It’s been a long time since we’ve talked. I understand. I know why. There was a point when you turned from me. You thought your sin was too great, that I was disappointed in you, that you could not reach me anymore. After sin comes, you see, shame is often right behind. It buries itself into your heart, taking residence there. It is one thing to sin, to do something that hurts your own heart and makes you feel distant from me. It is another thing to let the sin be what decides your identity, your past, your future, the deepest truths about who you are.
When you let sin fester, when you let it remain in your heart—shame comes and whispers in the dark: you are not okay, you can never change, you are not loved and desired anymore. So hide, hide from God. You are not wanted here.
Shame lies to you. It wants to pull you apart from me. And I leave it up to you to decide if shame is what you want to believe, if shame is where you want to stay. But let me tell you this—it is not for you; it is not where you are meant to stay. Shame is not what you are made for daughter, son. You are made to be with me.
Here is how shame begins: it begins with sin. Sin that is unconfessed—not repented for—breeds shame, which breeds pride. When pride is driving your mindset, your behavior, it is because shame has convinced you that your sin is more powerful than my Son—that his sacrifice, his ransoming his life for yours, is not enough to bring you back to me. This is because pride is the child of shame. Both pride and shame are dangerous. Both are death. Both need to be destroyed now, you see.
My love is greater than any sin that separates. Come, let your soul confess. Jesus is stronger than shame. Come, watch Him intercede on your behalf. Holy Spirit is more powerful than pride. Come, let Him destroy it—let Him help you repent and turn away from that old life that has convinced you to be your own god.
It was sin that separated us, but I am a God of mercy. I do not hold grudges. And my Son comes—wipes away your sin—and unites us again. It is you I see, Just you. So, you know the next steps now. You aren’t stuck. You aren’t alone. Will you come closer now? Confess? Repent? Do you hear Holy Spirit whispering to your heart?
Our enemy, the great deceiver, the father of lies—he tries to convince us that whatever we’ve done is just so big and so bad, so different and so much worse, that it can never be fixed or forgiven or redeemed.
This sin and this shame—and they have to go.
Because, when sin remains and shame stays, bad things will follow. We get stuck, isolated, overwhelmed when sin is ignored and rationalized and denied because of shame.
But let me ask you this: Do you believe that sin and shame can go?
Sometimes our sin and shame have been with for us so long, it’s hard to believe that they’re not going to be with us for the rest of our lives—that they haven’t become fixtures of our identities.
In his book The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis wrote about a man who had struggled with a particular sin for a long time—so long, in fact, that he no longer believed God could help him. In some ways, he no longer wanted God to help him. He’d come to doubt God, to fear Him, actually—because, though this man may have hated his struggle, he believed it had become a part of him, part of his identity. So, when God, through an angel, offered restoration, the man himself feels threatened and resists—at first, at least.
In the allegory, Lewis depicted sin as a red lizard sitting on the this man’s shoulder, whispering lies into his ear. The very presence of the lizard is disgusting and disturbing to us as readers—and no doubt to this character Lewis created too. But the man had given the lizard access for a long time. He’d allowed the lizard to spin his lies for a long time. And so the man had become confused. The lizard’s presence had become familiar to him. The man began to have a hard time distinguishing truth from falsehood; friend from foe. He has a hard time trusting that allowing God to destroy the lizard would mean freedom, and not death for him, too.
When we allow sin and shame to linger, you and I are just like this man—believing that the way we’ve chosen, the way without Jesus, is somehow best for us. We begin to manage and bargain and justify and excuse our sin. And we begin to believe that it’s somehow okay for our sin and shame to remain—for a bit longer, at least. And so we give sin and shame more and more access to our lives. And they whisper more and more . . . and our confusion grows—and so does our separation from God.
Jesus is relentless though. And He loves us too much to let us go. In The Great Divorce, the man, exhausted, finally relents and surrenders—and the angel reaches out his flaming hands and kills the lizard . . . and what happens next is amazing. From a oily red reptile, on the ground with back broken, the lizard transforms into a silver-white stallion that carries the now beautifully transformed man on his back. With the angel standing by, they ride further up, and further into heaven.
There is no question, sin and shame separate us from God. And it may have felt right to hold onto yours up until now. You may have accepted some pretty clever rationalizations as to why the sin and the shame in your life aren’t so bad. But Jesus loves us so much that He came to set all of us free from sin and shame. All of us. Why? Because He and His Father couldn’t stand the idea of eternity (or even one more minute of this life) without you, apart from you.
So, I’ll ask you again, do you believe that sin and shame can go?
They can go. They must go. And they will go. Because Jesus defeated sin and death on the cross. So, all we have to do now, like the man in C.S. Lewis’s allegory, is let Jesus in. All we have to do is to turn toward Him, toward a fresh, new start.
Does that sound like something you’d like? A fresh, new start?
Now, what sin are you living with? What sin have you not yet confessed? What sin is causing you to live in shame?
Lets pray a few verses from Psalm 139 . And let’s ask Holy Spirit for some help in revealing to us the sin that lingers in our hearts and in our lives, right now.
God, I invite your searching gaze into my heart.
Examine me through and through;
find out everything that may be hidden within me.
Put me to the test and sift through all my anxious cares.
See if there is any path of pain I’m walking on,
and lead me back to your glorious, everlasting ways—
the path that brings me back to you.
And now, just relax your mind, your neck, your torso, your hands. Let’s wait on Jesus. Expect that He will indeed search your heart. And expect that He will lead you back to Him—lead you toward mercy, toward forgiveness, and toward healing.
What are you seeing? What are you hearing?
Now, just like the man in the story, release your sin and your shame to Jesus. Trust Him. Confess them to Him, now.
Repent of them too. Turn your back on your sin. Tell Jesus you want to live free of this shame. And ask Jesus to destroy them both.
Imagine Him doing that now.
What is Jesus doing with your sin? What does He do with you shame?
Whatever Jesus showed you, whatever He said to you, whatever you saw Him do, if it fits within the principles of Scripture, then pray in agreement with Him. Thank Him for coming and beginning the process of dealing with the sin and the shame in your life. And trust that, just like the angel did with the lizard on the man’s shoulder, He is now transforming your sin and shame into something beautiful and something good.