22. AFTER REPENTANCE, MUST YOU WEAR A PERPETUAL BADGE OF SHAME?

I have come to learn that, sometimes what looks like ‘piousness’ is really an attack on your faith. It is engineered by the evil one to keep you stuck, keep you feeling guilty, keep you from moving on, keep you in the past and keep you from being useful in God’s Kingdom.

Don’t let anyone deceive or distract you. If you lived a wicked life before you came to Jesus Christ but you have since believed on him and repented of your sins and confessed that he is Lord, don’t allow anyone to make you feel like a second-rate citizen or not as important or as spiritual as others. Don’t allow anyone to make you wear a psychological badge of dishonour for your past life and sins. Whatever you may have done, when you come to Christ and surrender your life to his Lordship, he takes over your life, sends his Holy Spirit to live in you and he takes responsibility for you because you have been adopted into God’s royal family. You are now a new creature. Old thing have passed away and all things have become new (2 Corinthians 5:17).

You are not the same person as who you were in the past. For, before, you were living in darkness and darkness flooded your soul but now, your eyes have been opened spiritually, you have been made spiritually alive and the LIGHT that is the Lord Jesus Christ, has entered and taken up residence within you.

If you are a believer, in that the Light of the Lord Jesus Christ is in you but in rebellion, you fell into some kind of sin, as reprehensible as it may have been, if under God’s conviction (which may have come through chastening), you saw the error of your ways, went to him with a sorrowful heart, grieved over your sin, confessed it all to him, asked for his forgiveness, abandoned it forever with the firm resolve that you would never return and like the Prodigal son who came to his senses, you went back to your heavenly Father and his ways and you are now passionate for His work, His Kingdom agenda and His truth and He has been keeping you beautifully since then, don’t allow anyone to pull you back into your past and to try to make you continue to wear a badge of dishonour.

When God forgives, he places our deeds into the sea of forgetfulness, so much so that David, a man who had committed the grave sins of adultery and murder, stated in Psalm 32, after he had repented and experienced God’s forgiveness:

  • “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.
  • For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him. Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah.”

For such a person, God does not keep them perpetually in the doghouse and give them a badge of shame to wear for the rest of their lives. No. He helps them as they seek to move forward, as any loving Father would do for the child that has returned to the fold.

Of how God thinks of such a person who has once been rebellious, stubborn, foolish but has returned to the Lord, David states of God’s mentality:

  • I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee. Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about. BE GLAD IN THE LORD, AND REJOICE, YE RIGHTEOUS: AND SHOUT FOR JOY, ALL YE THAT ARE UPRIGHT IN HEART.”

For the Christian, the fact that he sinned against God does not remove his righteousness from him. For, contrary to the prideful man who often forgets, Christians are not clothed with their own righteousness but the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. This was necessary since none of our garments, which were like filthy rags in God’s sight were adjudged to be good enough. Christians who fell into sin but have repented of it and turned away are therefore still righteous and where their heart has been cleansed from that sin and they have been restored, the Lord urges them, not to walk around perpetually with hanging hands and feeble knees but to pull themselves together (in his strength) and move on in dignity.

In Hebrews 12:11-13, it speaks of a Christian who has been chastened by God in love for his sin and it makes it clear that the purpose of such chastening, though excruciating was so that the peaceable fruit of righteousness would be the end product. For such persons, God does not tell them to walk around dejected and with a badge of perpetual shame but to lift up their hands which hang down and the feeble knees. He wants them to adjust their posture (after all, they are still precious children of the King), to be healed from their past and to move on, not pridefully (which is impossible after God has chastened you sore) but without shame.

The scripture reads:

  • “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.”

In Lamentations 3:31-36, the Prophet in lamenting how sorely Israel had been chastened by God for their sins, indicated that when God chastens his children, he does not take delight in punishing them or shaming them, as the heart of man sometimes delights in. He does not turn his back on those he is chastening forever and he still shows them compassion during the process, although he allows affliction in their lives to bring them to their senses and to cause them to return to the righteous way of living.

The Prophet stated:

  • “For the Lord will not cast off for ever: But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies. For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men. To crush under his feet all the prisoners of the earth. To turn aside the right of a man before the face of the most High, To subvert a man in his cause, the Lord approveth not.”

You, like David, may have committed great sins. Whatever you may have done though, however small or large the sin, if, whether before or after you were chastened by God, you genuinely repented (and God, not man, knows your heart), once God has forgiven you (and he assures you from his Word that he will forgive all his children who confess their sins), no man, no devil, no principality, no power and no foe, has the authority to make you continue to wear a badge of dishonour. Indeed, you may have worn one of the Lord’s choosing and painfully for many years but not because some people did not see it, does it mean that you must wear another one, more visible and pleasing to their self-righteous eyes.

It may be their desire, yes because man loves to appoint himself as merciless judge when he is not even worthy of the position and not privy to all of the facts and there is also the devil who takes delight in accusing the brethren. For issues that the Lord has already settled therefore and sins that he has forgiven and covered, don’t be surprised if people, under the guise of ‘piousness’, allow themselves to be used by the devil to demand that you still have a debt to pay, that you still need to be punished, made publicly ashamed and that you should walk around with a badge of dishonour.

This is not of the Lord. For, such persons do not care about your spiritual success but only your hurt. This is clear, as they do not follow scripture in addressing whatever they may perceive the issue with you to be.

God’s heart on the other hand is for reconciliation and restoration. It has always been. No matter how spiritual someone may appear therefore, if his heart is not for these same things, he is not expressing the mind of God but the accusatory mind of God’s opponent.

Even where your sin as a Christian may have been great, Romans 5:20 reminds us that “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound…” This does not mean that you have licence to continue in sin. It must be put away. However, it reminds us that there is no sin that is too much on the part of God’s child, which, when repented of, he cannot forgive and he cannot heal. Indeed, I believe that there is no sin issue or sin struggle in the life of the Christian, from which Jesus cannot grant deliverance.

You sinned yes and you went through your period of shame and chastening from the Lord. Now that you have turned, repented and may have even gone so far as to confess your transgressions to godly men, if your heart is now set on things above, not on things on the earth and you genuinely desire to serve God in spirit and in truth and are sincerely persevering in your faith walk and have put your past where it belongs, in the past, don’t allow the devil to operate through people, to try to come now to abort the work that God wants to do in you and through you and has been doing through you and in you.

He is enough to uphold you, to keep you, to heal you and to preserve you. When you see the enemy mounting his attack and recruiting minions to achieve his evil purposes therefore, know that these are but distractions. For, they are not designed to encourage you in your faith walk but to discourage you and keep you stuck on guilt and shame, both of which Jesus already put away.

Keep your eyes on Christ, remember that he has already forgiven you of your transgressions and fight the good fight of faith.

This is exactly what the issue is: a fight for your faith. The enemy wants you frustrated and distracted and to take up burdens that you already took to God and left there. He wants you to walk around feeling less significant than other Christians, useless, perpetually ashamed and guilty of things that God already dealt with, sometimes years ago.

This is not new. It has always been the enemy’s strategy. Thankfully though, Proverbs 24:16 assures those who belong to God that, although a just man falls seven times, he will not stay there but rise up again. For the wicked though and those who insist on acting wickedly to try to pull you back into your past when God wants you to move forward, they will fall into mischief.

As the Bible states: “The wicked watcheth the righteous and seeketh to slay him. The Lord will not leave him in his hand, nor condemn him when he is judged.” (Psalm 37:32-33)

Leave your past in the past therefore if you know that you have already repented of it and turned away from it and are genuinely now pursuing after the Lord, even being used mightily by him (when he did not even have to), for his Kingdom purposes.

I repeat: Fight the good fight of faith. Don’t allow anyone to remove your focus from Jesus, no matter how hard they may try and how subtle the attacks orchestrated by the devil may be. If the devil is insisting that you revisit your past and stay there under a rock of shame, it is highly likely that it is because he perceives that God has a GREAT WORK for you to do in your future and he is trying to get you to abort the mission.

Silence that voice of accusation therefore with scriptures. The devil and those who sign up to be used by him, cannot withstand the power of God’s Word which is true.

One such scripture which you are sure to find effective is Isaiah 51:3,7,11-13. In this scripture, God spoke through the Prophet to his children the Israelites so as to encourage them to take their eyes off from man and to focus on him, their Creator and source of comfort. He reminded them that he was BIGGER and MORE POWERFUL than puny man and that therefore, they should not be afraid of those coming after them to try to discomfort them and fill their hearts with anxiety, when God had already willed to comfort them and bring them joy and peace. The truth contained in this scripture is therefore applicable to your situation as well. God stated:

  • “For the Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody…Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings…the redeemed of the Lord shall RETURN, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away. I even I am he that comforteth you: who art thou that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die and of the son of man which shall be made as grass; and forgettest the Lord thy maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth; and hast feared continually everyday because of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy? And WHERE is the fury of the oppressor?…”

Jesus did not die on the cross so that you could go through life wearing a badge of dishonour. He did not invite his children to come to God and confess their sins in 1 John 1:9, so that they could then go on wearing a badge of shame and disgrace but so that he could forgive them of those sins in his faithfulness and cleanse them from all unrighteousness.

Ironically, many times, those that the devil uses to do his dirty work against the children of God are those that have never genuinely come to Christ and received his salvation and are therefore lost and condemned sinners. From their vantage point in the gutter of the world’s darkness (which they love and remain in with unrepentant hearts), they try to throw arrows of accusation against those who are not in darkness but in Christ’s light, people who may have messed up yes but have repented, forsaken, been forgiven, moved on and been restored, not by man but by God.

Sadly though, the enemy also uses the self-righteous, pride-filled Christian, who thinks himself to be something when in fact, outside of Christ, he is nothing. Such a person is busy trying to dig up your past and hold it against you (when the Lord has already forgiven you), when there are areas in his own life that he needs to come to God with in humble repentance and confess. Yet of course, he does not see them or he considers them to be less significant than his devil-inspired mission to focus on you, bring you down, ostracize you, treat you like a dog, damage your reputation and make you wear that badge of shame that he wants you so badly to wear.

Romans 8:1 reminds those who are children of God through faith in Jesus Christ and are not walking in the flesh but in the Spirit that:“There is therefore now NO CONDEMNATION to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

Let the Word of God therefore be your defence against all your naysayers. Keep abiding in the Lord, move forward and don’t allow anyone to place a badge of shame and dishonour on you.

Ironically, you may have sinned yes but sometimes the extent of the sin that the enemy has convinced others you did, you never even did. This ought not to surprise us, for the devil is the father of lies. John 8:44 reminds us that: “…When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”

To illustrate my point, I will end with the following example:

In Lisa’s past, when she was young and foolish and suffering with low self-esteem and looking for love in the wrong places and given some ugly things which took place in her childhood (which some hold the view, may have predisposed her to certain conduct later on as an adult), she became involved with an ungodly man, although she was a Christian. She knew that she was unequally yoked and of course, she compromised her faith by aligning herself with this man and doing things that were sinful and of which she was definitely ashamed of. Because sin darkens proper judgment though, she was deluded in believing that she could get this man to fall in love with her and then she could get him to come to Church and become a Christian and then they could get married and live happily after ever.

She came to her senses however, grieved for many years over her sin, cried out to God in repentance and even confessed her sin to an Elder of the Church denomination she attends, three additional Elders at a meeting she asked for at another Church denomination she attended and a Pastor at another Church. She also told a few other Christians what she had done. Given that some of her issues began from as early as her childhood, the three Elders recommended that she meet with a female Christian Psychologist, which she did for weeks.

Although it was hard and God chastened her sore, she was finally, after many years, able to get past the guilt and shame she had felt for years, even after she had been forgiven by God. He has assured her of his love for her and she has been restored. He has even called her (of all people) to a mighty work which she is honoured and humbled to do, as she knows that he could have used any other one of his children, even one that did not sin as much as she had sinned.

Although Lisa acknowledges her sin, she is grateful to God that, despite what happened to her as a child and despite her waywardness in her early adult years where she engaged in actions with the ungodly man that were sexually immoral, she is still a virgin. She did reprehensible things yes but God in his mercy, did not allow her to go so far as to have sex with any man and did not allow what took place in her childhood, though ugly, to remove her virginity.

She still has this gift therefore, to offer her one-day husband (should God bless her with marriage) and praises God for this all the time. Additionally, since that time in her early adult life when she messed up, God has kept her as a single woman and she has not had any other relationship or type of relationship with any man for over fifteen years or more and to date.

She is yet to experience what sex is about and is waiting on the Lord patiently until he provides someone for her, if he should decide to grace her with such an undeserved gift. She is determined to keep her virginity which is precious and not even to allow any man to kiss her on her lips, until she is within marriage, which she is convinced is what is honourable and what God blesses.

Lisa has finally been able to move on and knows that God is with her but the accuser of the brethren wants her to stay stuck in her shame and has therefore, many years later, raised up people to bring her past back to the fore. He has even skewed the facts to make her sin look even worse, convincing people that she committed the act of fornication and was joined sexually with a man.

In her foolishness, which she did not downplay but has since repented of, confessed and forsaken, she did engage in wicked acts of a sexual nature yes but contrary to the accusations leveled against her, she never joined herself with that man or any man and is therefore still a virgin. She still is clueless as to the sex experience because she has never been one physically with any man and is so grateful to God that she did not fall to that level but of course, the enemy runs with a false narrative.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, for those who insist that you must walk the public hall of shame for your past sins which God has already covered and that you must be made to go back, when God is trying to take you forward, do not get bitter and do not get distracted. Such persons do not realize that God chastens yes but in the manner that He sees fit. Also, unlike man, who thinks he knows so much but operates with only tidbits of information, God knows your whole story, from childhood to date.

Furthermore, his chastening is not perpetual. There is an expiration date as was made clear in Lamentations 3:31 and 4:22. For, unlike man that takes a warped sense of delight in the punishment, embarrassment, shame and suffering of others, the chastening of the Lord was never so that he could delight in your pain but so that it would yield the peaceable fruit, not of perpetual shame but of righteousness.

Pray for those who wish to keep you stuck in the past therefore, as you press on in the faith. If they insist that you have not suffered enough or been shamed enough or not publicly enough for your sin or perhaps they find that you are too joyous and assertive given your past, leave them in the hands of God. He has a way of knowing how to handle every situation and every person and of dealing with those whose agenda oppose his.

In Isaiah 51, the same scripture in which God promised to comfort Zion after he had chastened them for their sin, he stated through the Prophet in verses 17 and 21-23:

  • “Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem, which hast drunk at the hand of the Lord the cup of his fury; thou hast drunken the dregs of the cup of trembling, and wrung them out…Therefore hear now this, thou afflicted, and drunken, but not with wine. Thus saith thy Lord the Lord, and thy God that pleadeth the cause of his people, Behold, I have taken out of thine hand the cup of trembling, even the dregs of the cup of my fury; thou shalt NO MORE drink it againBut I will put it into the hand of them that afflict thee; which have said to thy soul, Bow down, that we may go over: and thou hast laid thy body as the ground, and as the street, to them that went over.”

As a perfect summary to all that I’ve written above, Psalm 94:12 -23 aptly reads:

  • “BLESSED is the man whom thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest him out of thy law; That thou mayest give him REST from the days of adversity, until the pit be digged for the wicked. For the Lord will NOT cast off his people, neither will he forsake his inheritance. But judgment shall RETURN unto righteousness: and all the upright in heart shall follow it.
  • Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity? Unless the Lord had been my help, my soul had almost dwelt in silence. When I said, My foot slippeth; thy mercy, O Lord, held me up. In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.
  • Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee, which frameth mischief by a law? They gather themselves together against the soul of the righteous, and condemn the innocent blood. But the Lord is my defence; and my God is the rock of my refuge. And he shall bring upon them their own iniquity, and shall cut them off in their own wickedness; yea, the Lord our God shall cut them off.”

(Written on 07th August, 2020)

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