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Understanding generational influences.

We have been shaped by what we have 'come out off'   It is impossible not to be.

We are shaped by the country, the history of the country, and the country's culture that we have come out of. 

For instance, as a young man raised in Northern Ireland, I joined the Orange Order.  Had I been born and raised in Denmark, or India, I would never have joined that organisation because it plays no part whatsoever in their culture.  Rather the culture of those countries would then have shaped me substantially.

Worship leader Carl Tuttle put it well when he said, "There is nothing wrong with our culture unless it clashes with the culture of the Kingdom of God".

We are also shaped by the era we have been born into.

When I was a young boy law and order held great sway in society, children played cowboys and indians with each other in the street or the parks, and such things as drugs were rarely if ever heard of or encountered.  Neither cinema nor television would entertain swearing nor full frontal nudity or sexual intercourse. Computer / television pornography played no part at all in peoples lives. Abortion, homosexuality and witchcraft happened, but were held to be wrong.

In this era, society has changed dramatically. Law and order has in some measure collapsed under the sheer weight of lawless and violent behaviour and people live in fear of being mugged or burgled. Road rage is a new fact of life. Children play interactive fighting and car speed games on computers day after day.  Drugs are destroying millions of lives while pornography is now seen as almost an acceptable social facet of modern life and nothing to be ashamed off.  Abortion, homosexuality and witchcraft have been affirmed as normal and acceptable behaviour.

The wealth or social strata we have been nurtured in has shaped us.

Most street crime, by far, comes from those who have been raised in low income families. We may be at ease walking through a wealthy area in the evening, but would feel uneasy about doing the same in a low income area . We would expect different behaviour patterns because poverty and wealth do shape outlook and behaviour dramatically.

Wealth in turn can spawn issues of pride and arrogance. There is no doubt that wealth and poverty do not mix together in society. Those well off financially work hard at staying well away from those who are not.

The writer of proverbs put it well when he wrote..

Give me neither poverty nor riches-Feed me with the food allotted to me; Lest I be full and deny You, And say, "Who is the LORD?" Or lest I be poor and steal, And profane the name of my God. (Proverbs 30:8a-9)

Without question however, the thing that has shaped us the most is the generational lineage - the ancestral soil - we have emerged from.

Christian or non Christian, if we had come from a different generational lineage we would be different people, with different positives and different negatives outworking in our lives.

Society understands this and looks at life through generational eyes. Doctors and insurance companies will ask questions about parents mental and physical health knowing that children will not be entirely immune from such an inheritance.

Meanwhile secular researchers continue to evaluate the powerful effects of 'generational inheritance'

For instance, Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil, a secular researcher on adultery, writing in the Daily Express on Tuesday 3rd August 1993, said

"At that moment I began to see that adultery – much like alcoholism or abuse – was a multi-generational thing. ..I’ve counselled more than 1,000 couples, 80 percent because one or the other had been unfaithful. In nine out of ten cases, sometimes involving four generations with grandparents as well as parents and children, at least one partner was the adult child of an adulterer"

Christian and non Christian counsellors alike confirm her conclusion. The children are effected by the behaviour of their recent generational line. Today pschologists refer to it as 'a genetic predesposition'

Ruth Hawkey, in her excellent booklet ‘Freedom from generational sin’ (New Wine Press ISBN 1-874367-88-4) includes the following variety of examples from her experience

‘As we were teaching on this subject, a man who was at the seminar suddenly realised that he, his father, his grandfather and now his sons had all been involved with molesting young boys. Surprisingly, this gave him a great deal of hope, rather than adding to his despair, for he began to see a reason for his sin and for the family weakness which was so evident within himself and his sons. He also began to see the possibility of the sin and the iniquity being dealt with at the cross’

‘Another man, with whom we prayed, had been abusing girls when he was eleven years old. (The girl had approached him for a sexual relationship; she was around the age of twelve to thirteen at the time) By the age of eighteen he had committed incest with his mother, and in his early twenties he had found out, to his great surprise and shame, that he was simply following in his father’s footsteps. The pattern of sin was almost an identical copy of his father’s, who had also experienced intercourse with his own mother and had also indulged in a lifetime of affairs’

‘Mary was six years old when her uncle first began to abuse her, and for years she shared her guilty secret with no one. However, on sharing about the abuse with her mother much later in life, she was amazed to learn that not only her mum had been abused around the age of six, but so also had her maternal grandmother! Three generations of abuse, beginning at the same age – surely it was too much of a coincidence.

‘A man spoke to us fairly recently because he was struggling with outbursts of deep anger towards others who seemed to be a threat to him. This was eventually traced to his ancestry which were the Scottish clans to which he belonged. His father, his grandfather and his great grandfather had all struggled with outbursts of rage. It was revealed through research into the family history that his great great grandfather had murdered someone in one of the raids upon the English’

In the Old Testament we see how clearly the Israelites understood the reality of this. Jeremiah wrote 

‘Our fathers sinned and are no more, but we bear their iniquities’ (Lamentations 5:7)

Indeed scripture gives us clear evidence of these generational issues in the very opening pages. Not once, but twice we read of where Abraham, through fear, would not publicly acknowledge Sarah as his wife, and deliberately deceived people by referring to her as his sister. He was thus removing his protection as a husband from her.

And it came to pass, when he was close to entering Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, "Indeed I know that you are a woman of beautiful countenance. "Therefore it will happen, when the Egyptians see you, that they will say, 'This is his wife'; and they will kill me, but they will let you live. "Please say you are my sister, that it may be well with me for your sake, and that I may live because of you." (Genesis 12:11-13)

Now Abraham said of Sarah his wife, "She is my sister." And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. (Genesis 20:2)

Isaac, his son, repeated the abuse in exact detail.

So Isaac dwelt in Gerar. And the men of the place asked about his wife. And he said, "She is my sister"; for he was afraid to say, "She is my wife," because he thought, "lest the men of the place kill me for Rebekah, because she is beautiful to behold." (Genesis 26:6-7)

This generational iniquity then took an interesting twist when Isaac’s son Jacob thought he was marrying Rachel.. but was deceived.. and got her sister Leah instead.

We read where Jacob dishonoured Isaac by pretending to be Esau in order to steal his firstborn blessing. (Genesis 27:35)  He and his mother Rebekah used the skin of two young goats in his deception. 

And she put the skins of the kids of the goats on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. (Genesis 27:16)

Jacob’s sons then deceived him, using a young goat in the deception.

So they took Joseph's tunic, killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the tunic in the blood. (Genesis 37:31)

Note that scripture emphasises again and again that Abraham was accounted by God as 'righteous' (Romans 4:3,9,22; Galatians 3:6; James 2:23)  

Therefore Abraham was clearly declared 'not guilty' by God. His sins will not be held against him. 

Yet this iniquity (moral perversity) of lying and deception that he willingly brought into his life was not 'cleared' by God but visited upon the next generations.  

In other words Isaac and Jacob - who were also accounted righteous by God (Matthew 8:11, 22:32; Mark 12:26; Acts 3:13, 7:32) - carried within them an 'iniquity drive' - a bent towards - lying and deception that emanated from their father / grandfather Abraham.  

Scripture positively declares again and again that God thinks and deals in generational terms. 

As Ruth Hawkey points out in her booklet we read in Matthew 23: 29-32 where Jesus refers to the Scribes and Pharisees as the .. ‘sons of those who murdered the prophets'

Three verses later He expands on this:

"That on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom YOU murdered between the temple and the altar"

The accusation ‘whom you murdered’ can only be understood in the light of generational iniquity, because these Scribes and Pharisees were not alive at the time of these murders. 

In due time they also put Jesus to death.

The writer of Hebrews states that when Abraham tithed to Melchizedek, Levi and all the Levites did too. Yet Levi was not born for nearly 100 years. 

Three generations away. Abraham -> Isaac -> Jacob -> Levi

One might even say that Levi who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham, because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor  (Hebrews 7:9-10)

As far as God was concerned the actions of Abraham had a direct effect (in this case for good) on his unborn offspring several generations ahead of him. 

God clearly declares that what we do effects the following generations.  In Exodus we read of how He described Himself to Moses.

And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, "keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and the fourth generation." (Exodus 34:6-7)

This principle is repeated in Numbers chapter 14 when after spying out the Promised Land ten of the twelve spies brought a bad report to the people and the people rebelled causing the Lord to be very angry with them.

Then the LORD said to Moses: "How long will these people reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them? "I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they." (Numbers 14:11-12)

As a man who identified with God and with the Children of Israel, and as one who carried 'weight' with God, Moses immediately stepped into the place of intercession for the Israelites once again, asking the Lord to forgive them their sin and their rebellion.

First he pleads from one angle..

And Moses said to the LORD: "Then the Egyptians will hear it, for by Your might You brought these people up from among them, "and they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land. They have heard that You, LORD, are among these people; that You, LORD, are seen face to face and Your cloud stands above them, and You go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night. "Now if You kill these people as one man, then the nations which have heard of Your fame will speak, saying, (Numbers 14:13-15)

Then he reminds the Lord of His own promises..

"And now, I pray, let the power of my Lord be great, just as You have spoken, saying, 'The LORD is longsuffering and abundant in mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He by no means clears the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation.' "Pardon the iniquity of this people, I pray, according to the greatness of Your mercy, just as You have forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now." (Numbers 14:17-19)

In reply, the Lord tells Moses that He has listened to his request and that He will forgive them.

Then the LORD said: "I have pardoned, according to your word; (Numbers 14:20)

The Hebrew word for pardoned <calach> means 'to forgive'

So to summarise, the Lord's people sinned and rebelled but at Moses' plea, the Lord pardoned them.  Pardoned means their sin would never come up in judgment against them.

However, the consequences of their sin would still be outworked. The Lord continued..

"but truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD- "because all these men who have seen My glory and the signs which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have put Me to the test now these ten times, and have not heeded My voice, "they certainly shall not see the land of which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who rejected Me see it. (Numbers 14:21-23)

The pardon did not clear the consequences. As we proceed we will see this principle outworked again and again.

Even more importantly this generational principle was embodied into the eternal Law of God - the Ten Commandments.

... For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on 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)

Fourteen chapters later we read of this spiritual principle being restated.

And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, "keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and the fourth generation." (Exodus 34:6-7)

The Law of God, when it did come, came in two separate 'packages'.

The Ten Commandments were written on stone - in order to be permanent - and were written directly by the very finger of God.  

Neither Moses, nor any other man, played any part in the issue of this law package. For this reason scripture refers to these commandments as the 'Law of the Lord'.

The stone tablets with the 'Law of the Lord' were the placed inside the Ark of the Covenant.

"At that time the LORD said to me, 'Hew for yourself two tablets of stone like the first, and come up to Me on the mountain and make yourself an ark of wood. 'And I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke; and you shall put them in the ark.'
"So I made an ark of acacia wood, hewed two tablets of stone like the first, and went up the mountain, having the two tablets in my hand. "And He wrote on the tablets according to the first writing, the Ten Commandments, which the LORD had spoken to you in the mountain from the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly; and the LORD gave them to me. "Then I turned and came down from the mountain, and put the tablets in the ark which I had made; and there they are, just as the LORD commanded me."  Deuteronomy 10:1-5

The Law of the Lord begins with the serious issue of God not having His rightful first place in a person's life.  Where one had any other god or gods in the form of an idol it would have a detrimental generational effect. Where God was honoured and obeyed it would have a beneficial generational effect.

The second 'package' - the ceremonial and ritual law - was always intended to be temporary, and so was written down by the hand of Moses on parchment, in a book, and placed beside the Ark of the Covenant.  For this reason scripture refers to these commandments as the 'Law of the Moses'.

So it was, when Moses had completed writing the words of this law in a book, when they were finished, that Moses commanded the Levites, who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying: "Take this Book of the Law, and put it beside the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there as a witness against you;   Deuteronomy 31:24-26

The Ark of the Covenant symbolises the Very Presence of God, and when, in God's timing, the Ark of the Covenant is rediscovered the Law of the Lord will still be written on the stone tablets and still lying within the Ark beneath the mercy seat.

The Commandments were affirmed again and again by Jesus and the Apostles. ( Examples:  Matthew 5:27-28  Matthew 22:37-40  Luke 18:20-21  Romans 13:9)

So we see that God is willing to forgive iniquity and transgression but scripture states clearly that unblessable behaviour will effect future generations up to the third or fourth generation. 

Imagine a jug of clear water representing the blessings that will pour down the generational line, and then imagine a tea-bag being dropped into that jug. The blessings and the consequences of the tea bag pass down the same invisible pipe line from one generation to the next.

If the transgression (tea bag) has not been repeated during that time it 'washes out' of the generational line.  

However if during that time the transgression is repeated (another tea bag) it starts a new 3-4 generational timescale.

Note: This principle of generational iniquities being visited upon the descendants for a limited number of generations is similar to, but not the same as, the principle of generational curses which scripture puts no timescale on.  Example: Genesis 4:11  Genesis 9:25   Deuteronomy chapters 27-30 deals extensively with the issues of blessings and curses.  

Several examples of men's ungodly actions affecting their descendents 'forever' are as follows.

Joab as a soldier killed many men in battle but it was not counted against him.  However two men he killed in cold blood and the bloodguilt of his behaviour would effect his future generations.

Then the king said to him, "Do as he has said, and strike him down and bury him, that you may take away from me and from the house of my father the innocent blood which Joab shed. "So the LORD will return his blood on his head, because he struck down two men more righteous and better than he, and killed them with the sword-Abner the son of Ner, the commander of the army of Israel, and Amasa the son of Jether, the commander of the army of Judah-though my father David did not know it. "Their blood shall therefore return upon the head of Joab and upon the head of his descendants forever. But upon David and his descendants, upon his house and his throne, there shall be peace forever from the LORD." (1 Kings 2:31-33)

Undoubtedly his descendants would always be troubled by violence being perpetrated against them.

Likewise with the terrible behaviour of Eli's sons who were entrusted with ministering before the Lord .

"And therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever." (1 Samuel 3:14)

God's word to King David for his horrendous behaviour (as we shall read shortly in more detail) was,

"Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house.." (2 Samuel 12:10)

Again and again in scripture God declares that the righteous and the unrighteous provide opposite inheritances for their children and their children.

First of all the righteous. (Those who love God and show it by their obedience)

The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him. (Proverbs 20:7)

But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children's children, To such as keep His covenant, And to those who remember His commandments to do them. (Psalms 103:17-18)

Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments; (Deuteronomy 7:9)

A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children, But the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous. (Proverbs 13:22) 

I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread. He is ever merciful, and lends; And his descendants are blessed. (Psalms 37:25-26)

As Christians we see the reality of the blessings coming down the generational ‘pipeline’ just as scripture promises. Three of my four children are Christian. My father and mother were Christian as were my father’s parents..

When I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also. (2 Timothy 1:5)

Then the unrighteous (the guilty, those who show hatred for God by their disobedience) Here we see that the same pipeline that passes down the blessings also passes down the iniquity (moral perversity / mischief / fault / punishment of iniquity)

For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on 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)

And those of you who are left shall waste away in their iniquity in your enemies' lands; also in their fathers' iniquities, which are with them, they shall waste away. (Leviticus 26:39)

Behold it is written before Me. "I will not keep silent, but I will repay, yea, I will repay into their bosom their iniquities and their father's iniquities together" says the Lord. (Isaiah 65:6)

Scripture advises us clearly on the issue of sowing and then ‘in due season ‘reaping.

Sow for yourselves righteousness – reap in mercy.. You have ploughed wickedness you have reaped iniquity’  (Hosea 10:12-13)

Behold it is written before Me. "I will not keep silent, but I will repay, yea, I will repay into their bosom their iniquities and their father's iniquities together" says the Lord. (Isaiah 65:6)

An example of this generational effect is taken from pages 92-93 of Peter Horrobin’s book ‘Living the Life’

Over a century ago, in 1877, Richard Dugdale researched the generational history of one family in New York – the descendants of Max Dukes, who was born at the beginning of the 18th century. He lived and died at approximately the same time as Jonathan Edwards, the great evangelist and preacher. When Dugdale compared the two family lines of generational descendants he came up with some remarkable statistics.

Max Dukes lived in New York, he did not believe in Jesus Christ and opposed Christian teachings. He refused to take his children to church, even when they wanted to attend. By 1877, he had 1,026 descendants.

Of these ..

300 were sent to prison for an average of 13 years each.
190 were public prostitutes
680 were admitted alcoholics
27 were murderers

By 1877 his family had cost the state of New York in excess of $1.25 million dollars (probably at least 100 times this amount in today’s money) With few exceptions none of his children made any worthwhile contribution to society.

The contrast with the generational line of Jonathan Edwards could not be starker or more demonstrative of the truth of Jesus’ parable about the need for having good foundations

Jonathan Edwards loved the Lord and was a great man of God. He saw to it that his children attended church, even if they did not want to. By 1877 he had 929 descendants.

Of these ..

430 were ministers
86 became university professors
13 became university presidents
75 became authors
5 were elected to Congress
2 were elected to the Senate
3 were Sate Governors
1 became Vice President of the United States

His family made a tremendous contribution to society and there is no record of anyone of the descendants of the Edwards family having become a liability to the Government.
Scripture thus truthfully advises us clearly on the issue of sowing and then ‘in due season ‘reaping.

Saul’s generational line paid heavily in consequences for his sinful behaviour

Many years after Saul’s death, and well into David’s reign there was a famine in the land.

David probably assumed this was just a passing famine because it took three years of the famine before David finally inquired of the Lord about it.  God told him that the famine was due to Saul’s killing of the Gibeonites.

Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year; and David inquired of the LORD. And the LORD answered, "It is because of Saul and his bloodthirsty house, because he killed the Gibeonites."  (2 Samuel 21:1)

The Gibeonites were protected under a covenant made centuries earlier by Joshua.  No one seemed to take any notice of this issue at the time. (Joshua 9)

It seems that the Gibeonites had not attempted to take vengeance themselves but had cried on to the God of Israel for justice, and scripture shows that if the victims cry on to God he hears their cry.

Saul the perpetrator was dead.  However the consequences of his covenant breaking actions were visited on his children.  Seven of them would die.

Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year; and David inquired of the LORD. And the LORD answered, "It is because of Saul and his bloodthirsty house, because he killed the Gibeonites." So the king called the Gibeonites and spoke to them. Now the Gibeonites were not of the children of Israel, but of the remnant of the Amorites; the children of Israel had sworn protection to them, but Saul had sought to kill them in his zeal for the children of Israel and Judah. Therefore David said to the Gibeonites, "What shall I do for you? And with what shall I make atonement, that you may bless the inheritance of the LORD?" And the Gibeonites said to him, "We will have no silver or gold from Saul or from his house, nor shall you kill any man in Israel for us." So he said, "Whatever you say, I will do for you." Then they answered the king, "As for the man who consumed us and plotted against us, that we should be destroyed from remaining in any of the territories of Israel, "let seven men of his descendants be delivered to us, and we will hang them before the LORD in Gibeah of Saul, whom the LORD chose." And the king said, "I will give them." (2 Samuel 21:1-6 )

Though God may do this, He does not permit men to slay fathers for their children's sins nor children for their father's sins.

"Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall the children be put to death for their fathers; a person shall be put to death for his own sin. (Deuteronomy 24:16) (see also 2 Kings 14:6  2 Chronicles 25:4  Jeremiah 31:29-30  Ezekiel 18:20)

John Wesley commenting on this verse wrote..

Not put to death - If the one be free from the guilt of the others sin, except in those cases where the sovereign Lord of life and death, before whom none is innocent, hath commanded it, (as De 13:1-18; Jos 7:24). For though God do visit the father's sins upon the children, (Ex 20:5) yet he will not suffer men to do so.

It is interesting that Jesus in the New Testament reaffirms this principle of God hearing the cry of the victims. The story of the widow who doggedly knocks at the door of the judge until she gets what she wants is a story of a widow crying out to the judge for justice.

Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: "There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. "Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, 'Get justice for me from my adversary.' "And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, 'Though I do not fear God nor regard man, 'yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.'" Then the Lord said, "Hear what the unjust judge said. "And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? "I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:1-8)

Thus we see that the result of 'mixed sowing' produces a 'mixed' harvest from 'mixed' generational behaviour.

Even a mighty man of God like King David was not exempt from this spiritual principle.

We read of where he secretly had sexual relations with another man’s wife. Not just any other man’s wife, but the wife of one of his most faithful and trusted mighty men. The woman became pregnant and David brought the husband back from the battlefield under false pretences in the hope that he would go home and have sexual intercourse with his wife, so disguising the real father of the baby. However the husband was so faithful to his King and brother soldiers that he would not enjoy any benefits that his fellow soldiers could not enjoy and so he would not go to his home. David then got the husband drunk in the hope that this would break through his moral integrity. That failed also. Desperate not to be found out, David then sent the husband back to the battle line carrying a private letter to the commander telling him to ensure that the husband was killed in battle. The commander obeyed the King and the husband was indeed killed in battle.

David had hardened his heart against God and it was only when fully confronted with his sin by Nathan the prophet that David finally repented to God. When he repented, God in His great mercy forgave him and put away his sin.

So David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD." And Nathan said to David, "The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die. (2 Samuel 12:13)

David’s repentance was very real and he wrote a beautiful Psalm that expressed his heartfelt grief at the evil he had committed and also the assurance of the relief and the release that his genuine repentance would bring. Here it is in full.

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.

Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your loving-kindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight-That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me. Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners shall be converted to You. Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, The God of my salvation, And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, And my mouth shall show forth Your praise. For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart-These, O God, You will not despise. Do good in Your good pleasure to Zion; Build the walls of Jerusalem. Then You shall be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, With burnt offering and whole burnt offering; Then they shall offer bulls on Your altar. (Psalms 51:1-19)

So according to scripture there is no question that David sinned greatly, no question that he genuinely repented and no question that God forgave him and put away his sin. 

He was greatly blessed by being declared in scripture as a man of God (2 Chronicles 8:14), a man after God's own heart (Acts 13:22), the father of Solomon and a man who is listed in the opening verse of the New Testament as a key person in the Messiah's generational line (Matthew 1:1) 

Yet despite the great blessings that followed his repentance, the Lord, through Nathan, outlined the consequences of his sin. One consequence was a generational curse upon his descendants. A curse that equated to the act of putting an innocent man to the sword in order to have his wife.

Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife. (2 Samuel 12:10)

Those who know their Bible know only too well how real the outworking of this curse was on David’s family. 

Amnon raped his sister Tamar. 

Absolom then killed Amnon. 

Absolom tried to overthrow his father David and in the end was killed while humiliatingly hanging helplessly from a tree by his hair. 

Solomon had Adonijah executed.

Such generational curses are a scriptural reality

Then the LORD will bring upon you and your descendants extraordinary plagues-great and prolonged plagues-and serious and prolonged sicknesses. (Deuteronomy 28:59)

One of illegitimate birth shall not enter the assembly of the LORD; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the LORD. (Deuteronomy 23:2 - in this case indicating that sexual sin could effect up to ten future generations)

Note:- Indeed in Genesis 38 we read where Judah has sexual relations with his daughter-in-law called Tamar, and she gives birth to Zerah and Perez. Then in Ruth 4:18 where it gives the generational line down from Perez and we see on the tenth generation where King David’s son Amnon had an incestuous relationship with his half sister called Tamar)

Moreover all these curses shall come upon you and pursue and overtake you, until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you. And they shall be upon you for a sign and a wonder, and on your descendants forever. (Deuteronomy 28: 45-46)

Nathan also declared to King David..

For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun. (2 Samuel 12;12)

Again scripture graphically describes the outworking of this with David’s children.

And Ahithophel said to Absalom, "Go in to your father's concubines, whom he has left to keep the house; and all Israel will hear that you are abhorred by your father. Then the hands of all who are with you will be strong." So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the top of the house, and Absalom went in to his father's concubines in the sight of all Israel. (2nd Samuel 16:21-22)

Spiritual principles explain actions and their consequences. Scripture shows that these consequences work both ways. It is interesting to note here, that the measure of the father’s sinful action - done in secret - was multiplied pressed down and overflowing into the next generation being proclaimed on the housetop (The principle Jesus spoke of in Luke 6:38, 8:7, 12:3)

The consequences would have an immediate outworking on David’s offspring. Nathan declared..

‘the child also who is born to you shall surely die’ (2nd Samuel 12: 14)

The child did die on the seventh day.

David was guilty of adultery, treachery and murder.  He acknowledged his sin to God and was forgiven but not cleared as regards the iniquity being visited upon his descendants for several generations. 

The sin he repented of and forsook shall never rise up in judgement against him.

His children did not bear his guilt, but clearly as scripture shows so graphically, they did suffer very severe consequences resulting directly from their father's sin.  They were weak in the areas of their father's sinful behaviour and the iniquity drive ‘visited upon them’ clearly influenced their behaviour. If David had not sinned in these areas it is safe to assume that his children would not have been weak in these areas.

In our humanity we often shape God in our perception into the God we would have Him be. 

There are those who would struggle here with the concept of God forgiving a repentant man yet not clearing the consequences of the forgiven sin.  Yet this is what God did.

Psalm 99 verses 6 – 8 echoes this principle.  First of all we read of just how great men such as Moses Aaron and Samuel were. (taken from the amplified version)

Moses and Aaron were among His priests, and Samuel was among those who called upon His Name; they called upon the Lord and He answered them.  He spoke to them in the pillar of cloud; they kept His testimonies and the statutes that He gave them. You answered them, O Lord our God; You were a forgiving God to them…

Great though men such as Moses were, close to God though they were, they committed wickedness against the Lord and the Psalmist writes

‘You were a forgiving God to them. although avenging their evildoing and wicked practices’.

There can be little doubt that Moses was repentant over his sin of striking the rock the second time instead of speaking to it as God commanded him to.  There is no doubt that God would have forgiven him so that that would never come up before Him again as sin.  Yet the consequences of his wicked action still out worked.  The Lord let him see the promised land ..but not enter it.

Because you broke faith with me in the midst of the people of Israel at the waters of Meribathkadesh, in the wilderness of Zin; because you did not revere me as holy in the midst of the people of Israel. For you shall see the land before you; but you shall not go there, into the land which I give to the people of Israel.” Deuteronomy 32: 51 

Then there are those of us who struggle with the concept of God forgiving a repentant man but not at the same time clearing the generational consequences as part of that forgiveness.  Yet this is what God did.

… by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and the fourth generation." (Exodus 34:6-7)

We see something of this in other Biblical accounts of repentance.  Manasseh was one of the most tyrannical Kings in scripture. (2 Kings 21)  Through his prophets God declared what the consequences of his sinful actions would be in due time.

Because Manasseh king of Judah has done these abominations (he has acted more wickedly than all the Amorites who were before him, and has also made Judah sin with his idols) therefore thus says the LORD God of Israel: 'Behold, I am bringing such calamity upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whoever hears of it, both his ears will tingle. And I will stretch over Jerusalem the measuring line of Samaria and the plummet of the house of Ahab; I will wipe Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down. (2 Kings 21: 10-13)

Eventually a bigger tyrant, the King of Assyria defeated him, put him in fetters and trailed him of to a Babylonian prison where deeply afflicted he finally turned to God in repentance. God heard his prayer and brought him back to Jerusalem where, he spent the rest of his days undoing the previous evils he had committed. (2 Chronicles 33: 10-19)

Despite the fact that (among many other things) he brought much occult practice into the land and had  many innocent children murdered in horrendous occult rituals, God not only forgave him but brought him back to Jerusalem and gave him the chance to produce fruit in keeping with his repentance.

Yet the consequences that God attached to Manasseh's original sins still manifested three generations later. 

Manasseh's son Amon undid his father's latter good works and reintroduced the former evil back into the land. (2 Kings 21: 19-20)

His grandson Josiah however repeated his father's latter good works and undid all the evils, working hard to restore the righteous principles of the Kingdom of God into the land. (2 Kings 23)

He was one of the best Kings. God was so touched by his humility that he would not bring the consequences of Manasseh's actions about until Josiah was dead.

'..because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they would become a desolation and a curse, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you," says the LORD. Surely, therefore, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace; and your eyes shall not see all the calamity which I will bring on this place. So they brought back word to the king'. (2 Kings 22:19-20)

The prophesied calamites were then unleashed following Josiah's death.  Jeremiah had witnessed a revival for nearly two decades under Josiah, but when Josiah died (in 609 BC) the religious apostasy and the political and moral disintegration continued in rapid pace, culminating in the Babylonian captivity.  As God's prophet of the day he was called to tell the people the cause for the various forms of destruction they were being handed over to.

And I will appoint over them four forms of destruction," says the LORD: "the sword to slay, the dogs to drag, the birds of the heavens and the beasts of the earth to devour and destroy. I will hand them over to trouble, to all kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah, king of Judah, for what he did in Jerusalem  (Jeremiah 15: 3-4)

I believe the following is a living example of this generational principle at work in a nation.

My own nation, a nation blighted by religious aggression.  A nations where many who claim Christ as their own have in His Name inspired acts of terrible violence among their followers.

One of Ireland 's many history books records the following fact. 

'On the 1st of July 1795, The Rev.Mr Monsell, a Protestant clergyman of Portadown invited his flock to celebrate the anniversary of the battle of the Boyne by attending church, and he preached such a sermon against the Catholics that his congregation fell on every Catholic they met on the way home, beat them cruelly, and finished the day by murdering two farmer's sons, who were quietly at work in a bog'

- Mooney's History of Ireland, page 876

The Orange Order's official book 'The formation of the Orange order' gives more details of this Reverend gentleman from Portadown on page 18. .

'Very few of the resident gentry of the Country joined us in the first instance. Of those few were my old friend, Joseph Atkinson,Esq., already mentioned; the Revd. George Maunsile,(sic Maunsell) (5) of Drumcree, afterwards Dean of Leighlin..'

There can be little doubt that the Rev Monsell of Portadown in 1795 described in ‘Mooney's History of Ireland’ is the same Rev Maunsell who was Rector of  Drumcree, Portadown between 1781 and 1804 and one of the founding members of the Orange Order.

This would explain the spiritual roots to the 'Drumcree crisis' which suddenly erupted in 1995.

It was on the first Sunday in July 1995, that the Orange parade left the Drumcree Parish church after its annual service and was refused entrance to the nearby Catholic housing estate on the Garvaghy Road , area triggering off the now annual confrontation that typifies the whole of the Northern Ireland problem that is several hundred years old.  

That this has come to a head in Portadown exactly 200 years to the anniversary (i.e the first Sunday in July 1795 - 1st Sunday in July 1995) is unlikely to be a mere coincidence of history.

I believe that the God of Justice is doing business with the Northern Ireland Christian community.  Those who are ‘called by His Name’

Singing 'How great Thou art' in a sash has not moved God's hand, nor will it. 

He does business with those who are the peacemakers. With those who deal in forgiveness. The proud He opposes but draws near to those with a broken heart and a contrite spirit.

"if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land”  (2 Chronicles 7:14)

One could rightly say that if future generations suffered the consequences of guilty men who repented and were forgiven - how much greater the consequences on the future generations of guilty men who did not repent.

One can now see more clearly why God would tell the Children of Israel to confess not only their own sins and iniquities, but also the sins and iniquities of their fathers.  

But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers, with their unfaithfulness in which they were unfaithful to Me, and that they also have walked contrary to Me.  (Leviticus 26:40)

God was requiring repentant children to identify with and acknowledge the sinful actions of the recent generations that they had emerged from.  While they had been shaped by the Godly actions of their generational line, so too they had been shaped by their iniquity. They could not just own the generational blessings and ignore the generational iniquities.  The generational 'pipeline' delivered both.

You show loving-kindness to thousands, and repay the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them-the Great, the Mighty God, whose name is the LORD of hosts. (Jeremiah 32:18)

And the children of Israel did confess their sins and iniquities and those of their fathers.

"Please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night, for the children of Israel Your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You. Both my father's house and I have sinned" (Nehemiah 1:6)

"Then those of Israelite lineage separated themselves from all foreigners; and they stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers" (Nehemiah 9:2)

"O Lord, according to all Your righteousness, I pray, let Your anger and Your fury be turned away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain; because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers"  (Daniel 9:16)

Iniquity makes the future generations vulnerable to transgression in the area of the root sin. Sexual sin will produce an 'iniquity drive' in that particular area. Likewise such things as alcoholism, gambling, lust etc. 

The Israelites were inclined to question the 'fairness' of this spiritual principle, having a saying (proverb)

'The fathers have eaten sour grapes, And the children's teeth are set on edge' (Ezekiel 18:2 & Jeremiah 31:29) 

However through Ezekiel and Jeremiah God made it clear that the children cannot blame their sinful actions on their previous generations. Despite the substantial pressure of the generational iniquity pressing down upon them, they still retained the power of free will choices. Each soul is personally responsible for their own actions. It is 'the soul who sins shall die'

If he has walked in My statutes And kept My judgments faithfully-He is just; He shall surely live! Says the Lord GOD. "If he begets a son who is a robber Or a shedder of blood, Who does any of these things And does none of those duties, But has eaten on the mountains Or defiled his neighbour's wife; If he has oppressed the poor and needy, Robbed by violence, Not restored the pledge, Lifted his eyes to the idols, Or committed abomination; If he has exacted usury Or taken increase-Shall he then live? He shall not live! If he has done any of these abominations, He shall surely die; His blood shall be upon him. "If, however, he begets a son Who sees all the sins which his father has done, And considers but does not do likewise; Who has not eaten on the mountains, Nor lifted his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, Nor defiled his neighbour's wife; Has not oppressed anyone, Nor withheld a pledge, Nor robbed by violence, But has given his bread to the hungry And covered the naked with clothing; Who has withdrawn his hand from the poor And not received usury or increase, But has executed My judgments And walked in My statutes-He shall not die for the iniquity of his father; He shall surely live! "As for his father, Because he cruelly oppressed, Robbed his brother by violence, And did what is not good among his people, Behold, he shall die for his iniquity. "Yet you say, 'Why should the son not bear the guilt of the father?' Because the son has done what is lawful and right, and has kept all My statutes and observed them, he shall surely live. "The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. (Ezekiel 18:9-20)

Commenting on this passage Matthew Henry writes "It is only in the temporal calamities that children fare the worse for their parent’s wickedness, and God can make them work for good to those that are visited by them; but as to spiritual and eternal misery (and that is the death here spoken of) the children shall by no means smart for their parent’s sins"  Page 1054

C.J.Elliot DD emphasises that the law of generational iniquity leaves untouched the freedom of man's will. In this context he writes:

'Thus it is true that God does visit the sins of the fathers upon the children and at the same time does, through all, punish and reward each single person according to their own individual bearing towards Him'

He also writes,

'Individual suffering is certainly the consequence of individual sin...but these consequences are often slow in their development and may not fall upon the individual who has done the wrong, but upon some more or less remote descendants'

So we can, I think, say that generational iniquity is both scriptural and a reality in life not to be overlooked.

None of us can say that our generational line is without sin iniquity and transgression. Therefore none of us can say that we have not been effected by generational sin.

Interestingly, the Bible decrees that it is the sins and iniquities of the ‘fathers’ that will be visited upon the children to the third and fourth generations, so as God was the Father of Jesus there was no generational sin or iniquity for Jesus to inherit.   Unlike Mary, unlike you and I, Jesus, and Jesus alone, was born without the generational contamination of Adam's original sin and the subsequent sins of the generations after Adam.

Mary’s generational or personal sin was not able to pass down to Jesus because God set in place the spiritual principle that it is the sins of the fathers that pass down to the children.

Let this diagram help to make this important point clearly.


When two people marry they become effectively ‘one flesh’

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh   Genesis 2:24

Please note: This applies to all sexual relationships - not just husband and wife!.....

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For "the two," He says, "shall become one flesh. 1st Corinthians 6:15

So two people – like Joseph and Mary - who are made up of spirit soul and body (Thessalonians 5:24) – through sexual intercourse, in effect become ‘one flesh

(picture mixing two glasses of milk from glass to glass)

When Mary married Joseph and had other children, then as ‘one flesh’ with Joseph - through sexual intercourse – both his and her generational sin and iniquity would then become  ‘one flesh’ and pass down through Joseph the father into the rest of the family.

Just like us.

The next question - the crucial question - is this. Does the miracle of the new birth instantly and automatically remove the consequences of our father's and forefather's perverse behaviour from our lives and from our families lives?

The answer from scripture, and the experiences of Christian life, appears to be yes, no and yes.

The new testament speaks of our salvation in three tenses. We have been saved, we are being saved and we shall be saved.   For example:-

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God  (Ephesians 2:8)

For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. (2 Corinthians 2:15)

And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. (Mark 13:13)

We are saved!  In position we have already ‘received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father." (Romans 8:15)   

We are being saved!  Yet in experience we ‘groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption’ (Romans 8:23)

We will be saved !  The adoption is certain since God has ‘predestined us to adoption as sons’ (Ephesians 1:5)   

The instant we come to Jesus we are fully saved - in position. We become a new creation, old things have past away and all things are new.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

The finished work of Christ on Calvary’s cross has done everything that is needed for our salvation. We have been saved by Christ. Completely. Thoroughly. Totally.

Let's look at one of the great stories Jesus told as a picture of a sinner coming 'home' to the Father's house and the Father's family. The prodigal son.

The prodigal son did not have to clean himself up and then come to the Father. He came home to the Father as he was, dirty and smelly and wonderfully repentant. Where once he was in rebellion and walked away from his father, now his whole being, spirit soul and body, was turned in humility towards his Father

And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.' (Luke 15:21)

The Father’s reaction was to joyfully receive the son as he was, dirty and smelly.

When he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. (Luke 15:20)

The Father put a clean robe around the dirty, smelly son, a ring upon the dirty finger and sandals of freedom upon the dirty feet… thereby declaring him before all to be clean and in right standing in his sight, and to be a full member of the family.

But the father said to his servants, 'Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. (Luke 15:22)

The son was home, safe and sound. A new life with His father. The old things passed away, new things beginning.

..bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. And they began to be merry  (Luke 15:23-24)

Now the work under the clean cloak could begin in order to bring his whole being into line with his new, clean, cloaked, position. What we call sanctification.

This difference between our wonderful salvation position and the outworking of our salvation is illustrated so well by Paul. 

First he declares our position as new creations in Christ.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

As Matthew Henry comments

Regenerating grace creates a new world in the soul; all things are new. The renewed man acts from new principles, by new rules, with new ends, and in new company

Praise God that when we became born again many of us experienced great bondages breaking instantly. Alcoholics set free. Gamblers set free. Drug addicts set free.  Clear evidence of the grace and power of God.  However, I know of no one who has claimed that every spiritual, emotional, physiological, and physical issue associated with their pre Christian life was dealt with instantly in experience.

That's why we see that, just twenty three verses later, in the same letter to the church at Corinth, Paul writes

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 7:1)

These are not salvation issues he is now writing to the church about. These are practical instructions to outwork their salvation position and to undertake this task seriously in the reverend fear of God.

Some have interpreted ‘he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new’ to mean not only instant in their position but also instant in the fullness of their experience as well.  Church members who have been taught this are then left in secret condemnation believing that they and they alone are struggling with long standing issues.

I remember one lady phoning me up very nervously to ask for prayer ministry for an issue that had been with her virtually all her life. She said that if her church found out she was asking for ministry for an issue that was there before her salvation they would declare she was not a Christian. She had already approached her Pastor on this issue and was thoroughly rebuked by him.

She arrived terrified and under great condemnation. So much so that she was too frightened to come back a second time in case her church found out.  Damaging theology damages people.

A good physical example of position versus experience is Canaan, the land of promise. From the moment God gave the Land of Canaan to the Children of Israel it was theirs in God’s eyes. Forever.

"Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God." (Genesis 17:8)

Yet the enemy who had always occupied that land had to be confronted and removed with God's help before that promised land could fully became theirs in experience. Under Joshua and others the Children of Israel had to outwork their position as owners of Canaan in order to bring it into experience.

Remember Paul speaking about dealing with spiritual enemies in order to make God's promises of all things new a living outworked reality.

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 7:1)

The whole land given to Abraham has not yet become theirs in totality, but it will be, one day.

Thus we can say that the land of Canaan is theirs, is becoming theirs and one day will be theirs.

A spiritual example of our position (in red) versus our present experience (in blue) would be..

For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, (Colossians 3:3-10 )

Stealing, bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, evil speaking and malice are all part of the Christian's old life so what are they doing in the Christian if old things have passed away in experience and all things have become new in experience?

If the experience of all things new in the Christian's experience instantly matched the Christian's position then why would Paul tell us to off the old man and put on the new man?

He continues to speak in this vein to the church.

..that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, putting away lying, "Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbours," for we are members of one another. "Be angry, and do not sin": do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labour, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. (Ephesians 4:22-31)

The truth is that if the immediate life-experience matched the immediate spiritual position then Paul would not have had to write such instructions to the church.

As we have seen earlier, iniquities (sinful traits) such as stealing, bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, evil speaking and malice can come down, or be passed down, the generational line as an inheritance.

As is so often said  "I suffer from anger, my father suffered from anger as did his father"

The demonic attaches itself to ungodly behaviour in order to hold the person into that bondage. (Ephesians 4:27)

Jesus always first preached the Kingdom of God and then ministered healing and deliverance to the people.

"The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the broken-hearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; (Luke 4:18)

But when the multitudes knew it, they followed Him; and He received them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who had need of healing. (Luke 9:11)

That is why His instructions to disciples then, and now, is to preach the good news (establish the Kingdom of God within the person) then heal the sick, cast out the demonic and even raise the dead.

"And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. (Matthew 10:7-8)

And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. "And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; "they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover." (Mark 16:15-18)

He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. (Luke 9:2)

Somehow we seem to have let this commission slip down to simply preaching the Kingdom of God.

Many Christians have sat under and then responded to the preaching about the Kingdom of God for their salvation but never had long standing besetting issues dealt with. Free in position, but not in experience.

Scripture – and life – show the reality of generational actions, both good and evil, effecting future generations.

Scripture shows that God asked that the sins and iniquities of the fathers be confessed.

Scripture shows that the Israelites did confess in this manner.

Scripture shows that demonic and iniquitous bondage go hand in hand. In other words the demonic are where they have a ‘right’ to be.  (Ephesians 4:26-27)

Scripture shows that deliverance is the bread of the children.

Scripture shows that the new birth brings us into right standing with God immediately. We are saved.  The future is secure.

Scripture then shows having these great promises we are now required to deal with the filthiness of spirit and flesh. We are being saved.  We deal with the ungodly issues in our lives.

Scripture shows that when we go to be with Him, having endured, we shall be saved.

What Jesus has worked out for us must now be outworked in us. Paul exhorts us to work out (or outwork) our salvation in the fear of the Lord

.work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12)

David Watson said that if your theology does not equate with real life then either your theology is defective or your real life experiences are deceptive.

Real life has shown - in what must by now be many hundreds of thousands of cases throughout the world - that many Christians are in deep bondage. A recent Christian research showed that some 63% of Christian men are into pornography to one degree or another. The churches divorce rate matches the secular (and exceeds it now in the USA)  In the USA research shows that more than half of the church members are on some type of nerve tablets.

Christians don’t want to be in bondage. They want the power of the gospel to release them into the great promises of victory over sin. Yet this victory is not always evident to the world.

On the positive side, real life has shown that the many Christian ministries - who deal with generational issues (and other issues) as scripture instructs - see the fruit of freedom manifesting just as scripture promises. Not in all cases as other keys are clearly missing. But Praise God in many thousands of cases.

We are out for dinner one evening with a lovely Christian couple, arguably one of the most Godly couples I have ever encountered. They 'radiate' the joy of the Lord. Each of their children are truly a testimony to Godly parenting.  Yet it was not always that way.  Over dinner the wife told us that for many years she was a manic depressive. A Christian, yet a manic depressive.  So manic that many times she tried to persuade her husband to join her and the children in a mass suicide within the home. She said that to her it did not feel like depression, it just seemed 'so logical'

One weekend a visiting healing / deliverance ministry came to their church and the Pastor persuaded her to have a private meeting with two of the team.  That meeting changed her life.

They asked her about her parents, especially her father. When she said that her father had been a member of the 'Buffaloes' for many years they took her through a ministry prayer dealing with generational issues.  From that moment on she was free of her manic depression.

Let’s look closer at the generational issue of Freemasonry.

When a man enters a Masonic temple (a place where Jesus is not acknowledged as Lord and where the Bible is not accepted as the whole truth).. declaring that he is a man in a state of spiritual darkness who is now seeking Masonic light… then undergoes a deeply occultic ritual while dressed in pauper’s clothing… having a mask over his eyes and a noosed rope around his neck.. accepting ritual declarations that his throat may be slit, and his tongue torn out if he ever reveals the Masonic secrets.. then seals the matter by kissing the Bible through a square and compass all set upon a Masonic altar while kneeling inside a circled pentagram on a black and white floor…using the witchcraft spell words of ‘so mote it be’ ..and neither he, nor his children, nor his children’s children, nor their children ever confess and repent of this great offence to God, then scripture shows that there will be consequences.   

Not only personally, but down the generational line

..by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and the fourth generation." (Exodus 34:6-7)

Let's pretend that the Mason described above was also a Christian. Let's pretend that as a result of the ritual involving the threat of a slit throat and torn tongue, his son developed a bad stammer.

Let's pretend that later in life the son became a Christian. Fully born again, Bible believing and filled with the Holy Spirit. But still with the bad stammer.

If the son then went for ministry seeking freedom from the bondage of his stammer would it be right or wrong to deal with the Masonry in his generational line?

My father was a mason, and a Christian. He went through the rituals described.  I did have a debilitating stammer for more than 30 years. I had it before I was a Christian and for several years after I became a Christian. I did do business with God on the issue. I have not had a stammer for more than 12 years now.

So Praise God, He never shows us the problem without pointing us to His answer.  

Christ's all sufficient, finished work at Calvary.  Not only do we get our forgiveness there, but also, unlike the days of the Old Testament, we have One who took into Himself the outworking of the consequences of the sins, both personal and generational.

'In mercy and truth atonement is provided for iniquity..' Proverbs 16: 6a

We receive all aspects of our salvation in full positionally the moment we come to Christ, and when we minister freedom in Jesus’ Name we always go to the finished work of Calvary to appropriate these in experience.

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us Galatians 3:13

To avail of that finished work requires personal (1 John 1:9) and sometimes, where evidence points towards it, generational identificational confession as outlined in scripture.

 "Then those of Israelite lineage separated themselves from all foreigners; and they stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers"  (Nehemiah 9:2)  


There is a good saying about Christian teaching ‘If it is new, it is not true, and if it is true, it is not new’

I have seen ‘new’ stuff that makes my hair stand on end! 

However many old wells of spiritual truth have been effectively filled in by the spiritual Philistines over many generations (Genesis 26:15) denying the children much needed water.

As often (always?) happens when old spiritual wells are re-opened (Genesis 26:18) - such as the baptism of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues, the gifts of the Spirit, healing, deliverance, the five fold ministry - there is a substantial measure of ‘flakiness’ that comes in with the truth.  

A going to far in zeal – and a clear stepping outside scriptural boundaries.  

This behaviour encourages many to throw all out in order to eradicate the obvious flakiness.  However history shows that wisdom and stability do emerge in due season so patience is needed as Jesus is the Author and the Finisher of our faith.. 

(Interestingly I have seen God still work through the early flakiness as He patiently raises up the truth.  Many of us look back in dismay at some of our early learning curve activities, yet God was at work. This maturing is still taking place!)

Generational issues are not complicated.  Not ‘mystical’   What is here now is simply what was sown earlier.  The harvest matches the seed and the seed matches the harvest.  

'If a man causes disfigurement of his neighbour, as he has done, so shall it be done to him- 'fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; as he has caused disfigurement of a man, so shall it be done to him. 'And whoever kills an animal shall restore it; but whoever kills a man shall be put to death. 'You shall have the same law for the stranger and for one from your own country; for I am the LORD your God.'"  Leviticus 24:19-22

Paul reminds us as as New Testament Christians that sowing and reaping are linked.

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap  Galatians 6:7

Sow wheat ..and in due season you (and future generations) walk amidst wheat.  Allow the enemy to sow tares ..and in due season you (and future generations) walk amidst tares. 

In other words if you see a magnificent oak tree on your land then you know for certain that at an earlier time a little acorn was planted. Scatter stinging nettle seed in your garden (deliberately or through carelessness) and in due season you will have stinging nettles on your land.  

Sow integrity and your children reap blessings.  And visa versa.

Sow little reap little, sow much, reap much. As in the physical so in the spiritual. The One God made both for His Glory.

But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 2 Corinthians 9:6

We have seen from scripture how Isaac and Jacob struggled with a harvest of iniquity that was sown in an earlier generation by Abraham.  And we saw how their harvest of generational iniquity matched the initial seed. 

We have seen from scripture how David’s future generations reaped from what he had sown.  And we saw how their harvest of generational iniquity matched the initial seed.

Therefore we do not necessarily need to know the when and who but rather what the issue is.

In other words if there is clear evidence of a generational issue at work (evidenced by an iniquity drive or curse) then we can presume that the generational issue will be the evidence of the initial offence - and that offence needs to be brought before God. (see cases)  

For example if we were bullied and our children our being bullied at school then treat this as the harvest of a bully in the generational line - and bring that issue before God to be dealt with.  We do not need to know who did the bullying, we have the issue on our plate to be dealt with.

When we find ourselves struggling with the same sins that out previous generations did, then the biblical model is ‘we and our fathers have sinned against you in the area of …………..(adultery / lust / anger / violence / stealing / occult / lying / etc)

and they stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers"  Nehemiah 9:2

It may be that we strongly suspect we are suffering the consequences of sinful behaviour in previous generations.

Then the LORD will bring upon you and your descendants extraordinary plagues-great and prolonged plagues-and serious and prolonged sicknesses. Deuteronomy 28:59

In both cases we need to forgive the previous generations for leaving us such an inheritance and lay claim to the divine exchange of the New Covenant.

Once the generational issue has been dealt with before God the demonic has lost all rights and can be dealt with accordingly.

Suggested generational ministry for use by prayer ministry teams.

1.       First of all, we must honour our father and mother (that our days might be long in the land where we live)

2.      Agree with God that we and our forefather's have sinned against Him, naming the area being dealt with.  E.g. lust / bigotry / freemasonry / theft / abuse / rebellion - whatever.

3.       Having confessed the generational issues we are dealing with, we appropriate God’s answer - Christ’s finished work at Calvary.   We declare the divine exchange that transpired through Calvary. Jesus bore our iniquity and we have received His pardon on these issues. He became a curse for us at Calvary. In Jesus' Name we break off any curse that would be tied to the legal right granted by the generational issue, and appropriate our inheritance of liberty.

A sample prayer might be..

“Heavenly Father I thank you that I am Your child.  A member of Your family.

I am also a member of my human family and I thank You for the ancestral line that You chose to bring me into this world through.

I especially honour my father and mother.  But while I honour them Lord, I do not agree with them in the areas where they have sinned against You. 

I stand with full agreement with You Lord, in loving what is good and hating what is evil.  

I identify with my forefathers and confess that we have sinned and committed iniquity against You.

We have done this by committing sins of ………. And by our involvement with ………..  I freely confess these sins against you, and ask Your forgiveness for what is known and what is unknown.

I now unreservedly forgive my ancestors for all the things they have done which have affected me.

I specifically renounce the consequences of their sins in Jesus Name. 

As a child of God I claim that the power of the Blood of Jesus sets me free from the consequences of all ……… ...activity on either my father or mother’s family line, and from all curses and pronouncements that have had an effect on my life, from hereditary diseases, and from the effects of any sins which have influenced me and my children

Jesus not only became a curse for me at Calvary and bore all my iniquities but He also bore the consequences of those curses and iniquities, and through the divine exchange I gratefully receive His freedom.

I declare that satan now has no rights in my life, or the life in any if these areas. They have been dealt with through the finished work of Jesus Christ at Calvary

I now break any curse attached to these areas and ask You Holy Spirit to bring the Life of Jesus into these areas ”

 Father God, I pray this in Jesus’ Name.

4.   Cut any ungod1y ties that are linked to the issue being dealt with. For instance if there has been occult in the generational line cut ungodly ties to family members or friends involved in occult. (see understanding soul ties)

5.   In Jesus Name bind the powers of darkness that may have come down the generational line on their ‘legal rights’ and command them to leave. Name the likely powers. ‘kingdom of lust' - spirits of anger’ etc   Listen to the Spirit of God. It is not by might of knowledge or power of formula. It is always ‘by My Spirit’

6.   Ask the Holy Spirit to occupy areas that have now been loosed and cleansed in Jesus’ Name.

7.   Give thanks for the Lord’s restoring Grace !

Note: I also commend the prayers from Jubilee Resources New Zealand.


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