There is one – and only one – all sufficient basis for every provision of God’s mercy: the exchange that took place on the cross.
Jesus was punished that we might be forgiven
Jesus was wounded that we might be healed
Jesus was made sin with our sinfulness that we might become righteous with His righteousness
Jesus died our death that we might share His life
Jesus became poor with our poverty that we might become rich with His riches
Jesus bore our shame that we might share His glory
Jesus endured our rejection that we might have His acceptance as children of God
Jesus became a curse that we might receive a blessing
This list is not complete. There are other aspects of the exchange that could be added. But all of them are different facets of the provision God has made through the sacrifice of Jesus. The Bible sums them up in one grand, all-inclusive word, ‘salvation’. Christians often limit salvation to the experience of having one’s sins forgiven and being born again. Wonderful though this is, however, it is only the first part of the total salvation revealed in the New Testament.
The full scope of salvation is obscured – at least, in part – by problems of translation. In the original Greek text of the New Testament, the verb sozo, normally translated “to save”, is also used in a variety of ways that go beyond the forgiveness of sins. It is used, for instance, in many cases of people being physically healed. It is also used of a person being delivered from demons and of a dead person being brought back to life. In the case of Lazarus, it is used of recovering from a fatal illness. In 2 Timothy 4:18 Paul uses the same verb to describe God’s ongoing preservation and protection from evil, which will extend throughout his life.
The total outworking of salvation includes every part of man’s being. It is beautifully summed up in Paul’s prayer in 1 Thessalonians 5:23: “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ”. Salvation includes the total human personality – spirit, soul and body – and it is consummated only by the resurrection of the body at the return of Christ.
No one enters into all the varied provisions of salvation simultaneously, however, or by one single transaction. It is normal to progress by stages from one provision to the next. Many Christians never go beyond receiving forgiveness of their sins. They are not aware of the many other provisions that are freely available to them.
The order in which a person receives the various provisions is determined by the sovereignty of God, who deals with all of us as individuals. The starting point, generally, is forgiveness of sins, but not always. In the earthly ministry of Jesus, people often received physical healing first, and then forgiveness of their sins.
This can still happen today. In 1968, my own wife, Ruth, while still single and living as a practising Jewess, had lain sick in bed for many weeks. Then she received a miraculous visitation from Jesus in her bedroom and was instantly and totally healed. But it was two years later before she recognised her need to have her sins forgiven. Only then was she born again.
When we come to God on the basis of Christ’s sacrifice for us, we need to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. We cannot impose our priorities upon God, but we must let Him work with us in the order He chooses. A person may, for instance, be determined to seek financial prosperity, whereas God’s first priority for him is righteousness. If he stubbornly insists on claiming prosperity before righteousness, he may not receive either!
Again, a person may seek physical healing, not knowing that the root of his physical sickness is an inner emotional problem – such as rejection or grief or insecurity. In response, God will move to bring the emotional healing that is needed. If the person does not open himself up to this, however, but continues to beg merely for physical healing, he may in the end receive no healing at all, either physical or emotional.
Sometimes God seeks to reveal to us a provision of salvation that is our most urgent need, and yet we are not aware of it. This applies particularly to the provision for release from a curse. Very often a curse over a person’s life is the unsuspected barrier that holds him back from the other provisions of salvation. Normally, this barrier must be dealt with first, before other needs can be met.
This is the provision we will now focus upon: the exchange from curse to blessing. At this point we are confronted by precisely the same issues Moses put before the Israelites as they were preparing to enter the land of Canaan. “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blesses and curses. Now chose life, so that you and your children may live. Deuteronomy 30:19. The issues were so solemn, and so far-reaching in their consequences, that Moses called heaven and earth to witness Israel’s response.
The alternatives were clear: life and blessings, on the one hand; death and curses, on the other. God required the Israelites to make their own choice. He urged them to make the right choice: life and blessings. But he would not make the choice for them. He also reminded them that the choice they made would affect not merely their own lives, but also the lives of their descendants. This emerges once again as a characteristic feature of both blessings and curses: They continue from generation to generation.
The choice that Israel made at that time determined their destiny. The same is true for us today. God sets before us precisely the same alternatives; life and blessings or death and curses. He leaves it to us to choose. Like Israel, we determine our destiny by the choice we make. Our choice may also affect the destiny of our descendants.
I remember when I was first confronted by those words of Moses. As I realised that God required a response from me, I was overawed. God was waiting for me to choose! I could not evade the issue. Not to choose was, in effect, to make the wrong choice.
I thank God that He gave me the face to make the right choice. Never, in all the years since then, have I regretted it. God soon began to show me, however, the implications of my choice. I had passed through a door leading to a lifetime walk of faith and obedience, from which there was no turning back.
All who desire to pass from curse to blessing must go through the same door. There must be clear recognition of the choices set before us. Then there must be a simple, positive response. “Lord on the basis of Your Word, I make my response. I refuse death and curses, and I chose life and blessings.
Once we have made this choice, we can go on to claim release from any curses over our lives. What are the steps that we must take for this? There is no one set pattern that everyone must follow. In bringing people to the point of release, however, I have found it helpful to lead them through the seven stages outlined below:
You may be approaching this issue from the perspective of one who is concerned to help or counsel others. To receive the full benefit of this instruction, however, I recommend that you put yourself mentally in the place of the person who needs release. In so doing, you may discover that is where you actually are!
1. Confess your faith in Christ and his sacrifice on your behalf
In Romans 10:9-10 Paul explains that there are two essential conditions for receiving the benefits of Christ’s sacrifice. To believe in the heart that God raised Jesus from the dead and to confess with the mouth that He is Lord. Faith in the heart is not fully effective until it has been completed by confession with the mouth.
Literally, the word ‘confess’ means ‘to say the same as’. In the context of biblical faith, confession means saying with our mouth what God has already said in His Word. In Hebrews 3:1 Jesus is called the High Priest of our confession. When we make the right scriptural confession concerning Him, it releases His priestly ministry on our behalf. To receive the benefits of Christ’s sacrifice, we need to make our confession specific and personal. For example:
Lord Jesus Christ, I believe that you are the son of God and the only way to God; and that you died on the cross for my sins and rose again from the dead.
2. Repent of all your rebellion and your sins
There have been many external factors – even going back to previous generations – that have contributed to the curse over your life. Nevertheless, the root of all your problems lies within yourself. It is summed up in that one word avon (iniquity), your rebellious attitude towards God and the sin that has resulted from it. For this, you must accept personal responsibility.
Before you can receive God’s mercy, therefore, He requires that you repent. This must be a deliberate decision on your part: You lay down your rebellion and submit yourself without reservation to all that God requires of you. A person who has truly repented no longer argues with God.
The New Testament leaves no room for faith that bypasses repentance. When John The Baptist came to prepare the way before Jesus, the first word in his message was “Repent….” (Matthew 3:2). Later, when Jesus commenced His public ministry, He took up where John had left off: “Repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). Without repentance, no effective faith is possible. Many professing Christians are continually struggling for faith because they have never fulfilled the prior condition of repentance. Consequently, they never receive the full benefits of Christ’s sacrifice.
Here is a suggested confession that expresses the repentance that God demands:
I give up all my rebellion and all my sin, and I submit myself to You as my Lord
3. Claim forgiveness of all sins
The great barrier that keeps God’s blessing out of our lives is unforgiven sin. God has already made provision for our sins to be forgiven, but He will do not do this until we confess them. “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). God is faithful to do this because He has given us His promise, and He always keeps His promises. He is also just because the full penalty for our sins has already been paid by Jesus.
It may be that God has shown you certain sins that opened you up to a curse. If so, make a specific confession of those sins.
It is also possible that a curse has come upon you because of sins committed by your ancestors (especially idolatry or the occult). You do not bear the guilt of sins your ancestors committed, but you may be affected in various ways by the consequences of their sins. If you know this to be the case, ask God also for release from those consequences.
Here is a suitable prayer that covers this:
I confess all my sins before You and ask for Your forgiveness – especially for any sins that exposed me to a curse. Release me also from the consequences of my ancestors’ sins.
4. Forgive all other people who have ever harmed you or wronged you
Another great barrier that can keep God’s blessing out of our lives is unforgiveness in our hearts toward other people. In Mark 11:25 Jesus put His finger on this as something that we must deal with, if we expect God to answer our prayers.
And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.
The same principle runs all through the New Testament. If we want God to forgive us, we must be prepared to forgive others.
Forgiving another person is not primarily an emotion, it is a decision. I sometimes illustrated this with a little parable. You have in your hand IOUs from another person in the total of $10,000. In Heaven, however, God has in His hand IOUs from you to Him in the amount of $10,000,000. God makes you an offer, “You tear up the IOUs in your hand, and I’ll tear up the IOUs in Mine. On other hand, if you hold on to your IOUs, I’ll hold on to Mine!
Understood in this way, forgiving another person is not a tremendous sacrifice. It is merely enlightened self-interest. Anyone who is not willing to cancel a debt of $10,000 in order to have his own debt of $10,000,000 cancelled is lacking in business sense!
God may now be bringing to your mind some person or persons whom you need to forgive. If so, you can look to the Holy Spirit for help. He will prompt you to make the right decision, but He will not make it for you. While you feel His prompting, respond. Make a clear-cut decision to forgive. Then verbalise your decision. Say out loud “Lord, I forgive…..” and name the person or persons involved. The ones you find it hardest to name are the ones you most need to forgive! Here are some simple words you can use:
By a decision of my will, I forgive all who have harmed me or wronged me – just as I want God to forgive me. In particular, I forgive…. [name]
5. Renounce all contact with anything occult or Satanic
Before you come to the actual prayer for release, there is one further, important area that must be dealt with: all contact with anything occult or Satanic. This includes a very wide range of activities and practices. You may need to turn back for a moment to pages 68-71 in chapter 6, where there is a list that covers some, but not all, of the forms that these may take. If you are unclear about an area that is not mentioned in the list, ask God to make it clear to you.
If you have been involved at any time in such activities or practices, you have crossed an invisible border into the kingdom of Satan. Since that time, whether you know it or not, Satan has regarded you as one of his subjects. He considers that he has a legal claim to you. Since the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan are in total opposition to one another, you cannot enjoy the full rights and benefits of a citizen in God’s Kingdom until you have finally and forever severed all connection with Satan and totally cancelled any claim he may have against you.
In 2 Corinthians 6:14-15, Paul stresses the necessity of a complete break with Satan’s kingdom: “What fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial (that is, Satan). In verse 17, he concludes with a direct charge from the Lord Himself:
Therefore come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean and I will receive you.
Making this break requires also that you deal with any ‘contract objects’ that is objects that would still link you with Satan. This could include many different items. In my case, as I related in chapter 2, it was the Chinese dragons I had inherited. If you have any doubts about how this might apply to your situation, ask God to put His finger on anything that is offensive to Him. Then get rid of it in the most effective way: burn it, smash it, throw it into deep water – or whatever!
If you are ready to make this total break with Satan and his kingdom, here is an appropriate way to affirm it
I renounce all contact with anything occult or Satanic – if I have any ‘contact objects’. I commit myself to destroy them. I cancel all Satan’s claims against me.
6. You are now ready to pray the prayer for release from any curse
If you have been willing to commit yourself to each of the preceding five steps, you are now at the place where you can pray the actual prayer for release from any curse over your life. But remember, there is only one basis upon which God offers His mercy: the exchange that took place when Jesus died on the cross. Included in that exchange was provision for release from every curse. By being hanged on a cross, Jesus became a curse with every curse that could ever come upon you, that you in turn might be released from every curse and receive God’s blessing in its place.
It is important that you base your faith solely upon what Jesus obtained for you through his sacrifice on the cross. You do not have to ‘earn’ your release. You do not have to be ‘worthy’. If you come to God with thoughts like that, you will have no solid basis for your faith. God responds to us only on the basis of what Jesus has done on our behalf, not of any merits we may fancy we have in ourselves.
If you pray with this basis for your faith, there are two distinct stages, related as cause and effect: receiving and having. Receiving is the cause, from which having follows as the effect. Receiving is in the past tense; having is in the future. Receiving takes place when we pray. Then having follows at a time and in a way determined by God’s sovereignty. But the principle Jesus emphasises is this: If we do not receive at the time we pray, we have no assurance that we will ever have.
Here is a prayer that would be appropriate. You might first read through this prayer and then read on for further information:
Lord Jesus, I believe that on the cross You took on Yourself every curse that could ever come upon me. So I ask You now to release me from every curse in my life – in your name, Lord Jesus Christ! By faith I now receive my release and I thank you for it.
Now, pause for a moment! Before you pray this prayer for release, you would be wise to reaffirm each of the five preceding confessions you have already made. To make this easier for you, they are repeated below, but without any added comments or explanation.
Read them out loud, slowly and deliberately, with undivided attention. If you feel uncertainty about any section, go back and read it again. Identify yourself with the words you utter. By the time you have read them through, you should have the sense that you have brought yourself to God with the words you have spoken. Then go straight on to the prayer of release, which is repeated at the end.
Here, then, is the complete prayer:
Lord Jesus Christ, I believe that You are the Son of God and the only way to God; and that you died on the cross for my sins and rose again from the dead.
I give up all my rebellion and all my sin, and I submit myself to You as my Lord.
I confess all my sins before You and ask for Your forgiveness – especially for any sins that exposed me to a curse. Release me also from the consequences of my ancestor’s sins.
By a decision of my will, I forgive all who have harmed me or wronged me – just as I want God to forgive me. In particular, I forgive….
I renounce all contact with anything occult or satanic – if I have any ‘contact objects’,
I commit myself to destroy them. I cancel all Satan’s claims against me.
Lord Jesus, I believe that on the cross You took on Yourself every curse that could ever come upon me. So I ask You now to release me from every curse over my life – in Your name, Lord Jesus Christ!
By faith I now receive my release and I thank You for it.
Lord, I now open myself to receive Your blessing in every way You want to impart it to me and I thank you, Lord Jesus. Amen.
Now don’t stop saying “Thank You” just once or twice. Your mind cannot grasp a fraction of what you have asked God to do for you, but respond to God with your heart! This could be the time to release hurts or pressures or inhibitions that have built up inside you over the years. If a dam breaks inside you, ,don’t try to hold back the tears that are the outflow of your heart.
Don’t be held back by self-consciousness or embarrassment. God has known all along the things that you kept shut up inside you – and He is not the least bit embarrassed by them. So why should you be? Tell God how much you love Him. The more you express your love, the more real it will become to you.
On the other hand, there is no set pattern for responding to God that everyone has to follow. The key to release is not some particular type of response. Faith can be expressed in many different ways. Just be your real self with God. Open your whole being to God’s love as a flower opens its petals to the sun.
7. Now believe that you have received, and go on in God’s blessing
Do not try at this stage to analyse what form the blessing will take or how God will impart it to you. Leave that in God’s hands. Let Him do it just how and when He will. You do not have to concern yourself with that. Your part is simply to open yourself, without reservation, to all that God wants to do in you and for you through His blessing.
Remember that God is “able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). So do not limit God to doing only what you think.
Here is a simple form of words that you can use:
Lord, I now open myself to receive your blessing in every way You want to impart it to me.
It will be exciting for you to see just how God will respond!
[Excerpted from “Blessing or Curse – You Can Choose” by Derek Prince]