Shame needs three things to grow exponentially in our lives: Secrecy, silence and judgementBrene Brown
Have you ever been wrapped in shame? I have. Some of it was placed there by others and some, I put on me. Self-inflicted shame takes a bad decision or situation and attempts to convince you that you are bad. What you do is very different from who you are at your core.
If you believe the lie you are bad because you did something bad you become your own worst enemy. I heard it put like this: The enemy is the inner me.
Our inner me becomes our greatest enemy when something you do tries to become greater than who you are. The Bible clears it up with reminders from scripture, Greater is He that is in me than He that is in the world.
What you believe about yourself shapes what you receive and reject inwardly. If we believe a lie about ourselves it has the potential to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Repentance is powerful. Trust the power of God in the short prayer of, “ Forgive me, Lord”.
Most people have a decision they regret making. A bad money decision. A struggle with drugs or alcohol. An abortion. An affair. A relationship choice. Whatever the fill in the blank is for you.
It was a defining moment that cost you a lot.. Shame waits to pounce on a bad decision and gives you a sucker punch… This is the tactic of the enemy: Tempt you with something, then He condemns you with it afterward.
It’s been that way since the garden… The enemy’s strategy is to entrap you between a lie and the truth. This is what he did with Eve. He planted a thought, a seed of doubt and He patiently waited for the seed (suggestion) to take root.
Once she believed the lie and disregarded God’s counsel she was deceived and trapped. Manipulation at its finest.
Here are three things you can do to dismantle shame and stop the cycle of condemnation
Know your identity and what God says about you.
Knowing who you are in Christ is detrimental for you. When you don’t know who you are in Christ you become a target for the enemy’s lies because of a weak identity. When we are unsure about who God says we are, we get pushed around.
Confidence comes from knowing who we are at our core. It’s rarely connected to our lack of skills. Jesus said, I know where I have come from and where I am going. It’s his will for us to know this and have the same attitude.
You have been elevated to a high position in the kingdom of God. In God’s eyes, you are royalty. Here’s the sad truth: We live like paupers.
It happens subtly. Shame and condemnation convince us we are orphaned children. We move from believing God to begging God.
Instead of living like sons and daughters, we live like slaves begging a reluctant God. The psalmist paints an eloquent picture of who we are:
Psalm 8:5 says you have made him a little lower than the angels and crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of your hands; You have put all things under his feet.
You are a joint heir with Christ not because you earned it but because it has been bequeathed to you as God’s child. You have a royal inheritance. Stop and think about that for a second.
Picture yourself humbly tilting your head down to have a royal crown placed upon you. This was not because of a single thing you did or didn’t do but because of whose you are.
Life itself combined with our own choices knock our crowns off leaving us disheveled.
Our view of ourselves gets hijacked by the impostor. We then have a warped self-image. Hard life blows bring on spiritual amnesia as we wrestle through life forgetting who we are in Christ. We’ve got to remember not to forget the power of renewing our minds.
Think back to when you gave your life to Christ. You realized your need for Christ and by faith you received him. Unable to offer him anything, you received this salvation as a gift.
Many times after our initial experience of salvation we think we must “do” something to “stay” right with God.
We start adopting a lifestyle of performing for God to be accepted by God, even though scripture says, We are accepted in the beloved ( Ephesians 1:6 ) Magnify a struggle when we blow it. It’s as if we think God carries a secret grudge against us. He doesn’t.
Repentance when we blow it brings us back to the intimate relationship with God that our heart craves. Nothing about our lives or choices catches God by surprise. We might get surprised by some of our ways but God never is. He knows man and loves us to the end.
When we live in fear or feel like God is mad at us, we live in the spiritual frenzy of doing things to gain His approval. He has already forgiven us of past, present, and future sins. We can rest by believing God. God’s grace is sufficient.
The sin is not believing God. We tend to reduce sin down to an action we do, but let’s look at what Jesus said:
John 16:8-11 And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness and of judgment ; of sin, because they do not believe in me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father and you see me no more; of judgement, because the ruler of this world is judged.
Sin is the byproduct of our choices when we don’t believe God in our circumstances. It’s the outward fruit of an inward decision made independent of God. It is the result of looking to ourselves or anything else before God.
Know Your Enemy
Study God’s nature but don’t be ignorant of your enemy’s strategy. He has one. If you think He doesn’t you will be enslaved by his tactics.
When we don’t know our adversary we are vulnerable to attacks that bring us into bondage.
When we don’t know God’s voice or his deep love for us we are sitting ducks for the enemy’s attacks.
Shame has power in areas that are still unhealed or in the healing process.
Here is how shame waits:
It waits for discouragement to come to your heart
It waits for a vulnerable conversation to come up surrounding whatever triggers the shame.
It waits for the young warrior that is spiritually ignorant of who God says they are.
It waits for the one ignorant of how God has equipped them to fight and win.
It waits for the wounded heart that buries the pain instead of uncovering it to be healed.
I’d love to tell you it’s as easy as three steps and done. It’s not.
It takes spiritual diligence to get free, but spiritual skill to stay free. The Holy Spirit’s power does the work but we must cooperate with the spirit.
The origin of shame goes back to the garden. The veil of shame separates us from our creator and one another. Condemnation packs a punch if we don’t know what God has done for us in the new covenant. Paul unpacks it in this passage, reminding us of this:
Romans 8:1. There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the spirit.
Shame blocks you from knowing someone intimately. The great cover-up happened when Adam and Eve fell and they scrambled to cover themselves after they sinned. Figleaves were grabbed to cover the embarrassment and pain of the sin they committed.
Jesus stepped in as the sacrifice to free us from Adam’s choice. When He did, He freed us from the penalty of sin: eternal separation.
Let’s look at Peter’s life.
Peter knew what it was like to be wrapped in the cloak of shame. To cover up when He felt vulnerable and uncovered.
Peter couldn’t get past forgiving himself.
Peter beat himself up for his sin. He most likely rehearsed over and over in his head how He told The Lord that He would never deny him. The sting of this memory and his own thoughts kept him bound to it.
He stood in self-condemnation. The truth is He was already forgiven but his mind continued to rehearse all of his mistakes and missteps.
We often do the same. Instead of embracing forgiveness from God and from ourselves, we hold ourselves hostage to the sin we’ve already been forgiven for at the cross.
Jesus wasn’t shocked and caught off guard by Peter’s sin and denial. He knew what was in him and loved him fully to the end. We are like Peter on a lot of levels.
Recognize the difference between conviction and condemnation
It is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance.
Conviction gently calls us back to remember what the cross did for us. Taking our sins upon himself to free us from judgment and condemnation.
Conviction convinces us to agree with God so we can be set free to walk in liberty. Everything God does in our lives is for the purpose of restoration. He reminds us that we are righteous because of who we are in Christ, not how we perform for Christ.
Our behavior matters and how we treat others but we are accepted because of what Jesus did, not what we have done.
Conviction draws you to the foot of the cross and condemnation drives you away.
Conviction reminds you of what God provided for you but condemnation reminds you how you blew it and makes you step back in unworthiness.
Once we believe the lie we are bad we either give in to the lie or try working our way back into God’s favor.
This never works because no good work earns God’s favor or makes up for a sin we commit. God wants us to remember, He is good even when we have blown it.
Our identity is in Him and we are forgiven. A repentant heart leads us back to remembering who God says we are and a heart that turns back to believing God again and hitting our spiritual reset button.
We are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. We can only stand upright because of his goodness, not our own.
A condemned house is one not worth saving. It’s got so much damage it has to be torn down. There is no more use left in the house.
Thankfully, God doesn’t view our lives like this. He sees the broken places, our choices that got us where we are and He steps right in the middle of them.
To heal us while He holds us. He restores our lives and rebuilds them so we can stand upright.
Conviction isn’t always comfortable but it’s always fruitful when we allow the work God wants to do in our lives to produce something beautiful.
In recapping, Here are the 3 things to dismantle shame:
Know who you are in Christ and what He promises you.
Know your enemy so he doesn’t outsmart you.
Know the difference between conviction from God and condemnation that drives you away from God.
At some point, you might stumble. Hopefully, you won’t. But, If so, you have an advocate who wants to lift you up and restore you. You are ridiculously loved. Let’s hold fast to Jude’s encouragement.
Jude 24- Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.