Ashamed No More
... and they hid. Tormented by the pain of the deed. Feeling all of a sudden different. The act that they committed... It changed everything. Once walking freely. Now hiding fearfully. Once drawn to His voice. Now afraid of the sound. Shame. It came through a single bite... and affected the rest of life.
What is Shame?
According to Dictionary.com shame is "the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another".
Adam and Eve indeed felt the crippling pain of shame.
Dr. Neel Burton of Psychology Today says that "'Shame' derives from 'to cover', and is often expressed by a covering gesture over the brow and eyes, a downcast gaze, and a slack posture."
They ate from the tree that the One they walked with instructed them not to, and all of a sudden things were different.
They felt the need to cover.
All of the sudden they didn't have the same confidence in their relationship with God. They didn't walk about the garden freely enjoying deep fellowship with their Creator.
You see, when sin entered into the world it changed our position before the Lord.
It caused a painful separation between God and mankind. Fellowship was broken. Mankind's position went from being a friend of God to an enemy of God. From being perfect creations to being desperately broken before a holy God. Because of this, sin without Christ results in shame. But let's get one thing straight:
Shame should never be a part of a believer's life.
Dr. Neel Burton also notes this about shame: "Shame says, 'I am bad.' Guilt says, 'I did something bad.'" Guilt leads us to healthy repentance and greater intimacy. Shame causes us to doubt the words and character of God and results in isolating behaviors.
How it Blocks Victory
Shame is a victory blocker without a doubt!
Why? Because Christ's victory allowed us to be free from all shame and condemnation.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Because of Christ's work on the cross, we are no longer seen as enemies. Our identity has changed. Now we are seen as righteous. Romans 8:1 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21
You see... The victory of Christ says that we are no longer bound to sin. No longer identified with it.
Naturally, if we walk around as those who have not been redeemed- not been bought back by the blood of Christ and not given a rich inheritance of a new identity- we will walk in defeat.
Shame makes us hide.
Shame cripples us.
It causes us to rely on our own self. It tells us that we need to try harder, do more, keep striving ... All to gain what we already have: -Approval -Acceptance -Authority
My Battle with Shame
Shame started blocking my victory when I was a little girl. You see... sexuality was introduced to me by my peers which led me to feel deeply ashamed.
Of course, that shame (as it usually does) led me to more sin. More hiding. More covering and more... shame.
Since then, I have been freed from the sin that I thought caused the shame in my life.
But you know what I've realized?
It wasn't the sin itself that led me to shame. It was my lack of understanding of how God viewed me.
Indeed, it was the fact that I didn't know that as a believer I was already free. I was already forgiven. I was already loved, accepted, cherished and given access to incredible authority, power, and victory. You see... I thought shame was only a part of my life because of the "big stuff" that had happened (sexual sin, being unrightfully exposed as a child, etc.). I thought it was a natural and deserved part of my life.
But in reality, every time I chose to distance myself from God when I sinned, I was CHOOSING shame. I was choosing to allow sin to define me instead of allowing God to define me.
Even now, if I feel bad that I haven't done what God has asked me to do and instead of turning to Him I turn away from Him, I am allowing shame to be a victory blocker. Because shame does not speak to what we have done (that's guilt or conviction which is a good thing that leads us TO God), it speaks to who we are at the core. And God has already told us who we are. Forgiven. Loved. Cherished. Free. Righteous. Now it's our job to simply believe Him.
Walk in Victory!
So what are you waiting for? Let go of shame!
For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Romans 5:17
Choose to believe that Christ's work on the cross was COMPLETE! Final.
Choose to believe that when Christ rose from the dead that He rose to give you life... to give you victory!
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For more on living a life of victory, follow the Victory Speaks blog here.
A special thanks to Karissa Smith of Becoming Kiona for this informative post on living past shame. Karissa is a wife of almost 5 years, mama of 2 with one on the way, and blogger at BecomingKiona.com . She is on a journey of understanding and living out the identity and purpose God has given her and is passionate about empowering other women to become all that God created them to be.