God's Roadmap

Now may the Lord Jesus Christ and our Father God, who loved us and in his wonderful grace gave us eternal comfort and a beautiful hope that cannot fail, encourage your hearts and inspire you with strength to always do and speak what is good and beautiful in his eyes (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 TPT).

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Guilt vs. Shame - What's the Difference?

by Barbara Latta

Guilt vs. shame what's the difference?
“Shame on you!”

How many times did we hear these words growing up? Well-meaning parents and teachers may have said these words in an attempt to correct bad behavior and prevent it from happening again. I suppose the thought was that if a child could be made to realize how wrong something was, it wouldn’t happen again.

But, without redemption, the fallen nature of man prevails.

God’s plan for perfection was thwarted in the Garden of Eden. Man’s oneness of spirit, soul and body became separated when sin entered the world. The conscience of man became his defining factor saying, “You did wrong.”

Blood was required so God brought the bloody skins of a slain animal to cover the guilt. The couple was forgiven.

But the shame continued. I can imagine the way their minds ran away with the accusations that came from the mouth of their tempter. “You are bad.” “Look at what you did.” “The human race is doomed because of you.”

How do we determine the difference between guilt and shame?

Guilt is tied to what we do. Guilt says, “I did bad.”

Shame is tied to who we perceive we are. Shame says, “I am bad.”

Guilt is from a wrong behavior. We can be forgiven, and the wrong actions are over.

Shame stays with us and locks onto the mind condemning us for the behavior that has been forgiven. Shame can cause addictions because the person is seeking to medicate the pain of past sins.

How do we get released from the prison of shame and guilt?  
  • Accept forgiveness. We admit we are guilty sinners, but because of the blood of Jesus, we don’t stay that way. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
  • Dwell in the presence of Christ to stay focused on the redemption we have been given. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine neither can you, unless you abide in Me (John 15:4 NKJV).
  • Transform thinking. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12:1-2).

Our identity is not tied to our behavior. A born-again person’s identity is tied to Jesus. Despite our sinful actions, we are a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Our spirit is born again. Our soul (mind and emotions) must remain focused on the Word to agree with who we are in the spirit.

We are not shame. We are righteous.

3 ways to be free of guilt and shame
Once we agree with this truth of the Word, shame drops to the ground and is powerless.

People who habitually live in sin have been referred to as shameless. What they really are is conscience-less. God gave us a conscience to direct us from right and wrong. Even a person who is not born again has a sense of good and evil. The problem is when wrong is continually adopted in life, the heart becomes hardened and the conscience no longer directs. Speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron (1 Timothy 4:2).

These people would have experienced guilt over their behavior at some point but continuing to ignore that guilt would have produced a lifestyle of hardness toward God. In that case, they may feel no remorse for their actions, or the remorse they have felt is so repressed they have accepted the words that they are worthless, so they continue to feed the lifestyle.

So, we do want to be shameless in the respect of identity. But we do not want to confuse this term with what is considered shameless behavior, which should be referred to as a hardened conscience.

Jesus left the Holy Spirit on the earth when he ascended to heaven. He is called the Comforter for a reason. He comforts, He does not condemn. He shows us the way, He does not shame us.

A victorious life depends on knowing who we are in Christ. There is no room for shame or guilt because it has been dealt with at the cross. Our place is to receive that truth and become free.  If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (John 8:31-32).

Only the truth that is known sets us free.

Join the conversation and share your thoughts about freedom from guilt and shame.


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