can have. But we ourselves then have a choice to make: whether to honour and follow God and to keep ourselves in His love and grace, or to react selfishly and carnally. If I consider myself, instead of considering Him ( Hebrews 12:3 ); if I consider and dwell upon the injustice done to me, instead of considering the injustice done to the Lamb of God because of my sin; if I consider the wrong done to me by the other person, instead of considering all the wrong that God has forgiven me; if I give more importance to the words spoken against me by man, instead of giving importance to Godís declaration of love to me in word and deed, then indeed words shall harm me Ė and they shall harm me greatly. Not because I am an innocent victim! Not because they act as a curse beyond my control! Not because it has to be so! It does not have to be so, but it is my own selfishness, self-love or unbelief that makes it so! It is my own hardness of heart, in view of all Godís goodness and grace. That is the teaching of the Bible.
I let words harm me if I do not forgive; I let words eat into my soul, if I do not bless in return. If I consider myself and the wrong done to me, then I am the one who allows myself to get bitter or resentful. If I do not forgive from my heart the wrong done to me, then it is because of the hardness of my own heart, nothing else, since Christ has dealt with everything else that could have hindered or bound me from doing His will. This is the fundamental truth and teaching of the New Testament and of the whole Bible. If you are Christís, then you are not the innocent victim of your past, held captive by some dark mysterious powers that can stop you believing and obeying God. It is the hardness and unbelief of our own hearts that causes so much pain and suffering in our lives. But if it is like this, then praise God, you donít need to go hunting and searching into your past for possible causes; repent of the hardness that is clearly manifest in your own heart; consider Christ and what He has done, and forgive with all your heart and bless and pray for those that have spoken evil of you and despitefully used you. Then Christ shall bless you and free you from whatever may have been wanting to bring your soul into bondage and sin. This is the Gospel, and what a wonderful Gospel it is. God works in the Light, according to righteousness, and He is for us, and He has shown us the way to walk in! We are not left subject to, or victims of arbitrary powers and evil spirits in a shadowy land of guesswork! We know where weíve come from and where weíre going Ė we are born of God, and Christ is the Way, and our citizenship is in Heaven!
Whether we are believers or those who donít know Christ and His salvation, the remedy in all these cases is the same Ė it is the message of the Cross. The message of the Cross is Godís power unto salvation to everyone who believes. The Cross of Christ has dealt with all the things that had bound us in the past, and also provides us with the salvation that keeps us free now, 1 Peter 1:5.
Before we knew Christ, it is very possible that what people had said and done to us in the past may have damaged us greatly. We may feel rejected, unloved and useless. We may also have allowed resentment, bitterness, envy and hatred to harden our hearts. Now, the Lord is merciful and gracious, full of compassion and longsuffering. He knows what weíve been through and He knows us through and through. There is that wonderful scripture that tells us that, "A bruised reed shall he not break and a smoking flax shall he not quench", Isaiah 42:3. Heís not out to harm or destroy us. Heís out to save us. But He knows our real problem and He calls sinners to repentance. Whatever has happened to me, the real problem that separates me from God is the sin of my own heart. Gospel truth teaches us that my real problem is not what others have said or done to me Ė and at times that can be unimaginably terrible Ė but what is in my own heart, namely, the sin that I have allowed and enjoyed. My own heart condition is the real problem.
And how does the Gospel deal with this problem and the others we have mentioned? Firstly, if we recognize and confess that we have sinned, and that chiefly against God Himself, then His forgiveness is freely bestowed upon us. We are washed clean of all our sin and filth and accepted as righteous in Christ. Through Christ we have the right to become Godís sons, whereby we are born into His kingdom of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. We are freed from the dominion of sin and the bondage of the devil and any real curses that may have been operating in our lives. This belongs to the salvation and redemption that Christ has purchased for us at the cross. He brings us into His Life which not only sets us free but empowers us by His Spirit to do His will. So not only does He free me from what bound me and would have destroyed me, but His life in me will lead me to forgive, love and pray for those who had wronged me. Indeed, especially because of His life in me, He now requires me to walk according to His love and grace. And I am to forgive freely and fully from the heart all those who have wronged me in the past Ė even as Christ has forgiven me. Then I shall know true blessing and liberty. Words from the past will have no power over me at all! They cannot! Unless I refuse to forgive and love. But please donít blame a curse for your problems then. Donít blame other people. Donít blame their words. The problem is the hardness of your own heart.
Christ brings me into His life that both frees me and empowers me to walk in his will. We are a new creation in Christ and old things have passed away and all things have become new and all things are of God; and we are to live according to this new creation, according to this "new man". That is the teaching of the NT. No ground remains for things of the past to plague you or act as a curse in your life. Such things have no right or jurisdiction over our life anymore. Christ is your life!
Again, let me say, I am not denying that demonic forces and evil words cannot create terrible trouble and bondage in a life. But I am saying that at the cross, Jesus has already dealt with all evil powers and curses. The ground of our deliverance now is our repentance from our own sins and the hardness of our own heart, and faith in what God has done in Christ for us Ė then God will set us free from all the things that plagued and bound us. And He has also given ministry and gifting in the church that such as need deliverance can be prayed for and be set free. But the idea that past words and curses can plague us after we have repented and believed God is not taught anywhere in the Bible.
And of course it is not just repentance from carnal and sinful behaviour, but faith in God that is of vital importance. Without faith it is impossible to please God, Hebrews 11:6. Faith in what God has done and in the love that He has shown us. This is what deals with, and washes away our sense of being unloved, rejected and useless Ė even our faith. Faith is actively believing the revelation and account that God has given us of Himself through His Son Jesus Christ. It is actively believing the declaration that God has made of His love towards us, in the midst of difficulties and in the face of trials and temptations. Faith is honouring and acknowledging the integrity of Godís character and being, no matter what happens. For he who doesnít believe God, has made Him a liar, 1 John 5:10. The faith that is more precious than gold, though it be tried in the fire, is not so much that faith that believes God to do things - the faith that believes and receives miracles; but much more the faith that loves, honours and worships God when nothing happens, when God, in the midst of trials, needs and crises, seems to do nothing Ė to ascribe to God all goodness, love and kindness in the midst of such things, is faith that shines forth as gold unto eternity!
It is by faith also that we have access into this grace wherein we stand. The apostle John says in 1 John 4:16, "we have known and believed the love that God has for us." His great declaration of love towards us at the cross, where He gave His only-begotten Son for us, is also a seal to all His other countless acts and declarations of love towards us. While we were yet sinners Christ died for us. God has made us His own through Him. We are accounted precious in His sight, Deut.7:6-8. Though a mother forget her child, it is impossible for God to forget us Ė our names are written in His hands, Isaiah 49:15,16. At Calvary Jesus didnít just die for everyone en masse Ė it was not just a "bulk purchase". He died for you; He died for me personally, as though I was that one lost sheep Ė He came looking for me, came looking for you! Your name, my name written in His hands there on the cross, obtaining forgiveness and salvation for those who had been chosen in Christ by name before the foundation of the world, even according to His eternal purpose of love and grace for each one of us! We are not lost in the crowd to God. How could He forget us? How could He neglect us? How could He be against us? Itís simply not possible! What more could He have done for us? What more could He have given for us? There was nothing more precious to God the Father than His own dear Son! And as if that werenít enough, with Christ, God has also given us all things freely to enjoy in this salvation that He has obtained for us. We are accepted in Christ. We are precious to God through Christ. We are favoured and blessed in Christ. We are privileged above all people in and through Christ! This is the Gospel! This is what God has done for us! This is what He expects us to believe with all our hearts and to rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory! Who can declare the depth, extent and wonder of this love of God? The apostle John bids us consider the Fatherís love for us in 1 John 3:1, "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God!" The apostle Paul prays for the Ephesiansí saints that they might know the height and depth, the length and breadth of the love of Christ that passes all understanding! Our lives on earth, if not in eternity, are meant to be a continual and deepening discovery of the glory of the great love and grace of God! And often we donít understand that it is the very trials of life that are the means whereby we discover and come into a greater depth and knowledge of His love!
When we turn to God and are baptised in His Spirit, then we are born again into a knowledge and awareness of this love of God, the Holy Spirit Himself bearing witness in our hearts that these things are true ( Rom.5:5; 8:15,16 ). But of course, the testing of our faith is something that is part of growing in God and in the knowledge of Him. And our faith shall be tested, ( 1 Peter 1:7; James 1:2-4 ). Things will happen that will tempt us to doubt God and His love for us. That devil will use certain circumstances to sow seeds of doubt in our minds concerning Godís love and care of us. This, and not curses, is one of the main weapons or strategies that the devil employs, namely, to misrepresent God and to foster unbelief in our hearts. And that is why we are exhorted to gird up the loins of our minds ( 1 Peter 1:13 ) and to put on the whole armour of God ( Eph.6:11 ) that we may be able to stand against the strategies of the devil. And after all that God has done for us and shown us of His love and grace, He expects and exhorts us to live holding fast to our confidence in Him, Hebrews 3:6,14; 10:35. In the past we have listened to others; we have believed others; we have given much importance and taken much notice of what others say. Now, particularly when we are faced with difficulties or trials, God expects us to listen to Him; to believe Him; to take notice and give paramount importance to what he has said and done for us in Christ! Without this faith we cannot stand. Without this faith we lose the battle to old ways of thinking and to old habits. It is only by this faith that God imparts that daily grace that makes us more than conquerors through Christ. Without this faith it is impossible to please God, Hebrews 11:6. To listen to the lies of the devil, is to make God a liar, 1 John 5:10. To believe the truth, is to honour God and to glorify His name, and it is this faith that is our victory and salvation in all things. This faith is not just a matter of accepting something as true, but of actively rejecting all the lies of the devil, which would make us feel unloved and unwanted, and rejecting all ungodly feelings that would stir themselves in us, and actively accepting, believing and applying Godís truth to our hearts in those very difficulties that tempt and try us. This faith brings assurance, peace, strength, comfort and joy when we let patience have its perfect work in us. It is this faith that gives no room to thoughts and feelings of being unloved, uncared for, rejected and useless. This faith banishes such lies of the devil which foster unbelief and self-pity. Though temptations will come, feelings of being rejected, unloved and useless cannot abide when you consider Godís truth concerning you and put your trust and faith in Him. It is impossible. These two things cannot exist together! You cannot believe the Truth and believe a lie at the same time! One of them will always prevail in your heart. And of course the devil is there to persuade you to believe a lie. To believe a lie, is to give certain power to that lie in your life. Just as believing the Truth is Godís power unto salvation in our lives, 1 Cor:1:18; 1Peter1:5. If the devil can get us not to believe God then this is a major victory because it is only through faith that we have access into this free grace wherein we stand. It is by faith that we have access to all the provision of Godís salvation for us. Our unwillingness or failure to believe God Ė to believe the integrity of His word and of His nature Ė when we are under trials and temptations, is one of the most common reasons why Godís people have problems in their lives and do not enter into the joy and rest of their inheritance and salvation! And this is the reason we experience failure, condemnation, a sense of being rejected, unloved and useless. All these things are the consequence of unbelief in our hearts. You cannot blame a "curse" from the past! Now that you are Godís, you cannot blame your mother or your father or anyone else for the unbelief that is hardening your heart against Godís Truth - Hebrews 3:12 - 19.
As I said, without faith we lose access to that grace and power of God in our lives that secures our liberty and victory. Also, we cannot walk in the Spirit if we are believing lies. The consequence of all this, is that the flesh shall prevail in our lives and we shall not be able to do the things that we know to be right. Our old habits of doing and thinking will start to gain control again in our lives. That which is just human and natural about us; that which belongs to our "old man" as we were before we were saved, will again assert itself Ė because we are not walking in faith nor in the Spirit of God; Galatians 3:2-4; 5:1,6,7,16,17. In these chapters of Galatians, Paul is telling them that by trying to live by the law, they have ceased to live by faith and that consequently they cannot partake of Christ and His grace, and they cannot walk in the Spirit Ė which means that the flesh shall prevail and defeat them. Unbelief has the same consequences in our lives, as Hebrews chapters 3 and 4 make abundantly clear. Thatís why the warnings and exhortations are so serious and urgent in the Hebrews letter, even as they are in the Galatian letter. This unbelief exposes us to all the weaknesses and old influences of our past life that used to be such a problem to us, including the old feelings of being unloved, useless and rejected. But these things are not a curse. They are not due to a curse! These are a consequence of our own unbelief ( and self-pity is one of the most serious forms of unbelief ) which the devil uses to deceive us and to totally misrepresent God to our minds. This represents part of the devilís major strategy against our souls Ė to get us to sin and then to fill our minds with the thought that He canít or wonít forgive us, that He has let us down or that He is against us, that He is unkind and uncaring; these are the blasphemies that the devil wants to sow in our minds. This is what the scriptures call an evil heart of unbelief that departs from the living God, and the deceitfulness of sin that hardens our hearts, Hebrews 3:12,13. If we start receiving this kind of poison, then we cut ourselves off from the vast supply of the riches of His grace. We are out of fellowship with God. We are not walking in the light and truth. We are not walking in the Spirit by faith, and so all sorts of things may dominate our thinking and have influence over us. We cannot know that rest and victory that is our inheritance in Christ. The answer and remedy here is not some sort of deliverance from a curse, but repentance from our own unbelief - which has given both our flesh and the devil opportunity to prevail over us - and an embracing of Godís Truth into our hearts! And He will abundantly pardon and restore us! Praise His name! Yes, of course at times feelings come and go. And though we may be tempted to feel unloved and useless, if we fix our gaze and our minds on Christ and his truth, we shall soon be comforted and brought into a knowledge of the love and liberty that Christ has purchased for us. Books and sermons written by preachers and revivalists down the centuries bare witness to the fact that many of the Lordís people have difficulties in this area of believing God. Being prone to doubt God, His people end up with feelings of rejection and condemnation and much more beside. These preachers and revivalists all bear record to this being a common problem among believers, and identify the cause as unbelief, as do the scriptures.
Allow me to give some of my testimony which highlights and confirms the testimony of scriptures given above.
I didnít have a Christian upbringing and we never went to church. From a very young age, I was brought up by my father, my parents having divorced. I am thankful for some of the things my father taught me in terms of respect and obedience and how he looked after me. But what almost destroyed me was the constant destructive criticism. I was never good enough. Nor would I be! This is what I was told. For the slightest thing sometimes I would be hit and punished, let alone for more serious things. This criticism never really stopped. By the time I was a teenager I felt like someone who was being crushed; I certainly felt unloved and much that my father did and said left me feeling useless and very hurt and depressed, if not despairing. I am sad to say that resentment and hatred welled up in my heart because of these things. Because of circumstances and schooling, I moved away from home when I was 17. But even then I remember dreading my fatherís letters because they were normally full of nothing but criticisms about me and what I did. I had also considered taking my own life. But God! He knew all things. His hand was upon me for my good before I ever realised it! At that time I had been reading the Gospels because I had been seeking for the truth - for God. Eventually, I turned to the Lord for salvation. As I did so, there was no thought in my mind about anyone else Ė what had been done or said to me or the "injustices" that I had suffered. It didnít even enter my mind. It was me who needed saving Ė from myself; from my own sin and heart condition. Having read the Gospels I needed no convincing that I was a sinner and that it was I that had to get right with God. I approached God on the basis that I was a sinner who needed saving, not on the basis of seeking help for the things I had suffered. God heard my prayer! He forgave me freely and received me! Not only did a peace come into my life that I had never known before, but when I received Godís Spirit, the sense of Godís love and grace was overwhelming. I was washed clean and was aware that all bitterness and hatred concerning my father had gone - completely. It wasnít there anymore. I actually felt love for him and desired good for him. Even though I now felt nothing against my father, I wanted to respond to Godís goodness and grace to me, so, before God, I deliberately forgave my father all the wrong that I felt he had done to me.
So contrary to what these modern writers say, none of those critical things my father said to me acted as a curse on my life. I did not need special prayer of deliverance from curses when I turned to Christ, nor did my fatherís words act as a curse afterwards. Any bitterness or hatred in my heart that resulted from his words, was dealt with by me repenting of the evil and wickedness of my own heart. Any feelings of rejection and condemnation resulting from his words, was dealt with by me believing the Gospel of Godís grace and love to me. Because of Christís death on the cross, repentance from my own sins and faith in Godís grace and love dealt with all those other things Ė the Lord cleansed me and set me free. The only way my fatherís words could affect me now, was if I didnít forgive him and if I harboured resentment against him. But this is not a curse. This is the hardness of my own heart, which brings darkness into my life. From my own life as well as from scripture, I know these other teachings to be false. It seems to me that these modern teachings are putting the blame for our problems on something or someone else, instead of recognising that it is un-forgiveness, unbelief and hardness of heart that is often the real problem in the lives of Christians.
Let me add that later on, when my faith was tested in a certain way, I started to doubt Godís love for me. At that time, the old feelings of rejection came back, but not because of a curse from the past! As I said above, we allow these things back into our life and give them validity and power because we doubt God and we start believing lies. Not walking by faith and in the Spirit allowed the old nature with all its weaknesses Ė in other words, the "old man" Ė to start dominating my life again, so that I felt rejected and unloved again. And these feelings can be as terrible as any physical pain. Now itís no good saying, "You see, the words of your father have power over you and are acting as a curse to keep you out of Godís fullness." That would have been nonsense and would not have helped me. My problem was the unbelief that I had allowed to enter my heart. That is what had opened the door to these other things and given them validity in my life. But the scripture says that as we have received Christ Jesus so we are to walk in Him, rooted and grounded in the faith, Col.2:6,7. We are to take heed that there isnít an evil heart of unbelief in us, which would cause us to depart from the living God. We are to listen to His voice lest we are hardened through the deceitfulness of sin, Hebrews 3:12,13. We have put off "the old man" and we are not to put him on again, but to live according to the "new man", Col.3:8,9. When I realised these things, especially that my thoughts were actually blasphemy against God, I repented of my own hardness of heart and unbelief, and turned to God believing in His integrity and goodness again. And how good and gracious God is, and how longsuffering! He forgave and restored me immediately. And of course, those old feelings of rejection soon evaporated and did not dominate my life anymore. There was no curse! It was the unbelief of my own heart that was the problem.
Let me give a very simple illustration. A son is in his fatherís house, where he is safe and protected. The father says to his son, "Donít go out while itís raining or youíll get terribly wet." But in the end the child doesnít take his fatherís words seriously and wanting to see what itís like outside, he leaves his fatherís house. He goes out into the rain and of course gets terribly wet, whereupon he sits down in the rain and laments the fact that he is getting so wet! Along comes one of these modern teachers and tells him that his problem comes from the clouds. They are responsible for all this rain that is making him so miserable and wet, this teacher says. So he needs to pray against these clouds and bind their power from sending this rain which is making him wet! What nonsense. What a deception. And yet it is true, isnít it? The clouds are responsible for making him wet. They are to blame for his miserable condition. No! That is not the Truth! In view of all that his father had done and said, the son himself is to blame; he is responsible for his miserable state. He placed himself in a situation where he could be affected by these outside elements, by not believing and disobeying his fatherís words. The answer and remedy here is not to talk about the cloud and rain or to pray for deliverance from it, but to arise and to return to the father and to ask his forgiveness and to return into the safety and shelter of his house!
In view of all that God has done at Calvary, you cannot blame others for your problems if you are Godís child. He offers safety, protection and abundant blessing in Himself, and we are to abide in Him; we are to abide in the "new man". The "old man" is, of course, subject to all the weaknesses of the flesh and to all the old influences that shaped him before he knew Christ, Ephesians 4:22. If we donít live in that position where God has placed us, in the "new man", but put on the "old man" again, then we are subject to all those weaknesses and influences that belong to him. The answer then is not to start analysing why the "old man" is so terrible and what past influences makes him so miserable Ė which is basically what these modern teachings are doing Ė but to take the remedy that God has provided for us in Christ. We are to return to Him in repentance and faith and to then put on the "new man", who is created by God in righteousness and true holiness, Ephesians 4:24. You cannot improve or perfect the "old man". You cannot deliver the "old man" from old influences and curses. There was only one answer, and that was to crucify him and do away with him and his dominion in our lives, Rom.6:6. And the only remedy is a new creation in Christ, where the old things have passed away and all things are new and of God, 2 Cor.5:17,18. If you go out in the rain you will get wet. If you do not live according to Godís salvation in Christ, then you will be subject to the old ways of thinking and to the old influences that had previously shaped your life. But then donít blame the cloud and rain. Donít blame the old influences on your life Ė whatever they were! Acknowledge that you have strayed from believing and obeying the Fatherís love and the Fatherís words. He will abundantly pardon us according to the riches of His grace in Christ!
These modern writers diagnose our problems wrongly, and then they supply us with the wrong answers and the wrong remedy. They have borrowed their ideas from the world and the spirit of this age. These ideas are popular in secular psychology and society, and these teachers have brought them into the church. These worldly ideas basically take the line that our present problems stem from our past, from how our parents or others treated us and we canít really help how we are until all this past is investigated and dealt with. I would agree to the first part of this to some extent Ė humanly speaking. But this teaching ignores or misrepresents Calvary and what Christ has done there. It ignores the language, diagnosis and remedy that the NT gives us, and presents us with the language and teaching of superstition and modern humanism. It seems to me that what these modern writers are also doing in many cases, is looking at the lives of Christians who are not living by faith in God nor according to His grace, and consequently of course they are influenced by the old ways of thinking and feeling. And instead of presenting the Lordís people with the truth as it is in Christ, according to this Gospel that challenges our own heart, they are putting the blame for problems that any of us as Christians may have, on our parents or ancestors Ė just like the world is doing! They might say, "You see, youíre feeling this way because your father said this to you or because you were treated in such a bad way. And this is acting like a curse in your life and so you need to be freed from this curse." Now indeed, humanly speaking, of course our old problems have their old causes. But the remedy for Christians in this case is not to blame the old cause ( my fatherís critical words, for example ) and to try and deal with that, but to lead a person into an understanding of the Gospel; to faith in Godís great love for us in Christ, and to repentance from unbelief, hardness of heart, un-forgiveness or bitterness. And with regard to those who do not know this salvation in Christ, the message is still the same. It is their repentance and faith in Christ that secures their salvation - and deliverance from all the power of the evil one.
Obviously, such a subject as this could take up a whole book and this is not my intention. I simply want to look at what the NT identifies as the basic causes for the problems that Christians experience in their spiritual walk, and to what extent, if at all, the NT identifies curses as a cause of any of these problems.
Well, as we have already seen, the NT doesnít even mention curses as being the cause of any kind of problem or difficulty. It is not even mentioned as a contributing factor to any problem, let alone being the main or basic cause of a difficulty. We are told not to curse, of course, but nowhere is a curse identified as being at the root of any problem we may have. Jesus doesnít say so. The apostles donít say so. Some modern preachers and writers do, and today Godís people have to decide whether they will believe the words of what may be well-known preachers and teachers, or believe Godís word. It is as simple as that. We are not really talking about different interpretations of the NT scriptures. We are talking about what is, and what is not taught or mentioned in the NT. Neither world-famous preachers, nor shining angels from heaven, nor wonderful experiences can take precedence over the word of God. If we do let these other things take precedence, then we do this at our peril and we shall be deceived, even as many are today.
What then are the main reasons for Christians having difficulties in their spiritual walk? What are the faults or failings that cause these difficulties? We have already mentioned them and the two basic reasons that the scriptures give us for things going wrong are: selfish or carnal behaviour, and unbelief. All our problems as the Lordís people can be traced back to these two causes. From these two roots, stem all our problems, not from curses and not from demons Ė if there is any demonic problem of any kind, then this is only the result of persistent carnal behaviour and unbelief. We have already looked at one of the main reasons why Christians fail to enter the promised rest and inheritance in Christ, namely, unbelief, and I shall not add anything more to this now. I want to look now, in greater detail, at the other reason that is the cause of so many problems.
It is Jesus Himself who tells us very clearly that unless we deny ourselves, we cannot be his disciples. Itís not the devil or curses that can stop or hinder us following the Lord, but our own self-interest and self-love. He also identifies the source of our problems as our own heart, Mark 7:18-23. He can deliver a woman from the bondage of Satan and cast unclean spirits out of many, but the real source of our problem in following the Lord, if there is a problem, is the state of our own heart. The devil is not the main source of our problems, it is our own heart and the choices we make. If we make the wrong choices; if we choose not to believe God and to ignore what He has said, then we give ground and opportunity for the devil to work in our lives. This is how it was with Adam and Eve. It was no good blaming the devil for their own disobedience and unbelief, and for the consequences of their disobedience. Nothing and no one forced them to disobey God and not believe His good intentions toward them. No curse or ancestral sin compelled them to do wrong. It was the selfish and self-seeking desire of their own hearts that gave the opportunity to the devil to deceive them and that led them into sin.
Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness in order to be tempted by the devil. But Jesus believed and obeyed Godís word Ė nothing could harm Him because He kept His heart right before God. No devil or curse can harm you if you keep your heart in the obedience of faith and love. This is a fundamental truth of the Bible and it is a fundamental truth for all true counselling. God allowed Adam and Eve to be tested by the devil in the Garden of Eden. God allowed Israel to be tested in the wilderness to see what was in their hearts, whether they would keep faithful to Him or whether there was a selfish motive or desire in them, Deut.8:2,3. This is a fundamental passage in understanding the trials that may come our way. And Jesus quotes from this very passage when He is led by the Spirit of God to be tempted by the devil, Mtt.4:1,4. In Luke 4:1. We read that Jesus went into the wilderness full of the Holy Spirit. In verse 14, after being tempted by the devil, we read that Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit! In the purposes of God, this is the aim of trials and temptations that may come our way. Not to destroy us. Not to make us fall and sin, but to provide the opportunity for us to be strengthened in our faith and devotion to God; to provide opportunity for us to grow strong in the Lord and to develop spiritual character. We can only really grow when we are faced with choices or a conflict of interests. This is why Paul says he glories in tribulation, Rom.5:3-5, and why James tells us to count it all joy when we fall into various trials, James 1:2-4. These are Godís own means of bringing us into a real knowledge of His grace and life, of producing His life in us and causing His life to grow and to be strengthened in us. This is also where head-knowledge gets converted into heart-reality! It must be demonstrated to angels, devils, for the good of our own souls, and to God, that we are not following Him just because of the blessings He gives, but because we love Him more than anything else and are willing to suffer the loss of other things just so we might gain Christ!
God will allow you and me to be tempted and tried. And these trials will either strengthen us in our spiritual walk and produce Christís likeness in us, ( Rom.8:29; Heb.12:10; 2 Peter 1:2-4 ), or expose the waywardness of our heart or any selfish desire that we allow to reside there. And James goes on to make it clear that God doesnít tempt us to sin Ė His will is that we grow stronger through trials; He doesnít make sin attractive to us so that we should sin! If sin is attractive to us, James tells us it is because we are drawn away by our own desires, James 1:13-15. It is our own selfish desires, not the devil or curses that cause the problems.
So Jesus has told us that we have to deny ourselves if we want to be His disciples. If worry and anxiety dominate our life then this is because we are not believing Godís love and care over our lives, Mtt.6:24-34; Rom.8:28; Philippians 4:6,7; or we are simply allowing the love of other things to take over in our lives, Mark 4:19. If we are angry, unforgiving and critical then we shall bear our judgement for our hard-heartedness, Mtt.7:1-5; 18:23-35. If we seek things for ourselves, for our own pleasure or for our own gain, then we are not following Christ or seeking first the Kingdom of God. All through the Gospels, the Lord Jesus only ever underlines the truth that it is the condition of our heart and the choices that we make in response to the grace and salvation offered us in Him, that results in us being blessed, or failing to be blessed and having difficulties in our life. Neither the devil nor curses are ever mentioned as being a hindrance or the root and cause of any of our problems in following Christ. We read in many places in the Gospels that Jesus delivered many people from evil spirits when they came to Him. This didnít seem to be a problem. Jesus had authority over demons and He cast them out quite freely when people came to Him Ė and He told His apostles to do the same, Luke 9:1,2. But this was not the main problem with regard to actually following Jesus. Jesus did many great things in Capernaum, but they did not really repent and follow Him, Mtt.11:20-24. He had healed the sick and cast out demons, and yet they repented not! They did not humble themselves, turn from their sin and believe Christ. And here is one interpretation of what Jesus said about the man who is delivered of an unclean spirit, Luke 11:24-26. The unclean spirit returns later and finds the house swept and put in order. So he takes several other spirits worse than himself and returns with them, so that the state of the man is now worse than before. Jesus went through the house of Israel casting unclean spirits out of all who came to Him - He came cleaning out the house of Israel. And although they were keen to receive blessings, which included deliverance from evil spirits, they did not repent of their way of life and hardness of heart. They did not prepare their cleaned out lives for Christ, but wanted to carry on living as they pleased and thereby allowed the evil one to harden their hearts against the Truth and against Christ, so that in the end Jesus condemned Capernaum and wept over Jerusalem. The resistance to Jesus at Capernaum wasnít due to curses or demons! He had come to His own but His own had not received Him Ė even though He had healed and blessed multitudes and delivered them from evil spirits Ė yet their hearts did not turn to Him in true repentance. They were willing to receive blessings but not to receive His Way or His Truth. Jesus never indicated that curses or a demon would ever be the real reason for hindering a person from following Him.
Peter had a wrong image of God. He thought God should rule in might and not suffer at all or let anyone get the better of Him. God is the one who would conquer all those that opposed Him. He would always be seen to be the greatest and win over men. That was Peterís image of God. Thatís what he thought God should be like Ė not to appear as someone who suffers or is weak. So when Jesus revealed to the apostles that He, as the Christ, would be rejected of men, suffer and die, Peter couldnít accept this image of God and rebuked Jesus and told Him that He shouldnít let these things happen to Him! Mtt.16:13-26. Perhaps Peter thought that men should be strong and fight ( like when he cut off the high priestís ear ); perhaps that is how he was brought up to think. Anyway, this was Peterís outlook; this was what people today might call his temperament. But Jesus is not interested in our temperament; He is not interested in the things that shaped us in our life as though these are the problem now and need sorting out. What I mean is this: Jesus didnít take time to gently point out to Peter that he had a wrong image of God and that he needed to be freed from his upbringing which might have instilled in him this wrong image or wrong idea. No! Jesus had the power to transform us into His own image by what He was going to accomplish at the cross. Our upbringing, the devil, demons and curses could not get in the way if we believed and obeyed Christ. And thatís what Jesus expected. He was among the apostles, manifesting the nature of the Father ( John 14:9) and revealing the truth of God to them. Even though it astonished Peter, Jesus expected him to consider what He said and submit to this revelation of God. But Peter found it difficult to humble himself to this revelation. If the Son of God was going to humble Himself like this, then this could mean that Peter might have to humble himself too Ė and that was too much for him and so he rebuked Jesus. Jesus turned to Peter and said, "Get behind me Satan. You are an offence to me, for you do not consider the things of God, but the things of men." Then Jesus said to them all that if anyone would come after Him, he must deny himself. Jesus didnít here say that a person is hindered from following Him because of the devil. He didnít say that Peter needed some kind of deliverance from the devil, as though he were just an innocent victim of the devilís tactics. No! He said a person had to deny themselves. This was a very strong rebuke that Jesus gave to Peter. Jesus was not rebuking the devil "out of " Peter. Jesus was not saying that Peter was innocent here and that it was the devil who was keeping him in blindness and bondage. Jesus was not blaming the devil for Peterís mistake. Jesus didnít set about delivering Peter from the devilís influence as though this would have been the answer to the problem. Nor did He tell Peter that his need was to be delivered from the devilís influence. No. Jesus was blaming Peter fairly and squarely for his own actions and choices Ė and Jesus was showing Peter how serious his error was and what Peter was aligning himself to by resisting this revelation of God. Peter was not denying himself, not humbling himself. He was considering the things that are important to man, not to God. Even in the face of what Jesus the Son of God had just told them, he resisted this revelation of God and would not humble himself. Thus, he aligned himself with the way and spirit of the devil, which is to fight for oneís rights and to exalt oneself. Peter gave the devil space and opportunity to influence his heart with thoughts that opposed the Spirit of the Lamb of God. It was because of this alignment, this identification with the disposition of the devil, that Jesus said these words to Peter. Peter was not possessed with a demon. This was not the problem otherwise Jesus could have easily delivered him of this evil spirit. But a person cannot be delivered of the pride of his heart. It is through repentance and the humbling of our hearts as we believe and accept Godís truth about us and about Himself that pride gets dealt with. Jesus makes it plain to all of them what the root cause of the problem was here Ė that a man was not willing to deny himself ! It is this that gives the devil opportunity to deceive us and to bring us into bondage.
The fundamental truth here is that the root cause of our problems goes back to our own heart, not something else! Whatever else may have influenced our life before and however terrible it may have been, the Gospel will deal with those things if we turn to the Lord with all our heart in true repentance and faith. Jesus does not go delving into our past, trying to sort out all the old influences that shaped us. He does not psychoanalyse us in order to try and find out the things that shaped our life previous to following Him, however damaging, powerful and serious they might have been. He was crucified in order to deal with our old life and everything that shaped it. The main thing that shaped our previous life, was sin! What Jesus does is to present us with the truth, and if we believe Him and continue in His word, then the truth shall make us free! Free from the sin that shaped and dominated our old life, John 8:30-36. If we donít continue in His word, we should not be surprised if things go wrong and we shouldnít blame curses, the devil or past influences for our present sin. As Christians it is our carnal and selfish behaviour that exposes us to our old human weaknesses, to old influences which bound us before we followed Christ, and to the devilís influence. Our selfish behaviour brings us back under the sphere of influence of these things, and it is no good trying to discover and understand what kind of things shaped our old life as though they are now the main problem. The scripture doesnít exhort us to analyze the old way of life; to understand what kind of things shaped the old life. The scripture exhorts us to leave the old way of life completely and it assures us that in Christ the old way of life has been crucified and is finished. It exhorts us to live in Christ, in a new and living way! Peter was not being hindered or dominated by the devil. Peterís carnal, selfish and proud attitude exposed him to the influence of the devil. Itís no good saying that Peter needed deliverance from the devil or from his past upbringing. Peterís need was to believe Christ and to receive His word with meekness! That would have dealt with any old influence from whatever source and would have denied the devil any opportunity to influence him.
In like manner, this modern teaching confuses issues. They want to tell us that curses from the past can cause family and marriage break-ups among Christians! What a terrible teaching this is and how untrue it is! These modern books give examples of the life-style of people who you couldnít recognize as being Christian. They are either unbelievers who are living ungodly lives or they are believers who are living ungodly lives! It is not always clear. And instead of challenging the ungodly manner of living which is contrary to the Gospel, they set about developing and inventing their own doctrines as to why these people are living in this ungodly way. They give examples of people who have no assurance of Godís love or of His protection over their lives, whose behaviour and conversation is carnal, selfish and unbelieving Ė to the extreme. Then they want to tell us that all this unbelief and selfish behaviour and the problems that obviously and inevitably follow such behaviour, come from curses! No! It is this very selfishness and unbelief that are the cause of the problems that follow them. But these modern teachers take these examples of ungodly living and then tell us that it is the old influences and curses that are causing these problems. Then they go a terrible step further and want to teach us that the problems of all Christians, however holy they may be, can and probably are caused by curses! Even to the extent that innocent Christians can suffer illness and death because of the sins of previous generations. This is a developed teaching of witchcraft, not of godly truth. Particularly because of the cross, we are responsible for our ungodly behaviour and everything that results from it.
Let us be practical and honest, as well as biblical. Let us say that there are problems in a marriage and the relationship between husband and wife is breaking down. Now, this does not happen overnight. You become aware of problems and failings as they happen and increase. If in any way you are honest before God and are aware of what the scriptures say, then you will realise that one or more of the following things are happening: you are getting impatient towards your spouse, angry, resentful, hard-hearted, embittered, bored or unfaithful in your attitude or even actions. These are the things that lead to a breakdown in relationships. No one is forcing you to live in this kind of state. No curse from the past can make you live like this! You can only continue in this kind of attitude and behaviour by totally ignoring Godís word or rebelling against it. You can only continue to live like this because of your own selfishness or self-love and because you refuse to acknowledge your sin and repent of it. If a Christian acts like this, it is not because they are the innocent victim of a curse or of parental upbringing Ė they are either totally unaware of what the Bible says or they choose to ignore Godís word. If a Christian is tempted to behave like this, the scripture tells us that we are to put aside or mortify such behaviour, and if we fall into behaviour such as this, we are to repent and confess our sin and God will cleanse us of all iniquity. It is our heart-repentance concerning our ungodly behaviour that will not only secure Godís pardon but also deliverance from any influence that we had given ground to, through our selfishness or unbelief. And this is a fundamental and repeated part of the counsel of the apostles in their writings to Christians, namely, that we should not give ground to the old way of thinking and acting. Ephesians 4:17-32, but walk in newness of life:
"This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heartÖ you have not so learned Christ, Öthat you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corruptÖand be renewed in the spirit of your mindÖand that you put on the new man, which was created according to God in righteousness and true holiness. Wherefore put away lyingÖneither give place to the devilÖlet all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour and evil speaking be put away from youÖand be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you."
Colossians 3:1-13 expresses the same truth to us. You will also find the same message in Romans chapter 6 Ė you were the servants of sin but now you are the servants of righteousness. You have been made free from sin therefore mortify the deeds of the body, for sin shall not have dominion over you! Our old man was crucified with Christ and so we should walk in newness of life. The apostle Peter tells us in his first letter that we have been born again of incorruptible seed, which lives and abides forever; therefore we should lay aside all malice, all guile, hypocrisies, envy, and all evil speaking, and that we should desire the pure milk of the word that we might grow thereby, 1 Peter 1:23 Ė 2:2. The apostle John is also very clear in his first letter, where he talks of the Fatherís great love towards us, in that we are now called the sons of God and that we shall be like Christ when He appears, for we shall see Him as He is. And if we have this hope, we are to purify ourselves even as Christ is pure, 1 John 3:1-3. He furthermore exhorts us that if we say we are in Christ, then we are to walk even as Christ walked. If we grow in love then we shall have boldness on the day of judgment, John says, because as He is, so are we in this world, 1 John 2:6; 4:17. What makes these amazing things possible? Itís because Christ has cleansed us from sin and made us free from sin, giving us a birth that is of God, from above, and He has destroyed the works of the devil. In other words, the scriptures teach us that God, through Christ, has broken the power of the things that were against us and kept us in bondage, and that He has cleansed us from all unrighteousness and given us a birth through His Spirit, whereby we partake of His nature and are conformed to the image of Christ by walking in the obedience of faith and love, 1 John 3:4-10; 4:4. All these things are true and effective in Christ. But if we do not put on Christ in our daily living then of course we can fall prey to our carnal disposition, to sinís dominion and to the devilís deception. The power of these things are only broken in Christ and victory over them is only secured by abiding in Christ.
Let me also say here that God has put us in a Body, His church, and particularly if we are new believers we are to benefit from the fellowship of the saints. We may be tempted to return to old ways and we shall pass through difficulties, and so we are to encourage, support and exhort one other concerning the truth as it is in Christ. I donít want you to think that you are meant to be some kind of spiritual super-hero who can go it alone and simply glide through life. There will be temptations and trials that shall seem to test us to the uttermost at times, but Christ is sufficient for all these things if we hold fast to Him! It is not within the scope of this article to develop these themes more, as one might wish to, but for the sake of this article the basic truths of scripture need to be mentioned and pointed out.
In all these letters and passages, the apostles make clear the greatness of our salvation in Christ and that we have received a new life and a new Spirit Ė in other words, we have received the life of Christ and the Holy Spirit. In these passages we are therefore exhorted to live in Christ, to live according to the riches of Godís grace now available through Christ, and not to return to the old way of thinking and living, not to revert to how we used to be before we knew Godís grace and salvation. It is clear right throughout the Bible that temptations and trials are a part of life, and that these are meant to conform us to the image of Christ and to strengthen us in the true knowledge of His grace and love. Where we find ourselves tempted to sin, this is not God tempting us, as James clearly tells us, and we are to mortify the deeds of the body and not let sin reign there. God has done great things and expects us to live according to the greatness of His salvation, Heb.2:1-3. Though trials remain, if we believe and follow Christ, those old things of our past life cannot dominate us or lord it over us. But choices still remain which will test us and reveal the state of our heart. All the exhortations not to return to the old way of living make it plain that we can do so, if we choose to please ourselves and if we neglect so great a salvation. Thus we find the apostle Peter exhorting us to think soberly, trusting fully in the grace that is brought us in Christ,
"Öas obedient children not conforming yourselves to the former desires in your ignorance, but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct." 1 Peter 1:14,15.
Peter is saying the same things as Paul. Grace is available in Christ. Trust in this grace fully, living obedient and holy lives. Our obedience in faith and love will result in us being conformed to the image of Christ. John talks about us walking as He walked. Paul inspires us when he talks about us being filled with all the fullness of God, as we allow Christ to dwell in our hearts by faith and by being rooted and grounded in love, Eph.3:16-19. Also in his second letter, the apostle Peter makes it clear that there is to be a growth and development in our Christian walk, 2 Peter 1:4-11. Things donít stay the same. Things canít stay the same. We are either growing in Christ and the knowledge of Him, or we are living according to how we were naturally in the days of our ignorance before we knew Godís grace Ė reverting back to the type of person we used to be, where we let the old desires have their way in us and as a result the old influences have power over us again so that we canít do the things we know to be right ( Gal.5:16-18 ). Peter makes this plain in the above quote. He is telling us that our lives shouldnít be fashioned or shaped by the old desires which reigned in our life before we knew God. If we live according to the old desires, then we are living carnally, not according to the grace of God, and so old influences and habits of sin will have sway in our lives and these things will shape or fashion our lives. The problem is not the devil or a curse. It is our neglect of Godís word and of His grace that results in carnal behavior, which of course will mean defeat in our Christian walk because we are giving opportunity to the flesh and to the devil to defeat us. Donít be fashioned by your former desires. Donít conform yourself to your former lusts. Thatís what the apostles are telling us. Paul beseeches us, by the mercies of God, that we present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God,
"and be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mindÖ"
We saw in the passage above, right in the middle of telling us to put off the old man and to put on the new man, that Paul exhorts us to be renewed in the spirit of our mind. These scriptures tell us that some kind of transformation is going on in our lives, and that we have a part to play in this according to Godís own purposes. There is always an influence at work, which is shaping our life, and it is up to us to respond and live according to Godís offer of grace and salvation in Christ, so that it is His grace and love that are shaping our lives. Peter exhorts us to grow in grace ( 2 Peter 3:18 ), and Paul testifies to the Corinthians that he is what he is, by the grace of God Ė it is Godís grace that has made him what he is and that is also now working in him, ( 1 Cor.15:10). But if we do not live according to this wonderful Gospel and its grace, but live selfishly or in unbelief, then other influences will start shaping our life, namely, the influence of the flesh, which will include our old weaknesses, failings, feelings and sins Ė and all this of course will also give the devil opportunity to influence and deceive us. But again let us notice that nowhere does the scripture lay blame on the devil or curses for any problems that a Christian may have in his walk before God. From the passage above just quoted, Peter tells us that exceeding great and precious promises have been given to us, that we should by these become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. He therefore exhorts us to grow in this grace of God in every way, and that if anyone lacks this growth in grace, then, "Öhe is short-sighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed of his old sins." So the fact that someone lacks these things of Godís grace is not due to some curse or devil, it is because they have chosen to live in a way that ignores what God has done for them and spoken to them Ė they choose to live virtually as if God had never done anything for them. It is our own lack of grace, love, kindness and longsuffering that leads to problems in our relationship with others and to marriage break-ups between couples, not curses and not the devil. Peterís exhortation in this passage is that we should give all diligence to make our calling and election sure. It is our own heart state that is the real issue in all these matters.
( Let me just add at this point and make it clear that if we fulfill Godís will in our lives, then this is not through our own abilities or a matter of just our own effort. When we believe and obey God we are simply co-operating with His grace which is freely given in Christ. We are partakers of that free grace which alone is the means whereby we fulfill Godís will. God has already done the great work for us and we partake by faith in Christ. No one can boast here. We can only glory in the Lord Jesus Christ who gives us grace and victory. Without His grace and His life within us, we are utterly lost and helpless.)
When writing to the Corinthians about their various and many problems, Paul never lays the blame on curses or on the devil. He never lays the blame on anything from their past or on past generations! On the contrary, he reminds them that they used to be people who did wicked things, but that they have been washed, sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of God. And because of this, their behavior ought to be
different because they have been bought with a price and the Holy Spirit dwells within them ( 1 Cor.6:9-11 ). The apostles never refer to old or past things as being the cause or reason for our problems. How could they in the light of 2 Cor.5:17,18?! They continually point to the work of Christ on the cross and what He has achieved for us there, as the reason why things are, or should be, different in our lives.
So to what does he attribute their wrong behavior? Where does Paul lay the blame when writing to the Corinthians? Well, the cause of their troubles is their carnal and selfish behavior. In verses 1 to 3 of chapter 3 he tells them that he has had to speak to them as carnal people, as those who walk as men, that is, like men in the world. This is because there is envy and strife among them. Itís no good blaming the idolatry of the local people in Corinth Ė and there was much of that - or local occult groups for problems in the church. Itís no good blaming their own past involvement in any of these things. Paul makes it quite clear that the cross of Christ has dealt with those things, 1 Cor.6:9-11. Our occupation now is to repent where necessary and to believe and obey God; to respond to the grace offered us in Christ. Their envy and strife comes from their own selfish condition of heart. Many at Corinth loved to glory in outward things; to glory in knowledge, gifting, power and dramatic, outward things Ė "being right" and being first was more important to them than having the "right being" in them, that is, the being of love, grace, humility and longsuffering. In chapter 5 of 1 Corinthians Paul rebukes the Corinthians because they think it is something to boast about to have someone who has committed incest among them, rather than mourning because of this. In chapter 6 he has to rebuke them for going to court with one another. They are fighting for their rights in front of unbelievers, rather than walking in the Spirit of Christ. Paul doesnít blame their upbringing for this, nor their parents, nor the devil and nor a curse. He presents them with the truth as it is in Christ and what He has done for them, and warns them about their behavior, telling them that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God. He lays the responsibility at the door of their own state of heart! In his second letter he rejoices that his teaching and correction has had the desired effect. What effect? Deliverance from some past influence? Deliverance and repentance from some curse or from demons? No! He rejoices that the Corinthians sorrowed in a godly manner that led to repentance:
" Now I rejoiceÖthat your sorrow led to repentanceÖ.For godly sorrow produces repentance to salvationÖ..
What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication." 2 Cor.7:9-11.
This is the principle throughout the NT, and indeed throughout the whole Bible. It is repentance from our own carnal and sinful behavior that brings Godís salvation to us and results in us being cleansed and cleared of all other things. The Corinthians had believed the truth communicated to them by Paul, received it and acted on it by repenting and clearing themselves of their wrong attitudes and behavior! No mention of the devil or curses!
In the first letter, Paul had to correct and rebuke them concerning other things as well. Some of them were eating meat offered to idols, even in the temples of these idols. They thought this was quite all right since they knew there was only one true God - and they didnít mind if other Christians stumbled because of this behavior. Paul had to correct them clearly if not sharply concerning their lack of love and lack of true understanding. There is no mention by Paul that these people need "cutting off" from their past because they are eating idol meat in the temples of idols. There is no curse or influence from the past that can force them to act like this. No. Paul warns them concerning their selfishness and lack of love, 1 Cor.8:13, 10:14-24. It is the hard-heartedness and selfishness of those Corinthian Christians that led them into that kind of behavior. And it was repentance of their own behavior alone that brought cleansing and true liberty into their lives again. No curse or demon can force you to take a brother to court. No devil or curse can force a child of God to commit incest. Not even a legion of demons could stop a man from coming to Jesus and worshipping Him and finding deliverance and salvation in Him! ( Mark 5:6-15 ). My dear reader, I invite you to search the scriptures yourself. Where can you find the apostles blaming curses in any way whatsoever for any problem that a Christian may have? Yet these modern teachers want to tell us that our problems and failures as Christians, including our carnal behavior and marriage break-ups, can be, and often are, due to curses from the past! How can we, as the children of God, blame the things which Christ has already conquered at Calvary on our behalf! We deceive ourselves and attack the Gospel of Jesus Christ with such teachings!
In his first letter and chapter 10, Paul continues to exhort and warn the Corinthians against complaining and committing various sins. Though baptized into Christ, in water and in the Spirit - even as the children of Israel were baptized into Moses - nevertheless temptations still remain and we are to avoid the sins that Israel of old fell into. Paul tells us that Israel suffered the judgement of God for their sins and that these things were written for our admonition, that we should not follow their example. In other words, if we fall into these sins it is to do with the waywardness of our own hearts and not due to some past influence or curse. But Paul assures us that only such temptation as is common to man confronts us, but God is faithful, who will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that we may be able to bear it, 1 Cor.10:13. This is the teaching of scripture.
We could go through all the NT scriptures and letters in this manner and we would only discover the same truth over and over again. Christ has given us a new life and done away with the old forever, so we are not to return to the old, which can have no power over us if we abide in Him. Pride and selfishness are the things that we are warned against and which are the cause and reason for so much difficulty in our lives and among Christians. John tells us that "Öthe lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of lifeÖ" are not of the Father but of this world, 1 John 2:16. And Paul tells us that it is because men lust after the wrong things that they pierce themselves through with many sorrows, 1 Tim.6:10. It is we who bring sorrow upon ourselves by desiring and going after the wrong things; it is because we stray away from the word of God; it is our own hard-heartedness and selfishness that is the cause of so much pain and trouble. ( Please understand me aright. I donít mean that every difficulty that we might experience is due to our selfishness! I am talking about our relationship to God and to others and the problems that may occur in our own soul. I am not talking about difficulties in our outward circumstances and the trials that God allows.) This is why the apostles continually warn against such things and bid us pursue love, righteousness, meekness and longsuffering.
Of course the apostles exhort us to resist the devil together with his fiery darts and temptations, but they nowhere blame him nor see him as the root cause of any of our problems. How could they, since the devil has now been judged and his power destroyed over those who believe in Christ? John 12:31; 16:11; Heb.2:14; 1 John 3:8; Col.1:13; 2:15. According to the first two scriptures quoted here, we see that the reason Godís judgement now comes upon the world, is because the prince of this world has now been judged at the cross. The devilís power and right to hold people in bondage has been undone at the cross. If the devil gets any ground in our lives it is because we have given him ground. The answer here is not to bind and rebuke him as if he was the real problem, but to repent of the attitude or behavior in our life that gave him this ground in the first place. Thus will he be robbed of this ground and we shall have cleansing and liberty in and through Christ.
This is clearly illustrated for us in Paulís second letter to the Corinthians. In the eleventh chapter and verse 3 Paul says he fears that as Eve was, even so they might be deceived from the simplicity that is in Christ by the cunning of the devil. But notice that Paul makes no mention of praying against the devil, or of binding or breaking his power, or praying for deliverance from his evil deceptions. If the Corinthians had been innocent victims of the devilís interference, then Paul might have had reason to say or pray something like this. But Paul is not directly blaming the devil for their problems. He is concerned that their carnal behavior and selfish desires had given the devil opportunity and ground to deceive them. In verse 4 he tells them that they are ready and prepared to receive another Jesus, another spirit and another gospel. This is serious stuff. These people are ripe unto deception! Serious deception. But he neither rebukes the devil nor bids them rebuke him, as if this were the real problem and the required solution. No! He warns them of the seriousness of their condition, which is robbing them of their ability to discern the truth and to discern the Spirit of Christ.
Like many today, the Corinthians loved to have the signs and wonders. It is wonderful when God accompanies the preaching of His Gospel with signs and wonders, but it becomes a problem among Christians when they crave after these things almost like some kind of drug in their meetings, as was happening at Corinth, with their love for outward appearance which also led them to speak in tongues far beyond what was necessary or edifying. Paul challenges the Corinthian believers in 2 Cor.10:7, because they look on things according to the outward appearance. They loved the things that looked outwardly impressive and gave importance to a person, and it was for this reason that some of them didnít recognize Paulís ministry as being powerful, and because of this some also questioned Paulís standing as an apostle, 1 Cor.9:1-6; 2 Cor.7:2; 10:7-10; 11:23; 12:11,12. Some at Corinth actually thought Paulís presence and ministry was weak and ineffectual. If it were today, people would say that he didnít preach "with the anointing", that he didnít have an "anointed ministry". Some of them neither recognized the ministry of Christ nor the Spirit of Christ that was in Paul. They were so engaged in trying to be right, trying to be important and impressive, and so busy looking for those spectacular things which they thought represented God in their midst and made them more special than others, that they could not recognize the truth and Spirit of Christ even if it were before their eyes! ( Gal.3:1). Paul beseeches them by the meekness and gentleness of Christ in 2 Cor.10:1. Paul had walked according to this meek and gentle Spirit when he was among them but they had not recognized Christ Ė in him! Paul had worked with his hands and had not asked the Corinthians for any financial support. He had been among them as one who loved and served them, 2 Cor.12:14,15. This Spirit they did not and could not recognize because of the pride and carnal desires of their own heart. They couldnít understand a man who was gentle and serving among them, and who wouldnít promote himself or seek some profit for himself from them! Paul asks them whether he had committed a sin by abasing himself among them! ( verse7 of chapter 11 ). He tells them in 2 Cor.11:19,20 that they gladly receive someone who promotes himself, who brings them into bondage and demands money from them because of the importance of his ministry. The more someone promotes himself and rules over them, the more the Corinthians are impressed and will submit to such a person! But all this is to do with selfish desire and glorying in the flesh, which makes people an easy prey for the devil! And it is because of these things that the Corinthians were being deceived by the devil. The Corinthians gave him easy ground and opportunity to deceive them. Here, as in all his writings, Paul does not exhort them to rebuke the devil and his power. No. He presents the truth as it is in Christ to their hearts, he exposes their errors and their carnal attitudes and behavior, and exhorts them to turn away from their own errors and carnal behavior and to receive the truth. This is what will bring cleansing and true liberty, namely, their own repentance - as had already happened with respect to another matter as we saw in 2 Cor.7:10,11. The ground for their deception was not some superior power that the devil has over the Lordís people, but the pride and selfishness of their own heart ( Obadiah verse 3 ), and it is repentance that would bring them back into the life and Spirit of the Lord and also deprive the devil of further opportunity to deceive them. The basis of a clear and free heart is a meek and gentle spirit; he who with meekness receives the engrafted word ( James 1:21,22 ), and who humbles himself before Godís word ( James 4:6-10; 1 Peter 5:5-10 ) and keeps it ( John 8:31,32 ).
If we donít walk according to the Spirit and truth of Christ, we make ourselves vulnerable and susceptible to the devilís deceptions and we become the prey of false teachings. Paul makes it clear to the Corinthians how serious things are: " such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of ChristÖSatan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his servants are also transformed into servants of righteousness Ö", 2 Cor.11:13-15. And should we not beware today and be concerned, when Godís people are prepared to receive almost any kind of new teaching if the speaker can apparently bring signs and wonders and gives himself out to be someone important with a special revelation? Are these things not happening today? Are people not receiving teachings even though they are not found in the Bible at all Ė as long as someone "important" is bringing them or there are "special" signs and wonders?
Perhaps there are many today who over years now have not walked according to the Spirit of Christ and in obedience to His word, in faith and love. Problems have arisen and have persisted. There is a sense of failure, condemnation, rejection, bitterness, lack of peace and victory, where old carnal attitudes and behavior appear more than Christ. And many such are tempted and attracted by the idea of some new, divine intervention into their lives, as the answer to their problems. We think we need a "new touch", a "new anointing", some special deliverance that will bring or catapult me into a life of spiritual peace, life and victory. And many such are being deceived today by movements promoting signs, wonders and new teachings.
There is no "new" anointing. There is only the one, glorious, eternal anointing given to us by the Father, who abides in us and who teaches us all things, and teaches us to abide in Christ. 1 John 2:27. This is the Holy Spirit of Promise, and Jesus died and shed His blood that we may receive Him, that He may dwell in us, making us the temple of God, 1 Cor.3:16.
But these modern teachings tend to take us away from developing a daily obedience of faith and love, which alone can produce growth and maturity and bring us into an abiding rest in Christ, and they ever excite us with something new that God is doing or is going to do; they are continually making us look for some new experience that is supposed to bring us true liberty or "bring us into God". So increasingly among us today, there is more of a concern for "experience" and "seeing God move", than living by His word that has already been openly declared and revealed to us. Let us remember the words of Jesus where He warns us that in the last days false christs and false prophets shall appear. Now "Christ" means "anointed one". So Jesus is telling us, just like Paul told the Corinthians, that there will be people with anointings, "anointed" ones who are false teachers and who will show signs and wonders to seduce, if possible, even the chosen ones of God. ( I am not identifying all those who are bringing these modern teachings as false Christs, but pointing out how it is possible for the Lordís people to be deceived and how perhaps these modern teachings are preparing them for even greater deceptions yet to come. If you base things on signs and wonders more than Godís word, then you are bound to be deceived.)
God has already done a new thing. There is nothing greater. There is nothing to take its place. There is nothing to add to it! Look at the cross! Thatís where God commends His love to us. Everything changed there Ė forever! Everything was done for us there Ė forever! Return to the cross and what God did there for us! Believe what He did there for you and me! Receive His Spirit and abide in His Spirit. This is the NT exhortation.
The Hebrews letter begins wonderfully like this:
ďGod, who at various times and in different ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His SonÖ"
There is no new teaching. There is no new anointing. There is no new message. Christ has died! He has borne our sins away and delivered us from the power of darkness. He is risen for us and our salvation and justification, and He seals us with His Spirit. God presents His Son to us with all that He accomplished at the cross. Jesus said that when the Holy Spirit is come, He will testify of Christ and glorify Him, John 15:26; 16:14. The Spirit of God presents us with Jesus Christ, with what He has done for us, and with who He is, and says, "Öthis is the way, walk in it." The message of the cross is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes!
I am not promoting just some kind of mental or passive assent to some biblical truth here. This faith and love is to be a living, active dynamic in our lives as we face our every-day issues. But this is not the place to develop it further, as much as I would like to.
Again, in this article we have touched on many great issues because of the nature of the subject. I have sought to give the basic outlines to some of these deep subjects, but have pursued this only to the extent that would provide an adequate response the these new teachings. I have also limited the amount written because I wanted to avoid too bulky an article, but perhaps I have already failed in this respect! So although this article may not be totally comprehensive enough in every respect and the reader may not agree with me in all things, yet I trust it will provide a sufficient biblical basis for highlighting the errors of this modern teaching.
All material Copyright © 2001, 2002 Berean studies
BY: Dave HUNT