One thing that we all have experienced in some form or fashion in our lives is shame. Shame as a result either of something that we have done or maybe on account of something that has been done to us. This shame causes us to be fearful of what others may think of us and ultimately how God Himself may see us. Such shame can be paralyzing leading us not to form any close friendships or to constantly be worried about what will happen if our current friend discovers our hidden past. Will they still like us? Would that lead to their rejection? Should I even take such a risk? Shame can even keep us from going out of our house at times due to the fear that we will be exposed and humiliated. What can we do about such shame in our lives? How can we move past the feelings of shame that pretty much dominate and control us? This month, I want to explore the nature of shame with you as well as the good news that we have a God who covers our shame through His Son’s perfect sacrifice.
The Bible actually has a lot to say about shame. This really shouldn’t be surprising since it is such a major issue in our lives. We are told that originally with Adam and Eve that they were both naked and were not ashamed (Genesis 2:25). They had no reason to be fearful before God or one another. Neither one of them had done anything to be ashamed of. However, all of that changed when they both ate of the fruit of the tree God explicitly commanded them not to. Moses informs us that in the moment they disobeyed God that their eyes were opened and they were aware of the fact that they were naked (Genesis 3:7). Shame over their sin quickly set in. When God came to them, they went into hiding. They did not want to be seen by their holy God and face up to what they had done. To be exposed for the sinners that they now are. They probably felt dirty. Unclean. Humiliated. Yearning desperately to be covered.
And the couple did attempt to cover themselves up by making clothes out of fig leaves. But this obviously didn’t do the trick since they still hid from God. Their own efforts could not cover up their shame. How often do we likewise try to conceal our shame ourselves? Seeking to do as much good deeds as we possibly can, hoping that they may make up for the wrongs that we have done. Or devoting ourselves to religious service, again thinking that this might hide our shame from God and from others. But it never works, does it? The shame is still there. As much as you work to cover it, you continue to fear being exposed. You just can’t hide it. We are in need of someone else to cover us.
The good news is that we do indeed have Someone who can, and does for His children, cover the shame of sin. God didn’t leave Adam and Eve in their shameful condition. Instead, He comes to them and He covers their nakedness and shame with the skin of an animal that was innocent of their sins (Genesis 3:21). While they deserved to die on the spot on account of their sin, God killed the innocent animal in their place so that they could live and have the shame which resulted from their sin covered. This clearly is a picture of God’s putting to death His sinless Son in the place of repentant sinners. Where the penalty that they deserved on account of their sin was given to the Lord Jesus Christ instead, freeing them from a fear of punishment. Where God has declared the guilty innocent since He treated His innocent Son as guilty of their sins, freeing us from the need to feel ashamed before God. If you are in Christ, God no longer sees you for the sinner that you are but as righteous as His Son is. He has clothed you with His righteousness. It is like having the word “SINNER” stamped on your chest in big black bold letters but being given a pure white coat that says “THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF CHRIST” and putting that on. Though the word “SINNER” can still be found on your chest, it is not seen by God because the coat with “THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF CHRIST” covers it. The animal skins covering up the shame of Adam and Eve’s nakedness ultimately point us to Christ’s righteousness covering up our sin and shame.
We find another picture of God’s covering the believer’s shame in Zechariah 3:1-5 with Joshua the high priest. Satan is accusing him before God and the priest is clothed with filthy garments, probably representing his many sins that his life has been stained with. There more likely is a sense of shame for Joshua as he hears the devil pointing out his sin to the Lord while he stands there in his filthiness with nothing to say in his own defense. Yet we find the Angel of the Lord having his filthy garments removed and replacing them with rich clothes. God likewise removes the believer’s filthy sinful garments and replaces them with the righteous robes of His Son.
So when you struggle with shame over something that you have done, look to Christ to wash your dirty robes white with purity in His blood (Revelation 7:14). Find your covering in Him and what He has done rather than trying to cover yourself by what you do. Remind yourself continually that you have been covered by His blood and righteousness. There is no more reason to be ashamed.
Love in Christ,