Have you ever seen a family where the father has a problem with uncontrollable anger, his son seems to have been 'handed it', and the grandpa had the same problem? Or have you noticed that not only do you suffer from something such as persistent irrational fears or depression, but your mother and her father also suffered from it as well? There are many people today who are living under bondage that the sins of their forefathers has brought them under.
Exodus 34:7, "Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting (punishing) the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation."
Lamentations 5:7, "Our fathers have sinned, and are not; and we have borne (been punished for) their iniquities."
This is beyond learned behavior; many children learn to be messy if their parents are messy. This is a spiritual bondage that is passed down from one generation to another. Some symptoms of a generational curse is a continual negative pattern of something being handed down from generation to generation. Often people who are adopted end up with the same characteristics as their birth parents, not because they were around their birth parents to learn how they behaved, but because they inherited their spiritual bondage. Some common symptoms of generational curses are family illnesses that seem to just walk from one person down to the next (cancer is a common physical manifestation of a spiritual bondage), continual financial difficulties (they continually hit roadblocks in their finances), mental problems, persistent irrational fears and depression. Anything that seems to be a persistent struggle or problem that was handed down from one generation to another may very well be a generational curse.
The purpose of a generational curse
I believe the reason God would punish the future generations with the sins of their fathers, is because of God's bitter hatred for sin. He would require somebody who practiced witchcraft to be put to death (Exodus 22:18). He knows that one of the most prized possessions you have, is your children, and therefore it makes sin a lot harder to commit when you realize that you are not the only one that is being punished for it, but also your own children are going to pay the price for your foolishness. That's what I believe is the reason behind generational curses. The whole human race fell thanks to Adam's sin for that matter.
The price for generational curses has been paid!
The good news is that once you accept Jesus, the transference of bondage stops from your ancestors by means of generational curses. You can no longer receive spiritual bondages in this manner from your parents once you accept Jesus!
Christ was made a curse, so we can be freed from the curses that sin (both our sins and those of our forefathers) has brought us. Galatians 3:13, "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:"
Once you become a child of God, no longer will the sins of your forefathers cause curses to transfer into your life: Jeremiah 31:29-30, "In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children's teeth are set on edge. But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge."
So why are there so many believers who seem to be living under a generational curse? This has puzzled me before I understood how it works too. What may need to be dealt with though, is any bondage that was already passed down to you before you came into covenant with God. The legal grounds are certainly paid for on the cross and therefore broken. The only thing left to do is cast out any spirits that have gained entrance before you accepted Jesus.
Non-believers are still affected
Even after Jeremiah 31:29-30 makes it clear that believers are redeemed from generational curses, the next chapter in Jeremiah (32:18) clearly says, "Thou shewest lovingkindness unto thousands, and recompensest the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them: the Great, the Mighty God, the LORD of hosts, is his name." Apparently, generational curses are still in effect, but for who is the big question.
Ezekiel 18:2-3 tells us, "What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge? As I live, saith the Lord GOD, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel." (Note the keywords "in Israel"... this is referring to those who are in covenant with God, which are us believers, not the rest of the world.)
Obviously, generational curses are alive and well in the lives of those who are outside the new covenant with God (non-believers).
'Triggering' the effects of a generational curse
It is possible for demons to enter a child before he accepts Jesus, then remain dormant or hidden in that child's life until some time later in his or her life when it manifests (or makes itself known). Sometimes when a person heads for the ministry, it seems like the devil kicks up his ugly heels and causes havoc for that person. Other times, a line of fear runs in the family tree, but isn't manifested in a person's life until they get themselves involved in something fearful, such as watching a demonic movie. All of a sudden, the spirits in that person's life "come alive" so to speak, and make themselves known. They were there all along, but just now they have come out into the open. The solution is to cast them out.
If you have involved yourself in any sin or opened any doors in your own life while 'awaking' or triggering the spirits, then it's important that you clear up any legal grounds (or strongholds) that you gave the enemy in your own life relating to the bondage. For example, if you have went to see a demonic movie, and it seemed to have triggered spirits of fear in your life that were handed down to you, then it's important to repent for going to see such a movie before trying to cast out any spirits. It's also possible that you picked up the spirits from such a movie without them even being there in the first place, and/or added to spirits that were already inside you. It's always a good idea to clear up any legal grounds or strongholds in your own life before casting spirits out.
I believe unforgiveness is a great way to 'trigger' generational spirits, so I would be on the lookout for any bitterness or unforgiveness in your heart as well. A common sight is when a spirit of cancer is running down the family tree, and I believe bitterness is a great way to trigger those spirits. Unforgiveness is a serious sin that blocks the forgiveness of your own sins (Matthew 6:15), which creates ample legal grounds for the enemy in your life. Unforgiveness in itself puts us into the enemy's hands (Matthew 18:23-35), say nothing about awaking any evil spirits in us already!
The curse may be canceled, but the demons may remain
Just as other demons don't automatically leave at the time of salvation... neither do the demons that you get from your ancestors automatically leave you either.
Let's say that you accept Jesus at age 15. Because you were born a sinner and outside of God's covenant, you were still living under the curses handed down to you and demons can enter you through those curses. Once you've accepted Jesus, those curses are broken automatically, but often the demons that entered in before you accepted Jesus still need to be cast out. In other words, the curse is already broken, and there's no need for you to break any generational curses. But the demons who entered into you through those curses before you accepted Jesus may still need to be cast out. That's why it seems so many believers are living under generational curses, when the Bible makes it clear that we have been freed from any curses handed down from our forefathers!
My parents have almost perfect health well into their 60's, while it seems the family tree has many health problems that have been handed down from the forefathers. My parents seem almost immune from the health problems in the family tree! Sure, they take care of their bodies, but they also believe that they have been freed from the curses handed down in the family tree, and since no demons have entered them to take advantage of those old curses, they were freed from the effects simply by standing on what Jesus had done for them on the cross!
On the other hand, if demons have entered you through curses handed down to you before you became a Christian, then those demons may need to be cast out. Demons often don't leave on their own accord, and when they don't, the remedy to get rid of them is by casting them out.
There's a neat story in Mark 9:17-27, where Jesus deals with what is almost certainly a generational curse (verse 21). Notice that Jesus didn't have the boy confess the sins or iniquities of his ancestors, He cast out the demons that entered in through the curse. That's how I believe we are to deal with the affects of a generational curse; since the curse has been broken, all there is left to do is just cast the demons out that entered into that person's life back before they became a Christian (before the curse was broken).
Confess what is rightfully yours!
We know that our generational curses have been broken in Jesus' name, but I still like to verbally confess what is going on and what is rightfully ours anyways, because there's power in our verbal confessions, and helps us to realize that we are set free, and also lets the enemy know that he's in trouble! Here's a great sample confession prayer you can use to do just that:
In the name of Jesus, I confess the sins and iniquities of my parents (name specific sins if known), grandparents (name specific sins if known), and all other ancestors. I declare that by the blood of Jesus, these sins have been forgiven and Satan and his demons can no longer use these sins as legal grounds in my life!
In the name of Jesus, and by the power of His blood, I now declare that all generational curses have been renounced, broken and severed, and that I am no longer under their bondage!
In the name of Jesus, I declare myself and my future generations loosed from any bondages passed down to me from my ancestors. AMEN!
Another factor to consider
There are other things that can 'seem' like generational curses, but aren't. Perhaps the most common is if there is an ungodly soul tie formed between you and one of your ancestors, that can also allow for the transferring of spirits. There is more to learn on this subject in the teaching on Soul Ties.
Ignorance: Another source of bondage!
I also believe that some people can live under what SEEMS like a generational curse, simply because they believe it's still in affect! We need to know that it is NO LONGER in affect, and we have been FREED from any generational curses we used to live under! Jesus makes it very clear that we can be held in bondage to sin through ignorance (John 8:31-36), and I believe the same is true with bondage to generational curses.
In a nutshell
To wrap it up in a nutshell, I don't believe Christians can live under generational curses... but I do believe they can be affected by spirits that have entered through those curses before they accepted Jesus. Just like many people's past actions before they came to Christ have landed them in demonic bondage and caused them to pick up demons. Those demons are not automatically shed at the time of salvation, they often need to be cast out. The same is true with demons that enter in through generational curses (a doorway to demons).
How you deal with a spirit that has entered through a generational curse is very simple: Mark 16:17, "And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils..." Learn of the Spiritual Authority that Jesus has given you over demon spirits, and by faith, you can command those spirits to leave you in Jesus' name! If you can't seem to get them out, try prayer and fasting, as Jesus clearly stated, some demons won't come out unless you have a higher level of faith that only prayer and fasting can bring you into (Matthew 17:19-21). If you are facing heavier bondages, it is recommended to seek deliverance through a man or woman of God who is knowledgeable and working in the ministry of deliverance. Before seeking out a deliverance through another person or minister, I recommend reading the teaching on Seeking a Deliverance.
Another type of generational curse
The type of curses handed down as a result of an ancestors sin is automatically atoned for on the cross, providing we don't hide the sins of our forefathers in our hearts (holding sin in our hearts is never a good idea - whether its ours of the sins of our ancestors). But there's another kind of generational curse that is handed down, and it's a spoken curse that takes a toll on future generations as well. We can see this kind of curse in action in Genesis 9:24-25, "And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren." As the Bible goes on to say, this curse ended up affecting an entire nation! I believe these kinds of curses may need to be renounced and broken. If you are unsure of whether a curse should be broken, I recommend breaking it anyways, just so you know it's broken. It doesn't hurt to break a curse that's already been broken. Here's a sample prayer you can pray that you can use to break yourself free from spoken generational curses:
In the name of Jesus, and by the power of His blood, I now renounce, break and sever all curses that have been handed down to me from my ancestors. In the name of Jesus, I now loose myself and my future generations from any bondages passed down to me from my ancestors!
Again, if a curse has landed on you and has been broken, it still doesn't mean you are delivered from the spirits that entered in through that curse. You may still need further deliverance to have the spirits cast out that took advantage of the curses handed to you.