First, a taxonomy of curses. There are valid curses that arise from violating covenants. The prime example is the Curse of the Fall from violating the Covenant of Creation. Some of you may recall the very dramatic ritual that took place on the facing slopes of Mounts Ebal and Gerizim, recounting some curses of the Covenant of Moses (Deuteronomy 27:11-26). The whole point is that the way to avoid a valid curse is heart-led obedience to whatever covenant applies to you.
There are also a great many curses that are not valid, even if they are effective. These arise from lies of Satan. Your mind can validate a false curse and empower the effects. Thus, if you experience someone pronouncing a spell or curse based on dark arts, and you lack the frame of reference to reject it in your heart, it can affect you. If it takes root in the mind of someone in authority over you, it can still bear some evil fruit in your life.
Next, let’s review some Bible verses that address the subject of curses.
Exodus 20:5 – Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God [am] a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth [generation] of them that hate me…
Deuteronomy 5:9 – Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God [am] a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth [generation] of them that hate me…
Numbers 14:18 – The LORD [is] longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing [the guilty], visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth [generation].
Ezekiel 18:19-20 – Yet say ye, “Why? doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father?” When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, [and] hath kept all My statutes, and hath done them, he shall surely live.
Leviticus 26:40 – If they shall confess their wilfulness and the wilfulness of their fathers, with their sin which they sinned against Me, and that also they have walked contrary to Me…
Jeremiah 17:5 – Thus saith the LORD; Cursed [be] the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD.
Isaiah 54:17 – No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue [that] shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This [is] the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness [is] of me, saith the LORD.
Mark 11:25-26 – And when you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive it so that also your Father in Heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in Heaven forgive your trespasses.
Ephesians 6:12 – For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places].
2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
James 4:7 – Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
Proverbs 18:21 – Death and life [are] in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.
We note the doctrine here of family curses. You can inherit curses from your ancestors, your government, from previous residents of the land, and historical curses on just about any organization or activity you join. The problem is awareness. If you aggressively court the Lord’s favor, there isn’t much to worry about. However, it does your soul some good early in the heart-led walk to breathe life into your perception of such things by a cleansing ritual. And sometimes you simply need such a ritual reminder that Our Lord reigns over all things.
Spend some time contemplating how those who came before you in the various forms of human activity and association might have brought down curses both valid and fake. Let your heart tell you where it’s applicable. Don’t confess anything that isn’t in your convictions, but do give full vent to what your heart might have to say. There is a long standing logical order that seems to work for most folks in building such a ritual.
1. Full surrender — The primary image here is approaching the divine Throne with a petition to quit all curses. It’s good to breathe life into the image of ANE feudalism by starting with a few words of ceremonial address. You are calling on the Creator: “O Lord God Almighty” or words to that effect. Renew your statement of feudal loyalty and surrender.
2. Confession — Confess your weaknesses and the sins of your predecessors. Don’t fearfully try to cover all the bases “just in case.” Deal with your own fallen nature and those residual sins that you genuinely suspect have stood in your path.
3. Be willing to fully forgive — We get this from Matthew 5. This requires we struggle with the difference between a senseless grudge and valid curse on someone else. You cannot undo their curses, but if you harbor any unforgiveness, it will curse you, as well. We remind ourselves of Ephesians 6, where those who work against our faith walk are pawns of the Devil. We are ready to forgive when they step away from demonic leadership, but they can’t claim forgiveness without doing so. Still, we are prepared to hold the door open.
In addition, we need to be sure we renounce the sins of immediate family for release from curses they brought upon us by their authority over us. Again, this is not a matter of legalistic removal, but in many cases is simply mitigation of things we cannot change.
4. Break unhealthy emotional bonds to anyone who sinned against you, and thus cursed you. — This is the hardest part for most of us. Remember how Israelis were required to ostracize and mourn the moral “death” of someone who went too far. This restores your shalom by denouncing them as now outside the covenant.
Then again, we lack the social leverage of actually getting someone kicked out of your life completely if the secular world still regards them as justly part of your life. You’ll have to make adjustments in how you relate to them on a daily basis, but you are empowered by God to break the emotional dependence that binds you to their curses. Call on the Lord to set you free from those bonds.
5. Renounce all those curses. — Familial curses, other relational curses, inherited curses, national curses, geographic curses, cultural curses, etc. Whatever your heart indicates applies to you, this is where you nullify those things that aren’t valid under Biblical Law.
6. Give thanks — Celebrate the Lord’s faithfulness in bringing you out of moral darkness.
I’m not going to put words in your mouth. Use whatever ceremonial language fits your sense of calling and mission. If you lack imagination, echo the language of your favorite Bible translation, using phrases that seem to apply. The Psalms are loaded with appropriate stuff. But don’t be fake, as if the words really matter. The one thing we want to do is break the power of mere words to rule over you.
Finally, let me cite a common everyday example of how stuff like this takes root in our lives. If someone denounces another using that nasty f-word, it’s the same as uttering a curse. If that denunciation is valid, if it’s consistent with Scripture, that’s fine. If it’s invalid, such as arising from senseless hatred, then it becomes a curse on the speaker. Don’t confuse this with crude joking. People who unjustly hurl “f**k you” at you are surely cursing themselves, so learn how your heart can reject the power of that curse over you. If there is any justification for it, your confession and repentance removes that curse.