As soon as Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden, they realised they were naked and felt shame. In a futile attempt at a cover-up, they made themselves clothes out of fig leaves. But it didn’t work. Shame led to blame as each tried to deflect responsibility onto someone else. It was only when God Himself gave them a covering of skins that the shame was somewhat alleviated.
That sacrificial covering of skins foreshadows the sacrificial covering for sin provided by the atonement of Jesus. The only way to truly process shame and receive a new covering—a garment of glory and grace, a mantle of mercy and justice, that sheds blessing wherever we go—is through the atonement of Jesus.
The root of addiction is unprocessed shame. The root of narcissism is unprocessed shame. Without a belief in the atonement of Jesus—the at-one-ment, the union of communion through the covenant in His blood, the covering He grants to us by grace through faith, we’ll remain stuck in shame. Trauma will stake us down in the past and we’ll be drained by Lilith, the vampire spirit.
John’s gospel shows us how Jesus dealt with someone caught in the grip of shame.
At dawn He appeared again in the temple courts… The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do You say?’ They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing Him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with His finger. When they kept on questioning Him, He straightened up and said to them, ‘Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’ Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’
‘No one, sir,’ she said.
‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin.’
John 8:2–11 NIV
The shame experienced by the woman would have been crushing. Her sin was exposed, she was exposed. And in public. Because it’s at the Temple, the ground is stone—and Jesus writes there, just as the finger of God wrote the Ten Commandments on stone. It’s often thought He was writing the sins of the woman’s accusers.
He does not say, as so often before, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ There’s no point. Forgiveness makes no impact on shame. Forgiveness deals with guilt, not shame. Guilt is about doing wrong, shame is about being wrong.
Nevertheless Jesus does judge the woman because He says, ‘Leave your life of sin.’ But He never condemns her. That’s the critical point: judgment without condemnation.
The next step is to ask Him for help to believe in His atonement. ‘Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.’
This is Grace Drops and I’m Anne Hamilton. May Jesus of Nazareth help you overcome your unbelief.
Thank you to Lorna Skinner of www.riversofmusic.co.uk for the background music.
Understanding false refuges is the single most important step towards dealing with the obstacles barring you from coming into your calling. Hidden in the Cleft explains false refuges in more detail and is available as a paperback or an ebook.
The steps involved in working through false refuges, cancelling covenants with Death and replacing your cornerstone are to be found in the appendices of God’s Pottery.