Shame Off You


Has anyone said to you, “Shame on you!” or “You ought to be ashamed!”? Shame makes us feel small, flawed, not good enough. Shame adversely affects our relationship with God, ourselves, and others. It hinders our ability to experience God’s unconditional love.

The good news is there is power in God’s Word to break through the lies I have believed. Breaking free from the bondage of shame is not an instant event or even a quick-fix, three-step process. It is an ongoing adventure of discovering the depths of God’s love and the scope of God’s power to transform me. God has new life, new freedom available on the other side of this journey.

Do I still have shame and condemnation on my conscience? As long as the past is my focus, I won’t dare to draw near to God. But Jesus paid for my guilt and bore my shame. In fact He overpaid – enough for everyone alive, has lived or will live. He carried it all to the cross. And He left it there!

Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection were more than enough for all of us. When He emerged from that tomb, He was no longer clothed in the sin and shame of this world. Sin and its shame were left in the tomb: conquered, paid for, redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb. It is finished. The blood of Jesus has healed us. The blood of Jesus has set us free.

The Israelites had an eleven-day journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. It didn’t have to take forty years, but they chose grumbling, complaining, resisting the work God wanted to do in them. We all have some version of the wilderness to go through. It’s a season that exposes how defenseless we are. It’s how God prepares us to be able to overcome the giants in our lives. It’s a place we cycle through over and over again in our lives—but in different areas—always getting freer and freer from shame each time. We just have to be willing to follow where He leads.

God’s goal for us is freedom, true spiritual freedom. It is a life no longer bound by the weights of shame’s guilt and regret, no longer haunted by shame’s fears and worries, no longer captive to shame’s old habits and addictions. God’s goal for us is not to change our circumstances; it is to change us!

More than once the children of Israel lost focus of how bad life had been when they had been in bondage and they wanted to turn back to Egypt (Exodus 16:3. Exodus 17:3, Numbers 11:5, Numbers 14:2, Numbers 20:5, Numbers 21:5). How quickly I can forget when the wilderness feels too dark and too hard for too long. There are times when I forget how hard the life of shame was and I yearn for the familiar and am tempted to go back to old ways.

We decide it’s time to open a bottle when an unforeseen disappointment surprises us, rather than call the sponsor who is committed to helping us stay on course. Or we grow tired of the discipline of believing who God’s Word says we are over the lies of mean-spirited people who have always said, “You’re just a loser and you’ll always be a loser.”

No matter how bad our past, it’s always easier to revert to old behaviors than to forge new ones. The reality is there is no drive-through breakthrough. We all must go through the wilderness to get to freedom so we are strong enough to defeat the giants who fuel our shame.

Jesus died to secure our freedom from sin and death. Adam and Eve lived unashamed in daily fellowship with our loving Creator and each other. In heaven we will fully enjoy that ultimate freedom. But we don’t have to wait to walk in freedom: Jesus offers us freedom from sin’s slavery now.

I cannot change my past, but I can make decisions now that will change my future. Not just for me, but for the generations who would come after me. I am not powerless, helpless, useless. I have the power to choose freedom.

When I choose to focus more on what Jesus has done for me than on what others have done or said to me, I have the faith to stand up and start moving forward. Without Him, I will inevitably become weary and run out of steam. It is God’s power that is made perfect in my weakness, not my own (2Corinthians 12:9).

The key to moving from a damaged, shame-filled life to a whole, shame-free life is allowing the healing power of the love of God to permeate every corner of my wounded soul and bring healing, wholeness, and strength. It’s not about my doing more for God; it’s about giving God more access so He can do more in me.

The devil will do everything in his power to keep me from getting on the right train of thought. Casting Crowns has a great song, “The Voice of Truth”. Part of the lyrics go:

But the giant’s calling out my name and he laughs at me Reminding me of all the times I’ve tried before and failed. The giant keeps on telling me Time and time again, “Boy, you’ll never win! “You’ll never win.”

But the voice of truth tells me a different story, And the voice of truth says “Do not be afraid!” And the voice of truth says “This is for My glory.” Out of all the voices calling out to me I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth.

Romans 12:2 says, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” I have to be committed to retrain my thinking. I have to work at believing God’s voice spoken through His Word, more than all the other voices that have spoken into my lives (including my own).

We were touring in Italy and were taking the train from Rome to Florence. The Rome train station was massive with dozens of departing trains and tracks. We couldn’t just climb on the first train we came to. We had to choose carefully. I have decided to begin each day by first checking the destination board and picking the right train of thought. I ask myself, “Where do I want to end up today?” And then set my course going in the right direction. This is the process of renewing my mind. Through it, I become someone who thinks and, consequently, lives differently than the world.

Several members of our church agreed that we would take time every morning before breakfast to read the Bible. With very few exceptions over the last 10 years, I have started every morning filling my mind with the Word of God. When I am armed with the truth of His Word, I am able to contend with the attacks of fear, doubt, negativity, and lies that the enemy throws at me every day.

Knowing who I am in Christ and what I have in Christ is vital to staying on track every day. Jesus said, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32 NIV) We love to declare, “The truth will set you free!” But it is only the truth that I know that will set me free. And the only way to know God’s Word is to read it, meditate on it, study and apply it to my everyday life.

The walls surrounding the city of Jericho were impenetrable. Jericho had heard the Israelites were coming, so the place was on lockdown. The Israelites could see that the situation they faced was impossible. Seven days of marching around the walls only emphasized it. Then Joshua told them to shout. “Yea, right. Like that’s going to make a difference! Where’d we find this guy anyway? I’m heading back to Egypt.”

God wanted the Israelites to see not with their eyes but with their faith. He wanted them to see that even though the circumstances were impossible, He would give them the promised victory, because “all things are possible to him who believes.” (Mark 9:23 NKJV).

Learning to trust takes time. But here’s the great news: God knows how to grow trust. He knows how to plant it, how to nourish it, how to repair it when it’s been broken, and how to restore it when it’s been lost. God is in the trust-growing business!

Do you know what He uses to grow our trust? He uses the very tool that the enemy uses to try to stop us. He uses our fear. Fear exposes the limits of our present trust level, but not our potential capacity. Trust building is a process, a journey.

Trust calls for putting more faith in what I know about God than in what I don’t know about the future. It is then I will walk in obedience, trusting that God is good and there is no darkness in Him at all (1 John 1:5). He can only do good and only good will come of the things He asks me to do.

Ephesians 5:8 (NKJV) tells us, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.”  When I bring what is hidden in the dark—my shame and guilt—into the light of God’s merciful presence, they lose their power over me. He gently shines His healing light on all my wounds. Psalm 118:6 (ESV) says, “The LORD is on my side; I will not fear.” He will never shame or humiliate me. He is good, merciful, and kind. He didn’t cause my pain, but He’s ready to help me through that pain.

God is at work transforming me into the kind of Jesus follower who spreads grace and builds others up in the Lord. The next time someone hurts me—and they will—or I hurt someone—and I will—rather than hide from the pain and the shame, I can expose it to God’s light and experience healing and grace. This is living in hope rather than returning to the old cycle I dwelt in so long.

I want to see what God sees! I choose to focus on the freedom that is coming once I drop my old baggage, to focus on where God is leading me. The next time all that shame comes piling back on, let’s take a moment to catch sight of the freedom to come when we slay that giant.

I have made the decision to trust and obey rather than running back to the wilderness to grumble and complain. I choose to be confident that God will be faithful to lead me to complete freedom. Freedom comes when I see myself as God sees me! When I see the victory ahead, when I see the freedom that is coming, I am not only willing to endure, but I am eager to press forward into that freedom.

Let’s declare together:

  • Jesus has set me free.
  • I am free from condemnation.
  • I am free from guilt.
  • I am free from shame.
  • Shame off me!