“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst.” – I Timothy 1:15
Do you know what Scripture says we should not be ashamed of?
The Gospel (Romans 1:16). Suffering because of the Gospel. Testifying about our Lord (II Timothy 1:8). Being one who so rightly handles the Word of God as a workman (II Timothy 2:15).
On the other hand, do you know what the proper response to sin in our own lives should be?
Merriam-Webster defines shame as “a feeling of guilt, regret, or sadness that you have because you know you have done something wrong.”
Because you know you have done something wrong.
Paul says in Romans 7:14-20, “We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hare I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”
Now, I realize that Paul is discussing the difference between the law system and the grace system in this passage. But the truth stands that as sinners, which we all are, we do not do the good that we want to do and that we know we should do. We are not living the holy lives we are called to lived as followers of Christ.
And I am ashamed of that.
When I lose my temper, and my six year old calls me out on it in his precious little child voice…I am ashamed.
When I roll my eyes at my husband, or snap at him, and he lovingly confronts me on my less-than-respectful and unkind behavior…I am ashamed.
When I realize that the television show I am watching, or the music I am listening to, or the book I am reading is not God-honoring, because the Holy Spirit brings it to my attention…I am ashamed.
Paul goes on in Romans 8:9 to say “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature, but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.” I know this; I know that I have the Holy Spirit, and that I am no longer a slave to sin. I know that my goal is live more and more by the fruit of the Spirit, to sin less and less.
So when I do the things I know I shouldn’t – when I do the wrong things – I feel guilt and sadness. In other words, I am ashamed of my sin.
I Peter 2:12 teaches us “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” You and I both live among pagans, both recognized (those that claim to be atheists) and unrecognized (those that think they are saved but are truly not). We are to live our lives in such a way that there is no reason to question our identity in Christ. When I give pagans reason to question my commitment to Christ…I am ashamed.
Yes, Romans 8:1-2 tells me “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” I am eternally grateful for this truth: I am forgiven and will get to spend my eternity with Jesus. But this does not give me permission to sin, wallow in sin, glory in sin, enjoy sin, or be unrepentant. It also does not erase sin from my life! I did not cease sinning when I became a Christian (unfortunately), and I still need to be repentant of my sin.
It is currently popular to tell woman there is no shame at all if you follow Christ. In some ways, yes, that is absolutely true.
If you have been victimized in any way, there is no shame for you in Christ Jesus.
If you have been abused in any way, there is no shame for you in Christ Jesus.
If you have received Christ after a lifetime of horrific sin, there is no shame for you in Christ Jesus.
But if you persist in sinning as a follower of Jesus, or persist in not recognizing sin for what it is, and you don’t feel shame for not acknowledging His sacrifice on the cross – His body torn open, bloody, naked, and nailed to a tree while His Father turned His face away from Him while heaping ALL the sins of the world on Him sacrifice – maybe you should ask yourself why you don’t feel guilty for doing that.
Why doesn’t sin make you feel ashamed? Or does it, so that is propelling you to stop?
“In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.” – Titus 2:7-8