Have We Forgotten the Curse?

Cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. (Genesis 3:17b-18, ESV)

Whether we think about a fatal car accident, a struggle with sexual identity, a major handicap, or a host of natural disasters, this world is filled with hardships, injustices, and burdens.

“Why would a good God allow some particular tragedy to happen?” “Why did God make me this way with these defects?” “Why didn’t God make me that way?”

Often missing in these questions—which are more often objections rather than queries—is a central tenet of the Christian faith. The universe is under a Curse. The Curse is not only important theology, it is impossible to understand life (from a Christian viewpoint) without it.

The Curse affects all aspects of our lives, not just our physical well being. It affects our ability to reason, our relationships, and the condition of our souls.

I can understand when people who claim ignorance of the Christian faith are also ignorant of the Fall and the Curse. Sadly, many individuals who have at one time or another been taught about the Curse seem to forget it. This is true even among faithful church members.

For some, the Curse is like an old commercial jingle—it is lodged somewhere down deep in the memory but rarely brought to mind.  It is buried and all but forgotten.

Perhaps the reason for this lapse is that many do not consider the Curse an important part of Christian belief. Some might consider the creation narrative, the Garden of Eden, and the Curse as allegory, not actual history. Some are repelled by the idea of a God Who is offended and Whose wrath is kindled at sin. The nice god of popular culture curses, punishes, or judges no one.

Some believers may not understand the Curse’s relevance. The Curse is more than an explanation about how we inherited our sinful nature. It is a central belief, for without it we cannot grasp the full extent of Jesus’ atonement on the cross.

It is impossible to embrace a Christian worldview without a focus upon the Curse. The Curse explains why you must discipline your children, why crops fail, why we have pandemics, why the weather is too hot, and why Murphy’s Law seems to prevail.

It is true that the Curse cannot answer all our questions or objections for life’s injustices. God is all powerful. He is loving. He knows about our situations. Why doesn’t He, then, just fix things? The answer is that God has an alternative approach, using (but not condoning) evil to produce a long-term greater good (Romans 8:28), all of which is intricately linked to the Cross. None of us probably find this particularly appealing, but it is what it is. God’s ways are above ours, so we should not be surprised that He does things differently than we think we would (if we were God).

Since God, in His justice, has cursed creation, we look at the many blessings He gives us –- including answered prayer or holding back some disasters that could befall us—as God blessing us despite the Curse. To put it another way, God owes us nothing. The Curse communicates a broken relationship between God and His creation. Every blessing we receive, therefore, is a gift of His grace.

Instead of simply abandoning mankind—which He could have blamelessly done—He chose to Curse mankind and the created physical order. And we are all under that Curse. In a sense, the Curse is the first stage of redemption.

Paul explains that even believers, whose souls are already redeemed, suffer the physical consequences of the Curse because our bodies are yet to be redeemed. We do not experience redemption in the fullest sense until we are with the Lord and have our new immortal bodies (1 Corinthians 15:51-58).

Paul also explains that the entire universe is groaning in a state of misery, waiting for God to implement His redemption of the universe; this redemption has been purchased by the atonement Jesus offered.

Ponder Romans 8:20-23.

For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope  that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.  And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

The entire drama of redemption: creation, the fall, the Curse, the cross, resurrection, the Millennium, the Great White Throne, the New Heaven and New Earth—all of this was planned before the world was created and for the glory of God (Revelation 13:8, 1 Corinthians 15:20-28).

Keep the Curse in mind. We can understand the news and the experiences of life in general through its lens. At the same time, keep the Cross in mind. The Cross provided for the undoing of the Curse. Some aspects of that undoing we see in our lives now, but one day the entire benefit of the Cross will be realized in totality.

Speaking of the New Heaven, the New Earth and the New Jerusalem, we read in Revelation 22:3, “There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him” (NASB).

The Curse constantly takes its toll on us. But, for the believer, we can rejoice that the Curse is temporary!

Photo: Seth Yeanoplos on Unsplash

Ed Vasicek Bio


Ed Vasicek was raised as a Roman Catholic in Cicero, Illinois. During his senior year in high school (1974), Cicero Bible Church reached out to him, and he received Jesus Christ as his Savior by faith alone. Ed earned his BA at Moody Bible Institute. He has served as pastor of Highland Park Church since 1983. Ed and his wife, Marylu, have two adult children. Ed has written many weekly columns for the opinion page of the Kokomo Tribune, published articles in Pulpit Helps magazine, and posted many papers at his church website. Ed has also published the The Midrash Key and The Amazing Doctrines of Paul As Midrash: The Jewish Roots and Old Testament Sources for Paul’s Teachings.

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Paul Henebury's picture

Particularly liked this: "It is impossible to embrace a Christian worldview without a focus upon the Curse."

Totally agree.  The Curse provides our perspective.  Francis Schaeffer was asked if he begrudged having brain cancer.  His answer was that "I take the Curse seriously."   

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

Mark_Smith's picture

When talking to my teen daughter and oldest son, I remind them of the curse to explain why the world is so messed up. Like their friends' parents being divorced, or maybe their friends' parents were never married, or homosexual. All of these have happened. Or when seeing how horrible politics is, or the bias of the news, etc. We need to remember the curse to understand in part the need for salvation through Jesus Christ.

RajeshG's picture

You write:

"Some believers may not understand the Curse’s relevance. The Curse is more than an explanation about how we inherited our sinful nature. It is a central belief, for without it we cannot grasp the full extent of Jesus’ atonement on the cross."

Where specifically does the Bible teach that "the Curse" is "an explanation about how we inherited our sinful nature"?

RajeshG's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

When talking to my teen daughter and oldest son, I remind them of the curse to explain why the world is so messed up. Like their friends' parents being divorced, or maybe their friends' parents were never married, or homosexual. All of these have happened. Or when seeing how horrible politics is, or the bias of the news, etc. We need to remember the curse to understand in part the need for salvation through Jesus Christ.

Concerning your words that I have made bold, how much emphasis with your children do you put on the work of Satan and his demons "to explain why the world is so messed up"?

 

Mark_Smith's picture

I mention Satan and his minions. Yes, they have a significant role. But... people on their own follow their evil desires without prompting by the devil or his angels. So, we can't blame everything on him. People have a large role as well.

Ed Vasicek's picture

Mark Smith wrote:

Where specifically does the Bible teach that "the Curse" is "an explanation about how we inherited our sinful nature"?

It doesn't.  This is a summary statement.  I could say that the "Fall" is why we have a sinful nature. Perhaps I should say the "Curse Event."  The Fall of Man was a prelude to and cause of  the curse, much as the illegal trial was a prelude to the crucifixion. 

As far as Satan goes, once again he is connected to the "Curse Event."  Not only is the serpent cursed, but Satan, via the agency of the serpent, tempted our first parents.  Nonetheless, Yahweh holds our parents responsible.  The dynamic is different somewhat now in that Adam and Eve had no predisposition to sin, just the option.  In our case, Satan's appeal is stronger, for our sin nature is predisposed toward sin.  As James reminds us, it is our sin nature -- and our responsibility -- when we sin. In James 1:14 we read (ESV):

 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.

The passage in James, however, is in response to the idea that God is tempting us (13).   James supplements this in James 4:7 with:

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

I think it is possible that the devil (actually not Satan himself, but one of his minions) adds circumstances to our temptations to make them MORE enticing, as he did with Adam and Eve. The believer's three enemies, the world, the flesh, and the devil, often work in tandem.  At the same time, submitting to God and resisting the temptation (whether a demon is involved or not) is the formula.  We don't need to always understand the specific dynamics.

I have found that an emphasis on demons is unhelpful and creates a sort of paranoia, but ignoring our adversary can make things more perplexing.  In conclusion, we need to factor in Satan as a contributor to our temptations and sins, but put the focus on response and our responsibility.  If something seems overly Satanic, we need to practice warfare praying, as I see it.

Yes, our young people need to be taught this.

The real issue, for me, is distinguishing  between  severe Satanic oppression and a host of psychological and body-chemistry problems.  Even there, the devil tries to add fuel to the fire.

 

"The Midrash Detective"

RajeshG's picture

Ed Vasicek wrote:

Mark Smith wrote:

Where specifically does the Bible teach that "the Curse" is "an explanation about how we inherited our sinful nature"?

It doesn't.  This is a summary statement.  I could say that the "Fall" is why we have a sinful nature. Perhaps I should say the "Curse Event."  The Fall of Man was a prelude to and cause of  the curse, much as the illegal trial was a prelude to the crucifixion. 

Actually, I am the one who asked that question. I agree with you that we have a sinful nature as a consequence of the Fall. I do not think that the Bible connects our having a sin nature directly with the curse.

RajeshG's picture

Ed Vasicek wrote:

The dynamic is different somewhat now in that Adam and Eve had no predisposition to sin, just the option.  In our case, Satan's appeal is stronger, for our sin nature is predisposed toward sin.  As James reminds us, it is our sin nature -- and our responsibility -- when we sin. In James 1:14 we read (ESV):

 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.

I do not believe that James 1:14-15 is an explanation of what takes place in every instance when a human being sins. Rather, it explains what has taken place whenever human beings sin after having been tempted to sin.

Mark_Smith's picture

Ed Vasicek wrote:

Mark Smith wrote:

Where specifically does the Bible teach that "the Curse" is "an explanation about how we inherited our sinful nature"?

Ed, I didn't write that. Someone else did. You have attributed to me something another poster wrote.

Ed Vasicek's picture

Yes, Mark Smith, I erred. It was Rajesh G. that I was quoting, not you.  Somewhere I was trying to reply to two sets of comments and they got merged into one.

Please accept my apology.

"The Midrash Detective"

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