Do The Sins of Our Parents Affect Us?

 “….For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments,” Exodus 20:5-6 (NKJV – emphasis mine).

It is often said that people are a product of their environment.  While I definitely don’t believe that anyone can be freed from personal responsibility by blaming their upbringing, I certainly do believe that the environment in which one is raised does have a significant influence on their behavior. 

Obese parents, as they promote a culture within the household of over-indulging in unhealthy food, tend to produce children that also struggle with their weight.  Children raised in homes where their father is controlling and angry often find themselves manifesting the very same behaviors, sometimes at a very early age.  And parents that drink, smoke or use drugs openly in the home will frequently find their own children falling prey to these same destructive behaviors.  These examples, along with countless others, are proof that generational curses are certainly evident when examining the detrimental impact of parents’ negative behavior upon the lifestyle choices of their children.

It is the last example above that hits home for me personally, and also raises the point that a generational curse can hold true spiritually even when a parent is not actively involved in a child’s life.  You see, my father was a drug addict and a womanizer whose lifestyle led him to abandon my 19-year-old mother and I when I was still in the womb. 

Even though I have spent a grand total of about 18 hours with my father in my entire 30 years on this earth, at times I have found myself battling with the very same sins and vices that characterized what I know of his life.  As a matter of fact, a few years ago, I reached the point of allowing my own addiction to drugs to put my wife dangerously close to becoming a single mother herself. 

In one of my darkest moments during that season, I heard myself saying the words, “I’ve ended up just like my father.” Thankfully, the Lord used His people to speak words of life to me during that time to reassure me that, because I had accepted Jesus into my heart, any generational curse has no authority over my life, and that, because of Him, I have the privilege of following in the footsteps of my perfect heavenly Father instead of my fallible earthly dad.

So, if we believe that we have found ourselves under the yoke of a generational curse, what can be done?  Thankfully, scripture is clear that Jesus has redeemed us not only from our sins, but also from any curse that may have applied to our lives.  Galatians 3:13 says: “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), (NKJV). 

In II Corinthians 5:17, the Bible tells us: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new,” (NKJV).  This is great News for those of us who may be concerned about the sins of prior generations becoming a curse over our lives today and holding us back from God’s best. If we have trusted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, then His Word tells us that our lives have been made new in Him and that, through Him, the power of any generational curse that existed before is now broken and made of no effect. However, we need to be careful to not give an issue such as this too much real estate in our minds and hearts. Doing so may cause unnecessary worry and stress, and can also give the enemy an opportunity to attack us with lies that we are doomed to fail or to follow in the sinful footsteps of our ancestors.

If you have not yet made a decision for Christ, and are concerned about a the sins of your parents affecting your life, then turning to Jesus to save you from your sins is the answer! If you have, in fact, trusted Jesus as your Savior, then you can stand firm on the truth of the Word of God that Jesus’ sacrifice has and will continue to the power of any stronghold in your life–past, present or future. My prayer for you, if you are wrestling with the issue of “the iniquity of the fathers”, is that you will allow the power of Christ to bring you both freedom and comfort so that you, along with me, can look back years from now and say “I’ve ended up just like my Father!” “He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed,” – Jesus quoting the book of Isaiah in Luke 4:18 (NKJV–emphasis mine).

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