The Trap of Shame

Last night I watch a movie called The Heart of Man. I was nervous after the trailer to watch this as I did not agree with some of the people who spoke in it. Yet, I loved the movie. The acting in the movie had no lines. It was simply actors with music which was interrupted with scenes of documentary-styled talking heads commentary. When of the people in a cut said something which was so powerful that I have not been able to stop thinking about it. He said, “Shame drives my compulsive behavior… I’m never going to be enough, so I’m entitled to do ________.” I think this is true in so many ways for our world today.

Yet, believing this is riddled with problems.

Believing this can say that Jesus’s death on the cross is not enough to cover your sins. It acknowledges your shortcomings and inabilities, but this belief says that since you will never be able you will just continue to sin. While it is true that we will never be fully rid of sin in this life, the Bible is full of commandments saying, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt 5:48, NRSV). We are to live our lives daily being transformed into the image of Jesus by the power of his Holy Spirit. Or to quote John Owen, “be killing sin, or it will be killing you.” We will never be perfect on this side of eternity, but that does not lessen our call to live to be so.

Buying into this lie also says that since I am never going to be perfect, yet I am holy and blameless through the blood of Christ, therefore, I have a free pass to sin. This is to make Jesus’s death for us a sort of fire insurance get-out-of-hell-free card. Paul was expecting believers to rebuttal his teaching in grace with this and so Paul poses the question to himself in Romans and answers it by saying, “What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it?” (Rom 6:1-2). We have been bought by the blood of Christ to be freed from our bondage to sin so that it no longer rules over us. And since we have a new life, we are to live our lives freely to God and not enslaved to our old sinful nature (Rom 6:4-11).

Lastly, buying into this lie is also a problem of pride.

Another belief in this lie is that I am so bad and my sin so big, that I will never be forgiven.

You are not alone. We are all broken and sinful and on our own, each one of us can never be good enough. That is the beauty of the gospel though. The message of the gospel is that though we never could and never would, Jesus still died for each of us and by faith through faith we can be forgiven and redeemed. To think your sin is any worse than anyone else’s is a lie of pride from the enemy disguised as shame.

And when we live in shame, we live ensnared by the enemy.

When we live in shame, we live compulsively in sin.

But Jesus is calling. God is continually telling us that he is a God who can be found when we search for him (Jer 29:13; Matt 7:7-11). We do not have to live in shame and guilt because in Christ we are forgiven and made whole. Later in the movie, a man is talking again, and he discusses how he had 15 affairs on his wife, yet they are still married. He said people always ask how they can fix all the brokenness and hurt he caused in their marriage. Then he dropped a bomb of truth.

It is not about fixing what is broken because Jesus takes broken things and makes them new.

In the third revelation, when I saw that God does everything which is done, I did not see sin, and then I saw that all is well. But when God did show me about sin, then he said: All will be well.

Julian or Norwich, Showings (Long Text), 236

God is not the source of sin, but he is the answer to it. All things will be well because he is reconciling the world back to himself. We may be broken and may never stop sinning on this side of eternity, but we must put sin to death, or it will put us to death. Jesus does not just want to fix our brokenness, he wants to make it new. Let Jesus breathe new life into your brokenness.

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