Tag Archives: guilt

Where Does Depravity Come In When Dealing With Guilt And Shame?

A Divided Heart

A Divided Heart
Photo Credit: Windell Oskay

People who suffer from guilt and shame seem to major on the “wretched man” type Scriptures  (Rom. 7:24), insisting that the heart is deceitful (Jer. 17:9) or we are sinful (Isaiah 1:4). Yes, of course, Scripture says we are sinners, but sinners saved by grace! It’s when we insist on our own way and walk in our own understanding that we are corrupt. Once we accept Christ, we are the righteousness of God by faith (Phil. 3:9) and we have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16). Sure, we can still sin and walk in self, but that’s where sanctification comes in. What we must remember is God’s character—his gentleness, loving-kindness, and mercy.  We must remember Romans 8:1!  If you are a believer, God’s intention is to conform you to the image of Jesus Christ  (Rom 8:29), not to condemn you. And frankly, he’ll stop at nothing until he accomplishes this goal. He’s on your side! Romans 8:31 is the best news ever!

So if you’re struggling with either guilt or shame, the good news is that God has an app for that. He’s on your side. Make the correct diagnosis and apply the correct remedy. Apply it over and over until your thoughts and feelings are in alignment with God’s word. You’ll be amazed at the change in your behaviors. Let me know how it works for you.

Related Posts

Guilt or Shame? Do You Know the Difference?

Diagnosing Guilt and Shame

 

Diagnosing Guilt and Shame

Diagnosing Guilt and Shame

Diagnosing Guilt and Shame
Photo Credit: Life Mental Health

Guilt and shame both make us feel bad about ourselves. Sometimes awful. The result is often self-condemnation, hopelessness, and depression. We try to fix the problem, but all too often, we fail, leading to despair. We feel like Paul in Romans 7:24: “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” So what do we do?

The good news is that God has indeed provided the rescue we need. But here’s the deal: you need to apply the right remedy, and to do that, you need to make the right diagnosis—are you suffering from guilt or from shame? Still be confused? Let’s look at an example.

Susan explodes with anger whenever something doesn’t go her way. Doesn’t matter whether it’s traffic, work, or family. She just explodes. She’s done it for so long, she’s decided that she’s just angry woman. She’s taken on anger as her identity—who she is—filling her with lots nasty feelings.

So how does she diagnose the problem so she can apply the proper treatment? Here’s how I approach it:

  1. Is this a behavior or a character trait? In this case, anger is a behavior—something she does. She lashes out. She yells. She curses. She seethes. Therefore, the problem is guilt and the antidote is confession, repentance, and believing that she has received God’s forgiveness.
  2. Does she feel better? Probably not because the repeated guilt has created repeated shame. So there’s another question to consider.
  3. Does God define her as an angry person? Is this her character, who she is? Who she was created to be? Here’s where we turn to Scripture, and the more of the Word you know, the easier this step will be. Look for passages that use the word you’re dealing with (in this case, anger), or passages that include “you are” or “I am.” Sometimes the passages you’re looking for will be a command. For example, Ephesians 4:26 acknowledges that we will be angry, but warns us to not sin in the process. Sometimes the passage you’re looking for is the opposite (consider 1 Thes. 5:5, Gal. 5:22, Col 3:12). Apply the word of God to your problem.

Once we’ve correctly diagnosed whether we’re dealing with guilt or shame, it’s much easier to apply the correct remedy and find freedom.

RELATED POSTS

Guilt or Shame? Do You Know the Difference?

Guilt or Shame? Do You Know the Difference?

Guilt or Shame?

Guilt or Shame?
Photo Credit: LMAP

We had completed a successful ministry session just a week ago, but Susan continued to say how dirty she felt every time she “let God down” by not doing everything perfectly. Many of the things she was reporting were not really sin. They were unhealed attitudes about herself. And frankly, some of them made sense for her protection. It struck me that she was not suffering from guilt, but from shame.

Do you know the difference? She didn’t, nor do most people I minister to. Here’s my definition, which has helped to set a number of people free:

Guilt is about what you have done. Shame is about who you are.

So, what difference does that make? All the difference in the world! You see, guilt is related to true sin. A violation of God’s commandments. And so, I am guilty. But the good news is that the antidote to guilt has already been provided for us by the cross of Christ. When we are guilty, we simply confess our sin, repent, and receive forgiveness.

Shame, on the other hand, requires a different remedy. Since shame is about who I am rather than what I did, the critical test is whether this self-assessment is biblical truth. God has already provided his assessment of who I am throughout Scripture. If my assessment differs from his, guess who’s wrong? For example, he says I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps 139:14). Who am I to assert anything different? I need to rein in those thoughts and make them conform to what God says about me (2 Cor. 10:4-5). If I don’t, that is sin. Then I am guilty of unbelief. But if I accept God’s assessment of me, then I have dealt effectively with shame.

Now here’s the secret. Shame is empowered by an evil spirit and is often very resistant to leaving. It will argue and double down, repeatedly reminding me terrible I am. But if I declare and repeat God’s truth regularly, every 37 seconds (or every time the feeling returns), it’s only a matter of time before the negative feelings leave and are replaced with Truth. In my experience, it takes about a month to feel better if I’m diligent in refusing to accept the lie while applying the Truth.

So, give it a try. Conquer guilt by confessing and repenting. Conquer shame by appropriating God’s truth and rejecting Satan’s lies. Let me know how it works for you.