Your family of origin can mess you up.  In fact, most people feel at least somewhat wounded by the experiences they had growing up.  But before we blame mom and dad, (hear me out please) let’s look at what Ezekiel had to say.

Ezekiel 18:1-4  “The word of the LORD came to me:  “What do you people mean by quoting this proverb about the land of Israel:   ‘The fathers eat sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’?  “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD,  you will no longer quote this proverb in Israel. For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son—both alike belong to me. The soul who sins is the one who will die.”

This ancient proverb is hilarious. Imagine your mom eating a sour apple or grape and all of a sudden you feel the effect in your mouth.  It is a physical impossibility and that is what makes it so funny.  Our lives are connected to our family of origin but not to the degree where they have complete influence over us.

This proverb from ancient Israel about sour grapes came about because parents do have an influence in our lives.  I want to look at negative parental influence today and how to overcome it.   What was happening here with this proverb was that parental influence was being taken too far.  This proverb was allowing people to feel like they could blame their mom and dad for what was happening in their life.

Parental influence is not greater than the power of personal choice.  God was setting some things straight. He was saying, Don’t say that proverb anymore. You are responsible for yourself. We all belong to God and will all give an account to Him.

I want to tell you a true and kind of humorous story…it happens long before debit cards when people used to use something called cash.

A number of years ago, I was invited to lunch by a long time friend.  I have known this man since I was 16.  He invited me to lunch. His exact words were “Let me buy you some lunch.” So we went down to a little café to eat. This gentleman who is quite my senior grabbed the check and we walked to the cashier to pay the bill.  Just before we got to the cashier, he pulled his billfold out of his back pocket, opened it up and looked in and said,   “I am so embarrassed. I don’t have any money, would you mind getting this?”

I said, no. I picked up the bill. Three months later, I am in another state and call this man’s son. He says to me, Bob, let me buy you breakfast tomorrow!  I said okay.  We met for breakfast. He grabbed the check and said, this is on me today. I said, “thank you so much.” But when we got to the counter to pay the bill. He pulled his billfold out. He looked in it. He held it to me in exactly the same fashion as his dad and he said the exact same words that his dad said, “I am so embarrassed. I don’t have any money. Would you mind getting this for me today?”

Ah!  The power of parental influence. I wonder how many times as a young man, my friend had seen his father do that same little trick.  Oops! I don’t have any money.   Yet here was the son…following the parental influence of his dad. While parental influence may have given him the idea, while his dad may have even modeled it repeatedly,  this man, his son, now an adult, had the power of choice which was a greater power.   He could have chosen not to have done that.

We need to debunk the lie that you have no other choice than to follow the path of your family of origin. It is a sensitive issue if someone says, “I can’t help it or stop it that I am this way…because that is how my family is. They are pointing out a connection that is real and powerful and may strongly influence them.  And the truth is that on our own we will more than likely repeat the scripts that we have seen and heard played out so long ago.

I may come off as a simpleton, but I have a question:  Didn’t Jesus come to give us the strength to break old patterns?  Does the gospel still work? Are we doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past or can real change occur? What is stronger,  my family of influence or the Jesus in us?

I have some good news for you this morning. There is an answer. It begins by giving your life to Jesus Christ. He can make a difference in your life. You may have thought, I have to follow the way of life given to me by my parents. You may have thought, I will never be free from this. You have been given the power of choice. The first thing you must choose is Jesus. Once you make that choice, the entire world of possibilities falls open to you.

I want to teach you today….the steps you need to take to be free any negative effect from your family of origin.

The first step is obvious.

  1. Make Jesus Christ your personal Lord and Savior.

Let’s gain some biblical understanding: The truth is that the entire human race is part of one big family.  You may not realize this but I am your distant cousin somewhere down the line.  It may be way distant. You may have to go back to Adam and Eve to find a connection. But we are one family. And everyone in the family of the human race is underneath the curse of sin. That is why our family of origins get so messed up!

Romans 5:12 tells us this: “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned—”

But we cant blame our problems, our sinfulness on Adam. Because every single one of us have followed in his footsteps. Romans 3:23 says “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  

The modern world doesn’t want to deal with that.  Its easier to just blame mom and dad.  I read a book as a young man that said, I’m okay–You’re okay. The gospel of Jesus Christ declares that everyone is not okay.  We are not okay! Nor is everyone around us okay. We all need a Savior to forgive us, cleanse us, and put us on the right path,otherwise we will just continue the cycle of brokenness we so often see.

  1. Let go of all bitterness against your parents.

I say this gently and tenderly.  If you had a difficult family life, you cannot let that control you the rest of your life.  Even if you have been terribly wounded by them. Forgive them and let it go. Being angry with your parents is not going to help you to be free. Actually being angry with your parents ties you to them in  a negative way.  You need to forgive your parents or whatever happened in your family of origin.

I am not saying this is easy.  Parents can wound children deeply. We need to understand that they are a part of fallen humanity as well.  If you think they aren’t deserving, we  need to think of how deserving we are of Gods forgiveness. (I don’t deserve it) Think about the number of sins you would have piled against you, if it weren’t for Christ. If Christ forgave you, shouldn’t you also forgive them.

I remember reading in a book somewhere the story of how a father who was estranged from his son in Old Mexico. And so he puts an ad in the paper.  Paco, I forgive you, meet me in the town square at high noon on such a date.  And there were a thousand Paco’s waiting in the square.

Dads need to be forgiven, moms need to be forgiven, and children need forgiveness and healing.

  1. Realize that sin no longer holds power over you.

If you just became a Christian, there are some things you need to learn. There is some teaching that you need to be given.

Before you became a Christian you were a slave to sin. The scripture even uses that imagery of a slave when it describes a person before Christ who is bound to sin. The saddest thing in the human race is slavery. How one man can do that to another is intolerable.

Here is the point: A slave wants to be free but cannot. He wishes that the chains would be gone. He dreams of freedom. But he cannot become free. It is a picture of those who are bound to sin.

There are many people today who wish they could stop messing up. They suffer the negative consequences of their sin. They hurt because of it. They feel pain. Ask any junkie on the street and they will tell you that yes they want a different life, but how to get it they simply don’t know. They are slaves.

It is not just the junkie… it is every human being.  That is what Satan does…He takes chains and wraps them around a person and he makes them a slave to sin.

The good news is that the moment you say, God I want you in my life!  God sets you free!  2 Corinthians 5:17 says,  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 

God forgives you of all your sins, he makes you a new creatures and he takes the chains off.  John 8:36 says,  “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

Why do I still have the tendencies that I used to have.  Why is my flesh still inclined to desire the same things I used to?  Keep reading if you want to know the answer.

  1. Get the teaching you need to walk in freedom.

Let’s read it in Romans 6:17-18 “But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted.   You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” 

When Abraham Lincoln made the Emancipation Proclamation, at that moment he enacted into law the fact that every slave in the United States of America was free. That was a glorious day. But a declaration of freedom was not enough to truly become free.  Basically most exchanged one form of slavery for another. The slaves became share croppers. There came a day when those had been slaves had to fight to be able to actually walk in freedom.

As Paul writes to the Romans he tells them in verse 17 in order to be free, “you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted.”

It is one thing to be declared free. It is another thing to learn how to live free. Where are you being taught the Word?

The trend in Christianity today to think that the moment I give my life to Christ, then all my problems are over.  All my bad habits will just automatically disappear. All the negative traits that I got from my family of origin they will just shrivel up and die.

I want you to know that it will not happen without your participation with the Bible.

Romans 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Ephesians 5:26  “… to make her holy, cleansing] her by the washing with water through the word,”

  1. With God’s help break the chain of negativity in your family line.

It is interesting that in 2 Chronicles 28–35  there is the account of one of the most wicked men in all of God’s word.   He took the treasures from the house of the Lord and made altars out of them to other Gods.  He was a wicked king. Do you know who his son was?

His son was Hezekiah. 2 Chronicles 29:2 describes him, “And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord…”

Here is what is interesting:

Hezekiah’s son was named Manasseh. Even having the great influence of his father Hezekiah-he also was wicked. And then Manasseh’s son Amon was wicked. But Amon’s son Josiah led a great revival in Israel.

I said all of that to say this.  Yes our parents have influence in our lives. But it does not negate the power God has given you to determine your own destiny.

You have been given the power to choose.

Choose life! Choose Jesus!