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Should The Christian Worry About A 'Generational Transference' Of Demons?

Copyright (c) 2006-2021

Am I suffering demonically from habitual sins my great-grandfather was involved in (not just once-in-a-while-sins, but over and over again)? Will my grandkids and great-grandkids suffer demonic punishment and slavery because of some habitual sin I do?

Many (if not all) in "deliverance ministry" say that if someone is habitually involved in some sin, their kids and grandkids and great-grandkids are guaranteed to be slaves of that same sin. This is because of a generational transfer of demonic spirits. God punishes sin to 3 and 4 generations and allows the "demons" of those sins to have a legal right to be in your life. But where does this idea really come from?

Primary Scripture References:

There are a number of references in the Bible to sin being punished "to the third and fourth generations." For the sake of brevity, I will give only the Scripture reference and a short synopsis of the passage.

  • Exodus 20:1-5 and Deuteronomy 5:9- for idolatry; context is the giving of the 10 Commandments.

  • Exodus 34:7 - Moses given the 10 Commandments a second time, after breaking the first stone tablets when he saw Israel worshipping the golden calf.

  • Leviticus 26:14-46 - promised expulsion from the Promised Land as a cursing for continual disobedience; people punished "for their sins and the sins of their ancestors."

  • Numbers 14:13-25 - context is God about to wipe out Israel and make a nation from just Moses because of Israel's continual doubt of God.

  • Jeremiah 32:18 - God gives loving kindness unto thousands, and recompenses the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them.

  • Matthew 23:31-36 - the Pharisees and scribes are the children of those who killed the prophets. Upon them will come all the righteous blood ever shed, from Abel to Zacharias. "All these things shall come upon this generation." The punishment for continually rejecting the prophets and finally the Son would come on the entire generation living at the time.

    Other Scriptures Relating:

  • Jeremiah 14:11-22 - a prophecy of the coming destruction of Jerusalem:

  • (v16) "I will pour out their own wickedness on them." [by destroying the people]

  • (v20) "LORD, we confess our wickedness and that of our ancestors, too. We all have sinned against you."

  • Deuteronomy 24:16 - People will suffer for their own sin, not others'.

  • In Ezekiel 18, Israel was blaming everyone else for their own troubles. "It's not our fault! It's our ancestors' fault! There's nothing wrong with us!" The prophet addresses a proverbial saying popular in Israel at the time: "the fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge" (v1-2). Throughout the entire chapter, Ezekiel very carefully shows that, righteous or unrighteous, people receive for the good or bad that they themselves have done. We can't blame our sin on someone else, and we're not paying for someone else's sin. There are legitimate victims, but too many try to pawn off responsibility for their sin on someone else, such as an ancestor that was involved in sin.

    What's Missing?

    What you'll find missing in each of these passages if you look at them is the "how" all this was to happen. None of these Scripture passages say, " generational demonic infestation." The issue of how sins are punished to the "third and fourth generations" is not defined. The issue of how children are punished for the sins of their fathers is not defined.

    Could those punishments have been God letting the law of reaping and sowing run its natural course? On the one hand, loving and choosing to serve God, thus receiving spiritual benefits for you and your family. On the other hand, hating God and rejecting Him and serving yourself, and receiving the natural, negative results of your choices.

    We can't say categorically that demons will pass to our offspring because of our sin. There doesn't seem to be anything about demons being passed on to children or grandchildren through what their parents or grandparents did. There also isn't any kind of information for helping people with "ancestral demons."

    It seems like these passages are talking about the effects or consequences of sin affecting not only one generation of people, but also their descendents. Effects and consequences of sin are different than demonic spirits.

    "Generational Transference Of Demons"? Not Biblically!

    One Explanation: "Generational Consequences"

    Consequences for sin may be present for 3-4 generations through the law of reaping and sowing; this doesn't mean guaranteed demonic control. There are natural consequences for certain sins. If you are around when those consequences happen, you will be suffering, too.

  • Leviticus 26: the consequences of expulsion from the land if they didn't obey in successive generations. Even if you were living righteously when that judgment happened, you'd be expelled from the land, too.

  • Isaiah 14: the sons of a wicked, oppressing king are killed so they wouldn't be able to oppress.

  • Jeremiah 14: people acknowledging God's rejection of Jerusalem, confessing their sins and those of their ancestors, because they were in their predicament because of their ancestors' rebelliousness.

    Instead of "generational transference of demons," could we call it a "generational consequence?" A consequence affecting more than one generation?

  • A family being poor because the father is in jail for stealing is the consequence of his sin, affecting his whole family. That is different than the judge throwing the father and his 4-year old son both in jail, punishing the son for the sin of the father.

  • Another Explanation: "Generational Weaknesses"

    Demonic forces are looking for an advantage against us (Ephesians 4:27; 1 Peter 5:8). As they see an area in which we are blinded or untaught (because of our parents' spiritual blindness, unwillingness or inability to address certain things because of their own sin), demons will try to take advantage of us. But this doesn't mean guaranteed demonic control. It seems, rather, that sin blinds people in certain areas. If they are blinded in an area, they are not going to do anything about correcting that area in their kids' lives. Their kids are then going to be liable to succumb to the same temptations and deceptions that their parents did.

    Instead of "generational transference of demons," could we call it a "generational weakness"? A weakness affecting more than one generation?

  • A young lady watching her mom's immoral lifestyle will probably do the same thing, not because of a "demon of immorality," but because she's learned that's how you "do life," or what brings gratification; that's what you need to feel fulfilled.

  • A dad who has problems with sexual sins, pornography and such, isn't going to be aware of what his sin is modeling for his son. He will be de-sensitized to sin (and maybe blinded by the enemy!), and won't recognize what things he should do to keep his kids from getting involved in that stuff. The son's natural curiosity towards sex won't be answered by the appropriate parent, with godly information, but is going to be answered by the media and peers. This son will be following in his father's footsteps. Because of a "demon of pornography?" No, because of a spiritual weakness in the father.


    Does God deal with sin "to the third and fourth generation?" It seems from the written Word that he does. Does He do this by allowing certain demons to transfer from father to son, etc, and curse people this way? No. Not according to the Bible. Instead, we see consequences of sin happening to more than just the sinner, and weaknesses that are copied by succeeding generations. A "generational transference of demons" is reading into what the Bible says, making it say what you want it to say.

    About The Author: Shop Amazon - Top Gift Ideas
    Copyright c. 2006, Christian Darland

    Christian Darland has taught at a Bible college for 8 years. He sees plain Biblical answers for many of the questions in the arena of spiritual warfare. We need to think Biblically, not just experientially! His new book is available at:

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