There is a powerful scene within the 2000 film the Patriot which references the concept of generational sins. Mel Gibson plays Benjamin Martin, a Colonel of a militia within the Continental Army. Martin’s son Gabriel who serves under his father requests to know what happened in the French and Indian War that made him a hero. Initially refusing to comment, Martin unveils his act of revenge during the battle at Fort Wilderness. Following his confession, Martin shares about praying to God for forgiveness so that the sins of his past won’t return.
You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, Exodus 20:5.
For some reason, Exodus 20:5 is omitted from the ten commandments despite being right in the center of this passage. During a seminar I attended in college I discovered this omission. Perhaps, there was an attempt to condense these commands into short bullet points. Yet, generational sins are one of the greatest barriers to faith in this age. Recently, scientists have discovered a genetic link passed on to children making them more susceptible to common addictions of their parents.
‘The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation,’ Numbers 14:18.
This trait is highlighted throughout the Old Testament as you study family trees. Abraham passed on lying to Isaac who was deceived by his son Jacob with his blessing. David committed adultery which led to the birth of Solomon whom felt it necessary to acquire 700 wives and 300 concubines. If you look close enough, there are probably bad habits within your children that you once demonstrated or still struggle with. Instead of playing the blame game, maybe you should follow in the footsteps of Benjamin Martin by pleading with God to avoid the sins of your past from returning.
by Jay Mankus