Ever been ashamed of yourself?    Just, utterly, no-excuses ashamed?  A want-to-find-a-hole-in-the-ground-and-dive-into-it-and-never-be-seen-again shamed?  Embarrassed about it to the point of being terribly uncomfortable with some people?  I have and it was recent, not years ago when I was a spiritual kid and could use that as an excuse. 

Think about the shameful experiences of these Bible characters

  • Jesus–dying naked, rejected 
  • Peter, denied the Lord
  • John Mark—left the Apostle Paul and came home early  
  • Jacob embarrassed about having cheated Esau 
  • Judah after Tamar exposed his immorality (Genesis 38)

Did these guys fold? Quit? Withdraw because of their spiritual stupidity?  

Any time shame, shamed, or ashamed appears in print it has my full attention. Will anything of significance be said?  

John Piper says, “Misplaced shame is a mountain standing in the way of world missions.  Jesus means to cast it into the sea: ‘If you have faith, it will be done!’”(Matthew 21:21). 
Try these on for size and see if any of them fit you:

  • “Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be put to shame; for you will forget the shame of your youth . . . ”  (Isaiah 54:4 RSV).
  • “The Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been confounded; therefore I have set my face like a flint. And I know I will not be put to shame; He who vindicates me is near . . .”  (Isaiah 50:7 & 8, RSV).
  • “I suffer [as a missionary] but I am not ashamed, for I know Whom I have believed, and I am sure that He is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me” (II Timothy 1:12 RSV).  
  • “He who believes in Him will not be put to shame (I Peter 2:6).
  • “No one who believes in Him will be put to shame” (Romans 10:11).

These promises can be dismissed if we are seeking to apply them to sins we have committed.  The contexts refer mostly to not being ashamed of the Gospel, and speaking up unashamedly for the Lord Jesus Christ. Still, there is a scent here that one could apply to resisting other shame as well.   

Romans has a great liberating section at the end of chapter 8 which is more broad than the verses quoted above. At the risk of appearing to be soft on sin, or be overly (and improperly) weighed down with sin, I pass the following to you. It is intended to lift sensitive souls who feel engulfed.  To bring this word of comfort, I risked that some who are insensitive to sin will use the following to excuse themselves too lightly.

Romans 8:33 asks, “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?”  The implied answer is, “No one.”  They are forgiven. Totally, across the board. Completely. Freedom from shame and guilt.

So a person could think, “Ah, but look at how sinful I am. I am not sure this verse is a legitimate basis for freedom and peace of mind, spirit, and heart.”

To further assuage our fears and guilt,  verse 33 continues, “It is God who justifies. And verse 34 adds, “Who is he that condemns? The implied answer again is, “No one.” The presence of the Lord Jesus Christ at the right hand of the Father is saying indirectly, “His atonement was fully accepted by the Father—as seen from the fact that He conquered death–so all who come under His banner are totally forgiven. Jesus Christ intercedes for them.”

But Mr. Guilty is still struggling with fear and guilt?  Okay. Maybe verse 35 will help.  “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”  And then the author throws up seven things which we may think would separate us from the love of Christ—trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, or sword.” 

Mr. Guilty Man answers, ”Those are not sin on the part of the believer. Those are situations or circumstances that happen to a person. Those are not sin committed by a believer.”  So Mr. Guilty receives no comfort from Romans 8:35.

The author of Romans then proposes an extreme situation so his readers will know that even if things get horrible . . . terrible . . .  so bad that Mr. Guilty sees himself as having so little value he is treated like a target for target practice–just sheep to be slaughtered—even then, nothing can separate Mr. Guilty from the love of Jesus Christ. 

Mr. Guilty responds, “That all is well and good, but I have sinned and being a slaughtered sheep does not atone for sin.”

Okay.  So our Mr. Guilty is still struggling. Bear in mind that he wants to be convinced that he is loved by the Lord Jesus, but he is going to make it difficult on the Good Shepherd.  He has to have it airtight.  Totally covered.  He has to know. 

In verse 37, Paul writes that even if we face death all day long and are viewed as expendable sheep, we are “more than conquerors.”  On the verge of being slaughtered, Mr. Guilty would not likely feel like “more than a conqueror,” even though that would be his theological position.    

And “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons  . . . ” does not offer any relief from guilt either (v. 38a). 

“Wow!  Wait a minute,” screams Mr. Guilty. “What’s this in v. 38b?” “. . .  neither the present nor the future . . . .”   Mr. Guilty sits up straight, as though to do so would enable his mind to poke a hole in the logic. “The present”—certainly sin is something that is in the “present.”  Something that is active, influential, and a dynamic in human lives. A force. A reality that is very much “present.” 

He beings to think, “If there is nothing in the present that can separate me from the love of Jesus Christ, I can relax. I can rest in His forgiveness and mercy.”

But there is one more problem that the “present” does not address. Mr. Guilty thinks, “I will probably sin in the future, so how can I relax in the present and coast?”

Ah, there is more. Mr. Apostle Paul adds the coup de grâce, the go-for-jugular theological truth that will banish guilt. “. . . nor the future . . . .”   So Mr. Guilty ponders that awhile and concludes, “Nothing in the present and nothing I do in the future can separate me from the love of Jesus Christ, so I am here and now unloading condemnation.  I am going to believe I am forgiven and live in that freedom.