Are you sure? Sure, I'm sure!
Previous articleBack to Table of ContentsNext article


Topic: Christian Counseling

Generational Sin (Part 4)

by Darrel Cline

In our studies of the claim that believers are bound by God's visitation of the sins of the fathers upon their offspring until they identify and reject their fathers' participation in those sins, we have attempted to establish three critical truths. First, (307) that our external circumstances are determined in large part by the choices of those who have gone before us. God has set the universe in motion according to the law of cause and effect and what people sow is reaped by them, but not only by them but also by everyone whose life is impacted by the ripples of their choices and actions. Ripples are downstream in the flow of time so that choices and actions impact many others who are downstream of those choices and actions. But, there is no teaching in Scripture that external circumstances automatically lead to internal bondage. Neither is there any teaching that tells us that we can alter external circumstances by identifying and rejecting the causes. It is clear from the experience of Daniel that he did not participate in the sins of those who went before him and that his own godliness did not remove him from a life of servitude to the kings of Babylon.

Second, (308) that the texts that address God's visitation of the father's sins upon his third and fourth generations contain a deliberate distinction between those who "hate" God and are subject to His imposition of their sins upon their progeny and those who "love" God and experience a regular forgiveness and cleansing from their sins. The notion that God visits the sins of the fathers upon the offspring needs to take this into consideration.

Third, (309) that the law of cause and effect is not impacted by repentance once the cause has been set in motion. God seldom annuls the normal flow of cause and effect. That means that God's visitation of the sins of those that hate Him upon their progeny is over and above what would naturally flow from the cause and effect law.

In this article I want to raise another issue: what does the teaching of God's visitation of the sins of the fathers who hate God upon their offspring have to do with believers? Is the scenario of repentant faith leading to forgiveness of sins and an identity as a new creation a scenario which leaves the believer in the morass of bondage brought on by his ungodly progenitors? This question can be asked another way: when a person comes to God through Jesus Christ, does God leave him in bondage, or does He set him free?

Though the Bible does teach the immediate and continuing necessity of a renewal of the mind for everyone who comes to God by faith in Christ, it knows nothing about a salvation that does not set us free. In fact, the apostle Paul affirmed with a clarion boast that "Christ hath made us free" (Galatians 5:1). This means that, though God does not erase the content of our brains at conversion--thus necessitating the renewal of the mind--He does set us free!

This means that every believer who has come to the experiential reality of the new birth has also experienced the freedom of the Spirit that God gives as the fruit of faith.

This also means that whatever God's visitation of our forefathers' sins meant prior to our faith in Christ, it has been set aside. Since the visitation of sins was over and above the natural outworking of circumstantial consequences of the law of the harvest, that wrath has been removed from everyone who has been born into His family by faith.

Therefore, it is impossible to say that believers are caught up in generational sin. Whatever bondage exists in our lives as believers exists because of our own sins, not our forefathers'. Paul's clarion boast of our freedom is followed by a strong exhortation that we "be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage". This removes the cause of any lack of freedom in my life from my forefathers and puts it directly upon me. If I am free it is because I have the promises of God as the focus of my attention; if I am in bondage, it is because I have lost sight of those promises and have allowed my own sin to come between me and the One Who set me free.

It may be more comfortable to blame my bondage on my father, or his father, or his father, but the plain truth is that if I am not free I don't have to look beyond my own mirror to find out who is responsible.

(return to the top of the article)

Previous articleBack to Table of ContentsNext article
This is article #310.
If you wish, you may contact Darrel as darrelcline at this site.