A 20-year-old young woman sits in the dark, heavy with sin. Chest heaving and face burned with tears, crying out for forgiveness, “Oh wretched man that I am…” Asking to be released from the overbearing burden, “Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” A new child is adopted, now, into God’s family.
My life, before that night, had been caught so deep into Satan’s snare that it took God bringing me to utter depths and despair that I longed for Him. The weight of sin finally pulled off the scales and revealed the wickedness of who I was. That was 20 years ago. Till this day, I still carry this guilt of who I was and what I did, but should I? Should we, after being adopted into God’s family, continue to carry the burden of our sin? God tells us in Romans 8 and 1 John 3 that He forgives ~ we are a new creation through the blood of Jesus Christ. We have confidence of this, that there is no more condemnation for those of us in Christ. (Romans 8:1)
Guilt has a huge purpose, however. It is our meter ~ our signal that we are away from God’s will. But we don’t live there. Our pride and embarrassment from our sin cause us to hide, harbor, and blame. We automatically try to justify and defend our sin to ourselves and others. Yet, there is freedom from this in Christ, where we can sit and shed and thank God for His loving kindness to us ~ in that while we were yet sinners (and continue to be) Christ died for us! (Romans 5:8)
There is nothing more peaceful for me than to sit in the presence of my God and my Savior. In the presence of the one who knows ALL and yet calls me to Himself, so that He can forgive my sins. I am united into His family. We can’t let Satan drag us away from this. If we sit in our sin and embarrassment and allow it to rule our actions, we will not grow closer to God, but farther away. God wants nothing more than for you to lay your sin and burdens down at His feet. He wants nothing more than to cleanse you of your sin and welcome you home.
So what do we do with our shame? Well, the first thing we need to do is be honest.
Honesty is the number one thing we lack, due to pride. We are all selfish sinners who want to automatically put blame on others. It’s a, “He started it!” type of mentality. We tend to justify things in our minds as to why we sinned in the first place. Our embarrassment and pride create a hurdle too high for us to fully conquer our shame. We need to be real with ourselves. Regardless of what led to our sin, we are still responsible for it. Will we stand before our Lord and have Him say, “Oh yeah Sara, you are right. Your lack of feeling accepted as a child is a great reason to take drugs and drink yourself numb every night.” Or, “I can’t believe Kelly would tell on you. If she would have kept her mouth shut your sins would still be secret. She is such a nark.” No! He is going to call you out on everything you have done. Yet we are still professional blame-shifters. We bend the truth or place blame on others in order to lesson our feelings of guilt, but all that really does is keep us from dealing with it. So deal with it. Accept reality and truth. Put the blame where it is due and apologize and ask forgiveness from our God.
A man once found himself in the midst of situation at work. He was talking to his boss, when he realized he had made a huge mistake on a project he was working on. He could have easily hid the mistake or placed blame on others, but he didn’t. He flat out told his boss the mistake he had made and took full responsibility for it. There were several others who attributed to the mistake, but this man realized that the blame really landed on him; so he bore the full of it. That is integrity. That is dealing with sin. Not hiding, not lying, not blame shifting. Many people looked up to him for this, as this was not easy to do, to throw yourself under the bus!
John 3:19-21 “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”
Second thing we need to do is give it to God, and I mean really give it to God. Carrying around guilt and giving in to negative self-talk demeans Christ of His sacrifice and God’s character. God is love. He is forgiveness. These are not just attributes, they make up who He is. When we come to fully know God, we realize that we can sit in peace with Him and His unconditional love and forgiveness.
Nehemiah 9:17 “But You are a God of forgiveness, Gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness…”
As well, if we carry around our guilt, we diminish the cross and Christ’s sacrifice. Ephesians 5:2 “and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” And Romans 8:1-8 “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free form the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God, for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
If we repent and take our sin to the cross it is done. Christ paid for all of it there! What a tremendous and underserved blessing. We diminish this blessing when we go around harboring hatred towards others for our sin or harboring hate for ourselves for what we have done. If we fill our hearts and minds with hate and negativity we will never be Spirit filled people who are doing God’s work. In order to be the true hands and feet for God we must let go of shame and fully accept the forgiveness of God. The great thing about this is that it gains us a great love and appreciation for our Great God! Knowing He can cover our shame through His son and renew a right spirit within us (Ps 51:10) is the most freeing and indescribable gift! Immersing you in this AGAPE love only makes you complete in Him, giving you the right spirit that is needed to glorify Him and for yourself to find the joy you long for.
It sounds easy doesn’t it? Yet, we all know how hard it is to fully let go of shame. To accept blame where it is due and admit wrong doing cuts to the very heart of our sin. To then let go of it requires tremendous trust in God! But this is exactly what He calls us to do! It brings Him glory and us joy and a life worthy of the calling to which we have been called.
So if you are dealing with shame it’s time to start being honest with yourself, accept responsibility, give it to God and yes … let it go.
About the author:
Kristen Wells has a bachelors of science degree in biblical counseling and is the author of The Warring Soul. She resides in California with her wonderful husband, Greg, her son, Justin, and her daughter, Katie.
Besides writing, Kristen enjoys reading, knitting, playing board games, substitute teaching at her kid’s school, teaching bible at Santa Clarita Christian School, and mentoring youth. When she is not attending to the needs of her family, you can find Kristen curled up with a good book and a cup of coffee or fellowshiping with friends. Above all, she lives to exemplify Christ in her everyday life and help others to find their way out of darkness.