Unresolved shame creates mental, emotional & spiritual dysfunction. It is the root of almost all Christian inconsistency. If we are to advance in the kingdom of God we must resolve the issue of shame. To live without condemnation is the purpose of the gospel of Jesus Christ and its’ transformation in our life. Therefore, we must become intentional about removing shame from our lives.
Shame is defined as “the painful feeling of the loss of self-respect.” Shame emphasizes the humiliation felt at the loss of esteem. This includes the idea of feeling humiliated or embarrassed as from a sense of inadequacy or inferiority. Shame also includes the pain caused by losing the respect of others. It can only develop through problems in inter-personal relationships that are significant to us.
Shame is always a product of the failure, or perceived failure, to meet the expectations of someone from whom we desire to receive approval. This “failure” results in rejection or perceived rejection. Therefore, failure and rejection are the key elements of shame. When I feel that I am not good enough to be accepted by the people that I consider most important to me, I will usually reject myself.
*** THIS SELF-REJECTION IS CALLED “SHAME”! ***
Shame says to us – you are a mistake; you are flawed and defective as a human being; you will never be good enough; you will ultimately be rejected by everyone as soon as they find out what you really are; you are a failure.
What leads to these feelings?
MY OWN ACTIONS – the most obvious sources of shame are those things that I did that I wish I had not done or those things that I did not do that I wish I had done. Goals that I did not reach which greatly disappointed me or let someone else down causing me to feel that my life will be forever incomplete. Things that I earnestly intended or greatly desired to do, but missed the opportunity to do because of neglect, procrastination, etc.
REJECTION – The real or perceived rejection by someone of significance to me. Shame is usually created through emotional, mental and verbal abuse such as: “Why are you so stupid? You will never amount to anything. Why can’t you be like your brother?” Sub-consciously, the rejected person blames themselves for not being able to be or to do good enough to be accepted.
ALIENATION – This includes the idea of the extremity of alienation which is ABANDONMENT. People who have been victims of sexual infidelity of their mate, victims of divorce, these feelings of being abandoned can cause this type of alienation.
ABUSE – These are defined as violations of the “person.” They can be physical, mental and emotional. The perverseness and irony of all types of sins against the person is that the victim subconsciously blames themselves and not the perpetrator.
CLASS REJECTION – Shame experienced by a group of people because of rejection experienced as a group. When one is misunderstood and being accused of being something that you are not racism, prejudice and
SELF-DESTRUCTIVE BEHAVIOR – Shame begets more shame. Shame is the root cause of ALL self-destructive behavior.
Once shame creeps in, we tend to fall into a cycle:
Shame-Based Identity – I begin to associate myself with the person that rejection has convinced me that I am – someone worthy of more and more rejection. I become convinced that I am hopelessly flawed as a person and that there is no power within me to change me.
Distorted Thinking – I become convinced that I need someone or something more than I have within me to be happy, to feel complete, or to feel better about myself. If I could just find something from outside of me that is better than what I have within me, I could become a better person and feel better about myself.
Acting Out Feelings – I resort to searching for ways to fulfill my lust for things, pleasure, etc. This includes drugs, alcohol, adultery, perversion, gluttony, etc.
Life Damaging Consequences – The results of my actions obviously serve only to severely compound my problems. Now I must deal with the consequences of my actions which have caused a intensification of my shame beyond my imagination.
Prior to their sinful action, Adam and Eve were not ashamed of their nakedness before God, in fact they didn’t even know they were naked. It was only after they sinned that they became aware of their nakedness. While they were guilty in their actions, that was not what caused them to feel shame. The problem was that they had lost the ability to believe that God could love them – SHAME.
When people feel rejected and are filled with shame they develop a sense of feeling naked. Therefore, we hide from God, people, and ourselves. Shame causes us to feel naked or VULNERABLE. Therefore, we create “fig leaf’ type defense mechanisms behind which we hide. These are not comfortable, and they certainly are ineffective, but they are all we’ve got!
You see, shame is often confused with guilt. Guilt and shame are not synonymous. Guilt is the sin or offense deserving of blame or punishment. Guilt rejects the act as wrong. Shame rejects the one who committed the act. Guilt results when I violate the Word of God. Shame results when I am accused of not being good enough to keep the Word of God.
Guilt says, “I have done wrong.” Shame says, “I am wrong.”
Guilt says, “My conduct is not good.” Shame says, “I am not good.”
Guilt says, “I have failed.” Shame says, “I am a failure.”
While Satan’s goal is to keep us sinking lower and lower into sin in attempt to keep us a prisoner of shame, it is our confidence in God’s love for us that is the foundation for our defense against the Devil’s attack of accusation and the onslaught of fear in the midst of crisis. Even though Adam and Eve had sinned, God did not separate Himself from them. In fact, He went looking for them. He sought for them; they did not seek for Him. Why? They felt shame not guilt.
Our guilt is not a problem to God. Our shame is a problem. He is well able to deal with our guilt. – He provided all that was necessary to deal with our guilt all we must do is asked to be forgiven and we are.
If God forgives so readily, why do I feel the need to constantly repent over and over again for the things in my past that God’s Word says He has already forgiven? Because, I am dealing with shame. Even though God has forgiven me, I do not feel forgiven. Why? Because I have not forgiven myself – Shame! Shame undermines my faith preventing God from being able to answer my prayers. (“my heart condemns me”)
How Does One Recover From The Snare Of Shame?
When I allow Satan to coerce me into opposing myself through a verbal assault conducted by me upon myself, I then open myself to being taken captive by Satan at his will. A person thus captured must be taught how to extricate themselves from the Devil’s snare.
II Timothy 2:25-26
25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
Here in verse 26, the word recover means – to return to soberness, as from a state of delirium or drunkenness. This is speaking of those who, oppose the truth through accepting perversions of it, falling into the snare of the Devil, becoming intoxicated with error; for this “recovery” is possible only by “repentance unto the knowledge of the truth.” This “error” includes believing Satan’s Lie about who and what we are in God, and his lie about the faithfulness and effectiveness of God’s forgiveness and cleansing in our lives. The source of this recovery is a “sound mind.”
I Peter 5:8
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
If we are to be free from Satan’s influence we must be freed from the intoxicating delusion of his lies that we have come under the influence of. The teaching of the truth about God’s love for us and the confirmation of the Holy Ghost bearing witness to our hearts will bring us to the point of deliverance.
Jesus was not subject to Satan’s insults, why?
John 14:30 (ASV)
I will no more speak much with you, for the prince of the world cometh: and he hath nothing in me;
Jesus made it clear why He enjoyed such success against Satan and why He had no fear of Satan or his influence upon Him: THERE WAS NOTHING IN JESUS THAT SATAN COULD USE TO OVERPOWER HIM! If we are to be free from shame, we must identify and deal with those things that Satan is claiming as his and that he is using to influence or over-power me.
God’s method of dealing with shame was first demonstrated in the Garden of Eden. God took away their shame by taking off of them the aprons of fig leaves that they had made and clothing their nakedness with coats of skin that He had made.
God’s method of solving the problem of shame is very specific and is very effective. It is not based on Psychology. It does not promote the idea that my problem is permanent and that I must learn to cope with it. God is a healer and a deliverer. It is His perfect will and plan to make each of us into a new person.
The Lord deals with our shame by providing a covering for it. He clothes my sins, thus taking away the shame that I feel because of them.
There is a specific garment that He has provided to “cover” my shame permanently. Christ is our hiding place and His personal righteousness is our robe of righteousness that God has provided for our covering! How do we put on this “robe”?
For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
God has made it very clear to us that he not only wants to save us but to make us whole. Jesus not only came to seek and to save the lost, but he also came to heal and deliver us.
II Timothy 1:7
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
When we allow the Lord to help us, He will set us free from our timidity. (Greek word for “fear” — “Timidity” is another word for “shame.”)
Jesus wants us to:
- accept His love unconditionally
- forgive ourselves of the grudge of shame
- let Him clothe us with His righteousness
Shed The Shame
IN JESUS NAME!