~ Gail Lumet Buckley
"The LORD God [is] 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 (NKJV)
"Does this biblical curse still exist today?"
~ Bud Ezekiel
As surely as the Lord is merciful, gracious, longsuffering, abounding in goodness and truth—yes, sin is indeed visited upon successive generations.
This is most obvious when people imitate the same sin they observe in the world, often in a context which makes sin look normal. Another explanation for the same negative behaviors occurring in multiple generations is genetic predispositions being passed on in the flesh. (Those related to some forms of mental illness are one example; the human disposition to sin is another.)
But what about spiritual factors? The Bible says God does not tempt anyone (James 1:13). When otherwise inexplicable forces seem to be powerfully at work for evil, presence of the devil (a demon) is a possibility. Evil spiritual forces may even follow a generation in the person separated from a parent, such as by death or adoption.
The person belonging to Christ is inhabited by the Holy Spirit, and need not fear being possessed by a demon. Yet we can still be influenced, tempted, and attacked by demons:
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
~ 1 Peter 5:8 (NKJV)
God has not left us powerless against sin:
No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
~ 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJV)
Iniquity is visited upon our generation by the devil, the world, and our own flesh desires. Knowing that the devil is an adversary out to get us should prompt daily training with the spiritual armor provided by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 6:10-18). Such practice readies us to defeat temptation, regardless of its source.
A closing thought is that with God, even His curse works for our good.
Christians will face sin which feels irresistible. We are then frustrated by seeming inability to overcome sin and its inevitable suffering. But like a pregnant woman compelled by love to overcome the temptation to take in unhealthy substances which can hurt her child, the realization that our sin hurts others besides ourselves works together with love to compel us to muster the resistance we cannot otherwise find.
Those in Christ are members of one body. Any sin to which we yield is visited upon our natural and spiritual family. There is no such thing as a sin we can "get away with."
Tomorrow (Saturday) on Building His Body: window">Generational Blessing. Next week's question will be about the different words for sin / kinds of sin, and about overcoming sin. Please see my follow-up comment below.
© 2010 Anne Lang Bundy
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