What happens when a believer sins? Does he step out from under the covering of God? Is his soul in peril? Does he fall under a curse? What about generational curses, do they need to be broken? There’s a lot of confusion about just what happens when a believer sins. There are many popular books on the subject. After studying this a bit, I found that this teaching is based in the Pentecostal Perfectionist doctrines that were introduced in the 1800’s, and reflects a lack of clarity on the New Covenant and the doctrine of Regeneration.
“And because of this, He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, death having taken place for redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, those having been called might receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.” Hebrews 9:15
“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:” Galatians 3:13
God offered the Israelites blessings and curses based on their response to His Law. Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of the Law.
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” Matthew 5:17
Christians today follow Christ rather than the Law. In fact the New Testament is very clear about our freedom from the Law. Teaching anything less is legalism, believing that we can add anything to what was completed on the cross:
16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.
12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.
Scripture makes it clear that the only “curse” for a believer comes when he places himself back under the Law (by trying to keep it.) We have freedom in Christ:
Galatians 5:1 “In freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore and do not be entangled again in a yoke of slavery!”
Romans 8:1 “Consequently, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what was impossible for the law, in that it was weak through the flesh, God did. Bya]” style=”box-sizing: border-box; font-size: 0.625em; line-height: 22px; position: relative; vertical-align: top; top: 0px;”>[a] sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and concerning sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the requirement of the law would be fulfilled in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
But we are also clearly told not to use our freedom as a license to sin, which would be terribly unfitting for who we are in Christ and the incredible price that has been paid for our salvation. Hence the myriad of admonitions in the New Testament to live righteously:
1 Peter 2:15-16 “…and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.”…
Deuteronomy 28 is frequently taken out of context as a promise of material prosperity, and that is not true to Scripture. Every promise found its fulfillment in Christ, when the New Covenant was established bringing with it the new spiritual kingdom.
2 Corinthians 1:20 “For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.”
Just as it is a mistake to read material prosperity for New Covenant believers from the Old Testament, it is also a misuse of scripture to claim that the curses that were foretold for the Israelites who failed to keep the Law apply to those who are in Christ, who took all the curse of the Law upon Himself:
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:”
“If Jesus broke the curse, how can we who believe in Him have a curse?
` Did Jesus remove our sins by the cross or only some of them?
` Did Jesus remove the curse against man for not fulfilling the law by the cross or only part of it? This is what needs to be answered.
` Does His blood not cleanse all things as it says in the Bible? “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (I John 1:7).
Salvation can also mean deliverance. Those who have accepted His message are translated from the power of darkness into the Kingdom of God’s beloved Son. That is what the Bible says, and no mans teaching should be given priority over this. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Old things are passed away and behold ALL things have become new!” It all points to Jesus Christ crucified– Jesus Christ and Him crucified gives us victory.” – STR
“You cannot hold the position that we are justified by faith in Christ, not by the works of the law, and then teach that the law and its curse still apply today to New Testament believers that are under grace.” – STR
Here are some highlights from an in-depth article on the subject of Curses and the Christian that can be found on the Let Us Reason site.
…If we were to claim that curses pronounced in the Old Testament are still in effect we would also have to implement the punishments such as in Leviticus 20:9. It should be obvious that some were specifically for the nation Israel, for a certain people at a certain time. (The only curse we all share in today is the one God gave in the Garden of Eden.)
…God always gave Israel time to return to Him before He would execute judgment. We are told that God visits “the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations” WHO HATE HIM. If one reads the Scripture carefully, they will find that curses where God is “visiting the iniquity on the third and fourth generation” are in reference to continual idolatry being practiced (Deut. 5:10) and not repented of. Again this is God’s promise under the Old Covenant, not the New.
…If you listen to some of the popular teachers today it just may reinforce this false thought. With all the books and teachings on Generational Curses, familiar spirits, family curses, that hinder the work of God in a region or country, or ones own family. One wonders how anyone can survive this onslaught of the enemy from the past.
… Even people who are poor need to break the curse of poverty, because it is blamed on a curse placed on your family finances somewhere in the past. If poverty is always a curse, then we have a whole continent[s] that is cursed. Furthermore, we must admit the apostles had a curse, because they were poor. They say so themselves(1 Corinthians 4:11-12; Acts 3:6). Jesus asked the rich man to give away his goods to the poor (Mark 10:21-22). We do not see him break a curse of poverty for people who are poor, in fact the Bible says the poor are rich in faith (James 2:5), which is what is needed to be pleasing to God. In the beginning of the Church the apostles received a large amount of goods and money which they distributed “according to each person’s need” (Acts 2:45). Romans 15:26: “For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem.” When Paul took money from one church to help another, he had nothing to say about a curse of poverty. …I could go on and on and cite many more examples to see the silliness of this teaching, but this should be sufficient to see it is correct.
…You will find that 90% of their teaching on curses is from the Old Testament, Why? Because you cannot justify this teaching by New Testament! There are some who have written books and devoted their whole ministry to taking care of a curse that is not mentioned in the New Testament.
…In the New Testament, in Jesus’ ministry He cursed only one thing– the fig tree, saying, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again,” and the fig tree withered (Mt. 21:19; Mark 11:14).
…In the only reference in the New Testament where He tells us what to do if someone cursed us, Jesus said, “Bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you” (Luke 6:28). He did not give us fancy methods, or special words on how to break curses. He taught the believers specifically how to deal with curses without any superstitious teachings that would bring fear of an evil that would occur to them. BLESS THEM. In other words– do good to them by your actions; try to reach them. Jesus did not give a supernatural spiritual solution but a very practical one– do what they would have done by someone who is their friend and cares for them.
…They produce a false teaching that leads you away from the simplicity in Christ.
…People a who are very zealous and intend on purging themselves to reach a higher degree of sanctification are susceptible to these type of teachings. They desire to be purified from all the things of the Devil, so they go on this journey of discovery to release themselves of anything that would block this freedom. Eventually one can find a curse behind every problem they have. Just like those in deliverance ministries blame nearly everything that goes wrong on Demonic activity. Something goes wrong and immediately you think its the outworking of some curse. This becomes a very unkind teaching that actually punishes those who are going through in fiery trials. Any, hurtful, negative or critical word spoken can become a curse on your life. What a way to live. It’s like avoiding the cracks in the sidewalk.
…What did the apostles teach concerning generational curses? Nothing! …This teaching is extra biblical revelation and an addition to the power of the Gospel to set one free. If one begins a discovery course of finding out their ailment or problem caused by a curse they certainly can be overwhelmed. It certainly can rob you of the peace that Christ wants you to have. If you allow yourself to receive this teaching, it you will bring you into its bondage.
…The closest concept we have of something being cursed in the New Testament is by the word anathema. Which means a thing devoted to destruction- the judgment of God will be exercised on it. The apostle Paul said one is accursed if they preach a false gospel (Gal. 1:8-9). It is an “anathema”- this excommunicates a thing or a person (Rom.1:9) to eternal destruction.
…Paul also addresses a “curse,” in a twofold way by stating if you go back under the law you are cursed. Gal. 3:10: “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.”
…The only place in the New Testament where a curse is mentioned is where it tells us we are free of it, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree” (Gal 3:13).
…The apostle Paul spoke of those who try to keep the law as a curse because no one who cannot fulfill its complete obligations. Therefore, they who wanted to obey the law placed themselves under a curse, for it is impossible to keep the whole Law. This does not mean that all modern-day “Law-keepers” would be under a curse, but would anyone want to risk this?
…Paul further develops his argument on this in Gal. 5:1: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage (which is a reference to sin and the law Gal.2:4, 4:3, 9;.5:1; 2 Pt.2:19). Vv.3-4 “And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.”
The “curse of the law” is directly related to the issue of our justification, which can be understood by studying Galatians 3 in its context. “So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham” (Gal 3:9). The curse referred to is failure to keep the Law of God. “ For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.’ Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for ‘The righteous man shall live by faith.’ However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, ‘He who practices them shall live by them.’ Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us — for it is written ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’ (Galatians 3:10–13).
…Christ on the cross became a curse for us (Deuteronomy 21:23) as Paul refers back to “He who is hanged (on a tree) is accursed of God” (Galatians 3:13). Deuteronomy 28:15-68 give us the curses that would come upon Israel for disobedience. The “curse of the law” is not the curses found in Deuteronomy 28 that was specifically for the nation Israel in the Mosaic Covenant. The curses in Deuteronomy 28 were temporary curses for the Jews in the land of Israel when they were disobedient.
…It is ludicrous to say that Jesus bore the curses of Deuteronomy 28 on the cross when we consider the description of some of these curses. “Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl” (v.17), Cursed “the fruit of your body and the produce of your land, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks” (v.18), The LORD will strike you with consumption, with fever, with inflammation, with severe burning fever, with the sword, with scorching, and with mildew (v. 22), drought (v. 23), defeat by your enemies (v.25) the boils of Egypt, with tumors, with the scab, and itch, which you cannot be healed (v.27), madness and blindness and confusion of heart (v.28), the violation of one’s wife by another man, you will not live in the house you build nor eat of the vineyard you plant (v. 30), your sons and daughter swill be given to other people (v.32) cannibalism of your sons and daughters (v. 53) and more.
…Even if one wants to take the position that the “curse of the law” is Deut.28- then they would also have to take the position that Christ removed the consequences of them, therefore we have no curse today. However, the “curse of the law” seems to mean the failure to keep the WHOLE LAW.
…Jesus was the fulfillment of the Law that no sinner could keep. Christ the perfect man fulfilled the law to its minutest requirement. He as a man kept the law perfectly as God would and took the punishment for not keeping the law (the curse) as sinful man, fulfilling the justice God requires for breaking His laws. Christ in a judicial sense became a curse for us on the cross.
Read much more on this here
* For more on the subject of Legalism, please see Chris White’s “Legalism Debunked” video.
** On the subject of Christian identity, I highly recommend a book, out of print now, that can only be found on used book dealers online like Abe Books: “Birthright, Christian, Do You Know Who You Are?” By Dr David Needham. )