Please note that if you have never sinned in your life, then it’s better you don’t read this post. And the same applies for commenting. Thank you!
Everyone else should know what I mean when I talk of shame. Although, some might argue, that you can be made to feel shame for the sins of others, even though you’re guiltless. I agree with that. This post is about the things that we have done in the past – or maybe even still struggle with – that cause us to feel ashamed.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve done some really awful things that, when I look back, I just have to cringe. Or wonder “did I do that?” Or “what was I thinking?” Or simply thank God for saving me from myself or from the wrong influences/people in my life.
However, as believers, who have accepted the grace of God in our lives, there is no more shame! The Bible says “no more condemnation for those who are in Christ” (Romans 8:1), because Christ bore our guilt on the Cross. We are able to heal, and walk in newness of life and even a clear conscience. We may even forget that we were ever so terrible or struggled with a sin that led Jesus to the Cross.
This liberty is good, and we should encourage everyone to enjoy this freedom from sin, guilt and shame that we enjoy, by confessing their sins and forsaking it and holding on to Christ! But in our efforts to preach or minister to others, we may neglect to let them in on how bad we had it, so that they can see that God can redeem them, even from the depths of hell! We may not easily sympathize with those who are plagued by horrendous sins that is clear for everyone to see and judge, because maybe ours wasn’t so horrendous!
But this is pride at work. We have to destroy every notion that we were “not so bad” or that we were “good, except for that one sin”. Those who need your witness need to know that they can be delivered the same as you if they accept Christ, and turn from their evil ways.
If you’re not wholly dependent on the grace of God, but on a legality – or justification – then the enemy can destroy your witness with shame! Like James said (in Chap 2 vs 10), if we seek to be justified by the Law, then we must be perfect in fulfilling every commandment (which unfortunately no one is – last I checked!). Shame can never stick to us when we realise that it was and is God’s grace that saves us.
This is particularly relevant now because, as a Body, Christians worldwide are being challenged on their defense for traditional marriage between a man and a woman. The evidence is upon us that the divorce rate is 50%, with no distinction between believers and non-believers. That Christians are engaging in all sorts of sexual immorality the same as non-believers, and Priests, Church Leaders and their children, are even more entangled in such vices. The world is shouting “HYPOCRITES!” to shame us to silence.
And yes, they are right in that we have been hypocritical. Many of us have depended on the legality of divorce in the world, which is forbidden for Christians. But yet, we are judging the world for legalizing homosexual marriages. Years from now, maybe those laws will work for our children who are plagued with those feelings… It is a hard thought, but not unthinkable! Even now, many Christians homes are sympathetic with the gay rights movement, because of members of their fold who are challenged about their sexuality…
So what am I saying? Am I saying we should stop preaching the Christian standard? God forbid! I am only saying that the law is for the lawless (1 Timothy 1:9)! Christians do not follow a legalistic law in any case. We are to be led by the Spirit of God. The written Law and the legal system is in place for those who would err, to keep them in line and protect others from harm. There will always be lawless people as long as the Earth spins. When the Kingdom of Heaven comes, lawlessness and all who practice it will be done away with.
What we are called to do is to save as many as we can, by shining the light of Christ and bringing people into the liberty that comes only from confession of sins, repentance and acceptance of the grace of God to live as children of God. The devil and his angels might remind us that we too broke the laws! Even the abominable ones! They may try to shame us not to speak the Truth, because we are not perfect, and we may yet stumble… They might accuse us of judging – the most unholy of sins!
But let us remember that we stand on nothing but the grace of God. Our liberty was not earned, it was a gift. A gift we are offering them too, without charge and without condemnation. Let us be loving and honest in our ministry. He that stands condemned is the one that has refused the grace, which is the only thing that can save us! Just like the ones we are seeking to minister to, we also rely daily on the grace of God to do right and keep doing right. Shame will not stick to us and can never silence us if we know who our Redeemer is.
Photo credit: http://www.thefreethoughtproject.com
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