Sometimes a person – perhaps someone we have had a problem with – might say that they are putting a curse on us. Perhaps they will pay a witch doctor to do it. What should we think? Should we be afraid? What should we do about it?
Every spiritual question should be answered by the Bible. It is the Word of God and is able to tell us everything we need to know to live in God’s world (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Culture and our ancestors may have wisdom in their advice. But that wisdom is often mixed with mistakes. How can we tell what is the wisdom, and what are the mistakes? Only God’s word is perfect and can tell us.
The Bible tells us that evil and evil spirits are real. There is a devil, called Satan, who is the great enemy of God and his people (e.g. Mark 1:13, Luke 10:18, 13:16, 22:3). Many people in the West believe in nothing except what they can see and touch. They do not believe in God, Jesus, heaven, life after death, sin, judgment or hell. They believe only in technology. That is a great mistake. Africans who realise that the spirit world is real, and often dangerous, are far closer to the truth.
The greatest truth the Bible has to tell us is that, ultimately, evil has been totally defeated. Our biggest three enemies are sin, Satan and death. Satan tempts us into sinning against God, and the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). However, when Jesus died on the cross, he completely defeated these powers. He paid the full price which sin deserves. He himself suffered death, so that death could no longer demand anything from us. Satan has no claim over a Christian believer, because Jesus himself has satisfied every claim (Galatians 3:13-14). Sin cannot separate a child of God from his heavenly Father, because “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Therefore, whilst the Bible tells us that Satan is a great enemy, it also tells us he is a defeated enemy. He has power, but it is limited. Jesus, not Satan, is the one with “all power … in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18). When the Bible calls Satan the “prince of this world”, it also tells us that he was “cast out” when Jesus went to the cross (John 12:31). Paul wrote that, at the cross, God “disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame … triumphing over them” (Colossians 2:14-15).
This means that nothing can happen to a believer unless it is part of God’s good, loving plan for him (Romans 8:28-31). Evil may happen to us – but it can never destroy us or cause us true harm. It can only drive us closer to Jesus. It can only teach us not to hope for glory in this world, but to hold on to him. It can only teach us the emptiness of sin, and increase our prayers to be free from it. It may show us the hatred of Satan – but only, if we believe, to make us stronger in resisting and fighting him (1 Peter 1:6-9).
Should we fear curses? No, we should not. They are weapons which are blunt, because Jesus took the curse of God’s law upon himself at Calvary (Galatians 3:13). Jesus is now risen and lives and reigns. If we put on the “armour of God”, standing fast in faith, truth and righteousness, then we will be able to “withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm” (Ephesians 6:10-20). “The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore” (Psalm 121:5-8). “Bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you … But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil” (Luke 6:28, 35).