Can you think of a trait in your family of origin you dislike? Or, on the flipside, are there characteristics you really appreciate about your family? Chances are, you can identify both good and bad qualities in your family line. Most families have traits to be admired and desired along with some we would like to sweep under the rug, never to be remembered again.
A woman came to meet with me some time ago. As she sat down, I asked her the usual question: "What brings you here today?"
She replied, "Have you ever seen the TV series Everybody Loves Raymond? Well, that is my family—total dysfunction!" We had a good laugh, but as she told me her story, I realized she was telling the truth.
Occasionally someone will say to me, "I can't think of a single good trait in my family." Still others insist, "My family was a Leave It to Beaver family, and I can't think of anything I would want to change." Most of the time, neither extreme is true. No family is perfect, and very few are deficient in every single area.
In her book Breaking Free, Bible teacher Beth Moore said this: "Between every unfaithful generation and faithful generation is one person determined to change." Whether or not we break unhealthy generational iniquity and ungodly patterns is a matter of the heart. That's where the battle is being waged—over the heart! No matter who we are or how we grew up, the question we all must answer is: Whom will we serve?
A Spiritual Eye-Opener
I remember a special insight God gave me one morning many years ago. My husband had left for work earlier than usual, so I had the house all to myself when I returned from taking the children to school. Sitting down at the dining room table, my Bible in hand, I began reading and felt drawn to Isaiah 58:12: "Those from among you shall rebuild the old waste places; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations."
Although Bible scholars say this passage is about the restoration and redevelopment of Jerusalem, I knew the Lord was personalizing it for me. That promise to Israel was predicated upon their returning to the true worship that comes from a pure heart. Since their works didn't match the claims of their faith, God wanted to change their hearts.
As I meditated on the passage, I saw in my mind's eye—some would call it a vision—a country setting with an old, run-down house that sat on a large parcel of land. I saw a bulldozer lift the house from its pier-and-beam foundation. When it was raised, I could see all sorts of bugs, mold, mildew and other gross things you would see underneath an old house that has been in place for years. That house clearly needed to be renovated, and I realized this picture, or vision, represented the spiritual restoration that needed to happen in my life.
At that time, the subject of generational iniquity was new to me. But I recognized that the Isaiah passage, along with the picture I had seen of the old house being lifted from its foundation, was the Lord's way of showing me that I was under the influence of the choices some of my ancestors had made. In some cases, I had been a willing participant in making some of the same decisions they had made, both consciously and unconsciously.
I knew God wanted to do some spiritual cleanup in me. For the first time in my life, I began to connect the dots between my current struggles and the deeper root systems that had been established before I was in my mother's womb.
As I began to seek the Lord concerning this need for spiritual renovation, I felt Him speak four clear statements to my heart:
- "I want to rebuild the foundations of your life."
- "I desire to change your heart and create new heart attitudes."
- "I long to release heart worship in you."
- "I want to establish new thinking or godly belief systems." In other words, learn to think like God thinks.
When he was speaking at our church many years ago, I heard John Sandford, author of Healing the Wounded Spirit, say, "When we have dealt with our own personal sin and trouble still persists, we may be dealing with generational sin and iniquity." Clearly, this is not an excuse for bad behavior and poor choices, but generational sin is often responsible for creating weakness and temptation toward certain behavior. It is a delusion to believe we can sin without it affecting others. It always does!
I once knew a man who confided to a pastor/counselor that he never watched pornography in front of his young son. He said, "I wait until he has gone to bed." He obviously didn't understand that in addition to having physical bodies, we are spiritual beings who transmit spiritual genetics. The choices we make affect our children and future generations.
Thankfully, we have the awesome privilege and powerful opportunity to begin a new heritage and leave a godly legacy for our children and grandchildren. That spiritual and moral legacy will not only bless them, but it will glorify God as well.
I firmly believe it is crucial for Christians to understand how the choices of our ancestors affect us today. Unfortunately, this seems to be one of the most neglected subjects in the church. Recently, our church held a freedom event where I taught on generational iniquity. Afterward, a few of our pastors took some of the visiting ministers to dinner. During their time together, several of them expressed how deeply touched and transformed they had been by the teaching on generational iniquity and blood-line curses. They had never been exposed to the subject, and they were amazed at the impact it had on them. It is especially exciting to see pastors receive God's wisdom in this area because then they are better equipped to minister these life-changing truths to the people in their churches.
Ax Laid to the Root
It is helpful to discover the tendencies toward particular sins and patterns of negative behavior that existed in our families long before we were born. Discovering those potential snares better prepares us to make right choices and come into alignment with the ultimate authority: the Word of God. When we agree with what God says, we can recognize ungodly mindsets and behavior patterns and allow the power of the Holy Spirit to break those tendencies. Then we will experience freedom from the consequences of sin that may have been operating for generations.
A few years ago, one of our pastors at Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas, was teaching a Wednesday night freedom class. In his message, he mentioned that if a person had experienced repeated accidents, it could be the result of a generational curse. He had barely spoken those words when a woman in the class began to cry.
The pastor asked me to take the woman to the prayer room and minister to her while he continued his teaching. In the prayer room, the woman began to tell me her story. She had been in a number of accidents over the past few years. If that were not enough, she was also facing a financial crisis and would be going to court within the next few days. Additionally, she told me a young family member had recently been diagnosed with a brain tumor, and she and her family were praying for him to be healed. I later discovered that my daughter, a registered nurse at the hospital where the young boy had surgery, took care of him in the pediatric intensive care unit afterward. What a small world! God's fingerprints were all over the scheduling of that surgery.
In situations like this, I'm glad I know the Wonderful Counselor and Great Physician—Jesus! The Holy Spirit led me to ask her to quiet her heart and listen for His voice. I then asked the Holy Spirit, "Is there any kind of curse over this family You want to reveal tonight? Is there any transgression that has been committed she needs to repent of and renounce? Has anything recent or from the past opened a door for the enemy to harass her and her family?"
Before I could continue, she lifted her head and said, "Oh my. I would have never thought of that!" She explained to me that her family name and heritage were German. Recently, she confided, her brothers had made a trip to Germany. When they arrived at the little town where their family had resided and were well-known, they were forced to leave. Westerners would say they were run out of town. As it turns out, their family had a history of horse thievery, stealing and dishonesty of every sort. They were not welcome in their hometown.
As we continued, the Holy Spirit directed her to repent on behalf of her family and break any generational curse that was passed through her family lineage. She came to understand that this family curse (consequence) was still affecting her. It had robbed her financially, physically, emotionally and mentally. She was reaping the consequences of sin and disobedience sown by her ancestors—some of whom she had never even met!
She then asked God to forgive her for any areas in her own life where she had given place to those same iniquities and had embraced ungodly belief systems and wrong thinking. She canceled any agreement with the enemy and came into agreement with God's Word, according to Philippians 4:19: "But my God shall supply your every need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." We prayed together and broke the curse of poverty and destruction that had been perpetuated through her family bloodline.
Within a few days, this precious woman, full of gratitude, called us to report how God had already moved on her behalf. She never had to file bankruptcy. In fact, her business began to prosper immediately—it doubled and then tripled in profit within a few weeks! The accidents ceased, and her grandson was healed of the brain tumor. It has now been seven years since we prayed, and she continues to thrive. I must admit, this is one of the most amazing answers to prayer I have ever witnessed in that the transformation was so immediate and profound.
I make no claims to be an expert on the subject of generational iniquity and bloodline curses. Truthfully, no one is! In fact, what I have learned throughout my years in freedom ministry is that there are no pat answers, and the subject is inexhaustible. Despite this, we can rely on the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth, according to John 16:13: "But when the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. For He will not speak on His own authority. But He will speak whatever He hears, and He will tell you things that are to come."
I hope you are committed to finding freedom in Christ. We were created by God to fulfill His purpose in our lives. It is my prayer that the insights I communicate in this article will help you navigate your own journey toward freedom. I will share general principles with you, but only the Holy Spirit can reveal the particulars of your own family history and how these truths apply to you. Therefore, ask Him to reveal anything, past or present, that is hindering you from experiencing the fullness of His good plans for you. He is your wise and faithful guide, and He will help you learn to live out and enjoy the freedom Jesus has provided for you.
It's important we learn to connect with God on a deeper level and hear His voice. Sometimes we think we don't hear His voice, but Jesus said in John 10:27, "My sheep hear My voice." That means we may be hearing but not recognizing His voice when He does speak. Scripture tells us He speaks to us in our spirit, through His Word (the Bible), through others prophetically and through creation (Ps. 19:1, Rom. 1:20). Have no doubt: God will find a way to speak to you.
Buckle your seatbelts, friends! If you've never done "hearing God exercises" before, you're in for the ride of your life. As you complete these activation exercises, you will begin to see life from God's perspective rather than your own or what others have told you—or what the enemy has told you. Knowing the truth will set you free and enable you to experience God at a new level.
Begin this activation exercise by finding a place where you can be alone, quiet your heart and listen to God's voice. Then ask Him the following questions:
- God, what are You saying to me personally through this article?
- Are there foundations in my life You want to rebuild?
- Is there a heart attitude in me You want to change?
Here is a prayer to help you get started in this activation: "Father, You are a God of truth. Open the eyes of my heart to see and hear Your truth in every area of my life. I give You permission to rebuild and restore those areas of my life that need Your touch. In Jesus' name, amen."
Linda Godsey is one of the freedom pastors serving at Gateway Church in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas. Godsey's passion is to see people set free and experience their destiny in Christ. She shares that message through writing, speaking, training and ministering to individuals. She has two daughters, two granddaughters and four grandsons.
Freedom Pastor Linda Godsey explains how generational iniquities can pass down through the family in her latest book, Origins: How the Choices of Your Ancestors Affect You Today (Charisma House). But she also explains how to overcome them! You can find this book at amazon.com, christianbook.com or wherever Christian books are sold.
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