Shame is a spiritual consequence of sin.
People experience shame because of:
- What they have done
- What has been done to them
- What they believe
For example, when we are wounded as children through abandonment, neglect, abuse, or simply experiencing unmet needs, we make judgments against ourselves: “I am unlovable, undesirable, worthless, dirty, defective.” These judgments are false beliefs, and when we believe them we are shamed by them.
No person goes through life without being rejected–and everybody creates false beliefs about themselves, others, and God.
Many times, and in various seasons, we experience shame through standards. The world exalts wisdom, strength, wealth, physical beauty, status, and reputation. If a child is not wearing the right brand of footwear at age seven he may be teased, bullied, or ostracized. If that child does not know the security of agape love, he is likely to create false beliefs about himself, and head down a path of fear, anger, and rebellion, driven by the power of shame.
The frequency and types of shame one experiences determines the ways he will try to hide it, cover it, escape it, or control it. The degree of pride one has is proportionate to the amount of shame he carries.
As small children it is important for us to experience security—to be loved unconditionally, to be accepted, to be safe and protected; to be cared for with understanding and tenderness, to be provided with food and shelter; to be guided in truth and disciplined with love.
When we experience a spirit of rejection (abandonment, neglect, abuse, or have unmet emotional needs) as a child, we create false beliefs about ourselves. False beliefs are lies; they convince us that we are inferior, inadequate, flawed, and incomplete.
These false beliefs can result in a shame-based identity, driven by fear to control how others view us. Someone with a shame-based identity does not feel secure so he will strive to prove his value through performance or pleasing others. He may become a perfectionist to avoid being revealed as a failure. He may try to control others in an effort to force them to prove their love, thus establishing his value. Or, he may free-fall in self-condemnation to the point of hopelessness and despair.
Many with a shame-based identity seek escape through work, food, fitness, fantasy, sex, alcohol, drugs, danger, crime, and even violence to gain a temporary, and ultimately, false sense of security and control that does not endure. Instead, it creates a wake of destruction for ourselves and others; we lose jobs, relationships, possessions, dignity, and eventually, any semblance of an identity.
Most of my life I have been bound by fear and insecurity. Since before I was a teenager I was preoccupied by false beliefs that swirled around my head; I was still a bed-wetter at age ten and had already formed concrete beliefs that I was unlovable, undesirable, and defective.
In my life childhood wounds of abandonment and along with unmet emotional needs worked to erect a stronghold that ignited a rebellious response fueled by escape in alcoholism, drugs, gambling, sex, and thrill-seeking. After five DUI’s, seven treatment programs, multiple convictions, abortions, losses, injuries, and near-death experiences, Christ came into my life. I was an empty shell, separated from God, without hope. He nailed my sins, guilt, and many layers of shame to the cross—giving me a new identity in Christ and crushing the strongholds that enslaved me.
I was trained early in life that performing for others was the path to acceptance. I believed I had to work hard to impress and do for others in order to be valued. This shaped me to be a people-pleaser. I was motivated to not disappoint others and incur their disapproval. I began to develop sophisticated protective behaviors designed to control how others perceived and valued me. I wore a hundred different masks, crafted and fabricated to draw people to me or impress them. I learned to become all things to all people with the hope of being exalted and accepted.
To meet the spiritual need of unconditional love, I chased knowledge, sensuality, relationships, possessions, wealth, status, and desired circumstances. They failed to deliver me from false beliefs about myself. They failed to give me peace.
There is only one thing that endures; only one experience that delivers: a revelation of God’s love.
God protects us (Ps. 91), brings healing to our bodies (Ex. 15:26), provides for all of our needs (Phil. 4:19), answers our prayers (1 John 5:14-15), takes away our fears (1 John 4:18), and gives us peace and joy (Isaiah 26:3).
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Here is a list of ten ways God meets our spiritual need for unconditional love:
1) God gives us acceptance and hope:
“You were his enemies and hated him and were separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions, yet now he has brought you back as his friends. He has done this through the death on the cross of his own human body, and now as a result Christ has brought you into the very presence of God, and you are standing there before him with nothing left against you—nothing left that he could even chide you for; the only condition is that you fully believe the Truth, standing in it steadfast and firm, strong in the Lord, convinced of the Good News that Jesus died for you, and never shifting from trusting him to save you.”
“He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.”
2) God is our Protector:
“This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.”
“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”
“The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.”
3) God gives us strength:
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.”
“The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.”
4) God gives us provision:
2 Corinthians 9:8-11
“And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say, ‘They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.’ For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God.”
5) God gives us guidance:
2 Timothy 3:15-17
“And how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, conviction, correction, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete for every good work.”
“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.”
6) God gives us precious peace of mind:
“He will keep in perfect peace all those who trust in him, whose thoughts turn often to the Lord!”
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
“When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.”
7) God gives us contentment:
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
8) God knows us intimately:
“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
“He sees everything I do and every step I take.”
“Even the hairs of your head are all numbered.”
9) God gives us the hope of everlasting life:
“I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.”
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
10) God will never fail you:
“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
“Stay away from the love of money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, ‘I will never, NEVER fail you nor forsake you.’ That is why we can say without any doubt or fear, ‘The Lord is my Helper, and I am not afraid of anything that mere man can do to me.’”
When we experience the love of God—His mercy, His grace, His tenderness and compassion—the lies and false beliefs are destroyed and fear falls from us. We are made whole. Thank you, Lord Jesus.
1 John 4:18-19
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.”