“Join us on a journey through the story of how you became, well, YOU!” (ancestry.com)
Ancestry.com seems like the perfect way to discover your genealogy. Their website provides access to hundreds, if not thousands, of records that offer you a glimpse into the past. The search for ‘How you became you’ has never been so quick and easy. After hours of researching your family’s history, what do you do with the information? How does it benefit you to know that your great-great-grandmother pretended to be a man so she could ride in the Kentucky Derby?
Why is it that in recent years, many have become fascinated with their family tree? Because understanding your ancestor’s behaviors, habits, and attitudes helps you to know how you became, well, YOU! Surprisingly, the more you know about your genealogy the more freedom you may experience.
In the last few years, I’ve realized the importance of investigating my genealogy. The truth is our ancestors passed on more than their DNA to us. Many of us have inherited our mom’s looks or our dad’s sense of adventure. Our grandparents and parents handed down their hopes, dreams, and desires for the future. But there are also attributes that have been passed down to us that lead to destruction, chaos, and bondage. The Bible teaches us that the sins of the fathers are passed on from generation to generation.
“You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 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, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments” (Exodus 20:3-6, ESV).
I teach at a two-day conference called “Encounter.” The conference is designed for the participants to experience God’s healing power. Throughout the two days, the participants are taught how to experience the freedom Christ died to give them. In the presence of the Lord, they come face to face with the sins, beliefs, and behaviors they have inherited from their ancestors.
The Encounter team defines iniquity as: a predisposition to certain strengths or weaknesses. It refers to the way you are “bent.” One of the Hebrew words for iniquity is “avon” which describes the crooked and perverse attitudes that emanate from the father to the children. An iniquity usually involves an attitude or behavior that is more entrenched than a sin. An example of an iniquity is prejudice. Prejudice is defined in the dictionary as an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason toward a racial, religious, or national group. Synonyms: preconception, partiality, predisposition, bias.
Generational iniquity can be defined as an unholy spiritual influence; an open door or tendency in a family’s lineage; to accept as normal something that controls the behavior of many in the family. 
Here’s how generational iniquities work: Let’s say your great-grandfather was a womanizer and committed adultery throughout his life. Unfortunately, he died without ever confessing his sin. In order for the generational pattern to be broken off future generations, someone must confess the sin of adultery. When the sin is confessed, your great-grandfather’s sin is cleansed from your family tree.
It’s important to realize that when we confess generational sin, we are not taking responsibility for the sins of our ancestors. God only holds us accountable for our sins and iniquities. We are simply acknowledging our ancestor’s sin, the impact it has had on the family, and confessing it so it no longer has power over us. When we recognize the areas of struggle within our family, we open a pathway to wholeness for our generation and the ones who come after us.
Fortunately, the sins of our ancestors do not automatically become our sin. Each family member is responsible to God for their choices and their sin. To experience the freedom Christ died to give us, it becomes necessary to break the power of the sinful predispositions we have inherited. It is as if we, in the present, stand in the gap between the past and the future and say—this sin and the effect it has had on my family STOPS HERE.
Beth Moore writes, “We need to examine areas of devastation or defeat that have been in our family lines for generations. Then we can explore resulting generational bonds that need breaking. Yokes can often be caused by severed relationships, lives left in ruins because of a loss or a tragedy, ancient family arguments and inheritances of hate, or generational debris scattered by a bomb that dropped and a life that refused repair.” 
One of my favorite passages of Scripture makes it clear that God has given us power to choose curses or blessings. Basically it can be summed up like this: Today I am giving you a choice between blessings and curses. If you want to be blessed, obey what I’ve commanded you to do. But if you don’t, you will be cursed because you have rejected My commandments and turned from Me by worshiping other gods (My paraphrase of Deuteronomy 30:1-9). I don’t know about you, but I’m greedy when it comes to the Lord’s blessings!
If you see a pattern in your family, remember that your ancestors’ struggles don’t make you sin, but they can cause you to be drawn to a particular type of sin. Satan, who has studied your family for generations, knows your weaknesses and the areas your family has not received God’s healing and freedom. Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy. He will take advantage of every door that is left open. Jesus came to give us life abundantly. When we receive and apply His death over the sins we have inherited from past generations, we are set free from generational iniquities that may hold us in bondage to sin. Beth Moore goes on to say, “The cross of Calvary is enough to set us free from every yoke; and His Word is enough to make liberty a practical and perpetual reality, no matter what those before us left as an inheritance.” But His Word must be applied to specific life needs. Too often Christians have sought Jesus as Savior but ignored Him as deliverer.” 
The Word of God says it best, “But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, He took upon Himself the curse for our wrongdoing” (Galatians 3:13a, NLT).
In many families there is an unspoken law that everyone is expected to follow. It usually sounds something like, once something is swept under the carpet it stays there! It is difficult for family members to talk about the pain of the past. Bringing up our family history isn’t about pouring salt on an old wound or wanting to re-engage the family in a dispute. We are simply lifting up the carpet and sweeping away the remnants of anything that interferes with our ability to be all God created us to be.
I love my family. When people ask me what they’re like I say, “Do you remember Toula’s family in My Big Fat Greek Wedding? We’re like that but we’re not Greek! And, yes, we have had a pig roast in the front yard!”
As God has helped me identify the influences I have inherited from my ancestors, I have come to appreciate the many positive influences of being a member of My Big Fat Non-Greek family. When I am free of generational sins, I am free to be a rebuilder and restorer within my family and claim the promises of Scripture for my future. “They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations (Isaiah 61:4, NIV).”
I haven’t discovered a place on ancestry.com where they help you identify the generational iniquities in your family and their source, but here’s a list of possibilities:
- Abuse: emotional, physical, mental, sexual
- Anger, rage, violence
- Control, possessiveness, manipulation
- Emotional dependency
- Fears (all kinds)
- Mental Illness
- Money extremes (greed, lack)
- Physical infirmities (Cancer, Diabetes, Heart Disease, Lupus, etc.)
- Pride, rebellion
- Rejection, insecurity
- Religious bondage, cults
- Sexual sin and perversion
- Unworthiness, low self-esteem, inferiority
As you work through the list, what areas of sin and rebellion do you see your family has embraced? Perhaps you see evidence of a certain sickness or disease. You may recognize an issue of generational iniquity, but don’t know where it began, continue and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you into all truth.
Prayer of Confession:
Thank You, Lord, for my family tree. Thank You that each of the members of my family was created in Your image and I have reaped the good of their labors. I confess that I come from a family that has sinned against You. I understand that the sins and iniquities of my ancestors have influenced my spiritual heritage. I acknowledge what I have inherited to You today in order to receive Your promise of cleaning and restoration (Leviticus 16).
My family is guilty of (name the sins and iniquities of the past). Lord, although these sins were once a part of me, I confess they have now been cut off and cleansed from me and the generations that will come after me by the blood of Jesus Christ. I renounce all of these sins, iniquities, and any scheme of the enemy to influence my future. My past, present, and future are covered by the blood of Jesus.
I am a new creation in Christ, the old has gone and the new has come. Thank you for giving me, my children, and all my future descendants a new heritage and a new future.
In Jesus’ name, AMEN.
Resources for you to consider:
Look for ‘Generational Iniquities’—Linda Godsey
Breaking Free- Making Liberty in Christ a Reality in Life – Beth Moore
 Both definitions come from a training I attended at Gateway Church in Dallas, TX.
 Moore, Beth. Breaking Free: Making Liberty in Christ a Reality in Life. Lifeway Press. Page 73