SPIRITUAL WARFARE - 4
"Some people teach that we can get demons from our ancestors."
The teaching that we can get demons from our ancestors is not correct. It would mean that we have no choice over it, and then we could hardly be sure we haven't got any! But we believe that God will not allow demons to override our freedom of choice, and we need not get into a fearful uncertainty. If it was possible for demons to pass down the bloodline as some people teach, why is it not possible that we can't also get the Holy Spirit automatically from godly parents? No, each of us has to believe in Jesus and be born again. And in the same way demons also need our 'invitation' to enter in.
People usually quote Exodus 20:5 to teach that the iniquity of parents would be passed on to the children to the third and fourth generation. The NIV actually says that children would be 'punished' for the sins of the fathers. But a better translation would be to say, "visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children" as in NASB. Scholars are unable to understand clearly what it means to 'visit the iniquity'. However, when we read Ezekiel 18 it becomes clear that it is not the same as punishing, because God says there emphatically that He will not punish children for the sins of fathers. So Exodus 20:5 is possibly referring to the children suffering from the consequences of their father's sins, as we can see happening all around us. When the fathers have been demonised to some extent, it is natural that the children would have suffered in many ways as a result. But unless the children have been parties to the demonic activities it is questionable how they can get demonised themselves. If our parents or others have had contact with demons and we have joined or gone along with such activities then we should examine the possibility that we may have given demons some access into our life.
Should we confess the sins of our ancestors as Nehemiah and others did?
Will God forgive the sins of anyone we pray for? If it were so, it would provide a means of getting someone to heaven after he has died as a sinner! No. Everyone has to repent for himself and confess his own sins in order to receive forgiveness from God. When Nehemiah and others 'confessed' the sins of the fathers, it was a general acknowledgment of their sins, and not a request to forgive their sins. What these godly men did was to say that both they and their fathers had sinned and that they were entirely dependent on God's mercy. There are consequences to the sins of the ancestors that people may be suffering under, and then it is proper to acknowledge those sins and pray for deliverance from those consequences at the present time and not for the forgiveness of the ancestors.
What about demons entering a house where certain objects are kept?
The Bible tells us that those who worship idols are actually getting into the clutches of demons who operate from behind those idols and give 'power' to the idols (1Cor.10:19,20). In another context where we read about food offered to idols we see that there is no need for us to fear because idols are 'nothing' (1Cor.8:4). No harm will come to us if we eat such food. (Paul goes on to say that we should not eat such food if someone with a weak faith - one who believes that the idol is 'something' and fears - gets offended when he sees us eating it.) The point here is that the material idol is nothing and not to be feared. Idolatry comes when people make idols made of wood, stone or metal and worship them or consider them as gods worthy of worship (Exo.20:4,5). So what can make any object powerful as a conduit for demons is the attitude or belief people have about them (Rom.14:23). The objects themselves have no power.
When the Gospel was preached at Ephesus where there was a lot of magic and witchcraft and people turned to Christ in faith, those who had indulged themselves in such activities repented and burned all their books of magic (Acts19:19). Since these books were the sources of their beliefs and the links to the demonic power that they had been exercising, it was right for them to burn them and make their break complete. People who have used ouija boards and such things connected with occult practices should also destroy things related to their old beliefs and practice. However, this does not mean that material things have any magic power in themselves without people who have them attributing such power to them. If people relate certain objects to the occult or satanic activities of their past life, or if they don't have faith that there is no power in the things themselves, then it is necessary to remove them or destroy them. But those who have strong faith, knowing that material objects are not to be feared and that they have the power of Christ with them, do not have to live in fear of such objects. What many deliverance ministers do is to scare people into hunting for every object that they are afraid of and destroying them. This is wrong.
What if people are doing witchcraft or black magic against us?
God's promise is that there is no divination, omen or witchcraft against His people (Num.23:23). The context of this promise was when the king of Moab tried to use a mercenary 'prophet' to curse Israel. This prophet discovered that he was unable to curse those whom God had blessed (v.20). This means that whatever people may try to do against us in this way, we shall not get hurt. What happens many times is that the people of God have no confidence that God is powerful enough to protect them from such witchcraft, and the resulting fear and unbelief open them up for demonic attacks. But if we believe in the might of our Lord, we can stand against any witchcraft without fear. God also promises to bless those who bless us and curse those who curse us (Gen.12:3).
What about curses on Christians?
We must start from the fact that we people have no powers in us to make things happen. There is a wrong modern teaching that has become very prevalent which implies that our words have power to cause what we speak to happen. Prov.18:21 is often misquoted to support this, because it says that life and death are in the power of the tongue. This verse is only a proverb which is meant to warn us to be careful about what we speak, because our words can trigger bad responses in others and may finally cause great damage. We can also speak encouraging words that can bless others. It does not mean that our tongue has any creative power in itself. Only God has such power, and we are not gods even when we are adopted by God as His children.
God speaks in the old covenant which He made with Israel through Moses about curses that He would place on people if they disobeyed Him (e.g. Deut.28). The intention of the curse was to make things difficult for people so that they would repent and turn back to God. He cursed the serpent for deceiving Adam and Eve, and the earth so that things would become difficult for them. As omnipotent Creator and Law Giver, God has the authority to bless or to curse and to make things happen for the better or worse. But as created beings with limited abilities we don't have the power to do whatever we want or to make things happen around us or in other people's lives.
When people curse others they are actually only expressing their wish for evil to happen to them. Just because they express such curses evil cannot happen to others. In exceptional cases, e.g., in a prophetic context, God may act to enforce the curses. When Noah cursed Canaan his grandson (Gen.9:25), when Joshua placed a curse on anyone who would rebuild Jericho (Josh.6:26), when Jotham cursed the men of Shechem (Judg.9:57), when Elisha cursed the boys who mocked him (2Kin.2:24), etc., God was not only expressing His justice but also creating examples for all the rest of the people (including us in the days to come). God decides whether people deserve the curse or not. He says that if someone curses another and the second person does not deserve it, nothing will happen to him (Prov.26:2). When God blesses someone, like the children of Israel, no one will be able to make a curse stick on him (Num.23:20). We Christians are blessed of God, and curses cannot stick to us. The blessing of Abraham has been passed on to us, and whom God has blessed no one can curse. (But if we have done wrong things that have provoked others to curse us, certainly we need to repent.)
Under the new covenant made through the blood of Jesus, our response to someone who curses us is to bless them (Lk.6:28). The implication is that we don't have to get fearful, or try and 'break that curse' as some teach. From a position of majesty and security we can afford to bless them, pray for them, do good to them, etc. Under the old covenant which God made with Israel, God's blessing or curse depended on their keeping the laws (Deut.28). Under the new covenant through Jesus, we have been freed from these curses and instead been freely given blessings (Gal.3:13). All those curses given in Deut.28 are not applicable to us because we are not under the law but under grace.