Shake Off Shame and Enjoy Grace
- Bethany Pyle Editor, BibleStudyTools.com
- 2022 9 Nov
As I go through training to teach in my church’s children’s ministry, something in their policies and procedures caught my eye. Regarding punishment, the guide explained the church’s policy of timeouts, how long they should be and how to talk to the child about how they disobeyed. But, the guide said, once the child’s punishment is complete, they should rejoin the class and be treated the same as all the other children.
Of course. A good, loving teacher would not continue to punish the child once they’ve repented. The child is expected to accept and understand the consequences of their actions, but once that’s done, they get to have fun with their friends again.
God is called our Good Father, and he is the ultimate loving teacher and guide. But how often, when we think of our lives and our sin, do we tuck tail around Him? It can be easy for us to talk ourselves into the lie that God is sitting up in Heaven doing the “I’m watching you, punk” look.
But that’s just not true.
Just like a decent earthly teacher is expected to treat the repentant child the same as the other students, so God showers us with His grace when we repent and turn from our sin. That’s it. It’s done. He’s not going to bring it up again.
What Do We Think of Our Sin?
Our lives are marked by sin from the day we are born. Psalm 51:5 says “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” It is only through the incredible grace of God that we are offered a chance at life, a path away from being slaves to our sinful nature.
When we repent, turn from our sin, and turn to Christ, the Holy Spirit indwells our hearts. He convicts us of our sin and encourages us to turn from that to follow Christ. In that moment, we are forgiven and freed. Our slate is wiped clean. But the process of sanctification remains ongoing. Every day we are pursuing Christ is a day that we are growing and learning to be more like Him.
There’s going to be some bumps in the road. But how do we often respond to our sin? If you are anything like me, there’s a level of shame that we all feel. We know that what we did was wrong, whether it was a sin we committed before we were saved that still haunts us, or something we did after our salvation now. We feel ashamed at stumbling.
So we come to God in prayer, we acknowledge that the thing we did was wrong, and that we need God’s strength and guidance to keep us from falling victim to it again. We take the necessary steps, but often, that guilt lingers. Sometimes this is a good thing, as it will help us not to fall into that same trap. But more often than not, it’s the voice of the Serpent, whispering in our ear that we are un-loveable. We’ve messed up too many times, and God is getting sick of us.
What Does God Think of Our Sin?
God hates our sin. That’s why He did something about it.
When Jesus died on the cross, He took the blame for all of our sins, from the dawn of time until the end of the world. Everything that is, was, and will be, was paid for by Him. It’s done. As Jesus Himself said on the cross “it is finished” (John 19:30).
I used to think that every time I sinned and came to God in repentance, He was forgiving me all over again. And I worried that He was getting tired of doing so. But Scripture shows us that God already forgave our sins. He knew every mistake I would make in my life, and He has already forgiven them all. I cannot surprise God with my sin. Further, Brian L. Harbor writes of God’s forgetfulness when it comes to sin:
“Perhaps the most neglected doctrine of theology is the forgetfulness of God. But this is the good news of God’s word. When God forgives, God forgets. This truth is repeatedly affirmed in Scripture. According to the psalmist, God has removed our sin from us as far as east is from west (Psalm 103:12). Jeremiah predicted that when Messiah came, God would forgive all our iniquity and remember our sin no more (Jeremiah 31:34). Micah said God would cast our sins into the deepest sea (Micah 7:19).”
What a wonderful thought that is! Not only is God not surprised by our sin, but He isn’t even keeping track. Like the teacher I mentioned at the beginning of this article, God treats us with love and compassion even after we’ve sinned and repented. He cares for us, and doesn’t want us to wallow in shame.
This doesn’t give us an excuse to sin whenever we like. Paul himself explains it this way:
“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:1-2).
For those of us who are in Christ, the temptation to sin may still exist, but we are no longer slaves to that desire, and as Paul says, how could we still live in sin when we have been buried with Christ? But when we do stumble, we are to feel repentant, not ashamed. Jon Bloom of Desiring God writes:
“Jesus’s death and resurrection is the only remedy for the shame we feel over our grievous sin-failures (Hebrews 9:26). There is nowhere else to go with our sin; there is no other atonement (Acts 4:12). But if we hide in Jesus, he provides us a complete cleansing (1 John 1:9).”
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/shuang paul wang
We Can Be Confidant in This: God Loves Us
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10).
“You are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession” (1 Peter 2:9).
Ultimately, feeling ashamed comes from a feeling of inadequacy. It is a fear that you aren’t living up to others’ – or your own – expectations. But we can be confidant in these truths:
1. God created you intentionally, and He knows you better than you know yourself.
2. You are His masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10).
3. God loves you. His love is more all-encompassing and purer than any love we have ever seen on earth. His love defies our human comprehension.
Dr. Woodrow Kroll beautifully explains God’s love this way:
“If God is love, and I am unlovely, then I can't say that He loves me because of what's in me. I have to say He loves me because of what's in Him. God loves me because it is the character of God to love. And if I accept that love, God loves it when I accept His love. He wants all of us to accept His love. Now, God has certain conditions upon which we please Him, but no conditions upon which He loves us.”
God is love. He does not choose to love us because we are lovely, but because it’s who He is. He knows what sins you struggle with. He knows the things you’ve done in your past, and the things you are going to do in the future. It does not change the way He feels about you.
Enjoy God’s Grace
My church’s motto is “enjoy grace.” I think that’s a fitting way to wrap this article up. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
We are forgiven and saved. We are loved – not because of what we do or who we are – but because that is God’s very nature. “God is love,” writes 1 John 4:8. Therefore we can shake off not only the burden of sin, but the burden of shame and guilt. Enjoy the grace we’ve been given. Praise God for it! And live your life as an offering of thanks for the incredible, life-altering love that we’ve been given.
Photo credit: Pexels/Andrea Piacquadio
Bethany Pyle is the editor for Bible Study Tools.com and the design editor for Crosscards.com. She has a background in journalism and a degree in English from Christopher Newport University. When not editing for Salem, she enjoys good fiction and better coffee.