1 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.
2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.
6 When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay,
7 And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing. Jn. 9:1-7
In the above scripture, the progression of events is of greater significance than anything else. Notice Jesus said something, then He did something. Jesus told His disciples: “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents”! Then, He healed the man.
So what happened here? Jesus healed the man, sure. But first He set him free in his spirit.
People don’t read the Bible enough, especially the New Testament. Actually, many more Christians today read the Old Testament more than the New, and it just leaves them feeling old on the inside!
Much of the Old Testament is about law. There is very little there about God’s grace. And if you build your spiritual life upon the precepts of the Old Testament, you will never come to an understanding of God’s grace. You will never understand freedom. You will become a person of law. You will become hard as a doorknail. That is why there is so much law in the church today. People love putting law on other people, and they love putting it on themselves also – and this is destroying the church. This is especially so when it comes to teachings on healing and material blessings.
When we read what the Apostle John says in 1 John 3:8, “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil” and relate it to Jesus’ words here, it is clear that God is not involved in putting misfortunes on people; the devil is. It is impossible that “the works of the devil” can also be “the works of God”! And Jesus was about the Father’s works, which is defeating Satan’s works of darkness, be it sin or disease. Nowhere in the New Testament is it recorded that someone’s illness or disease or whatever hard luck came upon them came about because they had sinned. It is true that Jesus told someone, after He had healed him, to “sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee” (Jn. 5:14); but that does not mean it would be God who would be putting that “worse thing” upon that person. In fact, in John 9, where Jesus’ disciples sought to associate the man’s blindness with himself or his ancestors, Jesus did the exact opposite: He dis-associated the man from the affliction!
This brings us to the subject of “generational curses”, which is a topic that is taught in African (and probably Western) churches as naturally as breathing air. They teach that God punishes us for our sins up to the fourth generation. I never saw that in the New Testament. I think I saw it somewhere in the Old Testament. They also teach that you need to be ‘delivered’ from these curses. I also have never seen that in the New Testament. But these things are being taught in church today, and they are killing God’s people.
But from Jesus words in John 9, such a teaching is unscriptural. Does it mean this blind man, of whom Jesus said, “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents” had never actually sinned? Never an unseemly word left his mouth, nor an evil thought his mind? Absolutely not! This man and his parents were as much sinners as anybody else was.
But Jesus came to reveal God for who He truly was, a God of grace (Jn. 1:17). Jesus never revealed God as a God of law. Law talks of anger and retribution. There was a lot of that under the Old Covenant. But under the new, there was to be only grace.
Wonders…! Under the new dispensation, the dispensation of grace, Jesus exonerated the man and his parents from any wrongdoing in relation to his affliction! What freedom!
When we who live under the New Covenant in any way make it look like God is making or allowing people to suffer because they have sinned against Him, we are implying that God is still living in the Old Testament; that God is a still a God of law. In the same way, when we walk around putting law on people and trying to make them feel guilty or sorry for themselves because they have not gotten healed or because they have not been ‘blessed’ in a certain manner, by telling them they have no faith, then we are walking under the Old Covenant. We are men and women of law and we want to put people under law, in bondage!
Well, we could remain under the Old Covenant and under law, but God is no longer there. Through the shedding of the blood of His Son Jesus, God has inaugurated a New Covenant for all who will believe on Him. And this New Covenant talks of freedom above anything else. Total, perfect freedom, not half, or bits and pieces of freedom. Happy is the man who, under any circumstances, be they good or bad, be they fortunes or misfortunes, does not feel judged, but rather feels free and loved by God. That means that the man who receives healing from God can rejoice in his healing in total freedom and thanksgiving to God. In the same manner, the man who walks away from an open-air meeting without having received his healing can go home still thankful to God because he is free in his spirit. This is faith.
It is true we must cast out the works of the enemy. Jesus said, “I must work the works of him that sent me” – to destroy the works of the devil. But we must do it in a spirit of freedom, in the knowledge that God is on our side, not against us. What, then, if we do not have enough faith to effectively resist the devil? Are we ‘guilty’ of anything in God’s sight because of this? Hardly. We are still free. God is still our Father, and we are still as beloved in His sight as if we had all the faith in the world.
Why? Simply because we now live under grace, not law!
And what if we do sin? There is still no condemnation. Why? Because we live under grace, not law!
Not that God is happy when we sin; but still He will not allow Himself to relate to us in the spirit of law. He will continue loving us till we repent. More importantly, God’s grace is more than sufficient to set us free from our sin.
We cannot limit God’s grace!
[Below: In Christ Jesus, the well and the unwell, the sinner as well as the sinless, the rich and the poor – whatever state we are in – we are all free, in Him!]
God’s grace is such a wonderful thing… Thanks for this important study.
To just add a word about the “generational curse” thing (Exo 20:5 etc). Although there is no such thing as a curse in either OT or NT, there is still an important principle to learn, that applies to today’s time.
Please keep in mind, Biblically parents hold a tremendous responsibility to set the proper example for their children. It is a very natural thing for children to follow the example that parents set for them. When a parent lives a habitual life of sin their children, apart from God’s grace, will follow their example. As that child grows they can pass that same sin to their children and so it goes.
Their sin, in that sense may be handed down through many generations which can result in God’s hand of temporal and eternal punishment to effect the children in each generation. I believe this is the important message that was meant for both OT and NT saints of the Lord.
Lord bless you!
I totally agree with you Rob, but you realize, as you said, that that applies to people outside Christ. But for people in Christ, there is no such thing as a generational curse, and it is the fact that such a thing can be taught INSIDE THE CHURCH that is so disagreeable and contrary to the spirit of the gospel of grace that we have received.
Some day, in the flesh, I would delight in having long conversations with you, praying with you, stand beside you and teach the Good News! This teaching touches so many areas and is vast in its own scope. However, I do not accept dispensationalism, that God acts differently in different historical periods. Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever. People who live by the law, as though the law could save them, were as wrong in the past as they would be now. But in Psalm 119 the theme is, “I love Your law”. If I follow laws because I love God they do not imprison me, because God is my all, not the regulations. God is compassionate, slow to anger and full of mercy in the Old Testament. The prophets cry out that God hates the way feasts were observed and even hates the sacrifices. Why? Because people believed their actions and gifts won them something, instead of as expressions of humility under God and expressions of unreserved love for Creator. God saved the people out of love, in response to their prayers. Now, I agree that the way the Old Testament is used and taught undermines God’s gracious compassion. But the essence of serving God, the Great Commandment, is Deut. 6:5. The second is Lev. 19:18, so Jesus affirmed the love of God which one finds in law – now under the law, but under the God of the law. So much more about the love of God found in the first Testament…
And I so agree with you that so much teaching in so many congregations lifts up religion and not God, seeks to enslave listeners to the denomination, pastor, doctrine or practice of a group and not total, absolute obedience and service to Almighty God.
May my words and your words be used of God to touch souls for a radical and complete discipleship to our Saviour Jesus. What freedom that is!
I doubt that I can adequately answer the points that you have raised here for now, David, so let me just acknowledge them with thanks… and probably wait for that blessed day when we will meet face to face and have those long conversations!
May God grant it!