How To Overcome Shame

Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. — John 8:2-4

I know we are in a devotional series through the Gospel of John, but the story in chapter eight is an excellent moment for a little longer teaching on the topic of shame. We have three people in this text. First, we have a shameless man, that is Jesus. He is threatened by no one and walks right back into a dangerous and life-threatening situation, and shamelessly teaches the truth. Second, we encounter a woman who is ashamed because she has been caught in a sinful situation and is standing undressed before a crowd of people. Third, we have a bunch of self-righteous, judgmental religious elitists who are shaming a woman to make a point that attempts to favor them.

Shame is a big issue for men. We have all experienced shame from a variety of angles. We have been ashamed because of sin or sins. Others have intentionally shamed us. We have inflicted shame upon others. We have been ashamed of our beliefs in Jesus. And we have endured personal and private endless cycles of shame.

The question is, how do we get beyond it? How do we overcome it?

First, let's define what shame is. Shame is a feeling. It is a feeling of distress we experience when we have done something wrong. And that is all it is. A feeling.

But for some people, this feeling becomes something more. It escalates into fears that cause cycles of private shame that can be debilitating. They privately ruminate on them in their minds until they become real and gain power over a man's thoughts and even his identity.

Now before I get too far ahead of myself, I want to read two verses for you today that will be the backdrop for the points I am going to make. They will help us understand shame and direct us toward overcoming it. The first one is from 1 Corinthians 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. — 1 Corinthians 15:34

So here are five clarifications about shame from the apostle Paul:

  1. You should feel shame sometimes because it warns us of sin.
  2. You should respond to shame because it tells you to stop sinning.
  3. If you don't feel any shame, you could be intoxicated by sin, and you might need a stronger wake-up call.
  4. The best wake-up calls come from another Christian brother who can say what needs to be said.
  5. Shame has a goal, which is to drive us to the righteousness of God.

So this is one side of shame that we have to understand.

But here is another side of this experience that we want to get to. It's living in freedom from the shame of sin. Because something compelled Jesus that caused him to live the way he did — shamelessly. So here is another text from the apostle Paul found in 2 Timothy 1:8. He states:

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God. — 2 Timothy 1:8

So there are four clarifications Paul gives us here about shame:

  1. We should feel no shame for our beliefs about Jesus.
  2. We should feel no shame for testifying about Jesus.
  3. If we suffer for these beliefs or testimony, people might shame us, but we should be unashamed.
  4. And if we do feel shame for this, it's wrong, and we might need a brother to encourage us to live unashamed.

So we have two sides of shame. We have one side of shame that prompts us to move from wrong actions to right actions. And then we have another side that prompts us to live in freedom from shame so we can do God's work. But our problem is we can get both sides of these processes messed up.

But where most men get stuck is on the first side of shame. They get stuck on endless cycles of private shame. They become a slave to their feelings of shame. I have seen this happen repeatedly in the spiritual lives of men. Here is how it works. They sin. Then they feel unworthy. Then they ruminate on it for far too long without a right response. Thus the feelings of shame become their penance. They engage in this endless cycle of self-degradation that becomes their penance. And these feelings of sinfulness give them just enough satisfaction that they keep repeating the process.

I know men who are exhausted by this. They are emotionally exhausted by the constant feelings of shame. They are exhausted because they have tried for so long with no new results. They are exhausted by positive self-talk, which by the way, doesn't work. Some are so exhausted they give up because they see no way out and decide to give permission to sin.

But there is a solution to this cycle. But before I tell you the solution, you need to know your freedom from shame hangs on one thing — your belief. You can break the cycle of shame by doing this one thing. Here it is in Romans 10:11:

For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” — Romans 10:11

You see, the answer for our shame is not found in trying harder, positive self-talk, or knowing all the right tactics. The answer is found in a man. Someone who died for you. Jesus addressed all your sins, not just a single sin at one point in one time. Jesus, a sinless and shameless man, died shamefully for you and me. And he stands ready to rid you of all shame by believing in him.

And that's what is about to happen right here in John 8. Jesus is about to rid this woman of shame. Shame, she realized. Shame she was calloused toward. Shame people projected on her. Naked, she stood before Jesus, and he was about to absolve her of the sentence of sin and the effects of shame.

Don't you want the same? Then give him your shame.

ASK THIS: Are you ready to live beyond shame?

DO THIS: Believe in the one who removes sin and shame.

PRAY THIS: God, I believe Jesus was the sinless one who removed all my sin and shame.

PLAY THIS: I Won't Be Ashamed.

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Read through the Bible daily with Vince Miller.

19 thoughts on “How To Overcome Shame

  1. David Josker says:

    God, I believe Jesus was the sinless one who removed all my sin and shame. Thank you.

  2. Mark says:

    I was that man, wrecked with shame over a life of sin and sexual immorality. Our God is an awesome God who heals and forgives, who redeems and restores us into a new man in Him. He blessed me with a brother who called me out, prayed with me, was and still is my iron on iron brother. Fellas this message today is for all of us, but remember when Christ died on the cross he took our sin and our shame with Him! I have experienced freedom from shame and guilt, I know the joy of redemption and a closer walk with God. Vince is so on target today, Jesus is the only answer, give it to Him in faith and walk away from shame and into His loving arms!

  3. Paul L says:

    So powerful and liberating, Vince. Everyman needs this so I’m sharing this on my feed.

  4. Tom says:

    Wow, just wow. Talk about words that every man needs to soak on and benefit from. I know I can and will.

  5. Chris says:

    Wonderful, wonderful. Your knowledge and insight of the heart of man is great! My mentor called it, “the sin / sorry shuffle.” I absolutely hate these cycles and makes me feel unsaved sometimes. My shame and sorries is not true repentance. I need to feel badly BEFORE I open that computer. Have foreknowledge of how badly I will and the Holy Spirit makes me feel, and go to bed smiling in victory, not crying in shame. I need to save this devo to my special folder to revisit. Thanks again. I accomplished last night what I said above and am NOT having a shameful morning. God bless you all today!

  6. Josh says:

    Incredible message Vince. One that I’ll be rereading throughout the day to remind myself Jesus is THE answer to rid myself of my shame.

  7. Ken Brown says:

    Vince, You messages are right on target! Keep up the fantastic work Brother!

  8. Michael Prill says:

    Wow Vince!!!! Such powerful lesson today.
    Thank you for helping to point the way to Jesus in believing in him to rid us of our shame to be free.

  9. Ted Bichsel says:

    This truth is such a key for men. Thank you for speaking freedom and release.

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