Handcuffed by Shame?

freeEveryone of us has done things we hope never make it to the light of day.  Hurtful words, cruel acts, lust indulged, advantage taken, greed run rampant are just a few of those regrettable acts.  Over the years I have heard some truly heartbreaking confessions in my church office and there are a some skeletons in my closet, too!  Shame can be (and often is) like a set of handcuffs. More than a few times people have told me – “I want to become  ____ (fill in the blank with your vision) that makes a difference for the Lord, but I cannot because I _____ (again fill in the blank with some sin or failure).   John Piper writes that “Satan uses guilt…to strip you of every radical dream you ever had or might have.  In their place he gives you a safe, happy, secure American life of superficial pleasures, until you die in your rocking chair.”  He wrote that in the context of an article about sexual sin, but it can apply to every kind of moral failure.

Millions of people who would like to do something for God conclude that they are  too stained, and thus, too unworthy, to be of any value to Christ.  Shame turns them from the noble calling of God to some lesser  pursuit;  things like success, accumulating wealth, or chasing fame.  Perhaps they are unaware that these are attempts to satisfy the need for significance that the Lord Himself put in us.  Shame handcuffs them. Guilt imprisons them in the past.  There is freedom!   It is not found in perfection, in piety, in attempts at rigid moralism. It is a gift of God.  Paul says this – “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”” (Romans 1:16-17, NIV)  Christ Jesus came to save sinners and if we respond to His good news with faith, we are declared ‘right with God!’

No one is too anything to be beyond God’s forgiveness.  The pages of the Bible are not packed with plaster saints.  They tell the story of real people, sinners who found God’s salvation. Paul persecuted Christians, even seeking their deaths, but he became an apostle of the Gospel.   David murdered a friend so he could marry the man’s wife, but he became the author of worship songs in the Bible (the Psalms).   Peter swore he did not know Jesus at the very moment his Friend was being tried, but he became the leader of the Church in the early years of Christianity.

The remedy for sin – past, present, and future – is not found in religion, rules, or accountability groups.  Each of those things might serve some good purpose, but making you and me holy is not one of them!

Holiness that qualifies us for the service of God results from a spiritual transformation that comes from knowing Jesus Christ and accepting for ourselves, through faith, what He did on the Cross on our behalf!   We do not get ourselves right with God!  We are made right with God.   ” Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.” (Romans 5:1, NLT) “And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.” (Romans 8:30, NLT)

Confessing the guilt, admitting to the shame, and receiving God’s grace silences the accusations of our conscience and the lies of the Evil One. Receive the righteousness that is perfect; that of the Savior.  What none of us can do on our own – living a holy life – is possible when the Spirit takes up residence in us. The paradox of the Cross-centered life is that God’s greatest glory is revealed at the point of our greatest shame!

Yes, we feel sorrow when we lie, cheat, serve our ego, and indulge lust as well we should, but let it be a godly sorrow that leads to repentance.

Here’s a word from the Word.  Let it inspire you today to do the will of God.

“This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it:
“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all.
But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me
as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners
.
Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.

All honor and glory to God forever and ever!
He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God. Amen.” 
– Paul   (1 Timothy 1:15-17, NLT)

I am free. There is no more condemnation for me, only the expectation of God’s welcome.  What about you?

_____________

This Is Amazing Grace  (Worship along with this song on YouTube)

 Who breaks the power of sin and darkness?

Whose love is mighty and so much stronger?

The King of Glory, the King above all kings.

 

 

Who shakes the whole earth with holy thunder?

Who leaves us breathless in awe and wonder?

The King of Glory, the King above all kings.

 

This is amazing grace,

This is unfailing love,

That You would take my place,

That You would bear my cross.

You laid down Your life,

That I would be set free,

Oh Jesus,
I sing for all that You’ve done for me.

 

Who brings our chaos back into order?

Who makes the orphan a son and daughter?

The King of Glory, the King of Glory!

 

Who rules the nations with truth and justice,

Shines like the sun in all of its brilliance?

The King of Glory. the King above all kings!

 

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain.

Worthy is the King who conquered the grave.

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,

Worthy is the King who conquered the grave.

 

Jeremy Riddle | Josh Farro | Phil Wickham

© 2012 Phil Wickham Music (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.)

Seems Like Music (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.)

CCLI License # 810055

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