Each and very console launch announcement from the dawn of time until now has been typically filled with the same questions… How much will it cost? How powerful will it be? When is it coming out? Will it look like a small refrigerator? (In the case of the Xbox Series X the answers are: Probably a lot, very powerful, very soon, and absolutely it will look like a mini-fridge). But surrounded by all of these very relevant inquiries we will inevitably get down to the question of backwards compatibility. Regardless of how incredible the graphical improvements look, how powerful the processors are, or how expensive the system will be we will still ask, “Can it play my old games?”
One of the key differentiators between the Xbox 360 and the PS3 was the physical backwards compatibility support, and this continued not only into the PS4/XB1 era we are currently in but into the upcoming console launches this holiday season. And once again we see two very different tactics from each manufacturer… Xbox is unleashing a massive strike with a massive library of backwards compatible titles stretching all the way back to the original Xbox, meaning your very first physical copy of Halo: Combat Evolved will actually run in a console launched almost twenty years later. No weird hoops to jump through, just put the disc in and PLAY it. That’s what I’m talking about. PlayStation is showing a much more curated approach, promising that the top 100 PS4 games will be playable sometime around the launch of the PS5, with the hope/plan for more titles to be added in gradually.
With such contrasting takes on the issue of backwards compatibility, it is fair to ask if this is more of a perception of need vs. a reality. While I personally prefer the largest possible library of games and enjoy dipping my toes back into my old favorites from time to time, we have to look at the facts. We can’t find a perfect measurement for how many people actually took advantage of this feature or leverage it as a purchasing decision, but we CAN look at sales as an indicator. And it is crystal clear that the PlayStation 4 dominated this console generation with over 108 million units sold compared to the Xbox’s 47 million. While there are certainly a massive amount of factors that have nothing to do with backwards compatibility as the reason for this landslide victory, the truth is that the Xbox provided the largest amount of options to play a huge library of your old games on their new console… and they still got out-sold globally by both PlayStation and Nintendo.
So now we have to ask the tougher question… is backwards compatibility truly critical when choosing your next console or is it simply a sentimental choice that is less important than we think? If I had to be honest, I have probably placed less than five physical Xbox 360 games in my Xbox 1 for the entire time that I have owned it. While I appreciate the option and enjoy the flexibility it provides, the reality is that I didn’t buy a new system to play my old games. I bought it to play NEW games, visit NEW places, and get to know NEW characters. I love Halo 3, but I don’t want or need an Xbox Series X to keep playing my old game… I want it so I can play Halo: Infinite and move forward with the story.
It seems that each console is either blessed or doomed to carry the burden of the previous generation’s console on their back as they attempt to find their way in the global marketplace. The perceptions as well as the realities surrounding each of their predecessors absolutely influence the actions each company takes when presenting their newest console, and it also colors the public’s decision on which ones to purchase. And as the PS5 and the Xbox Series X attempt to find their footing in the treacherous console war that lies ahead, they will do so carrying the sins of their fathers along the way.
You might be surprised to know that this happens in our spiritual lives much the same way. Sound crazy? Well, let’s get CRAZY. Because this pattern plays out throughout the Bible and if we are going to find a way to break these “generational curses”, the first thing we have to do is see them for what they truly are. Many times it can be hard to understand why we struggle with specific temptations, sins, and challenges in our lives. Some families can be unaffected by substance abuse while others see it up, down, and diagonally throughout their family tree. Depression can leave many of us alone while it passes undetected through generation after generation of an entirely different family living in the exact same neighborhood, many times right next door.
As a jumping off point we will start with Abraham, the patriarch of the nation of Israel. We covered this previously in the article linked below, but for a quick summary Abraham has been living a nomadic life with his wife Sarah. According to the Bible Sarah was the kind of beautiful that would inspire other men to commit homicide, so during his travels Abraham kept a low profile but claiming to be her brother instead of her husband. TWICE. He did this TWICE. If you want to catch up on that story here you go…
During both of those instances Abraham’s son Isaac was not even born yet. That is critical to understanding what happens in Genesis 26:6-11 when we see Abraham’s son Issac mimic the EXACT SAME deception in Genesis chapter 26 many decades later…
Genesis 26: 6-11 So Isaac dwelt in Gerar. And the men of the place asked about his wife. And he said, “She is my sister”; for he was afraid to say, “She is my wife,” because he thought, “lest the men of the place kill me for Rebekah, because she is beautiful to behold.” Now it came to pass, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines looked through a window, and saw, and there was Isaac, showing endearment to Rebekah his wife. Then Abimelech called Isaac and said, “Quite obviously she is your wife; so how could you say, ‘She is my sister’?” Isaac said to him, “Because I said, ‘Lest I die on account of her.’ ”And Abimelech said, “What is this you have done to us? One of the people might soon have lain with your wife, and you would have brought guilt on us.” So Abimelech charged all his people, saying, “He who touches this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.”
How did Isaac learn to do this? Isaac couldn’t have observed it from his father, and it is unlikely that Abraham bought him an e-book entitled “My Sister, My Wife… A Traveler’s Guide”. But somehow this sin passed from the father to the son regardless. Looking at Exodus 34:7 we see a precedent for what is commonly referred to as “generational curses”…
Exodus 34:7 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”
So it is clear that while there are obviously learned behaviors that can pass from one generation to the next, there are also SPIRITUAL transgressions that can afflict multiple generations even when the particular challenge has not been observed, taught, or encouraged. Perhaps you or someone you know have struggled with thoughts, desires, or habits that you do not understand and have difficulty controlling. I can tell you right now that the answer is not to bury that in shame and hope that it goes away, because even if you manage to suppress it through an act of sheer will and determination it may still live on in those you care about the most. We have to learn how to BREAK the cycle. Time to find the answers.
In Mark 9 we find the case of Jesus Christ being confronted with a demonically oppressed child. This child was possessed by a spirit that had repeatedly tried to force him to commit suicide and had taken his ability to speak. There was no amount of self-help books or positive thinking that would change this situation. It required deliverance from the hands of Christ Himself…
Mark 9:17-29 Then one of the crowd answered and said, “Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit. And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not.” He answered him and said, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me.” Then they brought him to Him. And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth. So He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!” Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as one dead, so that many said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.”
This is WHY Jesus came to earth… to deliver us from the oppression of sin right now and the consequences of that sin in the life to come. Now while the above is an extreme example, the reality is that we all have our battles to fight and we can NOT win them alone. We may not have invited these problems into our lives, but the good news is that whether we inherited them or invited them the same solution sets us FREE. Our FAITH in combination with His POWER is all it takes to break the chains of whatever generational curses or sin patterns we are afflicted with.
Romans 5:14-15 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many.
We all inherited the sins of our first father, Adam, and unfortunately share in the horrible consequences of that decision. But we ALSO have equal access to the redemption and freedom that can ONLY be found in Christ. He alone can break whatever old cycles of trauma and cursed hand-me-downs that we carry.
Ezekiel 18:1-4 The word of the Lord came to me again, saying, “What do you mean when you use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying: ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, And the children’s teeth are set on edge’?“As I live,” says the Lord God, “you shall no longer use this proverb in Israel.“Behold, all souls are Mine; The soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine; The soul who sins shall die.
As we wrap up this exploration of generational curses and what we unconsciously inherit and carry with us, it is important to note that the Father CHOSE the line of Abraham and his son Isaac to be the seed that would eventually blossom into the birth of Jesus Christ Himself. Both the curse of inherited generational sins as well as the fountain of blessing that brought about the salvation of the human race came from the SAME PLACE. Similarly, even with the baggage and battles we have personally faced, the ability to serve as a conduit for Christ and His power is OURS to access freely and without shame. The freedom from our past, from temptations, from unwanted desires and uninvited thoughts is only available through ONE channel… open and honest prayer and submission to the only One powerful enough to break those chains.
Some of those chains will be broken in one command from the Lord (Mark 5:1-20), and some others may require daily submission to His will (2 Corinthians 12:7) to keep us from trying to become self-sufficient. But we do NOT have to allow them to continue to affect us or future generations. We can stop them in their tracks, submit them to Christ, and watch our enemy flee (James 4:7). Sony and Microsoft’s newest consoles are continuing down the path of their predecessors, and I am anxious to see what the future holds on the strategies for each of them. But we have a choice to BREAK any generational curses and embrace the freedom that Christ provided us through His sacrificial death… the ability to start fresh and new without the weight of the baggage we inherited to weigh us down.
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