When your heart belongs wholly to Christ, and you strive to walk by that heart of faith, you will inevitably encounter resistance from a sinful world. We must always keep before us that our real enemy is Satan and his demons. It is grammatically appropriate in English to capitalize that as a title: our Enemy. He’s the only enemy that really matters. Our difficulty in this life is chiefly humans who serve his purposes, knowingly or not (Ephesians 6:10-20).
We would prefer people to repent from serving our Enemy’s purposes, and to escape his dominance in their lives. That’s our hope, even as we keep in the mind the warning of our Lord that most people will not repent. Indeed, we should be quite happy just to get them off our backs, most of the time. There is that sense of dominion from God that says: As long as they aren’t hindering my mission, they aren’t my problem. The majority of those we encounter in this life will remain a part of the broader background of fallen humanity. Significant they are while we share space with them, and worthy of tearful prayers for redemption, but we know to let God decide something He didn’t put into our hands.
Repentance is required for redemption, and repentance itself is a divine miracle. We have to prepare our minds to understand that most will pass in and out of our lives with neither repentance nor redemption. Further, we know that a great many folks we encounter are somewhere between initial repentance and a deeper understanding of heart-led submission to the Spirit, such that they may need repentance from of lot of things still keeping them tied to Satan’s schemes. These people merit a special effort, because we are obliged to presume they are family already, but still struggling to find their place and not at peace. Such are we all in one way or another.
We humbly ask others to pray for us as we confront the demons in our own lives. Those demons have found a bit of home ground in us on issues that we haven’t conquered. This is where we get the higher meaning behind Deuteronomy 7:22-23, as Paul noted 1 Corinthians 10, particularly verse 11. The Conquest stands as a parable of how God works in our lives to drive out demonic forces. We don’t conquer the external world, but conquer our own human existence and occupy it for God’s glory.
But there is another tactic in this war against sin.
First we need to refresh in our minds that this is a time of tribulation, a time of God’s wrath falling heavily upon this world. In such times as these, we are intensely aware of what biblical curses mean. The sword of God’s power on this earth is revealed in His Law Covenants as blessings and curses, two edges of that same sword (Hebrews 4:12; Genesis 3:24). We emphasize blessings a lot, but the same event that blesses His children can be a curse on those who reject His revelation. We can talk about the difference between curses and blessings, but in many ways, it’s all one thing.
Indeed, there is a sense in which pronouncing a curse can result in a blessing, particularly if the sorrow from the curse brings repentance. We must never fail to understand that the ultimate goal of the Law of God is repentance, leading to redemption. This means that the curses and blessings attached to biblical law all have the same redemptive end.
This is where I insert the comment about how there are several Hebrew words translated as “curse” in the Bible. We aren’t talking here about the spiteful condemnation that belittles someone. That kind of curse is what we see in Exodus 22:28, a command that you not “curse” a ruling official or king over you. It’s paralleled with the command that you not “revile” God, because it’s all the same kind of mistake. The point is that you render due respect to roles of authority, even if you find the person in that role despicable as an individual. This is not the kind of curse we are referring to here.
When we talk about a lawful curse, we mean calling someone’s attention to their evil. There is a critical element here in testifying to God’s Word. How can they repent if they have not heard? You have been sent to make them hear, so testify faithfully of God’s revelation. At some point in your dealings with your fellow humans, they will give evidence your heart can discern that they are hardened in some particular grievous moral error. They need to know about it. There might be any number of ways you can tell them, but uttering a curse is one of those ways.
You’ll have to let your heart tell you when you are up against the wall of someone’s hardened sin. I can’t offer you a memorized formula for this; we each have to come up with our own rituals for expressing divine truth. However, I can tell you that I would try to find a way to say something along these lines:
May God curse everything you do, may demons infest every corner of your existence, until you repent or die.
And then you pray that what you said comes true, because you would have been praying about this kind of thing, if not this specific confrontation, for a long time already. You would be standing on firm moral ground and genuinely expect that troubles and sorrows would sprout and bear fruit aplenty in their personal existence. That’s the kind of thing we saw in the Ten Plagues on Egypt, where God shattered Pharaoh’s confidence in everything he thought he knew. In many cases, you will be dealing with someone who has a human legal authority to afflict you, trying to compel you to conform to something you know is sin, so you are looking for God to let that fool know who is God.
And it ain’t you. It has to be done with confidence and humility. You have to make sure the ground is plowed and watered with your carefully considered, heart-led response to everything involved before you come to that point. The same seed of obedience will bring forth a harvest of blessing and curse, and the difference is in the soul of the person who walks into that field.
By the way: It’s protocol to keep your distance from someone you’ve cursed on the grounds that you have full faith it’s going to happen and you don’t want to be close enough for the destruction to fall on you, too.