Hi friends. Today I have a message for you that probably isn’t new. You’ve likely heard it many times before. But if you’re like me you need to hear it again and again, which is why I am sharing this message once more. I hope it is what you need to hear today.
A lot of Christians serve in their churches, attend Bible studies, sing in the choir, or lead ministry events, all while a terrible thought looms deep in the back of their minds: “If they only knew.” The Christian call is a tall order, after all, so it’s no surprise that a lot of us feel like fakes. Everyone sees the church version of your faith and the Facebook version of your family, but no one sees you arguing with your spouse, struggling with addiction, fighting an eating disorder, or succumbing to doubt. As a result, many of us feel like we’re living a double life.
If that’s you, if you feel like a fake who has everyone fooled, if you struggle with the fear that if they only knew the real you, they wouldn’t let you serve in church or even darken the doors of the building, I have two thoughts for you.
First, you’re not alone. Scripture tells us that Satan is an accuser (Rev. 12:10). He makes it his mission to point out your faults and shame you with your mistakes. He will paralyze you with guilt and humiliation. And as a result, you will hide from one of the key resources God gives us for fighting temptation: the Christian community.
If you are struggling with the shame of hypocrisy, one of the first and most important steps you can take is to tell someone. Find someone you trust, someone who will speak truth and grace and forgiveness into your heart, and confess your sin. And do it often. It’s scary, to say the least, but it also unlocks the power of Satan’s accusations. He wants you to be paralyzed in isolation. He wants you to be cut off from spiritual resources and he wants you to despair. Don’t let him. Talk to your Christian friends, and hear about the mercy and love you have in Christ.
Second, your sins are already forgiven. How many of us live as if salvation is by grace, but sanctification is by works? It is an easy trap to fall into given how many testimonies are essentially spiritual “befores” and “afters.” We assume that life is only a mess before conversion, but after conversion everything is neat and tidy. Well it’s not…..at least, it hasn’t been for me. I don’t think it was for Paul either (Rom. 7:15-19). Which is why we must constantly remember that Christ died for the sins we already committed, and the sins we have yet to commit.
These two truths are important, not simply because they combat the suffocating shame that accompanies sin, but because they set us free to serve God. That’s what’s at stake in all of this. The ultimate problem with guilt is not its effects on your self-worth, though that is indeed a negative consequence. The ultimate problem with guilt is that it fixes your eyes on yourself, taking your focus off of God and off of neighbor. In short, shame prevents you from fulfilling the two greatest commandments.
That is why, as Hebrews 12:1 explains, sin so easily entangles. We not only get caught in the act of sin, but the shame of sin as well. So while it is important to cast off sin and pursue a holy life, it is also important to cast off guilt and shame. These partners in crime have no place in the Christian life, and until we free ourselves of the very things which Christ put to death on the cross, we will be unable to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
So if that’s you today, if you are wrestling with shame and guilt, confess that shame to a loving friend and cast off the guilt that has already been removed in Christ. Run the race marked out for you, and pursue God with abandon. Hear that truth today.