… and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Two results of our sin are guilt and shame. Guilt is personal; shame is communal.
Our guilt is removed inwardly by the assurance of the Holy Spirit as He takes His word and applies it to our hearts. “There is now, therefore, no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1), proclaims the Scripture. We must grasp this truth in our hearts through inner faith, believing it because God has said it. If you struggle with personal guilt, take your sin to God and beat your head bloody on the cross of Christ until He speaks the word of peace to your soul – you are forgiven, cleansed, and restored to Him.
Our shame is removed both inwardly and outwardly. There is a dimension of shame that is personal and private, understanding by faith that we are restored and “seated with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” But there is another element of shame that must be experienced through the acceptance of our fellow believers, if it will be truly experienced in this life. We play a part in the removal of our brother’s and sister’s shame.
In the parable of the Prodigal Son, we see how his shame was removed partially by the father, but also how his older brother was to play a part – which he failed to do. The story ends in a partial victory only, illustrating the oft experienced truth that the sinner can be restored to the Father, but not fully restored to the community of faith – his shame still not publicly removed.
In heaven we have the promise of not only our guilt being removed, but also our shame in that we are to be seated with Christ in the heavenly places. On earth we believers should seek to help one another experience this freedom from shame. The inner work in the soul is done by the Spirit, and it must be primary, but we can help Him do His work by loving and accepting one another.
Do you personally want the grace of God to be your reality? Do you want to live in the victory of full forgiveness and restoration? Of course, you do. Then let us share this with others. It is the business of Christians to help restore people to God, not holding their sin against them but loving them, lifting from them the curse that has shamed them for so long, and rejoicing with them that their sin is forgiven, their curse is removed, and their shame is ended.
I heard a story that touched me. A godly university professor used to begin each class by having the students introduce themselves and describe one thing they liked about themselves and one thing they did not like about themselves. One young girl sat with her dark red hair covering half of her face, looking down. When it came her turn, she pulled back her hair, revealing a large red birthmark that covered half of her face, the half she had covered up. “This tells you what I don’t like about myself,” she said.
With that the professor, who was about the age of her grandfather, stood up and walked over to her, gave her a hug and said, “God and I think you are beautiful,” and then he kissed her cheek right on the birthmark.
The girl broke down in tears and said, “My own father would never even touch it,” revealing the pain and the shame of rejection. Someone told her repeatedly through actions, You are not right, you are inferior, you do not belong, something is wrong with you. Of course, this was not moral shame, and it was not the girl’s fault for having this birthmark. But we can also do this for one another in the faith – not by kissing the mark of sin, but by embracing and encouraging the sinner, letting them know that they are accepted.
All around us are broken people who need to know that they can be forgiven by Christ and that they can be restored and their shame removed. Touch someone today with love.