God created man in His image to be holy and good (Genesis 1:26-31). Adam was perfect, and shame was not a part of his makeup. Everything he knew about himself and his wife were on display and they were unafraid. However, we all know how the next chapter goes.
Suddenly, after falling victim to Satan, Adam and Eve were filled with doubt, lust, and greed. There relationship with the Lord quickly became a contention of dread because they had changed. They were aware of their sin and were ashamed for it.
Today, we are also plagued with shame. Our consciousness makes us afraid of our faults, and we know that one day Christ will judge “the secrets of men” (Romans 2:14). Shame is our internal dialogue that tells us we do not measure up, and we are fearful of this fact. Satan likes to feed off our negative energy, and he further makes us believe we are unredeemable.
The difference between shame and guilt.
Before we get into how Satan uses shame against us, we must understand the difference between shame and guilt. The distinction between the two can help us on our spiritual journey to become more like God. The Church of Jesus Christ says that “shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging,” while guilt is “a sense of remorse and the desire to make amends.”
Shame is character-based. You might think something like “I am a bad person.” While guilt would say “I did a bad thing”, focusing on the actions of a person. Shame will lead you into a place where you want to hide, disappear, and shrink. Guilt will push you to identify the actions you regret so you can learn from them and change in the future.
Repentance can feel difficult and daunting. God will encourage us to change and grow, while Satan will tell us that repentance is not even possible. Our own minds will tell us that we are not enough. Deciphering between God’s voice and Satan’s will help us accept guilt for our sinful actions but remove shame from our minds.
Tactics Satan will use.
Satan will take shame and use it to make you feel worthless. Our own minds will lie to us. This can lead to a lifetime of self-loathing and misery because we do not feel we can forgive ourselves for whatever it is we have done. Satan will whisper in your ear saying that you are unlovable and do not belong anywhere. He is the one who stands next to you in the mirror and says, “I am not deserving of happiness”. Satan will tell you that doing better is not worth trying to repay for your sins, because people will only find what you did disgusting.
God, on the other hand, will remind you that your actions do not line up with your true values as a Christian. He will use guilt to help you reexamine your Christian identity and help you live up to it. Church doctrine is clear that we are children of God, and therefore we are worthy. Even if we have committed a sin (Moses 1:4). Satan will try to tell you otherwise and can get very convincing.
How to silence shame.
When we are presented with shame or guilt, we are given the power and agency to decide what to do with it. You can decide to silence that voice, learn from it, and grow. Satan wants to destroy your agency (Moses 4:3), ideally without you even realizing it has happened.
We must choose to hand our shame over to God. Shame loves secrecy; therefore, we must learn how to be vulnerable with God. Trying to hide our sins from the Lord will never elicit true repentance. It can only be done through Christ. Learn how to ask God for forgiveness of even your most dark sins. If you come to Him with an apologetic heart, He will grant you peace.
Learn to control your thoughts. Shame can enter our hearts when we start to believe the hurtful, negative, and dysfunctional ways Satan speaks to us. We can silence him by taking ownership of our mistakes, accepting our limitations, and replacing our thoughts with something positive. Satan will tell us we are worthless, but we can look in the mirror and say, “God says I am enough”. Learn to be grateful for the gifts God has given you. When you are feeling shameful, reflect on them. It will help encourage your self-esteem.
If you are struggling to forgive yourself for your sins, Satan might try and swoop in to shame you. He will say that you are never going to be forgiven, but God tells us the complete opposite. God says we are worth redeeming. He has a plan for us and will use us to spread His Word.