Guilt and Shame

Genesis 3:11-13 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.”

To Adam’s credit, he did tell the truth.

Many say he pointed the finger at Eve, but he at least owned up to the fact that he did eat the fruit God said was forbidden. Right on down the line, we see the three involved in the fall of humanity; Adam, Eve, and the serpent were all present when God gave His judgment.

There is something to be gained in learning to be honest in our confession.

Consider the fact that God saw every move, knew every thought and was present when we transgressed. It should bring about shame and guilt for the sin we’ve committed.

If our hearts are tender and open to the Holy Spirit’s movement, we should feel the conviction of what we are about to do, and the guilt of the sin we chose to commit. One of the telltale signs that I knew I was born again was the way I felt about sin – before and after.

Before salvation, I felt little remorse for the sin I allowed myself to commit. I had long justified it in my mind that I wasn’t as bad as some, and I wasn’t hurting anyone but myself. But upon trusting Jesus Christ as Savior, then came the Holy Spirit to live inside me, and I was never the same.

Sin now became exceedingly sinful. Guilt and shame soon entered my heart. The Word of God revealed areas in my life that were wrong as well, and I wondered how I had survived this long without being cut down by such a holy, righteous God. 

Unsaved, it was east to tell a lie to cover my sin. As a saved child of God, I am convicted by the lies I tell and want to rectify them swiftly to rid myself of the guilt. In our faith-based addiction program RU Recovery, we have a principle that we teach.

“God balances guilt with blame. If we accept the blame, God removes the guilt.”

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Such a promise given when we do our part, God is faithful to do His.

I have come to learn that honesty and transparency with my Heavenly Father relieve the guilt and shame that occurs when I sin. The sin I commit is not one that will ever take me to Hell – the blood of Jesus Christ paid for that. 

The reason I confess and repent of my sin is so my relationship with Him can be restored.

There is a depth of relationship with God that many will miss because they justify their sin and are satisfied living their lives at a distance from God. We feel if He stays out of our business, we are okay to remain distant from His.

There are several things very wrong with this type of thinking.

You no longer have your life.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

We are not saved to live how we desire, but as God designed before we were born.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

The desire of the Father is for us to become more like Jesus.

Romans 8:29-30 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”

When our way fails, and we fight against the will of the Father, He will come and correct us as His children.

Hebrews 12:5-8 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.”

It is not just a yearly checkup we need. It should be a daily, even hourly check to see if there is anything between my Father and me. David, a man after God’s own heart, leads us to pray:

Psalm 139:23-24 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

When I desire the closeness that comes from a clean heart and a right relationship with God, I will want confession and repentance more than the numbness and cold that my selfishness will bring. Ultimately, I will be chastened as a child of God because He loves me and wants me close.

The apostle Paul had such a desire.

Philippians 3:10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;”

May we so desire a close relationship – no matter what it takes.

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