After Jesus was arrested and brought to trial in the house of the High Priest Caiaphas, Peter was in the courtyard nearby. Several of the servants pointed him out, saying, “This man was with Jesus!” Out of fear, “Peter began to call down curses upon himself and swore, ‘I don’t know the man!’” (Matthew 26:74). A self inflicted curse, including a lie.
But what is a self inflicted curse?
In our western, scientific culture, we usually dismiss curses as sheer superstition. In other cultures, there is a much more Biblical view of curses. They are real and can bring harm, because they open the door of our lives for Satan and his demons, who are the instigators of hate, to influence our thinking, emotions, and even physical actions. I’ve seen this first hand in Brazil, Costa Rica, Albania, and even in the United States. Many of us are unaware that, like Peter, we may be cursing ourselves, which hinders us from experiencing the freedom and blessing which God desires for us.
Returning from Brazil, I was asked to teach on spiritual warfare, resisting temptation, and defeating the power of the enemy. “Lord, help me communicate this so people in our western culture can get it.” He reminded me how often I made rash, self inflicted curses using the word HATE! For example, “I hate standing in long lines”, and then joked about it, saying this is why I enjoyed going to church! No lines to get in! Suddenly I realized every time a line was long, whether checking in at the airport, or waiting for a ride at a theme park, or standing in a cafeteria line, I lost some of my joy and Christian attitude. Now I understood why.
For whenever we use the words “I hate…” we create a spiritual barrier against doing the very thing we hate. Children who “hate math”, have a challenging time with numbers. Those who “hate” language learning have already crippled their learning ability. Those who “hate” flying will experience fear on a plane. And so it goes. The word “hate” is a curse which opens our thoughts to the enemy’s influence, and closes our minds to the promises of God through His Holy Spirit! It not only affects our relationship with others when we say “I hate you”. It also blocks our relationship with God! What to do?
There is a more positive approach to facing situations we wish to avoid: “Lord, you know I am not good in this area, or do not prefer to go to that place, or to forgive this person. But if this is something You want me to do, I am willing to do it with Your help.” The words of Paul come to mind, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) Try it! It works!!!
But how do we break self inflicted curses we have already made? Peter discovered his curse of betrayal was broken when Jesus met him beside the Sea of Galilee following the Resurrection. Jesus asked Peter if He loved Him, and forgave Peter. When you visit the site today where this forgiveness was granted, you see a statue of Peter down on his knees before Jesus. Peter had failed as a disciple of Jesus and felt he would forever be just a fisherman. But Jesus is handing him the shepherds staff to replace the fishing nets. Jesus forgave him, broke the curse, and commissioned him to be a spiritual Shepherd in the emerging church! (John 21:15-17))
We too can have self inflicted curses removed by 1) Repenting for what we have said to ourselves or others. 2) Asking for Christ’s forgiveness. 3) Embracing the fact that Christ redeemed us from all curses, taking them upon Himself upon the Cross. (Galatians 3:13) 4) Being redeemed from the curse, experiencing the freedom of the Holy Spirit’s blessing and empowering us for service. (Galatians 3:14)
The next time you or someone you know uses the words “I hate….”, remember that this can do great spiritual damage to ourselves or others, limiting the power of God to work in and through our lives. So why open the door to the enemy? Open the door to God’s forgiving grace and power! Experience His amazing victory which sets us free!
Does this make sense? Let me know your thoughts.
Dr. Larry Selig