SINS OF THE FATHERS | Does God Visit People’s Iniquities on Their Children?

Many Christians believe in what I would call the doctrine of generational curses wherein it is said to be caused by the sins of the fathers or certain covenants one’s forefather entered with idols. I like how the Bible describes idols, they are mere objects, non-living thing and very inconsequential. Evil Spirits takes advantage of people’s ignorance to manipulate them using these idols as a cover. I come from Nigeria where some people believe their destinies were tied to a tree or thwarted as a result of covenants their ancestors entered with these idols and therefore they will have to go through various rituals, fasting, prayers and exercises to break free from these curses.

One is therefore left to wonder “can we be in covenant with Jesus and also be in covenant with idols?”

Other folks believe that when they are going through certain difficulties, it may be God punishing them as a result of their fathers’ sins. Those who believe in these often say we should read and apply everything in the Bible and therefore they freely quote a portion of the Bible to support their school of thought. Let’s read

“…for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me.” – Exodus 20:5 NIV

We see a similar statement in Numbers 14:18. God doesn’t change and since he doesn’t change, certain folks also think God doesn’t forget our iniquities but visit them upon our generations as the scriptures have said.

Well, to be clear about that, God doesn’t change and he is consistent in his character. However, the character of God is not explicitly shown in the Old Testament, it wasn’t understood until Jesus came. Jesus is the complete explanation of who God is and we can learn of God’s character by learning of Jesus. Concerning Jesus, the Bible says

“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” – Hebrews 1:3 NIV

However, many Christians believe that we shouldn’t overlook the writings of the Old Testament. While that is true, it isn’t true is that we should read the Old Testament as though we are under its laws or as though we are studying God’s character from it without using the lens of the Epistles.

We are not called to merely preach and see the whole Bible, we are called to preach and see Jesus through the whole Bible. When we read anything in the Bible, we must look through the lens of the Gospel concerning the character of Jesus. When it is not in the character of God as expressed in Jesus, then we have not rightly divided the word of God.

Does God visit the iniquity of the fathers upon his generations? Is there any such thing as a generational curse for the believer? I will answer that. Let’s read somewhere in the Bible

“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.” – Romans 5:12 NIV

God wasn’t saying something new when he talked about remembering sins, it was something that was already in effect! Sin was already in the world, the sin of Adam already affected all generations. The curse of sin trailed behind every man until Jesus came. John 3:16 tells us that Jesus was given because God loves us so much and didn’t desire that anyone should perish. Let’s see what happened after then:

“Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.” – Romans 5:18‭-‬19 NIV

Yes, God didn’t forget the iniquities of the fathers, he, however, dealt with it once and for all on the cross. Not only was the sins of Adam dealt with, but the sins of the entire human race were also dealt with and anyone who accepts this sacrifice of Jesus receives God’s gift of life!

Quoting from Jeremiah 31, the writer of Hebrew reiterated God’s plan for salvation from sin forever! This is the answer to our question on whether God visits the iniquities of the father upon their children. Let’s read:

“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” – Hebrews 8:12 NIV

We have a deal here! God said he will visit the iniquities of the fathers and it was done in Jesus right from the root! The Bible says

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” – 2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV

Jesus became sin for us that we might become God’s righteousness! We have no business with the iniquities of the fathers anymore, we were not just saved from the past, we were also saved from the future! Things changed right after the cross! When Jesus said “it is finished” he meant it!

No matter what happened in the past, the believer in Christ Jesus will not suffer generational curse! We rather have generational blessings as the Bible says in Ephesians

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” – Ephesians 1:3 NIV

The reason many believers experience what they ought not to experience is that they believe a lie and they live that lie! When you believe that you have a generational curse, you start experiencing things that necessarily shouldn’t have been around you. Some things are happening to you today because you allowed it by accepting it through believing. Let’s God’s word be true and every man a liar. You have been blessed with the blessings of Abraham and part of that blessing includes being eternally blessed.

So a Christian cannot have a generational curse, we can only enjoy generational blessings and God doesn’t visit the sins of the fathers on the third and fourth generation.

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