Shame...Shame...Shame.

The shame and blame game religion plays with people is the reason our self-righteous self-justification is a desperate attempt to hide from the toxic emotion of shame. Religious shaming says our identity is created by our wrong doings. It tells us there is something generatively wrong with us as humans, believing we are disgusting and unlovable sends us to hide behind self-righteousness to appear justified by religion.  Shame sent Adam and Eve into the bushes to hide from God and religious shaming sends people to cover themselves with the religious fig leaves of the religious do's and dont's by self-righteous self-justification.

The the deeper the shame we are subjected to, the more we will engage in self-righteous self-justification. The more guilt religion subjects us to the more stubbornly self-righteous we become and we set about re-arranging external evidence into a more believable arrangement to protect ourselves and to measure up to the religious standard so religion won't shame us. 

Jesus came to remove us from our shame, yet religion keeps playing the shame and blame game. He tells us that He does not condemn us, there is nothing wrong with us for acting as humans. We are lost in a religious wasteland, deceived, distraught and bewildered, Jesus is saying; "I am the way back to who you really are! You were made in the very image of my loving Father, you are not lower than a snake's belly crawling on the ground. You are not wicked and disgusting. Your sins, your self-righteousness may be as filthy rags around you...you need to realize and accept the fact that I have dealt with the sin problem and it is no longer an issue with me or my Father. Just walk in the freedom from sin that I have provided for you, repent (turn from sin) and follow me and I will impute my righteousness to you. You are not unlovable, You are a loved child of our Father God."

As He woos us away from our shame and into communion with Himself, Jesus tells us, “stop trying to justify yourself. You don’t have to prove to me or anyone else that you are justified. Your justification is in me, not in yourself.”

But this impulse to justify ourselves is very deep in us. Instead of resting in the justification Christ has provided us, we continue to compile our evidence to comfort ourselves when things don’t go the way religion wants it to go. We become more religiously disciplined in order to stave off our shame when we are in error. “I’m not perfect, but I’ve been doing what I’m supposed to be doing, I am obeying the Bible to the best of my ability”

Then an accuser from without or within shows up and tells a condemning story of your failures, your guilt, your inadequacies.
The accuser knows that you’re going to fall for the trap. That you will compulsively protest and self-justify your self-righteousness. You’ll counter the accuser’s story with your own. You’ll pull out your self-righteous evidence to refute the evidence against you. 

But it’s a trap. It doesn’t even matter whether the accuser’s story is right or wrong, fair or outrageous slander. Even if you can refute him point by point and demolish the accusations against you with evidence of religious obedience, the accuser will not concede his error. He will not give you your due and declare you innocent. So long as he can get you to justify yourself to him, his goals will be accomplished.

Our self-justification exists to keep our shame safely hidden away. The enemy knows that so long as we continue to self-justify, we may hear Jesus’ words, we may mentally assent to them, but they are not intrinsic within us. Shame still remains on its throne, a malevolent, hidden power reigning over our lives.

The thing is we can’t own the truth Jesus speaks to us with shame reigning in our heart. But we can’t get rid of the shame until Jesus’ truth...his justification of us...has taken its place and is intrinsic within us. Which is why we need to rely on our faith and trust in Christ. We need to believe in what we cannot yet see...that we are completely justified in Christ. That he’s vouched for us and is telling the truth when he renders his judgment of us as loved, righteous, cherished and justified.

Whatever your accuser says, don’t bother trying to defend yourself. Just agree with him. Say, ‘yes, you’re probably right.’ You don’t have to go on the defensive and explain yourself or your actions. It could be that they are beyond justification anyways. It doesn’t matter because your justification is in Christ, not in yourself. So go ahead and agree with your accuser because Jesus has already provided all the justification you need.

When we refuse to engage in self-justification, no matter how sorely we want to, but rely on our justification in Christ, it allows that truth to sink a little deeper into our heart. And as the truth of Jesus our justification sinks deeper into our heart, there is less and less room for shame. When shame is dispelled, the Kingdom which Jesus says we carry within us will be revealed and ruled over by the truth...you are justified and righteous. You have nothing to be ashamed of anymore.

Only God has the right to define who you are. And he has already declared you innocent, lovable, righteous and fully justified.  And remember the accuser’s words do NOT carry more weight than God’s?

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