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Hi my name Dean Smith and in this episode, I want to talk about the intriguing topic can we inherit our parent’s sins? The Bible talks about a concept often referred to today as Generational curses that suggests the sin of the parents can be passed down to the children.
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My interest in this topic was sparked by two articles I recently came across that may be connected to this concept. I will talk about the second story involving Eva Kor towards the end of this podcast.
But the first found on several websites involved a presentation by researchers from Masary K University in the Czech Republic.
In their presentation to the European Academy of Neurology in Oslo, Norway in June, 2019, the researchers stated that Jews who survived the Nazi holocaust where 6 million Jews were slaughtered in concentration camps during World War II were not only mentally traumatized by the experience, but this trauma was actually passed down to their children and grandchildren.
The researchers came to this conclusion after using MRIs to study the brains of 56 people, 23 of whom survived the holocaust.
They discovered that those who went through the holocaust had less gray matter or neurons in the areas of the brain that affect a person’s ability to handle stress, learning, behavior, motivation and memory.
Not only that but as they studied the brains of the children and grandchildren of those survivors early results showed that in some instances that they had less gray matter in exactly the same areas leading the researchers to suggest that the trauma had somehow been transferred down to the children and even the grandchildren. This led the researchers to suggest these descendants may require some type of therapy to help them cope with the trauma experienced by their parents and even grandparents.
As bizarre as this sounds, there may be a Biblical connection to this. Several verses in the Old Testament talk about how the iniquity of the parents will be passed down to the children for up to three or four generations:
9 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, and on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, (Deuteronomy 5:9 NASV)
Now to be sure, this is not exactly the same as what the Jews went through during the NAZI holocaust as they experienced a trauma from the evil thrust upon them by the Nazis under Adolph Hitler.
But the trauma had impacted three generations – parents, children and grandchildren.
This story shows that emotional trauma can be passed down to the children and it made me wonder if the parent’s iniquity is passed down to the children and grandchildren in the same way?
Now it is important to understand a couple things. According to the Bible it not the sin of the parents that is passed down to the children, but rather the parent’s iniquity.
Sin and iniquity are not the same thing.
Chattaah is one of the Hebrew words commonly translated sin. It means simply to “miss the mark” and the word was used in Judges 20:16 to describe left-handed slingers who could sling a stone at a hair and “not miss the mark.” In a moral sense, the word pertains to a distinct and specific act of disobedience.
In contrast, the Hebrew word for iniquity, ‘awon,’ refers to the character behind the action, which is why in Psalms 32:5, David writes about how God forgave the “iniquity of his sin.”
Because of this, iniquity becomes the source of the sin acts. This characteristic of iniquity is seen in Isaiah 64:6,7 where God told Israel that they were delivered over to the ‘power’ of iniquity (v 7).
Perhaps the simplest way to describe iniquity is that it involves a sin addiction. One way to illustrate this is that you can receive an email tempting you to visit a porn site. You click on the link and in that simple action commit a sin.
This can happen a couple of times. But eventually something changes. Desires develop inside and you no longer need that outward temptation coming from an email, but rather urges deep inside you start drawing you to view porn.
The first stage describes temptation and sin, the second stage describes iniquity or sin addiction.
The idea of generational curses suggests that it is the parent’s iniquity that has the power to pass down through the generations. This is not to suggest that it will automatically happen, but it has the potential to pass down.
So what do we do to break these sin patterns in families?
The first step in breaking generational curses is found in Galatians 3: 9-13 where Paul says that Christ redeemed us from all the curses associated with the law which includes generational curses.
The breaking of the curse was due to the Romans preferred method of execution – crucifixion.
In Jewish society, people who committed particularly hideous crimes were not only executed, but their dead bodies were hung on trees which is what the Apostle Paul was referring to:
22 “If a man has committed a sin worthy of death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, 23 his corpse shall not hang all night on the tree, but you shall surely bury him on the same day (for he who is hanged is accursed of God), so that you do not defile your land which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance. (Deuteronomy 21:22, 23 NASV)
Being hung on a tree resulted in a further vilification and humiliation of the person as vultures and other carrion eaters disfigured the body. Because they were being savaged in such a vile way by unclean birds, such people were declared accursed.
When the Romans crucified Christ, their method of execution brought with it the curse associated with being hung on the tree. Consequently, Christ’s death was not only punishment for our sins, but the method of execution broke the curses associated with the law as Christ became accursed for us.
Does this mean that generational curses are now impotent — unable to affect the believer? The answer to this question is both yes and no.
Let me explain what I mean.
Salvation is available to the world, but this does not mean that everyone is automatically saved. Despite Christ’s work on the cross, people can still go to hell.
Only those who choose to believe Christ will receive salvation and because of this God wants us to preach the Gospel. We need to do something, it doesn’t automatically happen.
Healing is also in the atonement (Isaiah 53:5) — Christ’s death on the cross — but is everyone automatically healed? No, we have to believe and in some ways contend for healing.
In the same way, generational curses are legally broken, but they still have the potential to influence families. We are required to appropriate this victory in the same way we receive salvation, by faith.
One vital part of this battle is perspective — we must fight from the higher ground.
We do not ask God to break the generational curse — it is already broken — we must believe this fact and enforce it. This enforcement is accomplished through faith.
We must fight as the victor.
However, there is another thing that we must do and this leads to the second story in the National Post, about the death of a Jewish woman this summer Eva Kor, aged 85.
Eva was a holocaust survivor, and she and her twin sister Miriam ended up at the Auschwitz concentration camp when they were ten years old. They became part of the horrific experiments on twins being conducted by a Nazi German doctor, Josef Mengele.
He particularly focused his experimentation on identical twins because he was studying genetics in an effort to help Hitler develop the master Aryan race.
As part of his experiments on an estimated 1,500 identical twins, he would inject them with germs and toxic substances and compare reactions.
In her book Echoes of Auschwitz, Eva said that she became deathly ill after one injection and almost died. If she had died, her sister would have been killed as well, so Mengele could do an autopsy on both bodies.
Eva and her sister Miriam survived, but as a result of Mengele’s tests, Miriam’s kidney did not grow and remained child size until her death in 1993. The rest of their family died at the hands of the Nazis.
Though Eva physically survived the holocaust, she also realized to get over the trauma, she needed to forgive the Nazis. In 1993, she joined another man, Hans Munch, who had been one of the doctors at Auschwitz, in addressing the Holocaust. While Munch addressed the realities of Auschwitz, Kor spoke of the need to forgive those who had tortured her and that included forgiving Munch.
“I read my document of forgiveness and signed it. As I did that, I felt a burden of pain was lifted from me.”
“Some survivors do not want to let go of the pain. They call me a traitor and accuse me of talking in their name. I have never done this. I do it for myself. I do it not because they deserve it, but because I deserve it.”
She believed that only forgiveness could bring healing from the trauma of the holocaust.
These were exactly the same sentiments expressed by another holocaust survivor, Corrie Ten Boom. Though not Jewish, her family ended up in a Nazi concentration camp after a Dutch informant told the Nazis her family was providing a hiding place for Jews trying to escape the holocaust.
Though the rest of her family died in the concentration camp, Corrie was released because of an administrative error. Corrie was also a Christian and after the war she started a ministry to holocaust and war survivors that focused on their need to forgive the Nazis.
She knew from her work among those imprisoned in concentration camps, the ones who forgave were able to rebuild their lives and move on. Those who didn’t remained trapped in concentration camps, even though they were free.
Forgiveness is a critical step in breaking the power of generational curses. If you believe there is a generational curse at work in your family, the first step is forgiving your parents and perhaps even your grandparents and the second step is then by faith claiming your freedom from the curse through Christ’s death on the cross.
- Auschwitz twin experiments survivor Eva Kor dies at 85, preached forgiveness as path of healing: National Post
- More than seven decades after holocaust, survivors and even their descendants show changes in Brain: Breaking Israel News
- Mental health of three generations has been harmed by the Holocaust as research suggests the physical effects of witnessing the genocide are still present in the brains of survivors’ grandchildren: Daily Mail
- Brain structure changes in Holocaust survivors hereditary, study finds: Jpost