Archive for the ‘guilt’ Tag

We Are Guilty   Leave a comment

So now that I’ve pissed off my non-Christian readers by comparing them to The Walking Dead, I’m turning my attention to Christians.

When the apostle Paul talks about the works of the flesh, he wasn’t telling Christians to go out and condemn non-Christians for living like … well, non-Christians. They can’t help themselves and they don’t owe God a moral life because they have never accepted His gift of salvation. When Paul wrote about the works of the flesh, he was talking about us — Christians.

When we accepted Christ, our spirits were made alive. We are no longer the walking dead. Our old selves and our past sins were crucified and new spirits exist in us. There is no more condemnation for what we did in the past because we have been made new.

But ….

In Romans 7, Paul talked about how the flesh wars with the spirit so that we struggle to live a Christian life. Our spirits have been saved, but our bodies are still very much of this world.

So what do we do?

We are required to put to death the aspects of our nature that separate us from God. To make it easier for us, Paul identified them in Colossians 3 and Ephesians 4.

The works of the flesh are: fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiescence, coveteousness, anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication, and our “former corrupt way of life” that tended toward “deceitful lusts”.

Even Paul battled carnality. Our entire Christian lives deal with battling Satan, ourselves and society. Today, I’m focusing on ourselves.

Mark 7:21-23, Romans 1:29-31, Galatians 5:19-21, Colossians 3:5-8 list the following terms having to do with carnality (our fleshly weakness):

Adultery, an evil eye, anger, backbiter, blasphemer, boaster, covenant breaker, covetous, debater, deceiver, despiser of those that are good, despiteful, disobedient, disobedient to parents, drunks, emulations, envious, evil concupiscence, evil thoughts, false accuser, fierce, filthy communication, foolish, fornications, hater of God, hating one another, heady, heresies, highminded, idolaters, implacable, incontinent, inordinate affection, inventors of evil things, lasciviousness, lovers of pleasures, lovers of their own selves, maliciousness, malignity, murder, proud, revellings, seditions, serving various lusts and pleasures, sorcerers, strife, thefts, traitors, trucebreakers, unclean, unholy, unmerciful, unrighteousness, unthankful, variance, whisperers, wickedness, witchcraft, without natural affection, without understanding, and finally, wrath.

Every last one of the letters Paul wrote were written to Christians, so he was not talking to the world when he made these statements. He’s talking to US … YOU and ME.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus expanded on the commandments. It wasn’t just “you shouldn’t kill”, it was you shouldn’t think angry thoughts about your neighbor. Um, yeah, I’m guilty. It wasn’t “don’t commit adultery”. It was “don’t look at the opposite sex with lust in your heart.”

Now look at that list and ask yourself — does any of that exist in you in even the slightest amount? A drop of yeast leavens the whole loaf. You’re guilty. I’m guilty.

The list breaks down into some broad categories.

Attitudes: anger, covetousness, deceit, emulations (jealousy), envy, foolishness, hateful, incontinent (lacking self-control), lasciviouseness, lovers of themselves and pleasure, malice, proud, and uncleanness (immoral actions and motives).

Actions: adultery, blasphemy (speaking evil of either God or man), boasters, variance (contentious), fierce, filthy communication (foul language), fornication (which is a broad topic), heresies (wrong teachings), idolatry (putting anything before God), seditions (divisions), traitors, unmerciful, unthankful, wickedness (lawlessness).

1 Corinthians 10:12, Paul wrote that Christians should be wary because Satan is trying to trip us up. And, I would submit that every Christian in the world could not cast a stone at an unsaved sinner were Jesus standing there to observe. We’re all guilty and we should all recognize it because it will allow us to be better Christians.

Christians, Are You Ashamed of Christ?   Leave a comment

All of us have heroes or heroines — people we would like to be like. Psychologists call this our self-ideal. It is our ideal self-portrait by which we measure ourselves. We feel shame when we fall sort of this model of heroism.

Ashamed to be a ChristianShame may involve public embarrassment, but even when it doesn’t, it always involves a painful loss of trust in oneself and with it a feeling of unacceptability.

The problem with this is that many modern Christians have our morals based in the Bible and our models defined by Hollywood. This leads us to a crossfire of self-rejection. If we do what is morally right, we feel ashamed of being “goody-goody”. If we do what might seem to be glorious and heroic, we would often violate God’s law and feel guilty. Our morals and our models are incompatible and we suffer for it.

Christians are “not guilty”. God forgave our sins because Jesus paid the price for our inequity. We are not really innocent in that we have broken moral rules, but we are acquitted based on the evidence being shielded from the Judge’s sight. God took care of our guilt so we don’t have to.

What about our shame? God is not ashamed of us. “There is therefore no more condemnation for those who are in Jesus Christ …” (Romans 8:1). God not only acquitted us of our guilt, He adopted us into the family. He loves and accepts as we are. Clearly, Paul the apostle, guilty of the arrests and ultimate murders of Christians, understood that he had been forgiven and he felt no shame before God — though there are hints in his writings that not all Christians were as forgiving.

But how do you, 21st century Christian, feel about being identified with Him?

Guilt and Shame are NOT Synonyms   Leave a comment

For 15 years, I worked as an administrator in a social work setting. I was not a social worker, I was a paper-pusher who helped social workers. We had a lot of great conversations about my faith and their take on faith in general.

Christians, I upheld our “brand” well. They (mostly) came to understand that I am sane and reasonable. Over the years, some of them would come to me to ask if I thought a client’s religious beliefs were pathological religiosity or true faith. My coworkers came to understand that they lacked the knowledge to truly evaluate that distinction.

One subject we might have discussed a couple of hundred times was the difference between guilt and shame and their place in the Christian self-analysis.

Shame and guilt are words used synonymously in our society, but they really aren’t the same work. You can figure that out by looking at their opposite.

  • Guilt’s opposite is innocence or moral purity.
  • Shame’s opposite is honor and glory

Hosea 4:7 – “I will change their glory into shame”.

Philippians 3:19 – “They glory in their shame.”

Both shame and guilt include falling short of some standard, which is subjectively experienced as feeling unacceptable and wrong or bad. Guilt is violating a rule, law or commandment. It fits solidly into a moral or legal framework. But shame is more difficult to define.

We can feel shame and guilt at the same time. If I tell a lie, I am guilty of lying. I may also feel guilty for telling the lie because I know that lying is wrong. I might also feel shame because I thought I was a strong enough person to tell the truth.

Shame and guilt may also diverge from one another. I may admit that I broke a rule or a law (and hence by guilty), but I may not feel shame for what I have done. For example, when I speed, I am  guilty of a traffic infraction, but if I am on the Parks Highway at midnight on a clear summer’s night, I’m not risking anyone’s life, so I don’t feel shame.

Conversely, people shame for things that are morally irrelevant. For example, many people feel shame about their bodies. Body issues are morally neutral and yet we can experience extreme and painful shame over them. I am personally ashamed of my singing voice because it is awful, but I’ve broken no law or moral rule when I belt out a tune on the hiking trail. Although I am not guilty of violating a moral or legal standard, I feel shame.

The third relationship between guilt and shame is in opposition to each other. We can feel shame for doing the right thing or sense a certain glory in doing the wrong thing. The Bible warns Christians not to be ashamed of Christ. We usually don’t recognize the psychological implications of this. Believing and being identified with Jesus Christ is the most morally right thing we can do, yet we can feel ashamed for doing it.

The fact that guilt and shame can function independently or in opposition to each other show that they point to two different system or standards of evaluation. Guilt and innocence deal with morals, rights and wrongs. Shame deals with models — our sense of what is heroic.

 

 

Black Saturday   1 comment

I’m not going to post a lot today because it’s a beautiful spring day here in Alaska and I’m going out hiking. Maybe I’ll wake a spring bear.

I want to thank the people who have been visiting and those who are now following my blog. And now for a brief message …

 

Today could rightfully be called Black Saturday. Think about it. Just about 2000 years ago, mankind killed God in the flesh, Jesus. They hung Him on a cross and He died. His followers ran away. They abandoned Him. They scurried around the edges of His execution and did nothing. Peter denied Him three times. John had enough contacts to get into the chamber to watch his best friend’s trial and beating, but he still didn’t try to save Him.

Where do you think the disciples were on Black Saturday?

Hiding in a hole. Scrambling to return to their homes and pretend they never knew Him. Weeping. Examining themselves and finding they weren’t all that good. They promised to follow Him wherever He went and they ran away!

Today is Black Saturday. Jesus is dead and you’re responsible. Think about it!

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