Tag Archives: Grace

Don’t Let Misplaced Shame Ruin Your Life

No one likes to reveal the wounds of their heart, personal failure, or the skeletons in their closet. Many tell themselves lies everyday to hide from these things. They lie to themselves by saying they are fine when in reality they are not. They tell themselves they are at peace when frustration rules their mind. They say I am healthy, but still limp along in life. Why do we do this?

There are many reasons why we are not always truthful to ourselves or others, but one reason is the shame we carry around in our hearts. Shame is a powerful emotion. Christians and non-christians alike attempt to run and hide from their shame. Shame is not the same as guilt. Guilt is produced by something we did whereas shame is the negative feelings about who we are. The dominate self-thought of shame is worthlessness. It’s when I have made a mistake, becomes I am a mistake. Shame is birthed into our psyche when we feel our life is not measuring up to the standards we set for ourselves or by those imposed upon us by others. We lie to ourselves and to others to hide our brokenness and defectiveness. The feelings of shame from personal guilt is a healthy emotion and motivates us to make helpful corrections in our lives. But that is not what I am writing about here. Sometimes people get stuck in unhealthy shame that hinders their personal and spiritual growth.

There is such a thing as misplaced shame. This is the shame we should not be feeling bad about. Its when the things you feel shameful about are not dishonoring to God. It can even be bad things in your life that you had no control over or no fault of your own. Misplaced shame often is experienced by Christians for sins that have already been forgiven by Christ. There are also the times when we carry shame for present sins in which we believe have crossed the line to receive the forgiveness and healing of Christ. The bottom line with misplaced shame is that we believe our failures are bigger than the Grace of God. “But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant” (Romans 5:20 NLT). God’s grace is always bigger than our sin, our guilt, or our shame.

Once we confess our sin, God is faithful to forgive our sins. We are free to live in right standing with God. Shame for the sins we have been forgiven of or the bad things in our lives out of our control can be very destructive to our life. If we do not deal with this misplaced shame it will rob us of the joyful relationships and ministry God has intended for us to enjoy.

There are many people written about in Scripture that could have surrendered to their sin and shame and rendered their lives ineffective for God. But they did not surrender to their shame. The result, God forgave them and used them mightily for his purposes, There is Abraham who was a liar saying his wife was his sister allowing her to be put into a compromising situation. Moses who was a murderer. Jonah an ungrateful and unwilling prophet. Jacob a con artist. Rahab a prostitute and David who committed murder and adultery. Then when one looks into the New Testament we see God calling Zacchaeus a cheating tax collector. Jesus hung out with the unaccepted of society. He even called those rough around the edges to be his twelve closest friends. We read of Peter who Jesus selected and used as the church’s first organizational leader and voice.

The most amazing story of Jesus using someone who most of us would not choose because of their past is that of Paul. Paul was a religious man with a corrupted theology about God. He saw Jesus as a fraud and his followers as delusional. Paul thought Christians were the enemies of God. As a young man, he watched the execution of Stephan, an outstanding deacon- leader of the early church. From that moment Paul became hell-bent on destroying the movement of Jesus and his followers. The Bible and other historical sources tells us Paul was a persecutor, abuser, and murderer of Christians. Paul was a bad man. He even calls himself the chief of all sinners. After Jesus met him on the road to Damascus and transformed his heart, there must have been much self forgiveness to rid himself of the shame that gripped his heart for all his wrong doing. We read Paul writing about this when he penned the following.

For I am the least of all the apostles. In fact, I’m not even worthy to be called an apostle after the way I persecuted God’s church. (1 Corinthians 15:9 NLT)

You know what I was like when I followed the Jewish religion—how I violently persecuted God’s church. I did my best to destroy it. (Galatians 1:13 NLT)

I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault. (Philippians 3:6 NLT)

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him, even though I used to blaspheme the name of Christ. In my insolence, I persecuted his people. But God had mercy on me because I did it in ignorance and unbelief. Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was! He filled me with the faith and love that come from Christ Jesus. 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. (1 Timothy 1:12-16 NLT).

It does not matter what you have done (things forgiven) or what has been done to you, don’t let your misplaced shame defeat you. God has a plan for you and he won’t disown you. This is why he came and died on the cross, rose from the dead, and ascended to the right hand of the Father– to get glory from your life. Paul also said these word about his present in the context of his past.

I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. . . I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us (Philippians 3:6, 9-14 NLT).

Paul and so many others in Scripture were failures, sinners, and misfits, but Christ through his atoning work, forgiveness, and grace did miraculous work in their lives. It is so unlike us, but God chooses to use the messed up and broken people to advance his kingdom. So trust Christ, He forgives. Forgive yourself, then press forward. Forget the past, and look to a bright future serving Christ.

He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12 NLT). Your shame is gone in Christ.


Falling From Grace

There is a theological tragedy happening among many evangelical Christians today. It often goes unnoticed because the damage is not immediately seen. What is this tragedy? It’s the corruption of the Gospel by false teachers.

That statement, may seem over the top, but protecting the Gospel from false teachers has been an ongoing challenge for the Church throughout the centuries. It was an issue the Apostle Paul faced in his ministry with the Galatians. Here are a few passages from the book of Galatians addressing the subject.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. (Galatians 1:6, 7 ESV)

For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:11, 12 ESV)

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? (Galatians 3:1-3 ESV)

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. (Galatians 5:1-6 ESV)

These are just a sampling of Paul’s words but his point is clear. The Galatians are in danger of corrupting the Gospel message. How? By participating in a belief system that is teaching a misleading theology of salvation. The Galatians were beginning to follow false teachers and the gospel they proclaimed. The false teachers’ gospel could be stated as follows belief in Jesus plus observing the laws of Judaism. Another way of saying this would be Jesus is not enough to believe in for personal salvation. There has to be something more. Mainly, a self-effort morality has to be included for salvation to be achieved.

It’s not so different today. Many are “falling from grace” trusting in a self-effort morality based gospel. The difference would be the Galatians based their moral gospel on the law, keeping of the Mosaic and other Old Testament writings. In this belief system God was seen as the ultimate authority and judge. This is true, God is the ultimate judge of our lives, but the human problem of sin is still unresolved in a religious system based in performance.

Society today views morality in terms of subjectivity not religious absolutes. So, for many today morality has very little or nothing to do with God. Morality is now seen as a personal position with no universal foundation. It is solely personal opinion. The result is the Bible has no relevance for our lives and everyone has become their own god-judge. This is the idolatry of our society, self-worship.

If our problem was merely a moral one then good behavior would achieve our salvation. But our human condition is much more severe than moral. It is a sin problem and it will take more than good behavior to save us. It takes faith and repentance. If our good behavior was enough, then Jesus would not have had to die on a cross.
But He did have to die for people who had no way of saving themselves.

The heart of the Christian Gospel is Jesus died as our substitute. We are the guilty ones deserving death. But the gospel is more than Jesus’ death. He lived in perfect obedience to the will of God fulfilling the righteous standard of the law. In his death on the cross He absorbs God’s wrath against sin, satisfying the sovereign demand for justice. In his resurrection, He defeats sin and its result death. He does all of this for people like you and me.

As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! (Galatians 1:9 NASB)

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