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Generational Spirits or Inherited Sins?

Taken from email correspondence December 2002.

"...I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me..."
(Exodus 20:5b)

Greetings Win and Lyn!

We received your note in today's mail. RE: "family spirits" as you called them. You asked about "repeated demonic behaviors in families."

I am certain that there are much more in-depth treatments of this issue than what I'll give here but please allow me to share what I observed tonight from God's Word.

The four occasions when this phenomenon is spoken about in the Bible are in Ex. 20:5, 34:7, Nu. 14:18 and Deut. 5:9. In each case the Hebrew word transliterated "`avon" is used. It is translated "iniquity" in the King James version. (See Strongs word # 05771).

In Ex. 20 (in the middle of the Ten Commandments) I believe God gives us explanation of why this generational curse occurs. The end of verse 5 states that it is SENT BY HIM and comes upon families because of the hatred held by men against Him. Some may try and argue that because this is found in Old Testament law then it is not applicable to we New Testament Believers today. I would tend to disagree with them for we can certainly see that whether through learned behavior or so called bloodline transference, families often tend to continue the activities and traits (both good and bad) from one generation to the next.

The word "`avon" (translated "iniquity") in each of the four related verses I mentioned above, actually implies that the "perversity, depravity, or iniquity" of the fathers is literally passed to the third and forth generations. This passing of sin from parents to children can obviously cascade on and on and on. But can we accurately call it a "spirit" or the work of a spirit? Nowhere in these passages does the Scripture indicate so. Could a spirit assist in the perpetuation of sin? Of course, so don't get me wrong; I believe that spirits are at work helping induce sinful activities in men, etc. Could a spirit torment a son or daughter of a sexual pervert (for example) to continue in his or her parent's sinful habits? Yes. However, Scripture says it is visited upon - inherited - yes, the Bible says SENT BY GOD and though spirits can influence those afflicted in this way, it appears to me that just as with many of mankind's sinful activities, the origin of the iniquities of a family and the continuation of ungodly activities from generation to generation may be directly related to sin and not necessarily (or always) the direct result of a spirit at work.

Would demons love this kind of debilitating generational sin? Without question. But if I were the devil and I knew I needed to muster my troops to accomplish maximum degradation in mankind, I wouldn't assign them to foster a situation that needed absolutely no further assistance to accomplish my ultimate purpose for the lives of a family. I'd send them against others where no generational curse was at work.

It appears from Ex. 20:5 that this kind of cascading, continuing pattern of sin in a family may be the result of idolatry - having another "god" in replacement of or addition to the real and living God. Idolatry can but is not always induced directly by a demon. It can simply be the result of the fall of man in Eden and the hard headedness of humankind.

I know in some Christian circles today every problem, disease and sin is attributed to a demon. Though this can be the case, I find that sin - and our lack of willingness to take responsibility for it, deal with it, forsake it and repent to God - is the reason that many remain in bondage. To varying extents this is why some chase imaginary demons of lust, greed, anger, murder, lying, etc., rather than face their own fallen nature and its failings. Make no mistake; these demons DO exist but are they always the cause of our actions? No.

I have seen demons at work. I have dealt with them in the lives of others and have observed their hideous power up close. I have battled with them and have been afflicted by their oppression personally. But the first place man needs to examine when afflicted or tempted is in his own heart. If we're not careful and we don't teach that God-led, blood-bought repentance is the great antidote against evil forces there will be many that we'll come into contact with who will go on their merry way blaming the devil for their repeated failure to break free from sinful habits. In the 1970's comedian Flip Wilson's "Geraldene" claimed "the devil made me do it." I wonder how many will try and claim this when standing before God's judgment seat only to have it revealed that it was the root of original sin that had twisted its way through their lives instead of the ongoing work of a demon?

I pray these thoughts add to your arsenal as you wage warfare for lost souls.

Bless you as you continue to contend for the faith!


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* For more on this topic and on Spiritual Warfare see Disarming the Powers of Darkness.


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