“This is an affront to the work of Christ on the cross. It’s an affront to the atonement. It’s an affront to the heart of the Gospel itself.” Justin Peters
Five chapters into Matthew’s Gospel we’re given the epic teaching of Christ from His Sermon on The Mount. The magnitude of this event, for its 1st-century audience then and for its 21st-century audience now, is absolutely staggering. Here is God in the flesh, the Messiah, the Author and Finisher of our faith, proclaiming Truth. He was speaking new Scripture with every syllable, in every word, and He was also affirming Scripture He had inspiringly breathed throughout His unfolding revelation since the foundation of the world. Every word was, as Paul would later advise Timothy of all Scripture, theopneustos – “God breathed.” (2 Timothy 3:16)
As believers, we simply cannot afford to miss this message.
Tucked away in two short verses towards the end of the sermon, the Lord gives an exhortation that represents the fundamental demand that the Gospel solely, by the sovereign work of God, facilitates.
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Matthew 7:13-14
It takes the believer only a small amount of logic to surmise from Christ’s description of the narrowness of the road to eternal life that its opposite – the heavily trod path that leads to destruction – is littered with false promises, twisted teachings, and damning heresies. Though it is alluring and enticing and though it is clearly marked with appealing “this way to heaven” signage, the wide path brings the certain, wrathful, and eternal judgment of God.
It is the path of the world, the flesh, and the devil which believers are apostolically instructed to avoid. (Ephesians 2:2-3; 1 John 2:16; 1 John 5:19). But there is much on that path that tempts believers, including false notions of spiritual warfare – a noble endeavor upon which believers are to engage, but one in which they are to engage correctly, biblically, and obediently.
Since spiritual warfare is, as pastor and author Jim Osman correctly teaches, a battle for truth – the truth of God, the truth of the Gospel – the wide path must then be awash with destructive teachings intended to draw the soul away from the harder, though more blessed, narrow path to life. While the Gospel is the mechanism, the power, for God’s salvific work that puts a soul on the narrow path, the teachings proclaimed on the wider path are, by definition, anti-gospel. That path is replete with “other gospels,” as Paul would write chiding the church in Galatia. (Galatians 1: 6-9) The wide path false teachings embraced as Biblical – even drawing on Scripture as their impetus – are, in fact, direct attacks on the truth of God and distortions of Scripture’s clear teaching.
In his spiritual warfare series on The Justin Peters Program, Osman addresses the erroneous teaching of generational curses or hexes, that is rife throughout the modern church. Believers who are not “abiding in my word” (John 8:31) may easily find themselves deceived by the popular, albeit spiritually toxic, teaching that their biblical ignorance permits, or often compels, them to accept as valid. But biblically-astute, discerning souls will avoid the teachings that permeate the wide path – such as generational curses – and be diligent to avoid engaging in spurious disciplines that are absent from the narrow, harder path.
With the issue of generational curses, believers not only participate in a Scripturally-unwarranted discipline, they also engage with a teaching that strikes against the very core of the Gospel and the cross. To compound the dangers, the implementation of removing generational curses according to the popular, though false, methodology often finds believers speaking directly to Satan, a behavior completely unfounded in Scripture.
“It is believed that unless the Christian consciously and verbally confesses in prayer the sins of their ancestors, and renounces those sins and all their attendant curses and consequences, Satan will have a ‘legal hold’ in the believer’s life which will keep that believer from spiritual freedom, sanctification, spiritual growth, and the blessings of God. This ‘legal hold’ can result in demonic oppression and even demonic possession of a Christian.” Jim Osman
An example of the most common form the battle against generational curses takes for many in today’s church is shown in the embedded video below. It features a pastor leading his congregation in a prayer that is intended to renounce and remove these curses. Note his introductory comments to this Scripturally-illicit prayer time with his congregation.
“I want us to do warfare together in this room.”
“This is territory we’re going to take back from a real enemy.”
“If you want to wage war today, for the sake of you and for the sake of generations that come after you, and you want to confess sins, and you want to call the iniquity of the fathers what it is and give it to the Lord, I want you to stand up and I’m going to lead you in a prayer.”
“I want you to pray out loud … I want you to understand how important it is for you to do this warfare out loud. The devil cannot read your mind.”
As Osman’s teaching, drawn from Scripture, clearly shows, spiritual warfare is not about territory as this pastor suggests. But in leading his congregation to renounce the generational curses, this pastor actually instructs congregants to pray out loud to the devil because “the devil cannot read your mind.” Such behavior is completely unthinkable.
The man you just watched is not a pastor of some fringe, charismatic church, though the prayer in which he just guided his congregants is certainly common to that spiritually dangerous environment. In fact, this is Pastor Alex Himaya of theChurch.at, a Southern Baptist congregation in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Himaya had previously served as youth pastor at Cross Church, the Arkansas church pastored by former SBC President Ronnie Floyd. He had even been appointed by Floyd to serve on the denominationally influential Committee of Committees. (Source)
But you’ve just seen Himaya, an influential Southern Baptist pastor, promote a patently-unbiblical prayer under the guise of waging spiritual warfare. He was effectively teaching his congregants to speak (pray) to the devil from some biblically-illegitimate presumption of authority, a presumption that not even the archangel Michael dared make. (Jude 1:9). But Himaya and this SBC church give evidence that this carnal type of spiritual warfare, and the misunderstanding of generational curses, is widespread. Even pastors who should know better, who should be biblically informed, often fail in their duties to soundly edify and conscientiously shepherd their flocks.
As Osman and Peters discuss, the foundation of this false teaching on generational curses is drawn from Exodus 20:5. The verse is regularly quoted by proponents of this teaching, but, as is all too common with erroneous teaching and bad theology, the verse is truncated and taken out of context.
…”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 20:5
It is this truncated citation that is commonly used to support the notion that generational curses are biblical realities about which the believer ought to be cognizant and to which they should be prepared to battle, as Pastor Himaya indicated in the above video. But the employment of sound exegesis of this Scripture yields a completely different, and correct, teaching. The entirety of the text must be considered. (Important tip! The first rule of interpreting Scripture is the “context rule,” and that rule says … “context RULES.”)
5 You shall not worship them or serve them; for 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, 6 but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. Exodus 20:5-6
As Osman points out, the full context of this Scripture gives us three parallelisms from which we can properly glean the Lord’s intent in these inspired words. Those three parallelisms— a common feature of Hebrew Scriptures – are:
“visiting the iniquity” (v.5) VS “showing lovingkindness” (v.6)
“on the third and fourth generations” (v.5) VS “to thousands” (v.6)
“those who hate Me” (v.5) VS “those who love me and keep my commandments” (v.6)
“All that parallelism is intended to show is that God would much rather bless than curse,” says Osman. “It is intended to contrast two things, two groups of people, two relationships to God, and two responses of God to those two groups of people.”
The clear teaching of this Scripture has nothing to do with spiritual warfare, and it does not teach the validity of generational curses from God that may afflict the redeemed believer. As Osman states, “Exodus 20 has no mention of demons or evil spirits. Moses is not describing demonic influence. He is describing the punishment that God would visit upon His people for their disobedience, and, conversely, the blessings He would pour out upon His people for their obedience.”
But as the video above shows, the popularity of this false view of generational curses is widespread. In both his book on spiritual warfare, Truth Or Territory: A Biblical Approach To Spiritual Warfare, and in the broadcast (included below) with Peters, Osman points to a number of popular authors who espouse this teaching. Among those authors are Mark Bubeck, Neil T. Anderson, and Thomas B. White.
“There are a number of theological problems with this. It denies the sufficiency of the cross and the atonement and the Gospel. The whole theology is built on an insufficient view of Scripture,” says Osman. Beyond the insufficient view of Scripture, this generational curse approach also avoids other, abundantly clear teaching from Scripture that refutes it.
As he encourages in the broadcast with Peters, and explains in his book, Osman encourages believers to read and understand Ezekiel chapter 18. “Ezekiel spent 32 verses refuting this very teaching to show that ‘the soul that sins, it shall die.” (Ezekiel 18:4)
Osman refutes the inherent error. “According to these guys’ views, [the “generational curse” teachers and authors] you can get saved and be regenerate and be a child of God and have no issues from your past dealt with. Everything from your past has to be dealt with because the cross wasn’t enough … so now you’ve got to renounce and rebuke and reprove and announce and proclaim in order to cancel out all these curses that are still lingering … because the cross didn’t cancel them out.”
“Apparently one-time repentance from a life of sin, the cleansing blood of Christ, forgiveness of all sins – past, present, and future – is not sufficient in itself to free one from the bondage to sin and the power of Satan,” writes Osman. “Something else is necessary, namely reciting and renouncing verbally all the sins that the Holy Spirit will bring to one’s mind.” As with the pastor in the embedded video, the prayers renouncing these sins “must be spoken in order to break the power of Satan and eliminate his strongholds – to revoke his ‘legal right.”
Peters thus remarks that this errant teaching on generational curses is “an affront to the work of Christ on the cross.” The clear teaching of the atonement from Scripture reflects the totality of Christ’s substitutionary, saving work. There is no sin that remains unresolved for the sovereignly regenerated believer. It is impossible to be saved and have lingering, unresolved sin. The work of Christ is sufficient.
Scripture teaches that the repentant, Spirit-regenerated sinner who trusts in Christ alone by faith alone through the grace of God alone has been delivered from the kingdom of darkness into “the kingdom of his beloved son.” (Colossians 1:13) We have been set free from our bondage to “him who had the power of death, namely the devil.” (Hebrews 2:14)
“This poor teaching that is out there keeps people in bondage. It’s an affront to the Gospel,” says Peters. “And, quite frankly, it keeps money flowing into the pockets of those who are teaching the error and selling the books.”
“Christians are unwittingly adopting a pagan, mystical, voodoo-magic-type worldview in the area of spiritual warfare. They are being encouraged to constantly fear the power,curses, influence, and claims of Satan over them, their possessions, and their family,” writes Osman.
“These are serious issues. They go to the heart of the Gospel, to the person and work of Jesus Christ. They are very serious matters,” according to Peters, who emphasizes that the adoption of this wrong theology directly undermines the believer’s confidence in the Gospel.
“The cross has secured your salvation, justification, deliverance, sanctification, glorification, and total freedom from the kingdom of darkness. Those in Christ are delivered. Period. Having professed and embraced Christ, you need not renounce anything. You are new and complete in Him. Rest in it – without fear!” Jim Osman
Anyone who teaches otherwise should be duly marked as hawking a theology that is found on that other, wider path … and that path, most assuredly, is cursed.
Listen below to Justin Peters & Jim Osman from The Justin Peters Program.
Spiritual Warfare: Generational Curses
See More From This Series With Justin Peters and Jim Osman:
For Jim Osman’s book, please go to TruthorTerritory.com
[Contributed by Bud Ahlheim]
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