Archive for August 24th, 2012

Freed from Shame

August 24th, 2012

…We do not lose heart. Rather, have renounced secret and shameful ways…

2 Cor. 4:1-2

The impure things of the heart must be released in order for us to grasp the greater things of God. We cannot hold onto the pure until we have submitted ourselves to the cleansing process of God – until we have let the Spirit apply the crucifixion of Christ to the deepest levels of our hearts. Through the Spirit’s ministry our shame is healed, our lives are made free, and we begin to live the Christ life.

We preach and teach often about forgiveness and guilt, but not enough, I am afraid, of the sense of shame we each carry. But Christ forgives our sin and heals our shame. Lewis Smedes wrote these profound words in his book, Shame and Grace,

The healing of our shame begins best, I am convinced, with a spiritual experience – to be more specific, a spiritual experience of grace. Grace is an unconventional alternative to three conventional remedies for our feelings of unworthiness and unacceptableness.

Conventional responses may vary some in detail, but they never steer far from these: [1] Lowering our ideals to the level of our abilities to meet them. [2] Making ourselves acceptable enough to satisfy the ideals we already have. [3] Persuading ourselves that we are just fine the way we are. I do not believe that we can heal our shame by these methods. I do not think they go deep enough.

Smedes’s observation of how people find victory over the shame of their sin and moral failure is to accept through faith that they are forgiven and freed from shame in Christ. “The surest cure for the feeling of being an unacceptable person is the discovery that we are accepted by the grace of One whose acceptance of us matters most.”[1] We are pardoned by grace and our guilt is forgiven, and we are accepted in Christ and our shame is covered. God also grants us the power to move beyond guilt and shame and into life, and all of this result in the wonderful gratitude to God within our hearts.

Accepting our acceptance is the most Christ-pleasing thing we can do, for He has gone to great lengths to secure our salvation. We are not merely forgiven but we are reconciled to Him, and reconciled not only to the relationship but to grasp and accept and to live each day in the reality of His love for us and acceptance of us. He does not accept our sin, but He does accept us.

[1] Lewis Smedes, Shame and Grace, pp. 105-08.

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