I am no stranger to shame. In fact, I remember reading a book as a child that introduced me to shame in the form of foul, hovering creatures of darkness. Their appearance was amorphous and hidden by a tattered cloak, yet it was their diet that was truly evil. These creatures fed off of human happiness, only leaving feelings of despair and shame behind. In these books, their presence was described as suffocating and recognizable from a distance by the path of destruction in their wake. As the reader would discover, a creature composed of this kind of darkness could only be defeated with powerful light.
To this day, when I feel shame, I feel it in the shape of this creature. I feel it creep into my peripheral right before it leaches worth and confidence out of my soul. At its worst, shame takes everything forgiven and lovable about me and leaves me with a rewritten narrative; one that Satan uses to isolate me and empower my feelings of rejection. At its best, shame prevents me from walking in obedience because I don’t believe that I am capable of the brave and bold things that God is calling me to.
What I’ve learned in the years that I have had to confront shame is that, much like the creatures of darkness from my childhood, it can only be fought with the most powerful light. And as Christians, we believe in the most powerful light to ever exist: Jesus. There is only one thing more powerful than our shame, and it’s the truth of happened on the cross. Jesus’ perfect life, sacrifice, and resurrection, and ascension declare these incredible shame-fighting, sin-destroying truths: We have not and will never be enough to be permanently free ourselves from sin and shame. Fighting it on our own leaves us weary, and the shame only gets stronger.
But Jesus, through his perfect life and sacrifice, is enough. Jesus, and Jesus alone, was enough to reconcile us back into relationship with God by taking our sin and shame to the grave.
His resurrection showcased not only the truth about who he is but victory he has over sin. He didn’t just take our sin and shame to the grave, he left it there forever. Christ’s ascension into heaven means that his work as our advocate with God has begun. Jesus didn’t just die for a little bit of your sin; he died for all of it. And because of that, we are able to approach God’s throne directly to receive endless mercy and grace; something that reminds us that our sin and shame isn’t the final word on our worth.
Where shame will tell us that our mistakes and humanness will cause God to reject us, scripture declares that there is nothing that could separate us from His love. Where shame will tell us that God’s grace only reaches so far, scripture responds with the truth that there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.
When we accept these truths wholly, we have something in our arsenal that reminds us that sin and shame are no match for our Savior and what he has already done for us. We are able to fight back against the shame with the truth that pours out of the gospel.
Steps of Faith: Lord Jesus, you have destroyed shame. You have broken it’s power over me. Help me to step into the freedom that you have provided. Lord, I ask for faith and courage and your comfort over me as I do the work I need to do. Lead me in forgiveness. Amen.
Deeper Walk Scripture: Romans 3:23, Romans 8:1, 1 John 1:1-2, Hebrews 4:16, John 8:12.