Shame and guilt from our past sins rob us of today’s joy, tomorrow’s hope, and the purpose that God intends for us to step into.
Guilt and shame is one topic that the Christian community does not regularly talk about. We talk of forgiveness, bible study, salvation, and prayers, but not so much about shame and guilt. I guess that at one point in every new believer’s life, we have all struggled with shame and guilt.
Through our lives, there are the triggers that remind us of who we were before we dedicated our lives to Jesus. Not knowing the truth, we sink into a dark hole, driving ourselves further from God and His truth. It’s hard to live the life that God called you to live when you are struggling with guilt and shame.
Now, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ.
Many of us know this verse by heart, but that doesn’t stop us from feeling ashamed, unworthy, or even like fraudsters in God’s kingdom.
I remember the first Sunday after I got born again. I was sitting in church listening but not hearing the words. The shame and guilt from past mistakes and sins were too much. Had God really forgiven me? Had he truly bloated my sins as far as the East is from the west? Did he really mean it when he said, that he will remember my sins no more?
Maybe like the girl I was back then, you too, are struggling with overcoming shame from your sins as an unbeliever. This post is for all who are struggling with finding footing in God’s kingdom because of who they were in the past.
How to deal with shame as a new believer
If we are to deal with shame at its core, we need to understand some critical aspects of forgiveness first.
You cannot punish yourself to forgiveness.
When we are dealing with shame, one lie that most Christians subscribe to, is that if we punish ourselves, the cling of shame on us will disappear. Punishing ourselves comes in many ways. It may be refusing God’s gift of joy and wallowing in suffering or putting ourselves in situations where we allow abuse of any form.
In our minds, we deserve punishments, and we think that they will help us get rid of the shameful feelings we experience.
Yes, because of our sins, we deserve God’s wrath and his anger over our lives. But then, through his son Jesus Christ and the repentance of our sins, we are exempted from this wrath. John 1:9 tells us that If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
You can’t forgive yourself, you can only accept forgiveness.
The biggest struggle for me was learning to forgive myself. My past sins were still weighing heavily on me even after I had confessed and repented before God. I still felt like I was carrying a dirty, blood-smeared heavy load on my shoulders.
I read His word and wanted to believe that He had forgiven me, but I was too stubborn to let go and move on to the next season that God had prepared. I just couldn’t forgive myself.
Later, I learned one life-changing aspect of all this. I could never forgive myself. Here is the meaning of forgiveness from the dictionary. To stop feeling angry with someone who has done something to harm, annoy, or upset you.
We can only forgive someone who has offended us, wronged us, and gone against a covenant. When we sin, it’s not against ourselves. Rather, we sin against God, and his holy nature. Hence, when you and I sin, we grieve God, and it’s only he who can forgive us.
Forgiving yourself is almost impossible because you are not the offended party. The only way to go about it is to accept the offer of forgiveness from the almighty whom you had wronged.
Overcoming shame as a Christian
Confess your sins to God
Sometimes, we live in walls of shame and regret because we are yet to confess and seek repentance from God. This is the only first step to finally overcoming shame. By being honest with God, you are allowing the Holy Spirit to search your heart and expose all the things that do not please him. (Proverbs 28:13)
As a new believer, guilt and shame were preventing me from surrendering my whole life to Him. God had put a good friend in my life for that season, and when I could no longer handle the feelings of guilt and shame, I confessed to her.
As James puts it, confession brings healing, and the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
Focus on the truth and not feelings
God is loving. He is trustworthy, and he keeps every one of his promises. When he says that you are forgiven(Jeremiah 31:34), then you are truly forgiven. When he calls you His child, then you are his child, regardless of your past mistakes, shame, or guilt.
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
With courage, leave shame behind and start stepping into who God called you to be
Satan wants to use your shame and guilt to prevent you from fulfilling God’s will. Every day, he will try to remind you of your past by telling lies about who God is not. He will make you feel unworthy, even if you know that you are forgiven.
Every day is a battle against shame. You need to fully cloth yourself with the whole armor of God to win against the enemy’s lies.
Defeating shame and regret as a Christian starts with knowing who you are.
You are a child of God.
You are forgiven
You are loved.
And God has a purpose and plan for you. Even before you were born, He already had the plan rolling out. (Jeremiah 29:11)
Shame and guilt have no place in your life as a Christian. With Faith and knowing your new identity in Christ, you will overcome it.