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Blessings vs. Curses: What is the Christian Response?

The resurrection of Jesus reversed the curse and made Him the channel of God's blessings to us.


The concept of blessing and cursing is a very common theme that is found throughout the Bible. The concept of blessing is usually positive, whereas the concept of cursing is given a negative connotation. These positive and negative concepts are seen in the definitions of these words, blessing and cursing. By definition a blessing is a use of words that calls or wishes a bestowal of goodness on someone or something. The Greek word for blessing in the New Testament is eulogia which literally means "good words." This is where we get our English word eulogy from. For instance Christians are fond of saying "God bless you," intending of course that God would bestow goodness on the person addressed. One may also ask that God would bless their house or their ministry, etc.

Every time one disobeys the moral law of God, one sins, and in so doing comes under the curse of the law.

While the act of blessing is directed at humans, there is an important point that is often neglected. Blessing is also directed at God, "Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise" (Nehemiah 9:5). Blessings are never to be kept to oneself; they are to be passed on to others. In short, God blesses us so that we may bless others and be a blessing to them.

A curse or cursing is used in the Bible in contrast to blessing. It is the direct opposite of blessing. This is clearly seen for instance in Deuteronomy 28, where the conditions for Israel to obey the Mosaic Law are based on blessings for obedience, and cursing for disobedience. Cursing entails the use of invoking words of judgment, evil and injury on someone or something. There are such things as divine curses in the Bible where God for instance pronounces judgment on those who pervert and preach a different Gospel (see Galatians 1:6-9), or brings a curse on those who do not love the Lord Jesus (see 1 Corinthians16:22). The good news however is that curses can be reversed. In the final state according to the book of Revelation, the Edenic curses that were introduced into the human experience due to sin (see Genesis 3) such as death, pain and mourning (see Revelation 21:4) will finally be removed. Revelation 22:3 triumphantly ends with the statement that "No longer will there be any curse."

What many do not realize is that humans are all under a curse, namely, the curse of sin. We are all born into this state since all have sinned as the progeny of Adam (see Romans 3:23), and it is only removed when we come to Christ—when we are made new creatures or creations (see 2 Corinthians 5:17). Every time one disobeys the moral law of God, one sins, and in so doing comes under the curse of the law. The apostle Paul put it succinctly, "All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: 'Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law'" (see Galatians 3:10). Do you know anyone who has perfectly obeyed all of the ten Commandments? All are guilty of violating the moral law of God, every time the law is violated, a crime is committed and a penalty is incurred. In breaking the moral law, once comes under the curse of the law.

What then is the solution to this dilemma? The solution is Christ Himself. Christ took the penalty—the curse—on our behalf. Again Paul states, "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: 'Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree'" (Galatians 3:13). Christ became a curse for us, so that we can become a blessing and be blessed by God. In the death of Christ a transaction took place in which He took our place and we took His place. He became the curse while we became the blessing, He was punished and we were exonerated. The death of Jesus on the cross struck a devastating blow to His disciples since crucifixion ("hung on a tree") meant that the criminal was under a curse from God according to Deuteronomy 21:23. However, the resurrection of Jesus reversed this curse and vindicated the sacrifice of Jesus, thus making Him the channel of God's blessings to us (see Ephesians 1:3).

The world we live in is beset with various curses because of its disobedience to God. The sins of sexual immorality, corruption, murder, adultery, etc. are all part of the corrupt sinful nature which is placed under a divine curse. God for instance stated that Israel was under a curse for disobeying His command to tithe, "You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me" (Malachi 3:9). Our nation in its rebellious state to God is in a state of a curse as well. What then is our response to this cursed state in which we live? First it is important to realize that Jesus reminded us that while we are in the world we are not part of it—that is, its wicked system (see John 17:16).

The Lord Jesus Christ provided the solution to this question. He taught "But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you" (Luke 6:27-28). It is clear from this passage that as Christians we are under duty to love our very enemies. Why is it that Christians do not react violently as some religious groups do when their faith is mocked, scorned and made fun of? The answer lies in this saying of Jesus. We are called to do four things:

1) Love one's enemies.
2) Do good to those who hate us.
3) Bless those who curse us.
4) Pray for those who mistreat us.

It is certainly difficult to do all of the above against one's enemies when our natural inclination is to take revenge on our adversaries. Point 3 is of particular interest. Here Jesus brings in the blessing vs. cursing theme. Jesus calls us to bless, not curse. We are exhorted in James 3:9 not to curse people who are made in God's likeness. We should never curse anyone. He calls us to not only bless one another, but even to bless our enemies and not seek revenge. In so doing we show the grace of God, but more so, we show the long suffering of God against rebellious sinners. In doing this Jesus says we also imitate our Heavenly Father who also is kind to the wicked (see Luke 6:35) and is merciful (see Luke 6:36). This teaching of Jesus was so important that the apostles continued to teach it in the following passages:

"Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse" (Romans 12:14).

"When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it" (1 Corinthians 4:12).

As the people of God, as the salt of the earth and the light of the world, we have been given an awesome responsibility. We are God's means of blessing one another, and others as well. Our prayer should always be one of asking God to bless us and make us a blessing. We have freely received, we should freely give.

Tony Costa, pastor, Christian apologist and public speaker, is based in the Etobicoke, Ontario. He is affiliated with APOLOGIA, a Christian organization that researches new religious movements and provides information to the public. Costa has been a guest on television programs including the Michael Coren Live show, the Arlene Bynon Show on Prime Time and the Rhonda London Live Show, and he has appeared on CFRB 1010 radio to discuss the danger of cults. In university settings he has engaged in debates with Muslims who have challenged the historic Christian faith, and he lectures on the existence of God and the credibility of the Christian faith. Tony also speaks at Campus Crusade for Christ and Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship events. His web-site: www.freewebs.com/tonycosta.

Originally published in The Messenger, June 2006.

 

 
 
 
 

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