I pondered and prayed to the Lord about the “thing” that kept me from actively experiencing the unending freedom and grace provided to me through Jesus Christ. This “thing” I believed was the culprit to this habitual sin (sexual immorality) with whom I was in a love/hate relationship with. This “thing” would go far away, allowing me to revel in my secret sin. It was stealth, quiet, and able to maneuver strategically. After the dirty deed had been completed, it would approach me yelling “infamy, wicked, filthy, dishonorable hypocrite”. This thing has a name.
Ladies and gentlemen, hold your applause, this character deserves no glamourous introduction. Shame, please come forward and take your last bow. Webster’s dictionary defines shame as a feeling of guilt, regret, or sadness that you have because you know you have done something wrong.
Of course, shame is real. We feel shame as a result of our sin and momentary separation from the Lord. I like to believe shame in it’s proper place can prompt us to feel convicted and sorrowful for our sin. It can be an instrument that leads us to repentance. In the event that shame gets heavy, the enemy uses it to burden us with lies that we will never be used by God, unworthy of marriage, etc. Shame does not travel alone. It is accompanied by guilt. For years, I confused shame with guilt. Aha! This is how shame operates, it lays low, stirs confusion, and creates distraction so we may never uncover its schemes. Shame wants to “identify” us as wrong, dirty, etc. Guilt simply prompts us that we “did” something wrong. Shame is not useful, guilt is. Shame leads us to be estranged from God and others while guilt inspires us to come close again.
I like the story in 2nd Corinthians 2:5-11. It tells of a man who had committed a sin against the church. The elders dealt with this man’s sins accordingly, however his church still had not forgiven him. Paul exhorted the members to quickly “reaffirm their love for him...and forgive him unless Satan would outsmart them” (i.e. open entry for bitterness, unforgiveness, harden the man’s heart against Christ and His church). Although we do not know the offense, we do learn the importance of repentance, seeking forgiveness from others and offering ourselves forgiveness. Paul understood that unresolved sin and shame causes a person to give up and turn away from the comfort of fellowship and the love of Christ. Shame wants to embed itself in the fibers of our being and overrule the confession of our salvation. Shame wants us to believe the lie that the Love and Power of Jesus Christ is not enough to deliver us and change our desires. Rest assured, He is more than enough.
“For God is working in you, giving you the power and desire to do what pleases Him”. Philippians 2:13
Jesus is exceedingly and abundantly enough. Shame is undone in His presence. Ladies and gentlemen, let’s take the first step and go into HIS PRESENCE. Adam and Eve knew the presence of God. They communed with God on a daily basis until the serpent tempted them to depart from the Presence.
“But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?
He replied, "I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.
And he said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?"
Adam and Eve clothed themselves in leaves and twigs in attempts to cover the nakedness they suddenly became aware of. Later, they were cast out of the Garden. Praise God, we have our Blessed Savior to cover us, forgive our sin, and heal us from shame. We no longer have to feel evicted from the Presence of God. Jesus bore our shame so we would not have to identify with it. The solution is the same for all of us. Look to Jesus. Gaze upon Him. Stare upon His victorious countenance.
“We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now He is seated in the place of honor beside God's throne.” Hebrews 12:2
To “look” simply means to change focus, direction, concentration, adoration. The very thing(s) we focus on become our desire. For a few moments of pleasure, our sights were taken away from Christ. The visual, physical, emotional rush we received did not satisfy us. Instead, it deceived us. Looking to Christ comes with great reward. According to Psalm 34:5,
“Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.”
We find relief from our shame by looking to Christ. When we look to Christ for help He grants us an illuminating light (His righteousness) which causes darkness has to flee. This light moves through our core, changing our desires, introduces us to life as God's children as we obtain healing and godliness. 2 Peter 1:3 tells us that,
“By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know Him, the One who called us to Himself by means of His marvelous glory and excellence.”
As we come to know Him, we know more about ourselves. We know that we are loved. We are called. We are no longer guilty because we abide in Christ. We are now living in the light where shame cannot exist. Shame is defeated along with every ungodly addiction.
“For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:3
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