As part of the 12 Steps to Overcoming Guilt and Shame, Paul , in Hebrews 10, explains to the Jewish Christians that Jesus’ blood had freed them from an accusing conscience, making them clean, unstained, and presentable to God. If we are sinning, our conscience will accuse and we will feel guilt. However, guilt and shame may persist after salvation until we tear down their strongholds in our lives. Then, our conscience will no longer accuse us unless we fall back into sin.
“we come closer to God and approach him with an open heart, fully convinced by faith that nothing will keep us at a distance from him. For our hearts have been sprinkled with blood to remove impurity and we have been freed from an accusing conscience and now we are clean, unstained, and presentable to God inside and out!” Hebrews 10:22 TPT
Step One – Remember that one sacrifice has made you perfect forever as you are being made holy.
Tearing Down Strongholds
The enemy builds up strongholds inside us which we may not even be aware of. Our job is to destroy them.
“For though we walk in the world, we do not fight according to this world’s rules of warfare. The weapons of the war we’re fighting are not of this world but are powered by God and effective at tearing down the strongholds erected against His truth. We are demolishing arguments and ideas, every high-and-mighty philosophy that pits itself against the knowledge of the one true God. We are taking prisoners of every thought, every emotion, and subduing them into obedience to the Anointed One.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 The Voice
Guilt and Shame are two extremely debilitating feelings borne out of strongholds. It seems that many Christians live with a perpetual feeling of guilt – as if they are never measuring up to some invisible God-ruler in the sky. We aren’t really sure what that ruler looks like or what it will take to reach high enough on it but we feel guilty anyway. Guilt causes us to compare ourselves to others and believe we fall short. This can be the result of strongholds. Strongholds are arguments, ideas, philosophies, thoughts, and emotions which are erected against God’s truth and the knowledge of Him.
Guilt, shame, comparison, and condemnation are strongholds because they go directly against the Word of God.
Step Two – Listen as the Holy Spirit Testifies to You
“The Holy Spirit confirms this to us by this Scripture, for the Lord says, “Afterwards, I will give them this covenant: I will embed my laws into their hearts and fasten my Word to their thoughts.” Hebrews 10:15-16 TPT
The BIble never tells us to compare ourselves with anyone else. And, in fact, we are told not to do that! Setting standards by comparing ourselves to each other is self-delusion.
“Of course, we wouldn’t dare to put ourselves in the same class or compare ourselves with those who rate themselves so highly. They compare themselves to one another and make up their own standards to measure themselves by, and then they judge themselves by their own standards. What self-delusion!” 2 Corinthians 10:12 TPT
We must focus on pleasing God, not man.
“I’m obviously not trying to flatter you or water down my message to be popular with men, but my supreme passion is to please God. For if all I attempt to do is please people, I would not be the true servant of the Messiah.” Galatians 1:10 TPT
Step Three – God has written His law in your hearts and mind (including your conscience)
Focus on the Work God Has Given You to Do – Not What Others Are Doing
Be devoted to fulfilling the work God has given YOU to do. He gave different work to each of us, therefore, comparison is futile. We need to recognize that affirmation from others only lasts for a moment. When you compare yourself to others, no amount of affirmation will ever make you feel better for long.
“Let everyone be devoted to fulfill the work God has given them to do with excellence, and their joy will be in doing what’s right and being themselves, and not in being affirmed by others. Every believer is ultimately responsible for his or her own conscience.” Galatians 6:4-5 TPT
The world thrives on comparison – who is thinner, has better hair, or has the most perfect family. We compare our shoes, jobs, income, looks, and everything else. Nothing is safe from the magnifying glass of comparison. It is ugly and debilitating because, under this magnifying glass, no one will ever be perfect enough.
Step Four – God does not remember your sins.
If you suffer because you constantly compare yourself to others and come up short, find a close and trusted friend. Become accountable to them. Make sure it is someone who is a true friend – who builds you up but can be honest, and not condemning if you begin to fall back under the magnifying glass. Help each other and do regular check-ups to make sure neither one of you has picked up that wretched magnifying glass up again. Ask God for help, and throw that thing away! The enemy has an unending supply of those comparison magnifying glasses and he will be ready to hand you one anytime he can.
Get a mental picture of the devil and that wicked magnifying glass. Every time you feel yourself reaching for it, picture a giant hand coming down from heaven pushing the devil away, and taking his evil magnifying glass out of your hand! I know it’s corny but it will work if you try it! Click on the picture below to download a printable card to keep with you in case you forget.
Step Five – Because your sins are forgiven, no more sacrifice is needed.
Comparison Leads to Guilt
Comparison gives birth to guilt. I remember the first few times I read Proverbs 31. You know her! The perfect woman – super-Christian-woman. It was depressing because I just knew I could never do all the things she did and do them perfectly like her! I didn’t even like reading that chapter because I compared myself to her, failed, and felt totally guilty.
Guilt has two meanings. The noun means – the fact of having committed a specified or implied offense or crime. The verb means – make (someone) feel guilty, especially in order to induce them to do something. Our enemy bring implied offense and uses guilt to induce us to berate ourselves, missing out on the blessings God has for us.
Step 6 – Confidently Enter the Most Holy Place by the Blood of Jesus.
God has taken our guilt.
“But now God has shown us a different way to heaven—not by “being good enough” and trying to keep his laws, but by a new way (though not new, really, for the Scriptures told about it long ago). Now God says he will accept and acquit us—declare us “not guilty”—if we trust Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, by coming to Christ, no matter who we are or what we have been like.” Romans 3:21-22 TLB
You Must Take Action Against Condemnation, Guilt and Shame
Salvation brings cleansing. However, what if you’ve been a Christian your whole life but you still feel guilt – like you never do things well enough because you sin and fail, because you aren’t perfect? The same blood that cleansed you initially continues to cleanse and purify as long as you call upon the name of the Lord. The only way to stop the ongoing work of Christ in your life is to reject Him and renounce your faith. Since that isn’t an option, take advantage of the ongoing work of Christ in you – the hope of glory.
Stop accepting condemnation because you aren’t the Proverbs 31 woman! None of us are. Go back to the picture of the devil with his nasty magnifying glass and God’s hand coming down and smashing it! The same thing needs to happen with guilt.
Step Seven – Draw Near With a Sincere Heart and Full Assurance of Faith
Sin and Guilt
There is one exception. Is there a sin you are dealing with and your conscience is convicting you? This is guilt, but it is guilt that is meant to bring you to repentance, not to condemn you. If there is a sin you are living in, you need to repent. That means – stop and go the opposite way. There is forgiveness when you truly repent and turn from your sin. You may slip or stumble but God knows your heart and He will remove the guilt. giving you the strength to win. The guilt of sin should be temporary.
Shame Can Be Debilitating
Shame is also debilitating and we often feel shame over things others did to us rather than sins we may have committed. Guilt and Shame are twins and they seem to be together most of the time. A tinge of guilt sparks shame to come to the party.
Shame also has two definitions. The noun means – a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior. The verb means – (of a person, action, or situation) make (someone) feel ashamed.
Step Eight – Your Conscience is Cleansed of all Guilt and Your Body is Washed Clean
I have felt shame before over something stupid I did. It took time, but I was finally able to forgive myself, confess my pride, and move on. I have also had the experience of being publicly humiliated. That took longer to get over. I have had shame because of sin I committed and that also took time to heal. The problem with shame is that we hang onto it. Shame has to do with the past and things we can’t undo – things we need to lay at the foot of the cross and move forward in our lives. Shame keeps us locked in a moment in the past.
Guilt and shame do one more thing. They turn our focus off of Christ and onto ourselves. We become self-absorbed, with our vision buried in our own guilt and shame. Our eyes are always to be focused on Christ.
Step Nine – Hold unswervingly to the hope you profess because God is faithful.
Banish Shame with Psalm 51
If you want the best example of how to deal with shame brought on by personal sin and failure, read Psalm 51. David committed adultery with Bathsheba, then arranged for her husband to be left alone in battle so that he would be killed. He was. David was then confronted with his sin. Read Psalm 51 and use it as your blueprint for dealing with and moving foward from sin, guilt, and shame. David tore down the strongholds of shame and guilt through repentance and confession of the Word
Shame can also come as someone else ‘shames’ you. Someone makes a cutting remark about how you look and then laughs as if it was a joke. Someone purposely shames you telling you what a no good, nothing you are. Perhaps you grew up poor, with alcoholic parents, and shame seems to be your inheritance. Shame destroys hope and as it grows, makes our lives darker and darker.
Shame started in the Garden of Eden and ended at the cross. In the Garden, God dealt with shame by covering it. He does the same today. He covers us in the blood of Jesus. In the Garden, lies, and deception allowed sin and shame to enter the world. Jesus came as the Way the TRUTH and the Life. He stopped the power of sin and shame. In the Garden, darkness entered the world. Jesus, the LIGHT of the world transformed us. Instead of hiding in darkness and shame, we walk into His glorious light and are set free.
Break the Stronghold of Shame
We break the stronghold of shame by confronting it with the truth, taking our own thoughts captive by confessing God’s truth. We can pray like this:
In myself, I am not worthy or perfect, I am flawed. But, the life I now live, I live in Christ and He lives in me. Because of that, I can lift my head and proclaim that I have no shame. I renounce pride that would keep me from admitting my sin. I will live in the light of heaven and I reject the darkness of shame. Jesus took my shame and washed me clean. I will no longer live in shame, guilt or condemnation. They are not mine.
Step Ten – Spur Others Toward Love and Good Deeds.
As we focus on others, rather than ourselves, guilt, shame, and condemnation will be starved to death. They feed on self-focus. When you take that away from them, they grow weaker and weaker and finally die. That is the power of servanthood!
Hebrews 10:14-25 TPT tells us all we need to know about the reality of the kingdom we are living in through Christ. Read these verses as a personal statement of faith and let the words wash over you bringing light to banish shame, faith to eliminate condemnation, and hope to banish guilt.
“And by his one perfect sacrifice he made us perfectly holy and complete for all time! The Holy Spirit confirms this to us by this Scripture, for the Lord says, “Afterwards, I will give them this covenant: I will embed my laws into their hearts and fasten my Word to their thoughts.” And then he says “I will not ever again remember their sins and lawless deeds!” So if our sins have been forgiven and forgotten, why would we ever need to offer another sacrifice for sin?
Our Confidence before God
And now we are brothers and sisters in God’s family because of the blood of Jesus, and he welcomes us to come right into the most holy sanctuary in the heavenly realm—boldly and with no hesitation. For he has dedicated a new, life-giving way for us to approach God. For just as the veil was torn in two, Jesus’ body was torn open to give us free and fresh access to him!
And since we now have a magnificent King-Priest to welcome us into God’s house, we come closer to God and approach him with an open heart, fully convinced by faith that nothing will keep us at a distance from him. For our hearts have been sprinkled with blood to remove impurity and we have been freed from an accusing conscience and now we are clean, unstained, and presentable to God inside and out!
Step Eleven – Continue to Meet and Have Fellowship With Other Believers
So now we must cling tightly to the hope that lives within us, knowing that God always keeps his promises![ Discover creative ways to encourage others and to motivate them toward acts of compassion, doing beautiful works as expressions of love. This is not the time to pull away and neglect meeting together, as some have formed the habit of doing, because we need each other! In fact, we should come together even more frequently, eager to encourage and urge each other onward as we anticipate that day dawning.”
Step Twelve – Encourage and Urge Each Other Onward, and Do it More and More Every Day.
Condemnation, guilt, and shame are not meant to be part of your daily life so find your freedom in Christ. The fruit of the Spirit within you is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Condemnation, shame and guilt are nowhere on that list! Focus on the fruit God wants to grow in your life, not the darkness the enemy wants to spread.
Click Here to download the Daily Devotional for this lesson. You will find the 12 Steps there as well.
**We use verses from different Bible translations.
To see more information about the copyright for each one, please visit our Scripture Citations.
Day 1 – 24 Day Challenge – Renewing Your Mind and Conscience
Day 2 – Living By the Golden Rule
Day 3 – Being Falsely Accused
Day 4 – A Personal Testimony of Salvation
Day 5 – Knowing Right From Wrong
Day 6 – What is the Power of the Holy Spirit?
Day 7 – Submitting to Authority
Day 8 – What is a Weak Conscience?
Day 9 – Living a Life Worthy of the Gospel
Day 10 – Speaking The Truth at All Times
Day 11 – Purity of Heart and Mind