Proverbs 30:12 [ESV] – There are those who are clean in their own eyes but are not washed of their filth.
There was a young woman in our ministry many years ago who. Growing up, she was abused and, as a teenager, acted out living a self-destructive lifestyle. But, in college she met Jesus and became a godly young woman making good life choices, with one exception. She kept picking bad guys as boyfriends. These relationships were short lived as each guy was selfish, foolish, and godless.
When we sat down to talk, I asked her how she interpreted what was happening and how she should respond. She said that she did not feel she deserved a godly man in her life as she was “damaged goods”. She went on to explain that things done to her and by her, starting at a young age, had made her dirty, guilty, and undeserving. She actually thought that, by bringing pain into her life, she was showing God how sorry she was in hopes that He would forgive her.
How about you? Is there any area of your life where you feel guilty, dirty, or undeserving? Be honest with God and yourself. At some points along life’s path, every self-aware person with a functioning conscience feels this way and responds in one of two ways:
- We deny that they are dirty or assert that they were dirty but cleaned up the mess of their life.
- We rightly accept that we are dirty, and wrongly assume that this state is unchangeable, fixed, and our identity.
In the Bible, there are around a dozen different words used to speak of this experience, such as defilement, uncleanness, and filth. Emotionally, this causes shame, and an effort to cover up what has happened and who we truly are. The connection between sin (that we have committed, and that others have committed against us) is an old one. Before sin, our first parents Adam and Eve “felt no shame”. Once they sinned, shame caused them to hide from God and one another, and cover their shame with fig leaves. This remains a family trait for all humanity.
The good news is that, on the cross, Jesus took care of both your sin problem and your shame problem. Hebrews 12:2 [ESV] welcomes you to continually be, “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
You probably knew that Jesus died for your sin. Did you also know that He died for your shame, and that today He is not ashamed of you, but is there to help you? Throughout the Bible, this explains why God’s people often wear white to worship. We all need to be reminded that we are not defined by what is done to us or by us, but only what Jesus has done for us.
Do you truly believe that because of Jesus, you are both forgiven and made clean?