Shame -- The Two-Faced Tormenter!July 10, 2023
Genesis 2:25; 3:1-10
Growing up, when one of our purported "friends" proved their disloyalty by saying one thing and doing another, we called them "two-faced." By this we meant they acted one way in our presence and then another way in our absence.
Our face is like a billboard upon which our inner life is made public. Our face displays shame and honor before our lips or anyone else's ever declare it. The link between our physical face, and honor, and shame is inborn. The Scriptures tell us that "shame" turns our faces pale (Isaiah 29:22: "Therefore thus says the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob: “Jacob shall no more be ashamed, no more shall his face grow pale."). Someone feeling entitled to a sense of honor walks with their head held high and chest puffed out; the shamed hunch over and gaze at the ground. The standard visual for shame is someone covering their face or looking down.
The word “face” is often a synonym for reputation and respect. In many cultures, particularly in China and South East Asia, “face” is the common word for honor and shame.
The absence of God’s face is the greatest shame in so many ways (Ps. 143:7: "Answer me quickly, O LORD! My spirit fails! Hide not your face from me, lest I be like those who go down to the pit.). We long for face…not simply our own face, but The Face. The words of Psalm 27:8-9 is the cry of our hearts: "You have said, "Seek my face." My heart says to you, "Your face, LORD, do I seek. Hide not your face from me. Turn not your servant away in anger, O you who have been my help. Cast me not off; forsake me not, O God of my salvation!"
We begin our examination of shame-- the two-faced tormentor -- by going back to the time when there was no shame and man enjoyed The Face of a loving Father.
I. The Original Sonship Position of "NO SHAME"!
Genesis 2:7, "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being."
Genesis 2:25, "And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed."
Adam wasn't just God's Masterpiece; He was God's Son -- Luke 3:38, The son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.
It wasn't just Father's creative power that brought Adam to life, but His love.
In all human experiences, there is nothing that can compare to the very moment God breathed life into Adam. In that moment of coming alive by the Spirit of God, Adam experienced the first of firsts: The first voice, the first face, the first touch, and the first emotion Adam experienced was that of a loving Father.
Adam and Eve enjoyed the Father's presence, his pleasure, his provision, his purpose, his protection, his partnership.
The text says that they "were both naked and were not ashamed." This is not a commentary on nudism or seeing a persons' private parts. They were naked and didn't know it because they were not self-conscious, but God-conscious and other-person conscious, and probably enshrouded with light emanating from the glory of God in and on them.
II. The Orphan-Spirited Condition of "SHAME and BLAME"!
Yet, the first son, Adam, in spite of living in a perfect environment, with a God-arranged wife, enjoying the Father's presence, his pleasure, his provision, his purpose, his protection, his partnership -- sinned. At the moment, the unholy trinity of guilt, shame, and fear were introduced into the human race. Notice shame's source and blame's speech:
Shame's source --Gen 3:7, "Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. Shame began with the loss of God-consciousness and God-centeredness and the perception and deception of self-centeredness and self-consciousness.
Blame's speech -- Gen 3:12-13, "The man said, "The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate." Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this that you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."
- Shame Comes From Listening to the Enemy's Lies -- Gen. 3:4-5
Adam and Eve believed the first and original orphan's lie. You see Satan, originally known as Lucifer, rebelled against the Father and was kicked out heaven, thus losing his home.
The devil told Adam and Eve that God was holding something back from them and that they could do something to exalt their status even higher. Believing that they could subdue the earth without being subdued by the Father, they ate from the forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God's love was rejected and Satan's lie was accepted.
After disobeying God, Adam became an orphan in spirit and a short while later was kicked out of his first home he enjoyed with the Father. So we find he and his wife, self-conscious instead of Father God-conscious, naked and filled with shame and guilt, hiding behind a bush, attempting to cover up their nakedness with fig leaf underwear (the original Fruit of the Loom), afraid of God, their Father, guessing who he was and what he would do with them, instead of knowing and enjoying Him. In a short while they would be homeless -- on the outside of the Garden of Eden looking in.
In this message, we want to particularly focus in on the issue of shame.
Shame wears two faces -- one true and the other false. Nevertheless, even the true face of shame in the life of the believer, is a tormentor unless they respond in repentance to the conviction the Holy Spirit follows true shame up with.
There is true shame and false (or toxic) shame. There is illegitimate shame that comes when we fail to measure up to our goals and expectations, or other person's goals and expectations for us. Toxic shame follows on the heels being told that we are at fault, or from self-imposed feelings that it's always our fault because if we had not done this or that or had only done this, then we would not be constantly feeling so empty, alone, exposed, embarrassed, ashamed.
Legitimate shame involves the exposure of our sinful hearts. The Spirit of God living within the child of God convicts us for grieving or quenching Him and sinning against love. Thus, legitimate shame is the same inner experience as biblical humbling and Holy Spirit conviction.
Daniel 9:8: "To us, O LORD, belongs open shame, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against you."
1Cors. 15:34: "Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame."
Shame is both the fruit and the root of sin. Shame is both a subjective and an objective reality.
2. Shame Leads Us to Self-absorption -- Gen. 3:12-13
Dr. Dan Allender notes: "Shame creates an absorption with self that can make us feel as if we are drowning in quicksand. The self-awareness that comes with shame seems to shake brutally our very ground of being. Our core identity, the self, seems too ugly to face up to without dire consequences. Therefore, we contemptuously label the ugliness in terms of flawed dignity: I am stupid, fat, undisciplined, always late, never prepared.
True shame says, "I made a mistake."
False shame says, "I am a mistake."
False shame says, "I am unloved", I am unwanted." "I am unclean." "I am not ever good enough." "I am a failure." "I will never amount to anything." "I am stupid." "I am unacceptable." I am always feeling like I'm on the outside looking in."
The root meaning of shame is, "to uncover, to expose, to wound." Other persons are usually involved in a shame experience and start the process of exposure, but the essence of shame is not simply exposure to others. A full experience of shame is an exposure of oneself to oneself.
Christian psychologist Ed Welch says shame makes you feel both hidden and hideous: "You are shunned. Faces are turned away from you. They ignore you, as if you are hidden. "You are naked. Faces are turned toward you. They stare at you, as if you were hideous."
Adam and Eve were undoubtedly theologically guilty for breaking God's law, but their immediate reaction was not one of feeling guilt. Instead they reacted with a profound sense of shame as is indicated by the repeated reference to the term nakedness. Nakedness is commonly used as a symbol for shame in the Scriptures (Nahum 3:5, "Behold, I am against you, declares the LORD of hosts, and will lift up your skirts over your face; and I will make nations look at your nakedness and kingdoms at your shame).
3. Shame Lures Us Into Hiding -- Gen. 3:10
"And he said, "I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself."
Shame prompts a flight to some self-created world of safe numbness. “Dissociation” is a fancy word that means, “I’m out of here. I’m going somewhere that offers an escape from my inner agony. I’ll fly to the safety my own creation -- a place without the pain or demands of God’s world.”
4. Shame Labels Us as Dirty and Dishonorable
Shame connects four human experiences:
(1) Feeling Untouchable -- You feel like an outcast. You don't belong.
(2) Feeling Unclothed -- You feel naked, exposed, vulnerable. You feel that others are looking at you even when they aren't and that what they see is ugly, repulsive, and cheap.
(3) Feeling Unclean -- You feel dirty and contaminated -- a carrier of a deadly contagious virus -- SHAME!
"Shame is like dirt. No matter how it happened, you are a mess and something has to be done about it.
"Some of our modern day synonyms for shame would be, unclean, dishonored, filthy, shunned, disgusting, defiled, outcast, unlovable, discarded, repulsive, disgraced, worthless, loathed, scorned, vile, etc.”
(4) Feeling Unvalued -- A sense of having lost honor and respect. This sense of having lost one's honor is unbearable to many. In many countries of the world, especially in Muslim lands, respect from the community is more important than life itself. The human craving for honor is so great, people would rather die with honor than live with shame. In other words, social death is worse than physical death.
Dr Sania Hamady (Arab scholar and authority on Arab psychology) states that the three fundamentals of Arab society are shame, honor and revenge. Honor for an Arab is the absence of shame.
Honor-killing, is the traditional practice, especially amongst Muslims, of killing a family member who is believed to have brought shame on the family. In some parts of the world, women who have been raped have also been murdered for the 'dishonor' of being a victim and the 'disgrace' and 'shame' it brings to their family.
Listen to the recent words of a Muslim immigrant in Europe: “There is nothing in this entire world that you need to protect more than your honor. Because you’re nothing without your honor. You’d be dirt, just dirt and nothing else. If someone tried to take my honor, then I’d do anything to get it back. Literally anything.”
5. Shame Causes Us to Look for All Types of Solutions and Lose All Sense of Direction
a. Shame Causes Us to Cover Up Our Mess with Inadequate Means -- Gen 3:7: "Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths."
Imagine the scene: Adam and Eve, hiding behind a bush, ashamed, alone, separated from God, aware of their own guilt, dishonor, and sinfulness, trying to cover their mess with inadequate means. God created them to rule and to reign on the earth, but after their treasonous choice, we find them running and hiding and trying to fix their problems with some fig leaf underwear! Shame will cause you to try to cover your mess with fig leaves.
Today fig leaves come in a variety of types. There's the fig leaf coverings of work and play, of fame and fortune, of religious activities and social activism, of education and sophistication. We try "sweeping it under the rug", "drowning it in drink", "numbing it with medication", "burying it with busyness", and "explaining it away with new names."
b. Shame Causes Us to Seek Shelter in Silly Places -- Gen 3:8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
If you're really sick, you seek a hospital. If you need food, you go to the grocery. If you have a tooth ache, you seek a dentist. If you have car that is broken down, you seek a mechanic. However, when guilt, shame, and fear has left us exposed and feeling untouchable, unclothed, unclean, and unvalued, we seek shelter and solutions in some really ridiculous places. We hide from God. We run behind bushes. We try to play hide and seek with the omniscient, omni-present God of the Universe! How dumb to think that we are going to hide from the Creator in some stuff that He created?
We have people calling psychic hotlines and running to different gurus. They pay large sums of money to hear a counselor tell them it's not their fault. They become devotees of Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, and New Age Oprah in an attempt, for the most part, to hide from God and hear someone declare you're not to blame.
c. Shame Causes us to Run From the One We Should Run To -- Gen 3:10, "And he said, "I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself."
The moment Adam and Eve bit into the forbidden fruit, the pleasure they expected turned to pain as they felt the strange sensation of death and mortality rush through their bodies. They once had an unhindered relationship with God that filled their lives with joy and happiness. They used to look forward to a daily walk and talk with their Creator/Father/Friend as He came to visit them in the beauty of the garden in the cool of the day.
But everything changed the moment they believed the devil's lie over God's truth. Suddenly the voice that used to draw them in, now somehow repelled them. The presence they used to long for and thirst for, now somehow filled them with fear and dread. The glory and majesty, the greatness, goodness, and holiness that used to fill their lives with such light and love, now only reminded them of their own sin and weakness. Before they bit into that fruit, they used to run to God when He would come to them in the garden, but now, all they could think to do was run and hide. THE VERY PRESENCE THEY LONGED FOR WAS THE VERY PRESENCE THEY RAN FROM. That's what shame does to us, it makes us RUN FROM THE ONE WE SHOULD BE RUNNING TO. Shame fills us with an overwhelming awareness of our sin and God’s holiness. When we see how sinful we are and realize how perfect and holy God is, our natural inclination is to do what Adam and Eve did -- run and hide.
False shame, embraced by the Believer, will do the same today. We listen to our flesh and the lies of legalistic religion, made operative by demonic affirmation and feel that we are too dirty, too distant, too unworthy to come running to the mercy seat and find the forgiving heart of our Father in heaven. We feel like confessing our shame and sins and trusting Him for forgiveness and cleansing is just too easy. So, we punish ourselves, and then hand the whip to others so they can add their lashes to our loathings.
III. The Only Solution for the Unholy Trinity is Provided in the Gospel!
Adam and Eve's original sin introduced a real unholy trinity of humanly unsolvable problems: guilt, shame, and fear!
Gen. 3:10: "And he said, 'I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.'"
When Adam and Eve broke God’s law, they were in a position of guilt. When they broke God’s relationship, they were in a position of shame. When they broke God’s trust, they were in a position of fear.
A three-fold solution is needed - a not-guilty, declared-righteous verdict for our guilt; a hope-filled, mind-renewing, soul-cleansing for our shame; a soul-saving, demon-delivering experience from our bondage to fear.
The astounding truth is that the gospel of God provides all that we need, both before we are saved and after we are saved, to fix the mess and the mistaken shame and blame we wear. The gospel is the solution for true shame and false shame. It's the answer for factual guilt incurred by our sins, and false guilt imposed by ourselves and others.
Jesus' death on the cross was a perfect answer to our guilt problem. "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus' crucifixion was also a perfect answer to our shame problem. He "endured the cross, despising its shame" (Heb. 12:2).
The cross preserves God’s honor (saves God’s “face”), and takes away human shame. Jesus’ substitutionary atonement is not only a penal substitution (the traditional Protestant view), but is also an honor substitution. Jesus said to the Father, “The glory (honor) that you have given to me, I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one.” (John 17:22)
On the cross our naked Savior took responsibility for our spiritual nakedness. And now, with the veil of the temple torn, we can approach our holy God without shame. To all who believe in him he offers white clothes to cover our shameful nakedness (Rev. 3:18). He not only covers our shame; he exchanges our shame for a glory that reflects his own. Jesus referred to his death as the hour of his glorification (John 12:23). In taking responsibility for our sin on the cross, he transformed the cross from a symbol of shame into a symbol of glory.
"Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed; do not be discouraged, for you will not suffer disgrace; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and the disgrace of your widowhood you will remember no more"(Is. 54:4).
What's the Answer for Shame?
For the Child of God dealing with false, toxic, illegitimate shame, the first steps toward breaking the shackles of shame is to:
- Identify the Lies that You Believe -- Christians functioning under the tormenting face of false shame have no sense of identity, thus they never feel at home in Father God’s Family, and must pretend to be someone they are not in order to be accepted.
Christian's operating under the face of tormenting shame view themselves as having worth based on what they do. They live trying to do unto others before they do it unto them again.
Shame causes the Christian to believe that they are unwanted, unloved, unacceptable, unclean, unneeded, unworthy, and unfit to even live.
Shame causes the believer to maintain an attitude that says, "Don’t trust anyone; look out for number one; fight your own battles; and believe that God only helps those who help themselves!"
- Certify the Life that You Have Received -- John 1:12, "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name."
Roms. 5:17, "For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ."
- Notify the Demons that They Must Leave! As I have come to Jesus as my Deliverer, I claim the promise of God's Word that, "Whosoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be delivered" (Joel 2:32). So I call upon you now in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to deliver me and set me free from guilt, shame, and fear. I speak to any and every demonic spirit, declaring, I renounce you and all your works. I declare that you have no place in me nor any power over me. I loose myself from you, in the name of Jesus, and command you to leave me right now, in Jesus' name.
- Apply the Whole Gospel that You Have Misperceived -- Most Christians have received Christ as the one who bore their sins on the cross but not their shame. Hebs 12:2, "looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."
As a child of God, I am in Christ and Christ is in me. I am a Designer's original, and despite what others may consider to be a defect in God's design, he made me for greater effect.
I am not unloved or unwanted, but I am one of the few, the free and the forgiven. I am not condemned or cursed but chosen of God and called of the Spirit and made complete in Christ.
I am not shamed or blamed, but reclaimed by the grace of God!
I have a shame-off-me Relationship in God's Spiritual House -- I have been selected by the Father, saved by the Son, shaped by the Spirit to fit into God's master building project.
I have shame-off-me Fellowship in God's Family. I belong to the only Family that has a never-ending future!
I have a shame-off-me Membership in the Holy, Royal Priesthood ?? 1 Peter 2:9: "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession..."
I have a shame-off-me Citizenship in a Holy Nation ? 1 Peter 2:9; Eph 2:19. My residence has been established. I am no more a stranger and foreigner living on a visas, subject to deportation. I am by the grace of God a "free?born" citizen of God's kingdom. My passport is stamped, "Paid in full by the blood of Christ."
I am a shame-off-me object of God's Workmanship -- Eph 2:10. I am a saint, a soldier, a sheep, a stranger and pilgrim. I am a cracked clay pot that contains the treasure of Christ in me my hope of Glory.-- 2 Cor 4:7
I am who I am because God said that's who I am. I am not, in spite of what I, or others think or say, worthless, useless, aimless, meaningless, purposeless, or valueless.
SHAME OFF ME AND YOU!
The really good news, when you receive and believe it, is that you no longer will live under shame's tormenting face, but under Father God’s Loving Face with a smile on it -- not because of what you're doing, but because of what Jesus has done!
We can, with the eyes of faith, behold God’s face: "Look to him [God], and be radiant; so your faces shall never be ashamed” (Ps 34:5). On three occasions Psalm 80 says, “Restore us, O Lord God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved”. To see God’s face implies royal access. God’s face is his gracious and honorable presence. God’s people stand in God’s presence, and connect intimately with the God of glory. Seeing the face of God is our greatest honor, in so many ways.
We are saved by seeing God's face in Christ: 2 Cors. 4:6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
We are continually being changed by going on seeing God's face: 2 Cors. 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord." The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)