Season: 3 Episode: 037
Shame is a painful emotion we were never supposed to experience. How do we get rid of shame, where did it come from and what if we don’t experience shame when we sin? Shanda answers all of these questions on today’s episode.
“We can’t do anything to remove our own guilt and shame, but that doesn’t mean we don’t try.”
“Sin separates us from God and exposes us.”
“Shame is a natural response to sin.”
“Shame is a terrible thing, but it is much more terrible to not experience the shame of sin at the expense of being separated from God.”
“When we live in a society that removes the consequences of sin, they also remove the shame of sin.”
“When God has taken away the reproach of sin in your life, do not allow anyone to accuse you of living in it any longer.”
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Hey guys, welcome back to episode 37: Living with shame … or not!
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Today, we are talking about something that we were never supposed to feel. We are talking about a topic that is hard for many of us to cope with because it steals our joy, keeps us from thriving in our walk with God, and it imprisons us by memories of the past.
We are talking about shame.
By definition, shame is a “painful emotion caused by the awareness of having done something wrong or foolish.”
A few months ago, I was listening to a Christian podcast and the podcaster said something off that made me stop and pay attention. She said, “I don’t care what you’ve done. If you’re forty years old and you woke up in the bed of a stranger this morning due to a one night stand, you don’t have to feel ashamed.”
Red flags started waving high and red alerts started going off in my head because this is completely untrue. Shame is not something you can brush to the side. It’s not an emotion that comes and goes like anger. It is deeper than that because it is spiritual, and today, I’m going to show you why.
We are going to talk about:
- What is shame and where did it come from?
- What happens when we’re not ashamed of our sin?
- How do we get rid of guilt and shame so we do not experience the pain of it for the rest of our lives?
What is shame and where did it come from?
As I mentioned above, the definition of shame is a painful emotion. When we think of emotions, we don’t tend to think about shame. Usually, our emotions are a response to something in life.
For example, anger, sadness, happiness, fear, etc are in many times and in many ways in response to external factors.
Shame on the other hand, comes as a result of sin. It may be my sin directly or it could be the sin of others and it affects me and causes shame. I’m going to explain this a little further as we get into the episode.
In order to truly understand what shame is, we must find its origin because as I said earlier, shame wasn’t intended to be part of the plan.
Gen 2:25 says, “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”
The Hebrew writer of Genesis, which we believe to be Moses, makes it very clear in this moment that shame was not in the picture up to this point. The entire creation story has been laid out, the command given, Adam is in the garden, Eve comes along, and still … there is no shame.
This is what the Bible has to say once Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
“Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.”
Right here we see that something changed. They were naked, now they’re exposed. Their eyes were opened to their nakedness.
But they’d always been naked, so what are they feeling? What are they realizing?
Verse 8-11 gives us much insight into this. They read, “They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of there Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you? He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” And God said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”
So let’s stop here and evaluate a few things. First of all, the Bible never mentions the word shame here. But because of the response Adam and Eve had toward their sin and their relationship with God, we realize this is where it was birthed.
I’m going to break down three things about shame that Genesis tells us, and this will help us understand the origin of shame much better.
- It has to do with nakedness.
Before the fall, Adam and Eve lived in a natural state of nakedness.
But after the fall, nakedness is the first consequential feeling experienced by Adam and Eve due to sin.
Throughout the Bible, you will see verses referencing nakedness that have to do with sexual sins. Nakedness is associated with being immodest or seductive. In our culture, uncovering nakedness is in line with Hollywood movies, pornography, clothing that appeals to exposing parts of the body, etc.
Uncovering nakedness is associated with shame … a natural response to sin. Why do we have indecent exposure laws? Because it is shameful to parade around in public while exposing your private parts.
Speaking of private parts, why do we call them private parts? Because showing them would be uncovering our nakedness.
Do you see how Adam and Eve’s sin effects us all? We all experience shame in a natural sense because it is no longer “natural” to expose our nakedness without feeling shame.
You might ask: what about those who aren’t ashamed to show their bodies? Isn’t that good because it shows they’re not ashamed? No. Guilt and shame should be present when we break a moral law. It is a natural response to sin.
We can’t do anything to remove our own guilt and shame. But that doesn’t mean we don’t try.
And that brings me to what Adam and Eve did next:
2) They covered their nakedness with fig leaves.
When Adam and Eve sinned, they tried to cover their shame with fig leaves. They tried to get rid of the feeling of shame.
How many times do we try and take matters into our own hands to cover our reproach? Living with shame is a terrible thing. We’ve all experienced it; whether it be from our own sin or being a victim of someone else’s sin, we’ve experienced shame.
Because we want to get rid of it, we take it upon ourselves to fix it.
I mentioned the Samaritan woman last week, but she’s a prime example of sewing fig leaves to cover the shame of 5 failed marriages. To fix that, she came to Jacob’s well, a Patriarch of her ancestors, and she avoided her towns people by showing up at noon when no one would be there.
And instead of getting married and risking one more failed marriage, she decided to just live with her boyfriend.
Because fig leaves don’t take away shame. They don’t remove the reproach of sin. It’s impossible. Our home remedies do not get to matters of the heart.
And we know this because of what Adam and Eve did when they heard God walking in the cool of the day, they hid.
Our methods of fig leaves don’t work because Adam and Eve still felt ashamed of their nakedness so they hid from God.
We know this because Adam said, “I was naked, so I hid.”
And God said, “Who told you you were naked? Did you eat from the tree I told you not to eat from?”
Basically, you can phrase it this way, “Who told you you were naked? Did you sin?”
Sin separates us from God and exposes us.
And what is the natural response of someone who is guilty and doesn’t want to get caught? They hide.
Adam and Eve never hid from God before this. This was an unnatural response to God’s presence for them. God never had to ask, “Where are you?” And this question posed by God is not just a question to reveal physical position, but spiritual relationship.
Where are you Adam? … implies they are fallen and the relationship has been severed because of sin.
So again, we see the origin of shame:
2) Sin brings shame because it exposes us
3) Shame causes us to hide because we’re exposed
That podcaster I listened to can say all day long, every day of the week that we don’t have to feel ashamed, BUT … sin doesn’t allow us to escape. Sin brings shame with it. They go hand in hand. They are buddies. They are partners in crime.
But, there is always an exception to every rule and that brings us to question #2;
What happens when we’re not ashamed of our sin?
Our culture is in a state of moral decline. It just is. Throughout the decades, there’s been a decline in morality. And with it, an acceptance of sin that does not bring the natural response which is shame.
1 Tim 4:1-2 says, “the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron.”
I want you to look at the words toward the end of this verse that says “seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron.”
When a person’s conscience is seared, it means it is burnt and never the same as it was before. Look at cattle who are branded, or steak that is seared. Once its branded, its marked and the emblem or sear marks are etched into the flesh.
So it is with those who allow the culture to conform their minds to the things of the world. When we stop calling evil evil, and start calling evil, good, then we are searing our consciences and we no longer feel ashamed over sin.
This is a dangerous place to be in.
So, so dangerous! Because it keeps us from going to God. Why would we? We are not haunted by shame in a scenario like this.
God speaks about this in Rom 1 through the apostle Paul. Verses 28-32 tell us why they do not feel ashamed of their sin. There was a progression, or a decline toward acceptance of it.
So remember when I said earlier that first comes sin, then comes shame, then comes hiding? Whell there’s another choice … it’s God. God comes to take away our shame. But we have to acknowledge that He is the one to do that.
The people Paul referred to in Romans stopped acknowledging God.
They didn’t go to Him when they sinned. And these verses say ..
“And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved ind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful, and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give … pay attention here … hearty approval to those who practice them.”
Society condones the evil they practiced and although they know it’s wrong, they no longer feel ashamed over it and do not care that it’s sinful.
Shame is a terrible thing, but it is much more terrible to feel unashamed of sin at the expense of being separated from God.
Let me also be very transparent with you and tell you that I hold myself accountable to biblical teaching and theology by having every episode I record edited by someone who knows biblical content.
My editor’s name is Albert and he not only edits for quality sound, but for biblically based content. And he made a great point when I was scripting this episode that I wanted to share with you.
He said, “I think you have discovered the subjective nature of shame. Our feeling of shame is founded on our society and conscience. This may or may not align with God. All sin is shameful in God’s eyes. But not to man. We can and do separate wrongful from shameful because shame is an emotion.”
So what Albert is saying here is two things:
*Our feeling of shame is based on what society approves and whether or not our conscience is in line with the word of God. Remember, our conscience can become distorted by our environment, upbringing, experiences.
*He is also saying the emotion of shame is what drives us to repentance. But when the emotion of shame is taken away, it is more difficult to admit that we’ve sinned because we’re not affected by it. Not all sin causes shame in our own eyes. But that doesn’t mean it’s OK.
When we live in a society that removes the consequences of sin, they also remove the shame of sin. That is why we must know God’s word and what He says sin is so that our conscience remains engraved with the Word of God.
That is why King David said, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against You.”
When God’s word becomes a part of us, it doesn’t matter what culture condones. The Holy Spirit will convict us and lead us toward repentance.
And that brings us to our final thought of the day …
How do we get rid of shame so that we don’t experience it for the rest of our lives?
Before we get into this, there are a couple of ways in which we experience shame:
Shame from our sin
Be shamed by others
Both of them have the same remedy. And someone asked me about self-forgiveness last week on Instagram and this is going to speak to that.
Let’s go back to Genesis 3 and let’s look at what God does to take away shame from Adam and Eve.
Adam and Eve were hiding in the bushes, covering their nakedness with leaves. And verse 21 tells us, “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.”
The covering of leaves … or man’s efforts to fix their sin … was insufficient. And here we see the first animal sacrifice and shedding of blood for sin. God did it for Adam and Eve and this foreshadowed the sacrifice Jesus would make for all of humanity through the seed of the woman.
When God takes away sin, He takes away shame. When God forgives, shame is removed.
The very first memory verse my mom had me memorize was 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.”
That is why confession is so powerful. Does God already know? Yes. But when we confess it, we release it. And the power of sin AND shame has no hold on us any longer.
Now what about when others shame you? The word condemn is interchangeable here. Romans 8:1 says, “For there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Condemnation is a tactic of the enemy. He is not only called the adversary but the accuser. In Zech the devil accused Joshua. In Job, the devil accused Job of only serving God because God blessed him. In Rev 12:10, the devil is called the accuser of the brethren.
When God has forgiven you of your past, do not allow anyone to come and condemn you for it.
When God has taken away the reproach of sin in your life, do not allow anyone to accuse you of living in it any longer.
When God has delivered you from a tragic event that happened in your life, do not allow anyone to shame you because of it. God will use all things … ALL THINGS … for your good because you love Him and are called according to His purpose.
It’s not that we have to ask God to remove our shame, it’s that we ask God to forgive our sin and shame is removed.
I want to close this out today by encouraging you that God will never condemn or shame you. On the contrary, He asked Adam, “Who told you you were naked?”
In other words, where are your accusers? Who is shaming you?
Jesus asked this same question to the adulteress in John 8. After writing on the ground as the men who accused her walked away, He said, “Where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?”
Again, you can reword that to say, “Has no one shamed you?”
God does not condone when others condemn us because to condemn means you are pronouncing judgment on someone and only God can do that.
And since God is the great judge and sin separates us from Him, we must ensure that we take every sin and put it under the blood and when we do that, we remove the shame from our lives.
I hope that gives you a reason to rejoice and to let go of those who may have a hold on you as they shame you or condemn you over what was.
Thanks be to God who gave His son so that we do not have to live in shame any longer, but we can walk in victory. That’s my prayer for you!
If you have any questions about this or anything else for me, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I also have a FB group and I and other ladies go LIVE each week so if you are looking to connect and get more devotionals and uplifting encouragement throughout the week, you can check out the Her Faith Inspires FB group.
Until then, I’ll catch you on the next one!