“‘Come, let us discuss this,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they will be white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they will be look wool.'” Isaiah 1:18
Shame cripples. Shame paralyzes. Shame holds us hostage. We can feel shame and not even identify it as such until we are already held tightly within its grip. I am weary of wearing the shroud of shame. I am tired of the enemy of my soul taking me to task again and again over the same stuff. His weapon of choice? The shroud of shame. God has persistently been bringing to mind these two opposing concepts: the shroud of shame and the cloak of Christ. So I did what any good lover of words and lover of the Word would do: I searched the definition of shroud in order to have a more complete picture and understanding of what God was revealing to me. According to the dictionary on Google, “shroud” is defined as “a length of cloth or an enveloping garment in which a dead person is wrapped for burial” and “a thing that envelops or obscures something.” When I considered the shroud of shame, I envisioned a garment, like a robe, that I would wear over my everyday clothes. But the definition added a whole new dimension–a shroud is what the dead wear for burial. God definitely had my attention. This shroud of shame I have been wearing is meant for a dead woman. Even worse, it was making me reek. How, then, could I possibly use my life to draw others to Christ when the stench of my burial clothes would drive them away? Wearing my shame like I have been doing for years literally has made me stink. Yet I have grown so comfortable wearing my shroud that I no longer notice its deathly aroma. Jesus did not come to Earth to save me from my sins only so that I would muddle my way through life reeking of death. Jesus Himself wore my shroud of shame and guilt and took it straight to the cross and to the grave, and left it there when He arose so that I would not have to.
One of the reasons I have wrestled so much with this concept is because I know that I knew better when I acquired all of my reasons to wear my shame. It’s like the laundry list of offenses plays on repeat as I wake each morning so that by the time my feet hit the hardwood floor in the morning, I have once again enveloped myself in my shroud of shame. Those who mean well like to cite examples in Scripture of the godly men and women who God used greatly but also had fallen. Yet, when I hear of those, I think how much more I should have known better because of their examples given to us in the Bible. It’s like I have to remind myself of all I ever have done so that I never forget how much I needed Jesus, yet I often just feel sick because of the shameful ways in which I sinned against Him–the one who sacrificed His all for me, knowing full well all that I would do. I can look at someone else’ life and story and say to myself how I hope they receive God’s grace and forgiveness and cease beating themselves up because God removes our sins from us as far as the east is from the west. Somehow, though, I struggle the most with applying this to my own life because I knew better and I dove head first into a pit of sin. And it wasn’t like it happened only once. Nope, I just kept diving into the deep end of sin. And the enemy of my soul has had a blast with using my choices against me. He cannot remove my salvation from me because I am sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, as a daughter of the King. Yet he has made it his goal to render me ineffective and useless in the kingdom of God. Jesus has crushed Satan and that is why I do not have to live in defeat. Look back at the second definition for shroud: “a thing that envelops or obscures something.” Score another one for Satan. This smelly burial garment of death has also served to obscure my view of Jesus and His blood. The shroud of shame has obscured who Christ says I am. The shroud of shame has obscured my path to Jesus. No more, Satan. No longer will I allow you to beat me down with the recording in my mind of all I have ever done. I am good and angry at his schemes, his deception, and his outright lies.
The time has come for me to remove the shroud of shame and replace it with what rightfully belongs to me: the cloak of Christ. When God sees me, He does not begin to recite my infinitely long list of offenses. No, God looks at me through the lens of Christ’s blood. Where my sins were once crimson, the blood of Christ has purged them and made them whiter than snow. It seems so easy to just look at my two options and select the cloak of Christ rather than my shroud of shame. Each act requires a deliberate choice of removing one and putting on another. No longer do I need to live enslaved to the former way of thinking. To live ashamed, I am saying that God’s grace and forgiveness is not enough to cover my sins. What a lie the father of lies has masqueraded in front of me and that I have bought hook, line, and sinker. David spoke in truth with confidence when he said, “Purify me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow” (Psalm 51:7). John wrote, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9). God is gracious enough to allow us to remember from where He brought us to protect us from not returning there. He does not want our memories to make us feel ashamed or condemned. Rather, when we remember, it should be with an attitude of joy, gratitude, and praise because He redeemed us and forgave us. Paul tells us in Romans 8:1, “Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus.” NO condemnation. Friend, if you feel undone beneath the oppressive weight of shame from your sins, do not allow the enemy to deceive you into thinking it is from Christ. In Christ, we are set free, and we are not condemned. The blood of Jesus covers us, all of us, every sin. Daily, cloak yourselves with Christ, for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. (See I John 4:4).
Recently I was reading from John 8:1-11 the account of the woman who was caught in the act of adultery and dragged into the temple complex to be stoned. Jesus said the most beautiful words to her, “Neither do I condemn you…Go, and from now on do not sin anymore” (v.11). Jesus is the only one with the ability to condemn us yet He does not. Why have we placed the power into the hands of anyone other than the one who has the right to condemn us? When shame threatens to stink us up in the burial clothing of the dead, hear Jesus whisper to you, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”
My absolute favorite verse in Scripture is found in Luke 7:47. “Therefore I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; that’s why she loved much. But the one who is forgiven little, loves little.” Jesus is the love of my life. He knows all I have ever done. In fact, He knew all I was going to do, all I was going to think, all I was going to say before I ever breathed a single breath of air. And still He chose to descend from His throne on high, endure the suffering and the shame meant for me on Calvary, and die in my place. Praise Him for conquering death. No longer am I shrouded in shame. I have shed the shame because I am eternally wrapped in the cloak of Christ and His love. I love Him so very much for He has forgiven me so very much. While the enemy wants to keep me beaten down, and keep you beaten down, Jesus says to look up and to pour out our lives in offering to Him. Love much today, friend, and exchange your garments of death for the life Christ meant for each of us to have.