A curse is really the absence of God in any particular area. As believers, we must still choose between blessing and cursing in every detail of our lives. It’s a choice between God and the devil. There is no middle ground. It’s choosing God in and with our all.
And Elijah came to all the people, and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people answered him not a word. (1 Kings 18:21)
I love the Bible verse which reminds us that heaven and earth will pass away, but that God’s Word remains forever (Mark 13:31). These words are a vital reminder of the faithfulness of God every believer can hold onto. They assure us that it’s a Living Word, that God watches over it in order to perform it, and that we can hold fast to everything He promises. But the Bible also says that His Word cannot be altered in any way – neither added to or taken away from. This creates confusion among believers as to what from the Old Testament ‘belongs’ under the new covenant and what doesn’t. If we no longer live under the law, what value is the law to us as Christians?
Today’s verse highlights the truth that the principles of God contained in His Word remain relevant for God’s people. Elijah echoes the choice placed before the Israelites in Deuteronomy 30:19: I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live. This principle is eternal. It’s also one many believers choose to ignore or gloss over. It emphasises the crucial truth of choice.
Blessing and cursing are eternal, inseparable spiritual principles.
The truth of this is confirmed through additional principles, such as we reap what we sow. God introduced the principle of blessing and cursing early on in His relationship with the Israelites. It’s also been echoed over and over through both the Old and the New Testaments. It’s an absolute truth that He doesn’t change His mind about things. If He did, we should all sit back and seriously consider our salvation. What if God changed His mind about forgiveness? Where would that leave us? The reality is that if we want to hold fast to some of what the Bible promises, we have to be willing to accept all. If we accept the blessings, we must acknowledge the reality of the curses. God Himself has told us in Deuteronomy that they cannot be considered as separate things. They are the two sides of the same spiritual coin.
That’s perhaps an unfortunate analogy as it carries a suggestion of ‘flipping a coin,’ but it does highlight the issue of choice. What’s important, though, is the absolute reality that there are no grey areas. God’s principles are always clear cut and definitive, because they reflect His nature and character. In challenging the Israelites to choose either God or Baal, Elijah reinforces the truth that there are only two options. Blessings are of God, curses are of Baal – the devil and his servants. Deuteronomy makes it crystal clear that there are blessing or cursing, period. There is no middle of the road or no-man’s land. There is no safe ‘neutral’ space between the two. It also highlights the truth that we must, at some point, make a choice between the two. God desires that we do because He desires to bless us.
Blessing and cursing and the cross.
Human nature will happily reach out to grasp the blessings. After all, Jesus dealt with the curses, didn’t he? Surely we’re set free from the curse so that we can enjoy the blessing? here is no way we can deny the truth of this. To do so is to deny the Bible. The full Gospel of salvation includes freedom from curses. This truth, however, does not alter God’s standing on blessing and cursing. It also doesn’t diminish the reality that these are dependent on our individual choice, whether we are saved or not. Choice is not a passive reality that automagically happens when we are born again. It’s an active, conscious, engaged decision. We have to choose one way or the other. While our choice cannot affect the reality that Jesus provided freedom from curses on the cross, it does determine whether we live in that freedom or not.
Our Christian journey is down a road that presents any number of forks – those places when we need to make a choice. At salvation, we choose the blessing, and every single curse comes under the redemption of the cross. But we then have to work out our salvation through various choices. Each one of these forks in the road present the same options – blessing or cursing. What we decide will determine the consequences. Yes, the cross is still present and its power able to save in full. But we’re not exempt from the consequences of our choices. If we choose wrongly, we open ourselves up to the curses that are tied to our choice. Jesus is still the same. The cross is still the same. But we need to make a further choice – the right choice – in order to avail ourselves of Jesus accomplished on our behalf.
Blessing and cursing still applies to Christians.
There is erroneous teaching around which states that Christians cannot be cursed. The Bible does not say this. Rather, it says believers need neither come under a curse or live under a curse. This is because we have access to the blood of Jesus and the grace of God. Jesus did not cancel out the existence of curses but provided a way for us to be free from them. Proverbs 26:2 tells us that a curse without a cause will not alight. The keyword here is ‘cause’ because that’s the spiritual criteria for a curse to take effect. A curse is the spiritual consequence of a wrong choice, i.e. one outside the will of God. The decision is the cause that empowers the curse. If believers choose to sin, for example, the consequences of that sin apply whether we’re saved or not. God’s spiritual principles always apply.
The blood of Jesus never works ‘prophylactically,’ so we cannot assume that it will automatically cover the blessing or cursing we bring into our lives without us having to do anything. The truth of ‘once and for all’ is constant, but it means what Jesus did is sufficient to cover everything that has or will enter or lives. But His blood has to be applied retroactively, which means after the fact. We enjoy freedom from the curse only after confession and repentance, which essentially means choosing what God has told us is right. Of course, it is equally possible to be completely free from any or every curse by making the right decision to start with. Our choice can remove potential cause, which means no curse will alight. God would never have told us to choose if the new covenant removed the necessity of it.
Blessing and cursing from God’s perspective.
The power of the cross lies in the fact that God Himself provided the means to make the right choice and live in the freedom He desires for us. In this, He gives us the same choice – the right to exercise the free will He has given us – as He gave His people through the ages. The message, however, has become diluted because we tend to view the issue of blessing or cursing from a natural or worldly perspective. God’s perspective is different, as highlighted by today’s verse. Elijah reveals that our choice is between God and Baal. While there can be no doubt that the full measure of salvation contains limitless promises of abundant blessings, these are not only the material blessings the church has come to expect. The choice is between the things of God and the things of the devil.
Most of these blessings are spiritual because His first priority is the eternal salvation of our spirits. When we choose God, we choose all of Him – which includes His will, His purpose, His commands, His spiritual principles, and everything in His Word. It’s significant that the cross provides freedom from the curse with repentance. This doesn’t simply mean being sorry for what we’ve done. It means turning away from, doing a 180 and turning to God, which means turning our back on the everything else. If we want to take hold of the truth that God desires to give us His all – and has already done so in Jesus – we must accept that He also desires that we give Him our all. Blessing and cursing does allow for a wishy-washy in-between space. It’s an all or nothing choice we need to face head on.
The everyday nature of blessing and cursing.
The principles of God are never ‘up there’ or removed from our daily existence. They apply across the board, which means they are part of even the smallest details of our lives. Whatever choices we face, the principle of blessing and cursing remains an active part. The options are still the same. In this moment, do we choose the ways of God or the ways of Baal? Elijah faced a silent people who would not answer him. We aren’t very different today because often, the things of Baal seem easier or better or provide a shorter route to self-gratification. The message is not that we should live in constant fear of coming under a curse. Rather, it’s that we should look to God in all things and learn to love Him with all that we are. If we love Him, we will obey Him in everything.
Of course, we make wrong choices and foolish decisions. That’s why God provided the cross. He knows it’s impossible for us to do otherwise. Deuteronomy 30 provides wonderful insight into blessing and cursing, a picture of living for God or for Baal. It’s worth reading, because it highlights a beautiful truth that God is concerned about every detail, not simply the big ones. When we make Him the most important thing in each of these, we make the right choice and His blessings follow. We cannot discount disruptions and spiritual attacks in the normal course of our lives. But prolonged problems in some areas can mean that we’ve made one or more wrong choices. When we choose to include God in this, He will reveal what we need to turn away from. His grace is sufficient for every moment and every need if we turn to Him.
The choice between blessing and cursing.
We must understand that choosing blessing means choosing God. When we don’t choose Him in some areas of our lives, He will remain separate from them. If God is not present His blessings aren’t present. When blessings aren’t present, cursing will always be present. We have a mistaken idea that curses are some kind of ‘foreign entity’ that is out to get us. The real truth is that a curse is actually the absence of the things of God. He simply does not act in certain areas due to our wrong choices. Remember, it’s one or the other. If we desire to live in God’s promises to bless us in all areas of our lives, we must choose Him in all areas of our lives. This implies acceptance that what He considers blessings may be different to our expectations. Choosing God means choosing sovereign will.
He held nothing back. Everything is available in Christ according to God’s purposes. Whether we access these or not is up to us. Today, do we choose God or Baal? Do we choose life – and life in abundance – or do we choose death. Let’s not keep silent but make the only choice that makes sense – choose God.
Lord, forgive us for missing the truth that there are only two options – you or the devil. Help us to desire to love You with all we are and to joyfully accept Your sovereignty in all things. Help us to choose You in every detail, to turn away from all things that are not of You. Above all, Lord, keep us from desiring Your blessings rather than You.