“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
This month I want to talk about shame. You see, I have experienced a lot of shame in my life. I’ve made many mistakes; said the wrong thing at the wrong time, misunderstood people and felt very misunderstood myself and on top of that, made a few bad decisions. Oh, everybody makes mistakes in their life but as a child with an undiagnosed learning disability, I was punished for many things that I couldn’t help. It left me feeling defective; like I was a big disappointment and didn’t really know why. As I got a little older, I never felt that I measured up. As a result, I fight negative self-talk, feelings of self-consciousness, social anxiety and fear. We carry the hurts from our childhood with us throughout our whole lives. There are no perfect parents and many people I have talked to who are well into adulthood and beyond still struggle with deep scars and pain from growing up, especially if they are sensitive. In this blog post, I’m going to talk about how we can be set free from shame.
As I was thinking about Easter this year, I read several accounts of the death of Christ in the New Testament and I noticed that what it says about the crucifixion itself and what actually happened to Jesus physically, is very brief. Mostly just “He was crucified…” even though crucifixion is an incredibly slow and cruel way to kill someone. But in those days and at the hands of the brutal Roman Empire, it was a common way for people to die. I don’t want to ever make light of what Jesus endured on the cross because it was torture, but maybe after we acknowledge the horror of what Jesus went through to pay the price for our sin, we need to quickly change our focus to everything Jesus died to free us from and one of those things is SHAME. That is my main point today.
Jesus didn’t just endure pain that day, He also endured a lot of shame. Jesus was rejected, despised and ridiculed. He was mocked, spit on and physically tortured so badly that He was barely recognizable. Then they stripped him and crucified Him. He hung there for hours with no dignity whatsoever. He was perfect in every way and yet was treated like a common criminal by the very people He came to the earth to save. Then they taunted and shamed Him some more because He could heal others but He wouldn’t save Himself from being crucified. Shame, abandonment and rejection were heaped upon Him.
Jesus loved and served perfectly. He healed, restored and brought life to people. He brought value and worth; He brought hope when people were hopeless. He ministered to very broken people, inside and out. Everything about Jesus was perfect and yet He suffered the worst SHAME imaginable.
Have you experienced shame in your life? Do you feel shame for your past or current failings and struggles? Shame because of what someone has said to you or how others think about you; shame for what you think of yourself; that you’re not good enough or you don’t measure up? Shame is a crushing burden. It’s not just a feeling or a way of thinking, it’s an experience—where you’re experiencing yourself as defective, empty, worthless and trashed.
Listen, Jesus took all of that on Himself, on the cross, for you. To the point where I can say with confidence that if you are experiencing shame in your life on a regular basis, you’re not experiencing the gospel in the way that God intends for you. Because you will know the truth, and the truth will SET YOU FREE. The gospel brings freedom from sin and all of its effects, and that includes our shame.
The truth is that most of us do deal with shame in varying degrees. So how do we see the gospel applied to our lives in a way that drives out shame and replaces it with the truth that we are fully accepted and approved by God in Jesus Christ? If we’re able to see clearly how the enemy works, and what Christ has done to defeat it, we can put on right belief today and walk in that.
When Adam & Eve sinned they immediately covered themselves and hid from God. This is how we know that shame entered the world along with sin. When you feel ashamed, you hide. Sin is shameful. When we sin, we feel that sense of shame return. 1 John 1:10 tells us that we all sin. The thing is, the enemy wants us to feel shameful and condemned but Jesus bore our sin and our shame on that cross, and Jesus never brings condemnation.
For the Non-Christian: Jesus is the only way for you to have sin and shame removed from you, and have a right standing before God. People will spend their entire lives trying to earn something that can only be obtained by grace & through faith. They will spend their entire lives trying to find joy, peace, satisfaction and fulfillment in things that will never bring them. Those things are found ONLY IN CHRIST.
For the Christian: The only way to live in freedom from sin & shame is for you to continually allow the gospel to wash over your heart and believe that these things are true of you. We must learn to preach the gospel continually to our own hearts and battle unbelief with the truth of the gospel. When the enemy comes to you with guilt and shame, tell him to go measure how far the east is from the west and get back to you, because that’s how far God has removed your sin and shame (Psalm 103:2).
Pray with me:
Thank you, Jesus, that Your sacrifice on the cross has set us free from sin and shame! Help us to walk in that freedom every day and not give in to the thoughts of shame and condemnation that come from the enemy.