Guilt and Shame
By Pastor Scott
Guilt and shame are consequences of not measuring up to a standard. Sometimes that standard is imposed by society, other times it is imposed by family. Some may even impose standards upon themselves which they cannot live up to, but for the Christian, the only guilt and shame that ought to be acknowledged is our failure to live up to God’s standard of holiness. We are sinners, who regularly fail to do all that He requires, and regularly do that which He has also forbidden. This makes us guilty of sin and should result in us feeling shame.
But we live in a world that denies the presence of God and his standards of holiness. We are surrounded by a society and mental health professionals who tell us that guilt and shame are unhealthy. These same people have developed a host of options for us to skirt around the very emotions and conscience t
hat God has given to lead us to repentance. The result has been an increase in people who should repent but don’t and who pursue sin all the more boldly.
So, what are some of the common methods used to override the convicting work of the Holy Spirit?
Here are a few:
- Minimizing – “You are just human.”
- Shifting responsibility – “He made me do it.” Or “Your upbringing made you this way.”
- Rationalizing/Victimizing – “You were wronged, what you did is understandable.”
- Masking – “Take these chemicals to help you feel better.”
- Excusing – “You are genetically prone to this.”
- Justifying – “That’s not wrong.”
- Desensitizing – “Continue doing it until you feel no shame.”
It is common to hear these phrases in our daily life. But these phrases should be warning signals that cause our ears to perk up and listen like when a submarine officer hears the ping return to his headset. These phrases should make us ask more probing questions about the actions or beliefs which are being excused. Are they opposed to the biblical teaching? Are they keeping one from repenting of their sin? If either question is answered with a yes, then the Christian is called to confront sin and present the gospel remedy for it.
Jesus’ death and resurrection are the only ways to deal with sin and guilt and shame. He is the guilt offering (Lev 17:11, Heb 9:11-22). He is the Savior of the world. He is the one who can cleanse us and restore blamelessness to our life. Guilt was given to drive us to repentance – which includes confession of our sin, not excusing it. Confession drives us to Christ. Christ drives us to make restitution and reconciliation with any we have sinned against. Furthermore, Christ also drives us to grow and change so that we flee unrighteousness and pursue love, joy and peace along with all who have a clear conscience.
So, don’t ignore or excuse your guilt and shame. Instead, let them point you and others to Jesus Christ, who heals those sick with sin.