Category Archives: guilt

Forgiveness: By Grace “Changes our Mind”

If we are to enter God’s rest by experiencing the fullness of Christ’s resurrection power in our lives, we will need to consider whether there are still judgments against others dwelling in our hearts. Obviously, when we received our salvation, we were not required by God, to list, individually, every person who had ever hurt or offended us and then repent of our anger, resentment and bitter root judgments toward each person (Heb. 12:15). But, if we are to mature in Christ through His grace as we continue on in our Christian walk, we must be willing to release these people from our judgments (Matt. 6:12-15).

      We were justified by the sacrifice Christ made on the cross on our behalf so that, through salvation, we might enjoy the fullness of the benefits of sonship with him. These benefits were made available to us through our repentance and God’s forgiveness of our sins. Yet, scripture clearly indicates that if we are to continue as recipients of God’s good favor, we must resolutely adopt an ongoing attitude of forgiveness toward others (Matt. 7:1-2; Luke 17:3-4). Most Christians understand the importance of this basic principle. It is a staple of Christian teaching.

    But there is another, very important aspect of forgiveness that is often overlooked – Our personal repentance for the sinful thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that have developed in our lives in reaction to the original offenses against us.

How Reactive Judgments can Keep Us in Bondage

    Much of how we think, feel, and act today is derived from our past reactions to both the positive and negative influences in our lives.  Inevitably, ungodly behaviors develop from some of these reactions. For example, if we suffer rejection and hurt, we may form a negative judgment about the one that has rejected us. To hurt feels like weakness; to hate feels like strength. So, in our attempt to alleviate the pain we feel from rejection, instead of reacting with forgiveness, we begin to develop critical, judgmental thinking toward others  (Heb. 12:15; Gen. 4:5-8). From this position of blaming, we often come to believe that we must develop and rely on protective mechanisms of behavior in order to “survive” emotionally. For example, we may become shy and withdrawn, or perhaps bold, manipulative and aggressive.

    Whenever we do not choose the option of forgiveness toward those who have offended us, we are fostering the development of self-reliant attitudes deep within the heart. Rejecting the avenue of forgiveness, we learn to rely on our own efforts to overcome the personal offenses we experience and become well-practiced at trying to maintain control in our personal relationships in order to feel emotionally safe.

    Sometimes, in trying to achieve this control, we develop an acute sensitivity regarding what we perceive to be the thoughts or feelings of others. We come to rely on these hypersensitive perceptions, as distorted as they may be, in order to circumvent conflict in relationships and avoid the anguish of further rejection.

From an unforgiving heart, we will often pursue an emotional compensation for past rejection, placing unrealistic demands and expectations on others and even on ourselves. Of course, by placing this unattainable burden of performance on the people in our lives and on ourselves, we are actually setting ourselves up for further disappointment and rejection. Truly, what we have sown in past judgments to accommodate the sinful nature, we will reap through unhealthy, destructive patterns of behavior in present day relationships (Gal. 6:7-8).

    Over a period of time, we grow to depend on these behavioral mechanisms and they become a fixed system that we regularly use and trust. It becomes daily, monthly, yearly, increasingly difficult to believe there is a better way (Prov. 14:12). Even if we begin to intellectually understand the reality and complexity of our dysfunction that prevents us from healthy relationship with others, we often find that we cannot, of our own power, free ourselves from the sinful inclinations of our souls. Thankfully, our Father God does not expect us to gain freedom from the multitudinous layers of dysfunction that have developed within our souls, by relying entirely upon our own efforts.

    It is, instead, the recognition of our inability to effectively disengage from the judgmental patterns of the old nature and the protective behavioral mechanisms we have constructed in opposition to healthy intimacy with man and God, which brings the opportunity for real change by the power of God! This change occurs through our belief in and surrender to the process of repentance and sanctification, which are both ongoing works of the Holy Spirit within us (Rom. 2:28-29; 8:1-11; Phil. 1:6; 1 Thess. 5:23-24).

In the article Overcoming Foundational Root Judgments a working model is given for overcoming the specific root judgments that have formed in our lives and the sinful thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that we have developed in reaction to personal offenses from our past. But before we can use the working model effectively, it will be necessary to clear up some of the common confusion surrounding repentance and sanctification.

Grace for Repentance is a Divine Gift that God Wants to Give


    Unfortunately, as a result of our predisposition toward a works-oriented, performance-bound mentality, we often misinterpret what is needed for the process of personal repentance and sanctification to occur. Our tendency is to try to work out our repentance and sanctification by depending primarily on our own efforts and understanding, instead of believing, trusting, and asking God to do this supernatural work within us, according to His understanding (Gal. 3:3-5).

Sometimes, in shame and exasperation, we erroneously believe that God has not freed us from our repetitive sin patterns because we have not felt bad enough about our sin, or we have not tried hard enough by our own efforts to become free (Eph.2:8-9). We often believe that if we could just feel ashamed enough about our sin, God would respond by empowering us to overcome the sin (Rom. 8:1; 10:11).

    But shame cannot purchase grace. Faith is the tool we must use to apprehend the power of God’s grace. Faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross and faith in Jesus’ resurrection power through the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts to bring freedom to our souls. Ordinarily, we fail to comprehend this truth, because we have “fallen away from grace” through a persistent attitude of worldly self-reliance that has infiltrated our religious beliefs (Gal. 5:1-5).

    We must make every effort possible to avoid the e

ntanglements of sin in our lives, but we must also realize that we can never, solely by the efforts of our fleshly wills, come to full repentance. William Evans, in The Great Doctrines of the Bible states, “Repentance is not something which one can originate within himself, or can pump up within himself as one would pump water out of a well. It is a divine gift. How then is man responsible for not having it? We are called upon to repent in order that we may feel our own inability to do so, and consequently be thrown upon God to perform this work of grace in our hearts.”  
( Italics mine).

Relying on the Holy Spirit

    When we invite God to perform a work of grace unto repentance in our hearts, we will begin to experience a heartfelt sorrow over our sins. We will desire to turn away from the sinful thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that we have developed in reaction to personal offenses from our past.

    But the next step on the journey to complete repentance, the one that we most commonly stumble over, is the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, which occurs between our sorrow and our new godly behavior. The Holy Spirit, by the grace available to us through Christ Jesus, has the power to literally separate us from the ways of the old nature, which compelled us toward ungodly behavior in the past. 

       As Evans says: “The Holy Spirit seals, attests, and confirms the work of grace in the soul by producing the fruits of righteousness therein. It is the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus who gives us free-dom from the law of sin and death (Rom. 8:2). He is called the Holy Spirit, not only because He is absolutely holy Himself, but also because He produces that quality of soul character in the believer. The Spirit is the executive of the God-head for this very purpose. It is the Spirit’s work to war against the lusts of the flesh and enable us to bring forth fruit unto holiness.”  8  (Italics mine)

    If we do not actively believe in the Holy Spirit to do this work within us, we are missing out on the incredible power of grace that is available to us through our faith relationship with Christ. It is an important part of the foundation of both our salvation and ongoing sanctification. As scripture reveals,
“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need”
                                                                                         -Heb. 4:16

We Rest in His Finished Work

    When we repent of the sinful attitudes and behaviors that have developed in our lives, Christ’s finished work on the cross is made available to us by the active work of the Holy Spirit within us, in response to our dependence upon Him to do a sanctifying work of inner transformation. This is known as resting in the finished work of Christ. (Heb. 3:16-19; 4:8-11; John 19:30). Rest is rest! Transformation by our own efforts is not transformation at all. It is unbelief – trusting in self more than we trust in God. (See Heb. 4:11, 3:18-19; Isa. 30:1-15).

    The supernatural power for the transformation of our souls is not found in our own efforts and works. It is a work of the Holy Spirit:

    Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
                                                                                      -2 Cor 3:17,18

The Influence of Our Old Nature Rebels  Against Believing God


    Mankind’s complex performance-bound mentalities derived from the old nature, rebel against the simplicity of grace (Gal. 3:1-5 and 5:1-5). Believing on God to do for us supernaturally, what we cannot do for ourselves, is both humbling and seemingly too simplistic!

    We struggle with the concept of rest, because resting in the finished work of Christ demands an unconditional surrendering of our complex prideful self-determinations, which we have depended on throughout our lifetime.

    But that which we are unwilling to surrender will inevitably lead to a testing of the quality of our works, in which all that we have done through our own self-directed efforts will be burned up:
“his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames”
                                                                                             -1 Cor. 3:13-15

God Will Remove the Bitter Roots

    True freedom from the sinful thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that have developed in our lives is accomplished by asking and believing on God to circumcise our heart by the power of the Holy Spirit, (“…and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code” Rom. 2:29) removing bitter roots (strongholds of judgment toward self and oth-ers) (Heb. 12:15), and severin

g the ungodly weeds (behavior and belief systems) which have grown up from these bitter roots. As God does this sanctifying work in us, we will then be able to experience the life of Christ in those previously dark, unforgiving, unrepentant areas of our heart.

     Apart from this reliance on the power of God we will find ourselves wandering through a spiritual desert, searching for rest, frustrated by our inability to gain freedom from our ungodly behavior patterns.
    When we finally surrender to the truth and invite the Holy Spirit to do this work of grace in our hearts, we will begin to experience the peace and joy, confidence, assurance, and fullness of life, which always result from an act of faith in the finished work of Christ.

Look again at Jesus’ words,

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
                                                                                         -Matthew 11:28-30

In His Grace Forever,
Pastor Teddy Awad, CMHP
Young Adult Crisis Hotline
and Biblical Counseling Center

Call Toll Free: 1-877-702-2GOD

                                        (2463)

theodoreawadjr@comcast.net
http://yacrisishotline.tripod.com/
http://youngadultcrisishotline.blogspot.com/
youngadultcrisishotline@comcast.net

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Pride and Shame: Strongholds of the Self-Centered Soul

Pride and Shame:
Strongholds of the Self-Centered Soul


Strongholds of pride and shame can keep us wandering aimlessly through a desert of unrest leading to confusion, anxiety, depression and despair.


Pride is a little god-maker. It is the most effective attribute of character available to us for the fashioning of little gods. Pride is not patient, it is not kind. It does envy, it does boast; for it is – pride. It is rude, it is self-seeking, it is easily angered, and it keeps records of all wrongs. Pride rejoices in evil and avoids the truth. It protects for selfish reasons, it cannot afford to trust, it is its own hope, and it perseveres only for personal gain. (Compare to love in 1 Cor. 13:4-7) Man’s first sin was pridefully self-centered. Man’s first reaction to his sin was shame. Shame is also self-centered. Just like pride, its central focus is self.

Pride led religious leaders to want to kill Jesus (Mark 11:18). In order to flourish, pride must conquer what it perceives as competition. And yet, it was also pride that caused men to want to raise Him up as King of Israel (John 6:15)! But Jesus resisted them. Jesus knew the method by which He must be lifted up in the eyes of men (Jesus predicts His death in John 3:14-15). Scripture tells us that Jesus “would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men” (John 2:24).

Pride caused the Israelites to reject God’s institution of judges in favor of a king to represent them as a nation. God told Samuel, “…it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you” (1 Samuel 8:7-8). Pride promotes self. Shame demotes self. But, both are increases to self-centeredness. To demote self is not to decrease self. It is simply a different, though negative, view of self. Pride encourages a persistent focus on self-gratification. Then, as self becomes gratified, pride is ratified. Thus, pride becomes the cause and the protector of selfishness.

Pride encourages self to believe that personal performance can overcome unpleasant negative feelings of shame. Shame insinuates to self, “Sure, Jesus died on the cross for you, but don’t you still feel shame?” Then pride exhorts self, “Therefore, you must rely on what you have done, or what you are now doing, or what you are able to do to feel acceptable to yourself.”

Where there is much pridefulness, there is powerful judgment:

“On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. They shouted, ‘This is the voice of a god, not of a man.’ Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.” (Acts 12:21-23)

But, where there is little pridefulness, there is powerful grace:


All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. (Acts 4:32-33)
Shame often legitimizes its self-centered focus by promoting self’s victim status. Unrepentant pride and shame are circular allies. When shame is tired of its suffering, it often turns to pride for relief. When pride’s shallowness is exposed, it often turns to shame for absolution. Thus, they perpetuate one another allowing self to avoid true repentance. Shame is a great impetus for both action and inaction. Shame can bully a person to works requiring tremendous effort or intimidate a soul to virtual impotence.

Shame resides in the relative safety of loneliness. By avoiding honest intimate relationship, shame shields self from the possibility of further rejection. But, by avoiding intimate relationship, it also shields self from love. Shame and pride are like a dog and a cat. They both determinedly desire to be stroked. Pride and shame are fraternal twins. Though they do not look alike, they were born one right after the other. Pride was the firstborn, and then came its inevitable brother, shame. Shame is sometimes the primary method of establishing and managing religion. When this happens, pride is the governing body of that religion. In the end, shame will be the great equalizer for those that are unrepentantly prideful. Self is the captain of the ship christened Pride and Shame. “Sink or swim” is its motto. Through stormy seas, it endlessly sails. It has no homeport, where it may rest from the winds of selfish determination.

Shame is a thief, stealing the treasure of life from self. Pride selfishly buries the treasure where only he can find it. The rich may have pride and the poor may have shame, but each is merely vanity. They are both mirrors used to unrelentingly gaze upon self.

An attitude of worldly shame denies the efficacy of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross and is in direct conflict with the proclamation of scripture:

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1,2).

Pride looks for who’s watching. Shame watches for who’s looking. Both are in bonda
ge to the opinions of others. Pride and shame are like merry-go-round horses; one goes up and the other goes down, but they both keep going round and round. Shame may be deep and pride may be shallow, but both are only holes in the souls of men. Pride and shame are the bodyguards of unrepentant self. They will do whatever is necessary to protect self from healthy change.

Shame is like a tree with many roots underground, but very little trunk and few branches above the surface. Pride is like a great tree with long branches reaching upward from a portly trunk, but very little root structure. The wind comes and blows mightily against the shame tree. Some dead branches are blown off, but the roots remain firmly entrenched. Then the strong wind comes and blows against the pride tree. The whole tree comes crashing down, with its shallow roots exposed for the entire world to see. Which tree is more resistant to the Spirit of God? The one that displays itself boldly to the world or the one that hides itself safely beneath the surface?

Shame for our sins was a choice Jesus once made. Jesus chose to bear our shame by dying on the cross. Pride is a whip in the hands of the arrogant. Shame is a shovel in the hands of a fool. The shameful fool digs an emotional hole, too deep to climb out, and then jumps in. The arrogant, prideful one lashes the fool for jumping into the hole. The shameful fool accepts the lashing as appropriate and deserved. The arrogant, prideful one leans back and smiles in satisfaction.

It is easy to see that having much pride is shameful. But what is often hidden from our sight is that having much shame can be prideful. The person with much shame often believes that harboring a sufficiently large quantity of shame is a necessary self-punishment before God (and others) and a means by which he might earn some degree of personal acceptance. In this way, his shame has become a self-determining, self-dependent, work of atonement, denying the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for his sins. This is pride.

Shame denies light to the dark places within the soul. The soul cannot grow without the light. Shame denies air to the empty places within the soul. The soul can not breathe without the air. Shame denies water to the dry places within the soul. The soul can not live without the water. Shame denies while the soul dies.

Pride is a source of false hope. But Shame is a source of false hopelessness. Shame is like a flower that grows up out of the ground and then refuses to bloom in the sunlight. But place it in the shade and it will open.

Worldly shame is an active rejection of God’s forgiveness based on feelings of personal unworthiness. If you have rejected God’s forgiveness, whose worthiness have you really rejected, yours or Christ’s?

It is not easy to stop being prideful and it is not easy to stop being ashamed. The way to stop being prideful is not by being ashamed, and the way to stop being ashamed is not by being prideful. Both are overcome by humility. And humility is perfected by the power of the Holy Spirit.

It is sin to believe pride and shame’s definitions of self. It is humility to believe God’s definition of self. If you truly wish to stop believing the lies; God will set you free, unto humility. You must choose to go there, but only God can bring you.



In His Grace Forever,

Pastor Teddy Awad, CMHP
Young Adult Crisis Hotline
and Biblical Counseling Center
410-808-6483

Wounded Heart of Shame

Wounded Heart of Shame


Shame Synonyms:
humiliate reject neglect
ridicule disrespect abandon
dishonor slight demean
insult taunt put down
beat abuse punish
hurt loss of face soul-murder
worthless prejudice racism
numb dead cold
hell joyless suffering
poverty
Antonyms:
pride confidence dignity
self-esteem self-respect self-love
malama bood

Isa. 42:17,44:9-11- The 3 elements of shame: exposure, revelation and consequences involves the element of trust as well. Trust is giving up our soul to another with the hope we will not be harmfully used. This power we give to another is the power to determine whether or not we are acceptable and desirable which empowers another to determine whether I am acceptable or not.

This can be misconstrued and becomes idolatry which is placing our longings to another for which only God can provide, putting this longing in the hands of a creature rather than our Creator.

Shame or folly comes about when our false god fails to meet our needs and heal our wounds, then we begin to rely on our own strength rather than on God or anyone else. All of this represents illegitimate shame.

Legitimate shame is when we acknowledge God, God is the One who determines our acceptability. Thus, legitimate shame is facing our failure to trust in God. Trusting God means relying on Him to keep our body or our world intact and to maintain the intactness of our soul. Shame of the flesh tries to deflect sin through contempt and blame shifting as with Adam and Eve.

Contempt/Deflection:
The enemy is ultimately the evil one, and the path to Satan’s vision is rebellion or autonomy, or in other words, sin. Self-contempt and other-centered contempt is a mean by which we maintain a
semblance of control over our lives that protects one from dependence on God, and this keeps one from dealing with the problem of sin and God is the only One Who can deal with sin, the flaw of our fallen nature.

Functions of Contempt
Ps. 1:1-3 -To deal with this problem requires more than behavioral change. The issue here is sin, salvation and sanctification. Contempt serves us in 4 ways:it diminishes our shame, it deadens our longings, it makes us feel in control, and it distorts the real problem. Self-contempt is satan’s counterfeit for conviction of sin. All abuse is a violation of the sanctity and wholeness of the human soul.

Prerequisites for Growth:
To move toward loving God we begin to alter the process of self-centered stagnation and decay.

John 12:24-25 -Trusting in God involves the loss of our agenda, so that we die to our inclination to live a lie. We forfeit our rigid, self-protective, God dishonoring ways of relating in order to live life as it is meant to be lived. In order to love God’s way, we must both honor the dignity and expose the depravity of the person with whom we are in relationship.

Honesty
Heb. 2:10, 5:8-9 – Real life requires death. Death involves the experience of suffering. Suffering is required for growth. Christ’s sufferings was in bearing the disgrae and shame of the Cross. As we take up His cross, we can then really see what we are meant to be. The purpose of regaining memories is removal of denial, reclamation of the self, and a movement toward real change.

Ps. 139:23-24-Reclaiming the past is a lifelong endeavor.

Repentance:
Repentance is an about-face movement in the mind from denial, rebellion to truth, and surrender from death to life. Repentance is an internal shift in our perceived source of life, and it involves the response of humble hunger, bold movement, and wild celebration when faced with the reality of our fallen state and the grace of God. This leads us toward coming alive for the explicit purpose of having more to give to others for their well-being and to God for His glory.

In His Grace Forever,
Pastor Teddy Awad, CMHP
Young Adult Crisis Hotline
and Biblical Counseling Center
410-808-6483
theodoreawadjr@comcast.net