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What Are Curses and How Do They Happen?


What is a “curse” and how does one occur?  These questions deserve to be examined in some detail. Let’s first start by defining the word “curse,” as per Webster’s:  “A prayer or invocation for harm or injury to come upon one . . . evil or misfortune that comes as if in response to imprecation or as retribution.”  So then, can anyone put a “curse” on anyone else, by the power of God or by the power of Satan (i.e., like from a witch)?  Well, a “curse” could be described as a type of periodically recurring punishment or evil.  If a curse is believed to be the result of someone’s calling on the power of Satan, Scripture clearly reveals that God is far more powerful than Satan, so then Christians can ask for and claim protection against such attacks (cf. Mark 16:17-18; Matt. 4:1-11).  Now Jesus specifically tells Christians to wish well for their enemies, not evil (Matt. 5:44-45):  “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be the sons of your Father in heaven.”  So the main weight of Scripture in this dispensation is against the idea that someone could pray and “curse” someone else on a recurring basis.  True, in the Old Testament, when Hiel rebuilt Jericho, it cost him both his first and last born (I Kings 16:34), which was after Joshua cursed the would-be rebuilder centuries earlier (Joshua 6:26).  And the slain souls symbolically portrayed as being under altar in Revelation do ask God for vengeance against their persecutors (Rev. 6:9-11). 


So a series of bad events in someone’s life could be called a “curse,” but that doesn’t prove that God or even Satan is the cause of them.  A lot of trouble in life is caused by overly emotional and/or irrational decisions and random chance events that God doesn’t directly cause, at least in most cases.  Indeed, we inflict a lot of “curses” on ourselves if we choose to live the wrong way of life, whether morally or by making bad financial decisions.  If we define “curse” this way, we can avoid or reduce them by living wiser and more spiritual lives.  John F. Kennedy once famously said that a rising tide lifts all boats, but obviously a lot of poorer people have been drilling holes into their own boats through what’s politely called “family instability” and other decisions of their own making.

Now the word “curse” can be a synonym for “punishment.”  For example, as Paul explains while citing the Old Testament in support, we're cursed when we disobey the law (Gal. 3:10):  "For as many as are of the works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who goes not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.'"  A person only avoids being punished by the law by obeying it (v. 12):  "However, the law is not of faith; on the contrary, 'He who practices them shall live by them.'"  Hence, this is the reason why Christians need faith in Jesus' sacrifice to be saved, since no one is going to obey the law all the time, (Romans 3:23) "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." 


So a “curse” could be because of God’s punishments on us, because we just made bad decisions by our own freely made choices, and/or because of the evil or unwise decisions of other people in our lives, including our government’s officials and politicians.


Eric Snow


Click here to access essays that defend Christianity:  /apologetics.html

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Why does God Allow Evil? Click here: /Apologeticshtml/Why Does God Allow Evil 0908.htm

May Christians work on Saturdays? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Protestant Rhetoric vs Sabbath Refuted.htm

Should Christians obey the Old Testament law? /doctrinalhtml/Does the New Covenant Abolish the OT Law.htm

Do you have an immortal soul? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Here and Hereafter.htm

Does the ministry have authority? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Is There an Ordained Ministry vs Edwards.html

Is the United States the Beast? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Are We the Beast vs Collins.htm

Should you give 10% of your income to your church? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Does the Argument from Silence Abolish the Old Testament Law of Tithing 0205 Mokarow rebuttal.htm

Is Jesus God? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Is Jesus God.htm

Will there be a third resurrection? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Will There Be a Third Resurrection.htm



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