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Have you heard someone tell you that your suffering, sickness or financial struggle is a result of a generational curse or a sin you committed which opened the door to the curse? They say, “Maybe you were part of a ritual or an offering to a god as a child, and therefore you are facing the consequences now.” According to them, that curse needs to be found and then broken if you are to be free from its consequences. When such things are put before believers, they are often confused or start to think there could be some truth in this kind of reasoning. As always, a good question to ask as a thumb rule is: What does the Bible say about this?
1. The Curse of Sin.
Man was commanded not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and was told that the consequence of disobedience would be that he would surely die (Gen. 2:17). However, Satan lied and convinced Eve (and Adam) to eat the fruit anyway (Gen. 3:4). When the first man Adam sinned and fell into sin, it brought the curse of sin over all humanity. Everyone has been plagued with sin since the fall. Not only was man under the curse of sin, but the whole creation is also groaning under this curse (Rom. 8:19-21). Sin brought in suffering, sickness and death. All suffering today either directly or indirectly exists therefore because of the fall of man into sin. Therefore, all of creation waits and longs to be rescued from sin (Rom. 8:19-21). This means it is not incorrect to say that we are all affected by the curse which was brought about by sin.
But the question is, do Christians face certain sufferings because of curses incurred by past indiscretions (either of themselves or of their ancestors)?
2. A New Creation.
As we seek to think this through, let’s start with a foundational question: Who is a Christian? A Christian is one who has put their trust in Christ, who has repented of their sins and has understood that apart from Christ there is no other way to be saved, that Christ is the only way. A Christian is one whom God has rescued from sin and death through the suffering and death that Christ endured on the cross.
Paul, writing to Christians in Rome, says “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Rom. 8:1-4 ).
The first Adam brought sin into the world, while the Second Adam (Christ) overcame sin and death at the cross. In doing so he also destroyed the curse of sin on the cross. Therefore, if someone is in Christ, he is a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). He is no longer under a curse and the power of any curse while in sin has been broken. A Christian is now under the Lordship of Christ therefore the curse of the enemy has no power over him.
Earlier, sin’s curse had blinded this man into thinking he could save himself by his works or through other means. But this was in vain. We see this with the Israelites, who constantly failed to keep God’s law perfectly. Now through the Holy Spirit, a Christian’s eyes are open to recognise that only Christ can save him.
Further, Paul tells the church in Galatia in Galatians 3:10 -13 “For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.”
If Christ has redeemed us from the curse, then how is it possible for a Christian to continue to be under a curse? Such teaching downplays God’s great work of salvation because it totally disregards the work of the cross and how Christ has redeemed sinners.
Although Satan is real, and his schemes are real (which we see repeatedly in the ministry of Jesus) Christians should know that once we are redeemed, once we are in Christ, the enemy has no power over us. He is a defeated foe. We once were under his power because of our sin, but now we are under the Lordship of Christ.
3. What then is the cause of the suffering, sickness or financial struggle?
As we grapple with hardships and suffering, we must remember Jesus’ words to his disciples: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33). We must realize that while we are still on this fallen earth, suffering and hardships will be our companions. And even as we face the reality of suffering, we can wait expectantly for the day when “No longer there will be any curse” (Rev. 22:3). Until then suffering will exist.
Now it is true that some sufferings may exist as a result of our sinful past. For example, certain addictions and lifestyle choices can lead to illnesses and even death. This is not to be confused with being cursed. Instead, this is the consequence of our sin, as ordained by God. Coming to Christ does not guarantee deliverance from such consequences, but does bring assurance of the healing of our souls.
It is also true that at times God also allows Christians to go through suffering to grow them in their sanctification. We see this in the example of Job, and even in the Apostles went through various sufferings of different kinds in the New Testament. Peter says “For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.” 1 Pet. 3:17. Again, this is in no way because we are cursed. Instead, God can use trials in our life as blessings.
Finally, as we try to think about the issue biblically, let us remember that we follow Christ. He himself endured suffering to set us free from sin. Peter puts this beautifully in 1 Peter 2:21: For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.
Friend, whatever the reason for your suffering may be, know that God is in control. If it is a result of past sin, know that this suffering is temporary. You may suffer here in the body, but can have the assurance that Christ has dealt with the final consequence of all your sin.
In your suffering reach out to those in the local church and call them to share with you in your suffering. This allows us to see the sufferings of one another and to equip one another until we meet our Saviour. There we will be free from the presence of sin and all its consequences.
Praise God for this blessed hope!