Curses and Word Curses--What They Are and How to Break Them
It was one of those dreary Saturday mornings when the sun just wouldn't come
out. I had been up early, and I was feeling depressed. I'd say one thing to my
husband, and then another. Sometimes he'd respond. He was trying to read the
paper, and I was trying to put the kitchen back together after the night before.
There was nothing remarkable about that morning, except that the Lord spoke to
He spoke into my heart in that still small voice. He asked me to start labeling
everything I said that morning as either positive or negative. Just that. I
wondered, but decided to obey. So for the next two hours I started listening to
myself. Negative, negative, negative. Everything I said was negative. It was
then I noticed that every time I made a negative statement or observation, my
dear spouse's shoulders would slump down a bit further. He was listening, and it
was affecting him, too.
I began repenting. I asked the Lord to forgive me for being so negative. I
decided to start throwing in some positive statements. I realized that this was
something I would have to work on.
As I prayed for further understanding, the Lord showed me something that I still
think about today. When I spoke so negatively, I was releasing a negative
confession spiritually. A dark atmosphere came over my home, something you
couldn't see naturally, but that was definitely there spiritually. It looked
like dark clouds, darker than anything outside. The Lord took me to the book of
Proverbs and asked me to keep track of scripture about speech. Death and life
are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit,
Proverbs 18:21 said. There were many others. I began pondering how the tongue
could bless or curse, and thought about the scripture in Proverbs 14:1 where it
says, The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her
hands." Would I build my house, using positive speech, blessing my
husband and children? Or would I pull them down with my negative words?
It was a battle, my old self didn't want to obey. But for the next six months I
kept track of my speech, asking myself the question, was that positive or
negative? Then the Lord spoke to me again and gave me a further challenge that
I'm still trying to master today. He asked me to start labeling my thoughts. Out
of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks, Jesus told us in Matthew
12:34. I needed to catch those thoughts before they came out of my mouth. And I
needed to be more vigilant about what kind of stuff was going into my heart.
This is still a challenge!
But I learned, and am still learning. As Christians, we have tremendous power
with our words. A parent can break a child or build them up, just by words. A
mother can color her family's whole day, just by her attitude and words. She is
the heart of the home. She can make a difference to everyone.
A. Curses caused by words we or others have spoken.
Curses are negative words we speak about ourselves or others. These words may
seem innocuous and harmless at the time, but they are not, for Scripture is
clear about the power of the spoken word:
Prov. 15:4 A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it
breaks the spirit
Prov. 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love
it will eat its fruit.
Just as positive words can build up, comfort and encourage, leading to life,
negative words can tear down, discourage and destroy, leading to death. In James
3, we are told that a perfect man has perfect control of his tongue. Would that
we were all perfect! But why does James emphasize the power of the tongue in
this passage? Obviously because of the damage that can be done by it!
James 3:2, 6 For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in
word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body…And the tongue
is a fire, a world of iniquity! The tongue is so set among our members that is
defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on
fire by hell.
Many Christians agree that we must guard our tongue. And Scripture agrees:
Prov. 21:23 Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles.
What seems less clear to Christians is the power of the tongue to curse others,
and even put a yoke of oppression on them. Look at the link between cursing and
oppression in the following Scripture:
Isaiah 58:9(b) If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing
finger and malicious talk (NIV)
Ps. 17:8-12 Keep me as the apple of Your eye, hide me under the shadow of
Your wings, from the wicked who oppress me….With their mouths they speak
proudly….As a lion is eager to tear his prey….
Ps. 10:7-8 [The wicked] is full of cursing and deceit and oppression, under
his tongue is trouble and iniquity.
Ps. 12:3-5 May the Lord cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that
speaks proud things, who have said, “With our tongue we will prevail; our lips
are our own, who is lord over us?” "For the oppression of the poor, for
the sighing of the needy, Now I will arise,” says the Lord,“I will set him
in the safety for which he yearns."
Ps. 55:2-3 Attend to me and hear me, I am restless in my complaint and moan
noisily, because of the voice of the enemy, because of the oppression of the
wicked, for they bring trouble down upon me, and in wrath they hate me….(see
also vv. 9-11)
Curses cause oppression. Oppression is not like depression. Depression
comes from within, and is often based on anger. Oppression comes from without,
and can feel like a thick cloud of spiritual darkness. It can make you feel
sick, isolated and cut off from God.
These curses can be broken:
Prov. 11:9 The hypocrite with his mouth destroys his neighbor, but through
knowledge the righteous will be delivered.
Prov. 12:6 The words of the wicked are, "Lie in wait for blood,"
But the mouth of the upright will deliver them.
Prov. 14:3 In the mouth of a fool is a rod of pride, but the lips of the wise
will preserve them.
Notice that the curses are broken through knowledge, and by the mouth of the
upright. We break these curses in Jesus’ name.
Sample prayer: In the name of Jesus, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, I
break all curses against me and my household and family. I declare that no
weapon formed against us shall prosper
(Is. 54:17), and nothing by any means shall harm us (Luke 10:19). I declare that
the mouth of those who speak lies shall be stopped (Ps. 63:11).
The tongue of any person, Christian or non-Christian can curse. But these curses
can be broken, as stated above, by knowing about them, by speaking against them
and by breaking them in Jesus' name.
On the positive side, the tongue can bless. There is a story a pastor told my
church about a man who spoke blessings over his family from day to day.
Apparently, he not only blessed his immediate family, but his seed as well--the
generations in the future. My pastor then read the list of persons who had
descended from that man. The list included judges and representatives, doctors,
lawyers and other esteemed professionals. It was an astonishing list.
The extent of that list bore witness to the fact that blessings are far stronger
than curses. Look at this passage from the Ten Commandments:
Exodus 20:5 …For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the
iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of
those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands to those who love Me and keep
I experienced this truth, that blessings are strong. I have long been in the
habit of blessing the people in schools and other public places as I drive by.
One day as I was blessing a school, I became aware that someone had already
blessed that place. I told the Lord, this has been blessed, and asked who did
it. “You did,” He answered, and reminded me of a time a month previously
when I had been praying for that school, its teachers, administrators, students
and staff. I was blessed that day, to realize the power of our spoken words!
Given the power to bless, is it any wonder that when talking about being cursed,
Jesus told us to bless those who curse us:
Luke 6:27 "But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to
those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully
Matt. 5:44 "But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse
you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you
and persecute you."
Jesus’ teaching is consistent with that given to Moses:
Lev.19:1,18 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “...You shall not take
vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you
shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”
Also, we are given David’s example in the Book of Psalms:
Ps. 109:4 In return for my love they are my accusers, but I give myself to
Paul gives us a similar teaching as well:
Romans 12:14, 21 Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse.
Regardless of how badly we are treated, we are told to not take vengeance but
rather bless those who come against us.
I believe further, that when we bless others and pray, we can effect good in
them, because Paul told us do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil
with good, Romans 12:21. A Christian always has the ability to bless and
thus make a difference. But because they have been sinned against, I believe
that a Christian who is hurt and prays blessings anyway is praying a more
powerful prayer, because God sees their hurt, their obedience and their
sacrifice. He knows what it is costing them.
God is just. He hears the heart cry of those who have been hurt, but are
determined to pray for those who have hurt them and desperately need Him:
Ps. 12:5 For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now I
will arise, says the Lord.
Paul, who worked so hard to preach the Gospel, was cursed, reviled, whipped,
beaten with rods and even stoned and left for dead. But here is what he tells
1 Corinthians 4:12 And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled,
we bless; being persecuted, we endure, being defamed, we entreat….
Lest we are still tempted to curse, here is our example:
Luke 23:34 And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they
crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other one the
left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what
B. Curses caused by sin.
A second kind of curse occurs when someone sins and thus opens the door for
demonic attack. This is especially true of recurring, habitual sin.
This truth was taught by Moses in the Old Testament when he told the people that
if they obeyed God’s laws they would be blessed, but if they rebelled they
would be cursed, Leviticus 26:3-46; Deuteronomy 28. He told them that they would
have a choice:
Deut. 11:26 ”Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse; the
blessing if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you
today; and the curse if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God,
but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other gods
which you have not known.”
Deut. 30:19-20 "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you,
that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore
choose life, that you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord
your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is
your life and the length of your days…."
The power of the blessing that comes with obedience--and the curse with
disobedience--is illustrated by the story of Balaam, a prophet of God who was
hired by a heathen king to curse Israel. In the book of Numbers (chapters
22-24), we see him repeatedly try to curse Israel--to no avail. Every time he
opens his mouth to curse, a blessing comes out instead. In exasperation, the
king berates him. Later, however, we are told that Balaam told the king how
Israel could be cursed. Get them into sin, he counseled, Num. 31:16. So the king
sent his temple prostitutes into the midst of Israel, Num. 25:1-3. The men fell
for the ploy, joining themselves with a demon, Num. 25:3; 1 Cor. 10:20. The
blessing over them disappeared. Instead they were cursed because of their sin,
and a plague broke out. 24,000 of them fell that day, Num. 25:9.
Sin opens the door for Satan. By sin, we are joining ourselves with this enemy
of our soul, and giving him legal right to attack us:
Psalm 94:20: The throne of iniquity [Satan]…devises evil by law…
The idea that obedience leads to life is also delineated in the Beatitudes where
Jesus says, Blessed are the poor in spirit…those who mourn…the
meek…those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…the merciful…the pure
in heart…the peacemakers…those who are persecuted for righteousness sake,
Matt. 5:3-10. Their reward, we are told, is that the kingdom of heaven is
theirs, and they will be comforted, inherit the earth, be filled, obtain mercy,
see God and be called the sons of God, Matthew 5:3-10. Nor are these the only
blessings for those who go on with Christ. There are many more blessings they
will enjoy, both here and in eternity. True, they will suffer, John 16:33, and
they will be persecuted, 2 Timothy 3:12. But overwhelmingly they will be more
than conquerors, Rom. 8:37, and overwhelmingly they will be blessed, Rev.
By contrast, in Romans 6:23, we are told that the wages of sin is death, and
even in the New Testament, a sinful lifestyle is recognized as cursed, Matthew
25:41 and 2 Peter 2:14.
Therefore we see that obedience, in both the Old and New Testament, results in
blessing, and sin in death. Those who sin against the Lord open the door for
demonic attack--for Satan to come to “kill, steal and destroy,” John 10:10.
Especially when sin is habitual, its deadliness is evident. Sin results in a
lifestyle that is leads to death, and is cursed.
The curses that are caused by sin can be broken by doing three things:
(1) Repent of the sin, (Lev. 26:40-42; 1 John 1:9)
(2) Break the curse. Do this out loud in Jesus’ name;
(3) Be obedient to Scripture: Walk against the sin, and practice the
exact opposite behavior. For example, practice humility instead of pride,
compare James 4:6 to 4:10.
How to Overcome Sin
We can strengthen the hold sin has on our lives, or we can weaken it. An
anecdote related years ago by one of my pastors, Rick Merrill, is that of an old
Native American who had gotten saved and complained that ever since he got saved
felt like he had a dog fight going on inside of him. He said he felt like there
were two dogs, one evil and one good, and they were ripping at each other.
“Well,” his pastor asked him, “which one is winning?” “The one I
feed,” the Native American replied.
This is so true for sin. You get what you feed. The more you resist sin, the
stronger you will get at resisting it. The more you give in, the stronger
sin’s hold on you will be. Look at this:
Romans 6:16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to
obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to
death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?
Who wants to be a slave of sin, which leads to death? I’d much rather be a
slave of obedience, leading to righteousness--even though it costs me something
at the time.
I have found it useful to use James 4:7-8 to help me get rid of sin in my life.
When there is habitual sin, it seems there is always some demon attached to it,
tempting me to fall into it again. So I apply the steps in these verses: first,
I submit to God by confessing the sin, then I resist the sin out loud, saying
something like, “You demon of (name the temptation), I resist you now in
Jesus’ name and command you to flee!” Then I do the third step, and draw
near to God by praising, worshiping, quoting Scripture, or even just thanking
God for His goodness and for His love for me.
Something else I do when tempted is quote Scripture. A good place to quote are
several passages in Romans 6, and especially these ones:
Romans 6:6. 11, 12, 14, 18 [My] old self was crucified with Christ….[and so
now I am] no longer a slave to sin…[Therefore,] I reckon myself to be dead to
sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus [my] Lord….Therefore, [I will not] let
sin reign over my mortal body, that I should obey its lusts…for sin shall not
have dominion over [me]…[for I have] been set free from sin, [and now I am a]
slave of righteousness!
By the way, notice the context of the Roman 6 passage. It talks about our
ability to overcome sin because we have been baptized into Jesus’ death, Rom.
6:3. This is one of the reasons I believe that we should get our new converts
baptized as soon as possible.
How long does it take to break a sin habit? This will vary. I do know this: the
more you walk with Christ, the less hold sin will have on you. You will sin less
often. You will hate sin more. You will know how to attack the demon that comes
with the temptation. And finally, you will have the wisdom of knowing when to
run, 2 Timothy 2:22.
Breaking Curses in Intercessory Prayer
I will be going into more depth on intercessory prayer later, but I am going to
give the intercessory application for breaking curses here. If you don’t
understand this application, then wait, I will explain more fully later.
Because of sin in previous generations, demonic oppression, possession and
attack can be passed down in a family, a group, or a church from one generation
to another. These generational curses (e.g., Ex. 20:5), can be broken by first
asking for forgiveness for the group or family, similarly to individual
repentance and prayer.
See for example Nehemiah 1:1-7. In 586 B.C. Jerusalem had fallen, and Israel
taken captive. In about 445 B.C., (141 years later) Nehemiah prayed to God,
confessing Israel’s sin. He was heard. Also look at Daniel, who was taken
captive in about 605 B.C.. Some 60 or so years later (around 545 B.C.) he says, “I
was. . . confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel,” Dan.
9:20. An intercessor can confess the sin of a group of people who lived even
generations before them. In Jesus’ name, and by the prompting and power of the
Holy Spirit, you can intercede this way as well.
Remember, Satan only has authority if there is unconfessed sin, Ps. 94:20. If
that sin is confessed and covered by Jesus’ blood, then he no longer has
authority in that area of your life, or the life of your family, group, or
However, it takes three things to break the curse that comes because of sin:
First by prayer, confessing the sin. Second, breaking the curse in Jesus’
name. Third, the intercessor must obey God and walk against that sin, especially
practicing the behavior required by Scripture that is opposite the sin. If, for
example, the sin of a people has been pride, then humility must be practiced by
that intercessor, even when--especially when--Satan uses the people they are
praying for to come against them. Fighting and divisions are broken by
peacemaking (without compromising the Word of truth), slander by blessing,
stealing by reimbursement and generous giving, and so on. The teaching for this
is in James 4, as I taught earlier.
Also, pray for God to save that person or people and fill them with the Holy
Spirit so that there will be no room for ungodly spirits to return, and no legal
Matt. 12:43-45 [Jesus speaking] “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man,
he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then He says, ‘I
will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it
empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other
spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last
state of that man is worse than the first….”
So then, when curses are broken, always pray blessings, and especially the
blessing of being turned away from iniquity and turned to God, Acts 3:26.
One last word: God loves His intercessors. They are blessed. Someday others will
come to you and say, "I'm here because you prayed." Be blessed!
Copyright October 2007