7 Keys to a Victorious Life, by Lilliet Garrison. http://www.amazon.com/Lilliet-Garrison/e/B004H28MCU.
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT GUILT AND SHAME
The Bible has numerous examples of people who felt guilt, shame, and regret over their past. Those who overcame looked to God—and found that God’s solution to their problem of sin was forgiveness.
Shame tends to isolate us as we feel alone and outside of society. It leaves us feeling vulnerable as we believe others can sense our shame. Some come to accept it as punishment for violating cultural and moral values, but its effects are always damaging to our self image.
God did not create you in shame, or for shame, nor did He create you to be alone. He created you for fellowship with Himself and others. It is Satan who feeds your mind with thoughts of worthlessness, and thus he works to isolate you. Most people with low self-esteem believe they are the only one in their predicament. This is always Satan’s work.
Reading the Bible reminds us of just how many of God’s “chosen” people failed Him in some way. The human condition of imperfection is known by all people—not just you!
The gospel shows us the way—the way to a new and better life in Christ. Parables were written to show us the positive changes that God’s forgiveness brings to all people regardless of their shortcomings, sin, shame, or guilt.
The Bible is our present-day guidebook. We draw strength and encouragement to turn from our past life of sin, and receive God’s forgiveness when we humble ourselves and ask Him to forgive us.
Jesus heals us from the deep and long-lasting effects of disgrace. His forgiveness frees us from the degradation that holds us captive and makes us slaves. No one else can do that for us.
“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14-15).
HOW GUILT AND SHAME ORIGINATED
If you will recall the story of Adam and Eve, you will remember what sin brought into their lives. One of the first results of sin that Adam and Eve felt was shame.
He (Adam) said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself” (Genesis 3:10).
Adam and Eve’s sin spoiled the perfect environment God created for them. They lived in a perfect world, had perfect minds, natures, abilities, and bodies, and had perfect fellowship with God. But the first couple was given something that could turn their perfect world upside down—and that was the power of choice!
By choosing to sin against God—by disobeying Him—they subjected all of God’s creation to the effects of sin. This includes guilt, shame, disease, death, broken relationships, selfishness, and knowing and doing evil. Later Adam and Eve had to deal with regret over the loss of the life they once had with God their Creator.
As descendants of Adam and Eve, every person since has been born into this world with a natural “sin nature”—or the inclination to sin.
But God was not surprised by man’s choice to sin against Him. Since God is sovereign (supreme ruler), He also had a plan to redeem man back to Himself. This would be done through His Son Jesus Christ. Now, humans could be redeemed, but only if they individually made the choice to choose Him in return.
Today we have little excuse for not knowing God. God has put a conscience into each individual. The Spirit of God speaks to us through our conscience, which provides us with an integral sense of right and wrong. This is God’s law written on our hearts and minds. What’s more, God has put awareness into us of His being through His Creation, and revealed Himself to us through His Word and through His Son, Jesus Christ.
All of us were born with an innate knowledge of God. From a very young age, we know that there is a God. We have an appreciation of our own being and we end up asking, “Who made me?” If we seek God’s truth, we conclude, as the Psalmist did, that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).
Today we have God’s written Word to read, and we have opportunities to hear the spoken Word in church, through the radio and TV, the internet, conferences, and many other means.
But rebellion, pride, and willful ignorance keep many from knowing God in our present day. Paul says of those who come to deny the existence of God:
“Although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:21).
“A fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1).
PETER’S SIN AND REGRET
The Bible gives us another example of shame and regret through the life of the apostle Peter. John 13:37-38 describes the night of Christ’s betrayal. Following the Passover meal, Peter tells Jesus that he would lay down his life for Him. Jesus responds by telling Peter that before the night is over, he will deny knowing Him three times. True to Jesus’ word, later that evening, Peter denies knowing Jesus three times. Fear over losing his own life prompted Peter to deny the One he professed to love so much. (See John 18:15-27; Matthew 26:31-35, 69-75).
What a bitter pill to swallow. Peter had no idea he had such an appalling character weakness. Since Jesus knew Peter intimately, He saw and spoke of it to warn Peter. But Peter thought he was stronger and better than that, so unconvinced and prideful, he failed to heed the warning. Scripture tells us that after this incident, Peter wept bitterly (Luke 22:62).
We can identify with Peter for we’re all like him. We fail to see our true condition, our character weaknesses, and our inclination to deny Christ. We believe that we’re better than we are. We aren’t in tune with our deficiencies until the Holy Spirit gently reveals to us what’s really lurking inside our heart. And it’s only Christ’s transforming work in our heart that changes us.
After failing Christ, Peter gives us a beautiful example of what Christ’s forgiveness accomplished for him. Peter doesn’t let this unspeakable episode ruin the rest of his life or how he views himself. Rather than falling away, we see that Peter continues to grow in his faith.
Peter did in fact “strengthen his brothers” after turning back to Christ, as Jesus had foretold (Luke 22:32). Although he may have lived with shame and regret over his very public denial of Christ, his deepened understanding of the person and work of Christ overcame his shameful position of failure. He realized that if Christ didn’t hold anything against him, neither should he.
DEALING WITH GUILT FROM OUR PAST
Eventually a new Christian may ask: “How should I deal with guilt from my past before I became a Christian?” What about the sins I commit after becoming a Christian; are those forgiven too?
Guilt is a result of sin, and since we’ve all sinned, all of us have had to deal with feelings of guilt. Guilt can actually be a good thing, because guilty feelings drive us to seek forgiveness.
Jesus takes away our guilt and sin when we turn to Him for salvation. Repentance is the heart attitude and action that brings us to faith in Christ (Matthew 4:17).
“Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”(Matthew 3:2, NLT).
“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3:19).
Salvation is by grace and Jesus offers it freely. Accepting Jesus means you’re accepting the forgiveness He gives!
Christ is able to blot out our most dreadful sins. Unfortunately, even after becoming a Christian, we will continue to sin. However, the will to sin should lesson as we grow in Christ’s likeness, yet, God in His grace continues to forgive us.
“But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One” (1 John 2:1).
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile” (Romans 1:16).
God is willing to forgive us of all our sins when we confess them to Him.
“Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who have sex with men” (1 Corinthians 6:9).
Sin only keeps us out of the Kingdom of Heaven when we’re unwilling to repent of them or turn from them. It’s our pride that keeps us from God and Heaven—not our sin.
When we repent and receive forgiveness, God not only forgives our sin, but He chooses to forget it. Although at times we may recall our sins—God does not.
While we may come to forget our sin, we have an enemy who wants to continually remind us of them, to hold us under a sense of guilt. Satan works relentlessly to bring up our past and present failures. In chapter 12 of Revelation, we are assured that our enemy has been defeated. Knowing this, we’re not to relinquish our power.
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
“Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down” (Revelation 12:10).
KING DAVID’S EXAMPLE
King David, in Psalm 32, gives us a wonderful example of someone who sinned terribly against God and others, yet found freedom from his sin and guilt. David was able to experience the reality and blessings of forgiveness. Psalm 51 pictures David acknowledging his sin in sorrow and imploring God to forgive him. The result: David experienced restoration and joy once again.
David is an example of how we can receive forgiveness after sinning and find restoration to move ahead. David knew God had forgiven him. He did not continue to seek forgiveness for sin already covered. From that point on, David moved on with his life. David’s sin with Bathsheba had consequences, but he had certainty that the confession of that sin made it an incident from his past. He did not let it ruin his future or his future relationship with God.
When we come to Christ we become a new creation in Him. The “old nature” is inclined to be burdened by guilt for “missing the mark.” Yet God has said that the “new man” is to consider himself separated from the old nature that was without Christ.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Unfortunately, many Christians live their lives with the memories from their past. Sadly, this is not the new life Christ has called us to, or the life He expects us to live based on His sacrifice to free us from our past. Like David, we are to consider ourselves dead to our past sin and the memories it produced. Christ buried those sins once-for-all and we’re to follow David’s example—by remembering them no more.
To read more, you can find my book at Amazon.com. Click on my link: http://www.amazon.com/Lilliet-Garrison/e/B004H28MCU.
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If you’re not living the life you’ve always dreamed of, perhaps it’s because you’ve picked up negative thinking and behaviors that are keeping you from enjoying your life. Many of us know when we’re not happy or fulfilled, but we may not know the reasons. God’s Word is completely practical and gives us insight into how we were designed to live. When we approach it looking for answers, God reveals to us what’s missing. Discover what’s holding you back and develop the positive traits that will bring you what you were designed to receive. Since God is our Creator, He knows what we need to live happy and contented lives. Discover for yourself the secrets to living a blessed life — the life you’ve yearned a lifetime for, but may not have known how to develop.
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Anything worth having requires something of you.
As was the case with many Bible characters, a God encounter is mandatory to the establishment of a new and better life. Merely wishing for a new future won’t make it happen.
Ruth understood that her future success depended on her ability to let go of her past. She had to deliberately turn and depart from it―going with Naomi in disregard of her mother-in-law’s selfless plea that she return to her own people.
Ruth desired a new future, a good future. She most likely sensed that Naomi, for all the older woman’s emptiness, had something that she didn’t. Even in mourning, Naomi was able to reveal to Ruth, that God had done something in her life―and Ruth wanted what Naomi had.
When Ruth confronted Naomi with “your God shall be my God,” she revealed her willingness to turn her back on her past to secure a better future. She understood that this would be found through her continuing relationship with Naomi.
Are you willing to turn from your past? Turn from a life of emptiness, to follow Jesus — who can give you a good future, one full of promise?
Ruth eventually married Boaz. Boaz was good, gentle, and loving. He redeemed Ruth. Jesus is good, gentle, and loving, and He waits to redeem you back to the Father. Will you respond to His free gift to you? Will you become part of the Family of God by letting go of your past and accepting Jesus?
Taken from my book: “A WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE….Growing Spiritually Mature in an Immature World.” Sold at Amazon.com/Kindle, on sale for a limited time: $1.99 .
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1. She is rare. Rare means uncommon, not easily discovered. She’s one among thousands, or “one in a million.” The Proverbs 31 woman was rare, because she lived with wisdom and diligence. She was virtuous, and this made her unusual. If virtue made her extraordinarily valuable, we can conclude that living without virtue makes one, at best, common, or run of the mill. What is it, specifically, that makes us valuable?
2. She fears the Lord. Having the fear of the Lord doesn’t imply that this model woman was afraid of God, but that she highly respected God and what He can accomplish in and through an obedient heart.
Wisdom leads us to recognize, hate, and run from evil. It keeps us from becoming prideful, arrogant, and full of ourselves. Wisdom leads us to be grateful by recognizing and acknowledging who it is that provides for and blesses us.
When we’re cognizant of the source of our blessings, we naturally want to share this good news with others. Wisdom leads us to make wise choices and to be a blessing to others. It prevents us from going down a road that will lead to our destruction; the natural consequence of making poor choices. Proverbs 1:7 points out that the foolish don’t simply ignore, but despise wisdom and discipline.
A virtuous woman, on the other hand, is full of the grace and wisdom of God. If you recognize that you’ve made poor choices that have led to foolish living, do as Proverbs says: Seek after godly wisdom. In response, the Lord will straighten your crooked path and add blessings to your life. Bear in mind that a different roadmap is always just one decision away.
3. She values her relationship with the Lord.
She rises early in the morning. By spending time with the Lord while it’s yet early, her day is ordered with right priorities. She seeks the Holy Spirit as her guide, consequently limiting time wasted on things of little importance. Her motives toward her family and others are pure since she’s free to love as Christ loves. This liberates her from excessive negativity, anger, resentment, and bitterness. Her countenance is cheerful, her demeanor inviting. She’s productive and multiplies her resources.
She’s obedient to her Savior and Lord. Her intimate relationship with the Lord keeps her humble in spirit and beautiful in His sight. A woman who pursues the Lord won’t spend her time chasing worthless things. She won’t be drawn to potentially toxic people and relationships. If she’s married, she looks for like-minded, mutually edifying friendships.
4. She is trustworthy and honest. A wife who can be trusted with confidences is rare indeed. Many women, when talking to friends or others, reveal personal confidences that have no business going outside their marriage. Such intimate matters aren’t to be revealed to others. To share personal information about one’s mate undermines the marriage and dishonors the spouse. This isn’t building your house but tearing it down with disrespect. An honoring wife holds confidences and protects those entrusted to her care, responding with kindness, loyalty, and intercessory prayer. Her husband and children can be respected in the community because she doesn’t bring them shame or harm.
5. She possesses godly virtues. Her dress and behavior are modest, pure, and chaste. She’s dignified. She develops the “fruit of the Spirit” in her life: fruit that produces such desirable traits as patience, loyalty, tolerance, and love. She’s moderate and restrained, never extreme in opinion and statement. She’s confident. Confident that wisdom is of infinitely more value than fading beauty. Dignity is her true beauty.
6. She’s strong and devoted to her work. She’s an astute businesswoman who contributes resources to her household. This doesn’t necessarily mean a godly woman must feel obligated to work outside the home while she has young children in her care. If she’s able to stay at home during her children’s formative years, she’s creative in managing the family finances, finding inventive ways to be thrifty or to bring in income while working at home, where she can remain the primary influence in her children’s lives. Many women save money by shopping carefully and learning to be content with their home, hobbies, church activities, and families. Excessive shopping and spending reveal that emptiness has crept in, and lack of purpose leaves us wasting our valuable time and resources. Developing a ministry and interest in others will keep you from pursuing empty interests.
Augmenting our income can come in many ingenious forms. Learning how to creatively prepare nutritious meals on a budget, mastering sewing and finding fashionable clothing at high-end thrift or consignment shops are all rewarding endeavors. She’s able to care for others because she busies herself with multiplying what she has. She isn’t prone to idleness (laziness) or gossip. She guards her words and speaks well of others.
7. She seeks godly friendships. Solomon advised us to be careful regarding unwise friendships, cautioning that we eventually take on the characteristics of the people with whom we surround ourselves. We find numerous biblical cautions on this rule of bonding, among them:
•“Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” (Proverbs 13:20)
•“Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?” (Amos 3:3)
•“Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared.” (Proverbs 22:24-25)
Taken from my book: A WOMAN OF GRACE AND STRENGTH. Sold at Amazon.com/Kindle.
God was extraordinarily patient with Israel. He took 40 years to train His chosen leader, Moses. If He invested this much time into His chosen people and their leader, we know He’ll take the time necessary to make us into the person He intends us to be. None of us will have the distinction of being His first exception.
Every leader God has ever used has failed Him in some way. Jesus is the only one who didn’t fail God. Anyone can be exceptional by developing an attitude of perseverance. On the other hand, anyone can be common; all it takes is giving up.
Sometimes the very thing we want most takes the longest to achieve. Perfection takes time. Mastering something takes time. Impatience with God will only prolong our wait. Many times our impatience causes us to quit prematurely because we don’t see the amount of work God must first do in us. We usually believe we’re ready earlier than God does, since He sees what we don’t yet see in ourselves. Let God take that impatient spirit out of you. It will protect you down the line. God doesn’t want you to delay your good outcome by your unwillingness to grow in patience.
Many positive changes are already taking place in you whether or not you recognize them. Allow yourself to rest. Be assured that God does notice your progress.