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Can Christians Be Cursed?

Can Christians Be Cursed?

Why do bad or tragic things befall us? This is a question we all face from time to time. When tragedy or disruption occurs in our lives, it is natural to seek some type of answer or explanation. Is there a reason behind such negative occurrences? One popular answer asserts that the oppressive events of life stem from a curse placed upon us. Why did I lose my job? I’m cursed! Why did my marriage break up? I’m cursed! Why did this illness, this diagnosis, this event occur? Cursing, cursing, cursing!

Sadly, even in the Church, many people believe this. Many believe that the blessings of faith can be undone by a spiritual curse. I once read a book that claimed, “If you’ve got the fruit, you’ve got the root!” In other words, if you can point to something that suggests a curse has visited you, then that must be the reality. Is this understanding biblical? Can a Christian be cursed? 

If a follower of Jesus can be cursed, does this not mean that they still live under the dark dominion of this world? After all, how can a curse be placed upon one who is under the blanket of Christ’s redemptive love? No, Christians cannot be cursed. If one has pledged themselves to Jesus as their Lord and Savior, the curse of the enemy has been robbed of all power. Cursing can have no effect for those sanctified in Christ Jesus.

What is cursing?

Scripture uses the language of “cursing” in two separate ways. There is a difference between a verbal curse and a spiritual curse. A verbal curse is to speak ill of someone; to use our words to tear down or dehumanize. To “curse your father and mother” for example (Matthew 15:4), is to speak despairingly towards them. Cursing amounts to insult and ridicule.

Sadly, we all can be the recipients of verbal taunts. What is more, it hurts when we receive this type of cursing. Words matter. Words affect us. But a verbal curse is just that: words alone. The vile words of our enemies hold no spiritual power over us. It may be hurtful, but it is not authoritative. The negative words of others have no bearing on the truth of our lives. When Jesus calls his followers to “bless those who curse you” (Luke 6:28), this is the form of cursing that he is talking about. We respond to words that tear down and destroy with words that build up and heal.

Scripture, however, also speaks of cursing as a spiritual force of condemnation or death. When Jesus curses the fig tree, for example, it immediately withered (Matthew 21:9). Cursing, in this instance, is not a matter of words alone, but an expression of spiritual power and authority. To be cursed is to be spiritually affected in some negative way.

When people speak about being “cursed”, it is the latter form of cursing they are speaking of; they fear they are under a spiritual force of condemnation. The person who sees him or herself as accursed believes that a spiritual force has tainted them, and works negatively upon them. Such cursing is seen to keep the individual from experiencing Christ’s blessing. Christ, it is feared, is held at bay until the curse can be “broken”. The curse, it is believed, acts as a barrier that blocks the person from the power of Christ’s grace and love.

Biblically speaking, a spiritual curse is an impossibility for the Christian person. This is because the person is placed under the authority of Christ and is immersed in his redemptive power. Paul reminds us that we are “filled in him who is the head of all rule and authority” (Colossians 2:10). There is no spiritual power that can rival Christ’s Lordship.

Curses are under God’s authority.

Does the Bible speak of spiritual curses? Yes! We see spiritual cursing, for example, after the fall of Adam and Eve. The tempting serpent is described as “cursed” above all livestock and animals (Genesis 3:14). The serpent bears the negative consequences of its rebellion against God.

Similarly, the book of Numbers tells of when the king of Moab requests Balaam to “put a curse on these people because they are too powerful for me. Perhaps I will be able to defeat them and drive them out of the land. For I know that whoever you bless will be blessed, and whoever you curse will be cursed” (Numbers 22:6). Balak is not seeking a verbal curse, but a spiritual one. Balak believes that Balaam can spiritually harm the Israelite people, thereby making them easier to subdue in battle.

Balaam, however, knows the truth. The power to curse others lies not his own ability or prophetic title. Balaam tells Balak that “I cannot say whatever I please. I must speak only what God puts in my mouth” (Numbers 21:38). Cursing and blessing lie under God’s authority, thus Balaam can only speak the reality that God enforces.

Not only does God hinder Balaam’s ability to spiritual curse another, but God also protects Israel from being recipients of spiritual cursing. God instructs Balaam that “you must not curse these people because they are blessed” (Numbers 21:12). As the people of God, Israel is divinely protected from spiritual curses. God’s blessing upon Israel outweighs any act of spiritual cursing.

The truth about spiritual curses is that they reside under the authority of God. The few instances in the Bible where we see spiritual curses, testify that spiritual curses come from God alone. Neither the devil nor any wicked person has sufficient power to curse those whom God has blessed.

Does this mean that God may curse us? Absolutely not! The act of cursing is never directed toward God’s people. Christians live under the redemptive authority of Christ’s blessing and grace. This is the fundamental truth of our lives.

The victory of Jesus over curses.

If Christians can be placed under a spiritual curse, then this draws into question the power of the cross in our lives. It suggests that there is a spiritual force that remains unbroken by Christ’s sacrifice. This is a complete denial of Christ’s victory over sin and death.

While Christians recognize the existence of spiritual forces that continue to rebel against God, such forces can never undo what Jesus accomplished on the cross. In Christ, we have been “rescued from the dominion of darkness and brought into the kingdom of the Son God’s loves” (Colossians 1:13). Christians are removed from the very dominion in which spiritual curses take place. Paul reminds us that “there is now no condemnation for those who are Christ Jesus, because the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1). Christ's victory on the cross makes all the difference.

On the cross, Jesus claimed us as God’s own for all eternity. Because of this, we can have the confidence to stand against any negative or destructive force in this world. As Paul writes, “if God is for us, who can be against us” (Romans 8:31). Christians live under the victory of Jesus.

Suggesting that Christians can be cursed is to suggest that there is a sphere of life that lies outside the power and dominion of God. To be cursed is to be under the spiritual influence of wickedness and evil, a situation that is completely impossible for those who are committed to Jesus Christ. Furthermore, for people who have received the Holy Spirit, spiritual cursing is an impossibility. After all, “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

Jesus bore the curse.

The cross is the assurance of a Christian’s inability to be cursed. On the cross, Jesus defeated the power of sin and death and destroyed Satan’s hold over this world. Furthermore, on the cross, Jesus took on human cursing. The reason why Christians cannot be cursed is because Jesus was cursed for us!

Scripture teaches that anyone who died by hanging was cursed by God. Deuteronomy 21 states that “anyone who hung on a tree is under God’s curse” (Verse 22). Crucifixion was undoubtedly a form of death by hanging. Thus, the very form of Jesus’ death testifies that he has taken on the curse of sin. Paul points to this when he writes “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree” (Galatians 1:11). Although Jesus is sinless by nature, he suffered as if he were accursed, so that we might be delivered from such cursing.

This means that a spiritual curse cannot be waged against any Christian, as the curse has been previously placed on Christ. On the cross, Jesus took our sin, bore our curse, and suffered our spiritual death. In doing so, Jesus strips spiritual curses of their power. Furthermore, in his resurrection, Jesus triumphs over the spiritual forces of wickedness and evil and establishes the reality of redemption for all who turn to him.

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/Jose Luis Pelaez Inc

SWN authorThe Reverend Dr. Kyle Norman is the Rector of St. Paul’s Cathedral, located in Kamloops BC, Canada.  He holds a doctorate in Spiritual formation and is a sought-after writer, speaker, and retreat leader. His writing can be found at Christianity.com, crosswalk.comibelieve.com, Renovare Canada, and many others.  He also maintains his own blog revkylenorman.ca.  He has 20 years of pastoral experience, and his ministry focuses on helping people overcome times of spiritual discouragement.

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