When we’re suffering, we often wonder if we did something wrong. As a result, we end up confusing God’s discipline and trials. I saw a recent example of this when a woman wrote me about a miscarriage she experienced. She wondered if God was punishing her. It was heartbreaking. The miscarriage was painful enough without also having to wonder if it was her fault.
You Didn’t Do Something Wrong!
We should expect trials, but when they take place, we don’t have to wonder if we sinned! It’s tragic when people blame themselves for their trials. It’s also tragic when people experience trials and “friends” try to get them to blame themselves!
Job’s friends come to mind. They started off well “[sitting] down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great” (Job 2:13). This demonstrates what to do when people are suffering. The “Ministry of Presence” requires being a good listener. I received a good piece of advice when I first became a pastor: “If you cannot improve on silence, do not.” Solomon said there is “A time to keep silence, and a time to speak” (Ecclesiastes 3:7b), and “He who has knowledge spares his words” (Proverbs 17:27a).
Unfortunately, Job’s friends did not follow these verses, and things went downhill after they opened their mouths. Eliphaz was the first to speak, and he summarized their argument in Job 4:7 when he asked, “Who ever perished being innocent? Or where were the upright ever cut off?” In other words, “When have bad things ever happened to good people?” Job’s friends wanted to convince him that since he suffered terribly, he must have sinned terribly. Continue reading “Don’t Confuse Discipline and Trials”→
If you’ve been in the church for any length of time, you’ve probably heard generational curses discussed. There are two conflicting opinions:
God punishes children for the sins of their parents.
God doesn’t punish children for the sins of their parents.
Why the confusion regarding generational curses?
Watch the short video of Katie and I discussing the answer and/or read the transcript below…
Verses seem to support and argue against generational curses…
Exodus 20:5, 34:7, Numbers 14:18, and Deuteronomy 5:9 indicate God punishes children for the sins of their parents:
You shall not bow down to [idols] nor serve them. 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.
Other such as Deuteronomy 24:16 and Ezekiel 18:2-4, 20 indicate God doesn’t punish children for the sins of their parents:
Ezekiel 18:2-4, 20 The LORD says, “What do you mean by this proverb, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’? This proverb shall no more be used. Behold, the soul who sins shall die…The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father…the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.
The people said they were punished (their teeth were bad: “set on edge”), because of their parents’ sins (the “sour grapes” they ate). God said, “Don’t say this anymore. You’ll be punished for your own sins!”
While people might mean well when they make this statement, the problem is it’s not true. While sins are the same in some ways, they’re radically different in other ways. This means…they aren’t the same!
How are sins different?
First, there are three different kinds of sin:
We received a passed-on depravity from Adam, which we commonly call our “sin nature.” This is an inherited sin.
There’s also “imputed sin.” Even though men were sinners because of their sin natures, before the Mosaic Law was given, sin wasn’t imputed: Romans 5:13 For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. After the Law was given, sins committed in violation of the Law are accounted.
The most common type of sin is personal sin. This is the sin committed every day by every human being as a result of our sin natures.
Second, there are differences between the various sins committed: