Guilt and Shame



What's the difference between guilt and shame? Guilt is an objective truth. Shame is a subjective personal experience. Sometimes shame is not based on real guilt; this sort of shame is resolved by realising that we aren't actually guilty. There is also a sort of shame that does point to true underlying guilt. Modern psychology, however, insists that all shame can be disarmed by denying the existence of any guilt. Despite psychology's best attempts to debunk guilt and eradicate shame, somehow shame and guilt live on as strong as ever. Perhaps society can't let go for a reason... morality is in the fabric of created order. More than that, we are fallen sinners, naturally inclined to rebel against the moral order put in place by God. Guilt isn't imagined and shame is not unfounded. 

If our shame reflects real guilt then it is actually a gift from God pointing us to the truth about our sinful nature. This sort of shame is only resolved by admitting and finding forgiveness for the underlying guilt. But where can such forgiveness be found when we are truly guilty? Jesus Christ is the only antidote to such guilt. Jesus took our guilt upon himself through his death on the cross and opens the way to a new life of righteousness through his resurrection. Everyone feels shame, what is distinctive about Christians is what we do about our shame. We search our hearts to seek the true underlying guilt, confess our guilt before God and take hold of the forgiveness freely offered through Christ. Sometimes shame lingers after the guilt has been resolved in Christ, then Christians can boldly remind themselves, "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. " (Romans 8:1-2). Only in Christ is shame truly disarmed because the guilt it stood upon has been actually removed. 


Inspired by 26th August episode of the podcast The Briefing by Albert Mohler

©2019 by Croydon Hills & Wonga Park Anglican Church.

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