2 Corinthians 4:2 “But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”
Our past failures can influence our lives for the better or for the worse. If we dwell on failure, we will continue to dwell in the hurt, pain, confusion, and guilt that we are not meant to bear. As we see our lives in light of Christ’s love, we will see the potential of all that He promised for those who trust in Him.
What are the things that you hold onto?
I knew a young man who I once watched being transformed by the power of God. His past was difficult to say the least since the family in his life were filled with people who couldn’t handle themselves, let alone teach godly morality to their children.
As He submitted to the work of the Spirit of God in His life, I watched him change from a man who was under the weight of this world to one experiencing the joy and freedom that is found only in Christ.
This young man, who has since died and gone on to be with the Savior, struggled with shame. Many times I would talk with Him about His struggle of accepting the forgiveness that Jesus purchased for him. His response was often how hard it was to see how God could forgive and forget his past. He felt like he had done too much wrong, he had hurt too many people, and his life was not worth redeeming.
Isaiah 44:22 “I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, And like a cloud, your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.”
What is it about shame that is so difficult to release?
Shame is often a product of confusion, dishonour, public ridicule, or reproach by others who think they are better.
Shame is comparative in the Hebrew language to someone walking about naked in public. Some people embrace this, to their shame. They disgrace themselves and don’t even realize it.
Many people don’t understand what is shameful and what is not.
Philippians 3:19 “whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things.”
The focus of those who glory in their shame are the people who are determined to express their individuality or show others they don’t care about what others think or how they are actually perceived.
There are parades during Mardi Gras that attempt to flaunt hedonism, sexuality and substance abuse. There are gay parades where the revelers flaunt their sin, expose their corruption, and embrace debauchery. College students will drink like there is no tomorrow, embarrass themselves and wake up hungover. Nudist camps, bicycle tours, and to top it all off, Burning Man festivals that happens every year in the Nevada desert. There seems to be no end to the ways people find to abase themselves and every year American society seems to embrace it more.
Isaiah 47:10-11 “For you have trusted in your wickedness;
You have said, ‘No one sees me’;
Your wisdom and your knowledge have warped you;
And you have said in your heart,
‘I am, and there is no one else besides me.’
Therefore evil shall come upon you;
You shall not know from where it arises.
And trouble shall fall upon you;
You will not be able to put it off.
And desolation shall come upon you suddenly,
Which you shall not know.”
For those who come out of these lifestyles and recognize that Jesus is Lord of all, the past can seem to haunt them. The people they affected can be a trail of brokenness, hurt, and sometimes abuse. The families are left skeptical of true change since they’ve watched them make valiant gestures of change previously only to return to the place they’ve always known.
It’s a difficult task to come out of sin, it takes a complete renewal of mind, body, and spirit. For some their past takes years to expunge, jail time, felonies, or sexual offender labels may carry with them for years.
Jesus makes people New
How does a life surrendered to Jesus begin to change?
Revelation 21:5 “Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”
That which was is no more, that which has become is a new creation.
2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
A life surrendered to Christ has been redeemed from the grave. A life made new has been purchased by the blood of the perfect sacrifice. The purchase price for your life was steep, it required death, Jesus has paid that price and if you trust Him then you are His. He defines you now.
If your identity is now in Christ, you are free from your past. You were once under the law of sin and death, now you are under grace. Before you were identified with the world, now you are identified with the King of kings.
Why would Jesus pay such a high cost for you?
——————Your life has value!!——————
No matter what kind of life you’ve lived, no matter how much you’ve sinned, you cannot exclude yourself from the love of God. God’s love was expressed through Jesus on the cross, He took it all upon Himself. The shame you subjected yourself to was a reflection of your sinful heart. Everyone has this sinful nature it’s just not as obvious in some people as others.
Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?”
Some sins can have a much greater effect than others. If I lie, I might lose honor or the trust of someone I hold dear. If I murder someone, I experience that loss for the rest of my life. Did you know that God doesn’t place extra value on one sin over another.
The moral law is the standard by which sin is defined.
1 John 3:4 “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.”
The law doesn’t quantify sin, it just upholds a standard that doesn’t change, no matter what you think of it. With that being said, I believe the Bible does differentiate the eternal consequences that some sins have over others.
Matthew 18:6 “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”
How can a place where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched have a better part? I don’t believe there will be a group that is suffering through unquenchable fire look over and say, “I’m sure glad I’m not in that part of the Lake of Fire”. It’s ridiculous to think there are levels of Hell. Just like there is reward in Heaven, there is the negative reward in Hell.
Matthew 10:14-15 “And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!”
What more reward could there be in Heaven that makes it better? The streets will be made of pure gold, every form of jewel in her walls, gates of pearl, trees of Life, the glorious city of the New Jerusalem will descend upon the earth and God’s throne will in the midst of it.
The same thought goes for Hell, how could it be any worse?
When we look at scripture regarding reward and punishment, we see a particular pattern.
Matthew 6:16 “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.”
What reward did those whom Jesus was condemning lose?…..Honor!
What will be the reward for those who suffer more greatly in Hell?……….Greater Dishonor!
1 Corinthians 15:42-43 “So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.”
For those who go to the grave in shame, the level of shame they perpetuated on earth is what carries with them into eternity.
For those who have been redeemed, that shame was removed the moment the Spirit of God came upon them and changed their lives forever.
The Lord completely turns the tide of regret into an opportunity for eternal reward.
The process for freedom is found in Christ. Your identity is found in Him. Walk in obedience, trust Him that He is making you new and believe your identity is in Him alone.
The grace of God is complete, it doesn’t miss any aspect of who you were…..you are forgiven completely.
Romans 8:1-2 “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.
Lift up your head of shame and know your identity is now in Christ. He is worthy of all praise and He has clothed you in righteousness. When the day of your death is upon you and you stand before the judge of the Universe, do you know how you’ll appear?
You will look like Jesus!!
Your robe will be white and your sins will be forgotten. Live in the freedom that you have been given. Don’t allow the enemy to continue to bring shame upon you, this is a hindrance in life and life is too short to listen to the accuser any longer.