Imagine being Adam and Eve for a moment. They had everything: the best and healthiest foods at hand in the lush garden, a safe beautiful place to call home, their roles of gentle leadership over animals, a perfect union of love with the perfect spouse made just for them, and their daily walks with their Father, Almighty God. What else could they possibly want or need?
Then we read of the temptation that overtook them – to disobey God’s only direct command to not eat of the one single fruit that was off limits to them for some unknown reason. Their desire to be more like God or to know things like He does, caused their downfall as well as all of humanity, and the earth has been paying the price ever since. They foolishly chose to be wise in their own eyes.
What did they do when they heard Lord God walking in their beloved garden home and calling their name? They hid. Certainly God knew exactly where they were, so his question of ‘where are you’ was not because he didn’t know, but to entice them to answer, to speak to Him. God wanted to talk to his children even after they had willfully disobeyed Him.
So Adam eventually said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.”
They were hanging their heads in shame. They were hiding out of embarrassment since they knew they had done wrong in disobeying the one and only command He told them not to do. Shame and guilt caused them to turn away from their intimate relationship with their Creator.
“…and I said, “O my God, I am ashamed and embarrassed to lift up my face to You, my God, for our iniquities have risen above our heads and our guilt has grown even to the heavens.”
Compare it to our beloved pet, the dog. Crystal, our Border Collie Mix, when she would pee on the carpet out of fear during a thunderstorm, she would cower in the corner, or hide under the bed out of fear of our anger at her doing something wrong. She knew peeing in the house wasn’t the proper place for that. I admit to using the words “Bad dog!” to her. She hid because she knew of my anger as a result of her peeing on the carpet. Did she regularly do this? No, only when there was a bad storm. This was her mechanism for coping with it; not the right thing to do in our eyes or home, but she just couldn’t help it. Was this a sin? No. But she was guilty of doing this and she knew it was not right.
“All day long my dishonor is before me
And my humiliation has overwhelmed me,”
The beauty of our Heavenly Father is that He doesn’t treat us like we are bad dogs when we sin! True, He absolutely abhors selfishness, pride, injustice, and all of the other negative things we do, but that doesn’t change his love for us! So why do we hang our heads in shame? Why do we carry such a heavy burden of guilt? I tell you it is because we know better; because we know we have disappointed our Heavenly Father who has given us everything; and because the evil one desires to drag us down into his hellish place of personal torment.
“Shake yourself from the dust, rise up,
O captive Jerusalem;
Loose yourself from the chains around your neck,
O captive daughter of Zion.”
If we are honestly striving to do our best, but have a moment of weakness, He knows that. It does not make our sin less offensive to God, but He knows our heart. He still loves us. He still forgives us. We must get back up, and put face forward and move on. We need to forgive ourselves too.
As long as we recognize our sin, repent of it, seek Him for strength, and pick ourselves back up again, and move with a forward motion, then we must not continue to feel shame. Once we’ve been forgiven, there is no longer shame. True, we will remember, but let’s use that memory to teach ourselves how to be better or stronger the next time, by not trying to conquer it ourselves, but by calling out the name of JESUS when we need Him! He knows how difficult it can be to resist, therefore He can help us overcome it.
It is the devil himself who has this innate need to keep us down on his level, because that would mean he has a small victory over us, God’s child. We must not allow this! If our conviction from the Holy Spirit is true, then this sin that we struggle with can be overcome with the Holy Spirit’s help. There is no need for shame or guilt to continually hold us down like a heavy chain around our neck.
Come on, don’t let your enemy win!!!! Fight that urge for self pity and loathing, give up that chain to Jesus, accept his forgiveness, and stand up! He will break those bonds that hold you down, and give you the courage to keep trying. (I am preaching to myself as well)
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”
1 John 1:9
“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” 2 Corinthians 5:21
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit”
The next time you screw up, don’t cower in the dark, or in your home or bed, or avoid that personal talk with God. You think you deserve a guilt trip as punishment, but this not from the Lord! What you do need is his mercy, forgiveness and restoration. He freely offers those to each one of us, every day, because of JESUS. It is time to humble yourself, admit your mistake, and accept Jesus’ hand of Lordship and friendship.
Food for thought: Do you willingly lay down your shackles that this sin has brought upon you? Cast your burden on the Lord, for He cares for YOU.
Fun facts: A ball and chain was historically worn by prisoners which consisted of a heavy iron ball attached to the prisoner’s ankle with a chain and shackle. It stopped the prisoner from running away. The ball and chain was mainly used in the British Empire. It was used from the 17th century until as late as the mid 20th century.
Photo by: Kari Wiseman – Puppy dog Sky