Episode 16: The Influence of Guilt and Shame

What are the causes of guilt and shame? How should we respond to them? In this episode we look at these two struggles every Christian faces. 
We begin season 2 in July with some great interviews. Subscribe so you don’t miss an episode.

Transcript and Show Notes:


Welcome to Everyday Discipleship, Every Day, where we discuss discipleship in the 21st century, guided by biblical discipleship, a Christian worldview, and individual needs while focusing on discipling our children as well. I’m your host, Terrie Hellard Brown, and I’ve also been putting my discipleship book on my blog, and it’s there chapter by chapter for you to download and to use and to share with others. I wanted to do that rather than publishing it and charging for it. I just felt like the Lord was leading me to give it away for free for now. If we do ever publish it in a book, we can sell that later. But I just wanted to share these lessons with you, things that God has put on my heart from being a missionary in Taiwan and a mom of four adult children and all that I’ve seen going on. I just felt like we need a new look at discipleship.


So you can go to TerrieHellardBrown.com and download those lessons for free. We have put up the introduction and a few lessons, and we’ll be putting up more in the weeks to come. Now for our podcast, we’ve done 15 episodes now, and this is our 16th episode. And we are now on a break. So we’re taking a little break for about three weeks, and then we will be back with more interviews and discussions with others. For this break time, what I’m doing is recording some short videos just with some little tidbits of information and lessons that I feel like maybe we haven’t touched on. I’ve kind of skipped over a little too much, so I just wanted to bring these ideas to you in short videos because we’re on break, and I wanted to leave you with some things to think about during this time while we’re apart.


And so the first conversation I want to have, and I would love for it to be a conversation. I would love to hear what you think, but I think that sometimes we underestimate how powerful guilt is in our lives and shame. Maybe not. Maybe we realize that shame can be very harmful and detrimental. God does use guilt. He does speak to our conscience and convict us of sin, but when he does, we also sense his kindness and his love because he’s always ready to forgive. God is like a parent. You know, when we see our children doing something that could hurt them or harm them, we want to warn them to stay away from that. So out of love and care for them, we limit what they do and God does that to us as well. He has set limits and told us what is right and wrong, what is moral and immoral.


And we are to try to follow those things which we do a terrible job at doing, and therefore we feel convicted of our sin, and we come to him for forgiveness. And that’s why we need a savior. And we need salvation. So guilt in that way is very helpful. It’s a loving part of our relationship with God because it’s a part of our conscience being set to his level, to his expectations, to his requirements for holiness.


But when guilt eats away at us, and we can’t seem to find relief from it, that is not from God because God’s use of guilt or his conviction, however you want to say it, is used to bring us back into right relationship with him. It is not meant to hurt us or to cause us a ton of pain, if we are willing to humble ourselves and to come back to our savior.


However, when we hold on to guilt, even if God has forgiven us, we still beat ourselves up. That is not from God. That is from our own feelings and our own unwillingness to forgive ourselves and to accept God’s forgiveness and to enjoy that renewed relationship. You know when you’ve had a break between a friend and yourself, and you can reconcile that and you feel that reunion, and sometimes the relationship is forever damaged, but if you have a really good friend who loves you or a husband or whatever, who really does forgive you, there’s this joyful reconciliation. Well, that’s what we should experience with Christ. When we ask for forgiveness, the guilt should dissipate, it should go away. Now, if we are hanging on to guilt, then that tends to turn into shame. And guess who likes to put shame on us? That is not from God, it is from Satan.


It is from the enemy, or it is from ourselves or from our mothers sometimes. Yeah. Well anyway. But here’s what I’ve seen. As we are discipling our children, this becomes even more important. I’ve seen it over and over again. We’ve been in ministry for 39 years, and I’ve seen it again and again in my teaching and in our ministry and even in my own life, that when we hold on to the guilt and shame of our past sin or past mistakes, we tend to do one of two things. Of course, we may do more things, but one of the things I’ve seen is that we either don’t want to hold our children to a higher standard because we messed up. I’ve seen parents who maybe they weren’t even Christians yet, but especially if they were Christians and they had premarital sex, then they feel guilty and hypocritical to tell their children that they shouldn’t have sex until marriage.


We know that’s what God says. We know that’s what the Bible says, but we feel like hypocrites to teach our kids that. And it’s that way with any sin: overeating, you know, not taking care of yourself, anything, smoking pot, whatever it is that we did in our wild and crazy rebellious days that we may still feel guilty about. We feel like a hypocrite then to tell our children what God’s word says when we know we broke God’s word. And that is just a lie from Satan. It’s a trap. It’s a prison that we need to not be in because God has forgiven us.


And then the other thing I see is that we become hyper because we made those mistakes. We’re afraid our kids are going to make those mistakes. And so we become like God’s policemen trying to keep everybody from making those mistakes.


And we’ve seen that so many times with pastors and others who are teaching. They get hyper-focused on the things that they know they struggle with. And it is true when we have a sin that we struggle with. It’s like Jesus said, you’re trying to pull the speck out of someone else’s eye when you’ve got a log in your own eye. We see the sin in other people’s lives because we have those same temptations. We know what it’s like. And rather than encouraging them and saying, “I know how hard it is; I know why you’re struggling. This is a temptation I’ve dealt with myself, and here’s how I found some victory. Or maybe we could be accountability partners and hold each other accountable to find success in this area of our lives.” We need to be real with people, and we need to recognize God’s forgiveness is complete.


It is totally, totally gone. When we have his forgiveness, our sin, I should say, is totally, totally gone. It’s as far as the East is from the West. He has put our sins into the depths of the sea. He doesn’t want us digging them up or fishing them out of the ocean and wallowing in our failures. We are human. We are weak, and our hearts deceive us, and our minds mess us up all the time. We have to constantly humble ourselves before Christ and recognize that we need him, and we need his forgiveness. Sometimes daily, sometimes hourly, hopefully not that often, but we struggle, and we have our weaknesses. The enemy does everything in his power to put that temptation in our road and in our way and to get us to fall into that temptation. And then as soon as we fall or we fail, what happens?


He accuses us. The Bible says He is the accuser of the brethren. He is there saying, “Aha! Look what you did.” He is the first one to throw shame and guilt and embarrassment and everything, every emotion–negative emotion–he can, he’ll throw at us. And yet he’s the one who put the temptation in our way to begin with. Now, sometimes we do as well. We do stupid things. We go places we know we shouldn’t go. If you’re addicted to gambling, going to the casino, it’s not your best option for an evening out. We all know that. We have to guard our hearts. We have to guard our minds and be wise in what we do. But you know that if you’re left alone and no one’s there holding you accountable, that Satan will put those thoughts in your mind and tempt you. And we have to hold firm to Jesus Christ. Stay busy with something else. Call a friend. Call your accountability partner and try to spend some time with them and find encouragement with them. Let’s not give Satan any victories.


But even if we fail, even if we fall, we can immediately come to Jesus and ask for forgiveness. We don’t have to be like Adam and Eve and hide and try to cover up our sin and pretend that God doesn’t know. He knows everything. So we can come to him immediately and say, “I am so, so sorry.” We repent of that sin, and we ask God for help. If we can confess to a brother or sister that we trust, that can even break that hold on us even more, and we’ll find even more freedom when we share that with someone else. So find someone that can be your partner in accountability, who can be someone that you can talk to when you’re struggling, and who you can confess to when you failed. It gives you an opportunity to break that hold that that temptation may have on your life.


I hope that encourages you today. Guilt is not what we’re supposed to be walking around bearing all the time. And shame is not in any way God’s plan for our lives. If someone is putting shame on you or you are putting shame on yourself, we need to walk away from that shame and recognize that God has paid the penalty for all our sin, all our shame, all of our failures, and we can trust him and accept his forgiveness.


I hope this blesses you, and I hope it encourages you. And I hope more than anything that Jesus sets you free from any feelings of shame or disgrace or whatever you have felt. He is here filled with grace and mercy to pour out on all of us. He lavishes his grace upon us. He lavishes his love upon us, and he is always there for us. Satan will tell you, you’ve been too bad, and you shouldn’t go back to God and don’t listen to him.


Well, I’m glad you joined me today. I hope you enjoy these little short videos for our break time. We will be back in July with our second season of Everyday Discipleship Every Day. We have some fantastic guests. I can’t wait for you to hear from them. It’s getting really exciting. I’ve got some pastors–we’re going to be talking about all kinds of interesting things. I’ve got more authors and speakers that we’re going to hear from, and then I’m sharing with you the different topics from my book as well. It’s just going to be a lot of fun. So enjoy these short videos and then come back and see us in July for all the new episodes. Our prayer is that we can obey Jesus’ command to make disciples as we reach and equip this generation of believers to reach and equip the next generation of believers with everyday discipleship every day.

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