Craig Groeschel - Healing from Shame
So I'm wondering, how many of you have ever done something that you're really ashamed of? Raise your hands, raise your hands. Those of you online, you can just type it in the chat. I have, I've done something. You can type it in the chat. Now go ahead, and if you're at a physical location, lean over to the person sitting next to you and tell them what that thing was that you did. Don't do that. Don't do that. I'm just joking. Don't do that. I have a counselor, and my counselor has helped me to recognize that the strongest unhealthy driver in my life is shame, shame. Yes, I do have a counselor, and yes, that's an incredibly unusual introduction for an Easter message. But I want to talk to you today about a subject that I believe is very important for us to experience some healing from God if we deal with it.
If you're new with us, I am a very driven person. Some would say almost scary how driven I can be. And if you want to know why I'm driven I'd tell you two extremes. One is from the purest motivation, when my motivation is completely pure, I am driven more than I could ever tell you or describe to you to help you know the goodness and the grace and the love of Jesus. Yeah, I ache with the most sincere desire to help you find the freedom and the life and the forgiveness that I know that Jesus offers, and it keeps me awake, and it gets me up early and it consumes me.
Why am I driven? In the purest moments I'm driven because I really want to help you know Jesus. But unfortunately, because I'm still a sinful person my motives aren't always pure. And the challenge is I have a very real dysfunction fueled by deep rooted inadequacy. And in my mind, I'm always plagued with constant guilt and soul crushing shame. If you find yourself tormented and plagued with the identity, warping emotion of shame, my prayer for you is that the empty tomb will fill your heart with a love that overwhelms your shame. And that's why the title for today's message is Healing From Shame. And I would love it if you would pray with me today.
Father, we ask that by the name of your risen Son, Jesus, that we would find healing, hope, recovery, and restoration from the shame that our enemy uses to hold us back. Help us heal, we pray in Jesus' name. And everybody said Amen. Amen, amen.
Why don't you say it aloud? Say, God help me heal. God help me heal. Type that in the chat if you're watching online. God help me heal. Today in week number one of our message series called Deep Clean, I want to talk to you about healing from shame. And what's so interesting to me, if you go all the way back to the beginning of God's story in the Garden of Eden, the book of Genesis you see a powerful example of life before shame, and the tragedy of life after shame.
You've got Adam and Eve who are in the garden, and there's a little verse tucked in at the very end of chapter 2, that you may overlook if you're not paying careful attention to it. But verse 25 tells us about Adam and his wife and says "Adam and his wife were both naked and they felt no shame," which is incredible to me. Not the naked part, well actually yes, the naked part. But more specifically the "no shame" part, because here you have a couple with everything kind of vulnerable and there's no sense of embarrassment, nothing to hide, nothing weighing them down. They were naked enjoying the blessings of the beauty of God's creation and they felt no shame. And then if you know the story, the serpent came and tempted them to disobey God, and sin entered the world.
Now let me be very clear, they sinned. And I say sinned with emphasis because we live in a culture today that often says sin is kind of like politically incorrect. Don't tell me that I've sinned. And it may be politically incorrect, but it's biblically very correct that we have a very holy and righteous and perfect God. And anytime we don't live up to his standards, we fall short and what the Bible calls sin. And when they sinned, immediately they felt a deep seated sense of shame, so much so that they cover themselves up. And they went into hiding because they didn't just have a feeling of what they did wrong, but they had an identity that now they were bad. And that's why guilt is really different from shame.
Guilt is generally action-based, but shame is identity-based and I'll show you the difference in what they believe. Guilt on one hand believes I did something bad. I did something wrong, but shame internalizes it. And unfortunately, shame believes I am bad. I am wrong. I am dirty. We feel guilty for what we did, but we feel ashamed for who we are. In fact, there's a lady that many would call a shame expert who's written on it and studied, her name is Brene Brown. And she has a powerful quote that says this. "Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging". How could God ever love me? "It's something we've experienced, done or failed to do that makes us unworthy of connection".
I have no idea what it might be for you. That something that causes you to feel shame. It might be your secret. It might be your financial debt, but you don't want anybody to know about. It might be your sexual past. It might be your sexual problems in the present. It might be that addiction that you don't want anybody to know about, or that thing that you did years and years ago that you hope nobody finds out about. And because of what you did, your spiritual enemy tries to connect that action to who you are and how you see yourself. And you start to believe I am defective. I'm damaged, I'm broken, I'm flawed. Because of what I did, I'm dirty and I'm impure and I'm disgusting.
And the devil continues to whisper to you for years and years because of what you did. You're unlovable, you're weak, you're pitiful you're insignificant, you're unworthy and you are unwanted. And without knowing it, we can take something that we did or even something that happened to us, and wrongly connect it to our identity and start living with shamed-based thinking. How does this influence our lives? I'll show you three different ways this influences our lives. And you may see yourself in this. The first thing is this number one. Whenever we live with shame-based thinking, we're vulnerable to perfectionism.
How many of you would say that that might be you, you're vulnerable to perfection? Don't elbow the person next to you on Easter weekend, but you may be tempted just to do that, right? I know that I am. What we often will do is we'll try to silence our shame with a perfect performance, like look how good I did, and we find it really difficult to admit to any type of a failure. I want to cover my shame with a perfect performance.
The second way it impacts us is this, is that we're often critical of ourselves, which drives us to become critical of others. It's really tragic, but oftentimes the most critical people around, are those dealing with the most shame, because shamed people tend to shame others. And what ends up happening is we hate in others the very sin that we hate in ourselves, and we are critical of ourselves so we become critical of others.
The third way it impacts us is this. We use self-defeating thoughts to shield ourselves from disappointment. We tend to think worst case scenario, right? And so if we just tell ourselves this is bad and it's going to be really, really bad, then we lower our expectations so we aren't disappointed. But at the same time, we're sabotaging our opportunities and relationships because of shame. And we tell ourselves, well, you know they're only going to reject me. And so we don't risk the relationship or I'm only going to fail because bad things happen to me so we never try anything, or we're all gonna die and I'm probably gonna die quickly anyway, and we sabotage anything that God wants to do to bless us. And because of our spiritual enemies tool of shame, it might cause one parent to lash out for no apparent reason.
Another one to get drunk and disengaged because they feel ashamed. Shame might be what drives your in-laws to criticize your parenting because they see their own weaknesses and own shame from their parenting. Or you might become hypercritical of others because you're hypercritical of yourself. Shame-based thinking. And it's not from God. For years and years and years, my shame was what I would call sin-driven. And I'll show you the big moments of progression where shame increased in my life.
The first time that I can really identify and remember was in the fifth grade or so. And the cute little kids smiling at least I think I looked kind of cute there with my crooked teeth, looked innocent on the outside, but that was the year that I found my friend Stephen's dad's stack of pornography and dove into it, and felt inwardly dirty, filthy, and ashamed. If you go on in life in high school, right before graduating high school, I was at the very top of my class, preparing to give the graduation speech, and I got caught cheating on an exam.
So if you could imagine in small town America, the lead student is a cheating student and I felt completely, completely ashamed. And then go off to college. The fun days start, having fun with all of my friends and smiling on the outside but hurting and broken on the inside, and the shame came crashing down when I got caught and arrested for shoplifting. Technically probably not arrested, I'd say more detained, but detained, and the guy scared the fire out of me in a very effective way. But shame entered into my life, who am I? I'm a guy that battles with looking at the wrong thing, and a person that cheats, and a person that steals. Therefore, I am bad. God could never use me. God could never love me. I am so flawed.
I'm thankful to tell you today that I'm no longer ashamed of my past, because my past is covered by the grace of Jesus. My sins are forgiven, and he has made me new. And that's In the purest moment, why I'm so driven, because I want you to find that. The good news is I'm not ashamed of my past, but the bad news is after working with my counselor for a long period, I have to recognize I still battle with shame-based thinking so often in my identity. And we've gone back to kind of uncovered the root cause. And as a kid, just like in your world, there were a lot of things that didn't seem right.
And so I wanted to try to fix things that were beyond my control, and I assumed more responsibility than any child should inwardly assume. And because I wanted to fix the problems, but couldn't fix the problems, my dominant shame-based belief is I am not enough. I'm never enough. I'll never measure up. I'm always deficient. I'm always lacking. And that's why I worked so hard in the impurest part to prove my worth, whether it's making good grades or excelling in sports or being a great pastor there to try to meet every single need. And I just medicate the pain, trying to justify my value, trying to cover that shame-based thinking. And it doesn't work, because as a husband to my best friend and bride, Amy, and a father has six kids and three sons-in-law and four or five or six grandkids. I can't keep track, and as a pastor of three dozen churches, I can't come close to fixing everything, and I can't be everywhere and I can't be everything.
And so daily I battle with that desire to prove my worth and to be perfect, but because I can't meet those needs and I mean I'm telling you I disappoint people, not just dozens, but multiple dozens of people daily. Can you meet, can you be there? Can you, and I'm sorry, I can't. And because I can't, it reinforces my shame. I'm not enough and I never will be enough. And there's some truth to that, right? I never will be enough. And here's, what's interesting. Any time you think something bad about yourself there actually might be truth in it. I hate to tell you that, like you might think I am bad. And I say, actually, you are.
Welcome to Easter weekend where I'm here to make you feel good about yourself, right? You are, meaning you are, you've sinned, I've sinned, we've all sinned. You might say I'm inadequate. And I say, you are again, we all are. We are not designed to do everything on our own. We're never good enough. Some of you might say, well, I'm occasionally rude. I might say, you're often rude. Let's just call it what it is. I see you online, like you're rude. Like come on, you're rude, don't be so rude. If you find something in yourself that you you don't like, there may be truth in that. The problem is, as long as you're focused on you, you will always be vulnerable to shame. You will always be vulnerable to shame because we are never enough.
It's a powerful story in the Old Testament about God's people who tragically were in slavery in Egypt for 430 years. If you could imagine this, 430 years they were in slavery. So you have generation after generation, after generation people that are born a slave, all they know is I'm a slave. I feel worthless, I feel invaluable. My life is nothing. 430 years, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, they believe the lie. You are not valuable whatsoever. And then God raised up Moses played by Charlton Heston who said, "Let my people go"! And God miraculously delivered his people from slavery. The tragedy is, though they were outwardly free, inwardly they were still slaves. They were out of slavery, but slavery wasn't out of them.
Some of you, you're followers of Christ. You've been forgiven and you've been freed. But just because your sin is forgiven, some of you are still slaves to the shame of something that is not true about you. And that's why the only way to heal from shame is to move the focus from what I'm not, to who Christ is. It's to take the focus off of me and put it on to Christ. Because some of you, I don't know where you're watching, and I don't know who this is, but though you've been forgiven by Christ, though your sins, he does not hold against you, and remembers no more, you're still living with, consumed by, driven from a shame-based thinking. You're still believing that you're something that God says you're not.
Now, what does all this have to do with Easter? Where's the gospel story in all this? Well in Hebrews 12, the author to the Hebrews shows us a very special gift. It's something that I've read dozens or hundreds of times, but God really brought this to my mind, and I landed on these words, and I felt the beauty and the power from three little words. It speaks of Jesus on the cross preparing to give his life. And scripture says this. "For the joy set before him, Jesus endured the cross". He endured the cross because of what was coming, because of what would happen in your life. For the joy set before him, he endured the cross.
Then here's the three little words. Scorning its shame. Despising it, loathing it, hating it. And he sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. This is so powerful to me. Jesus endured the cross. He hated, he despised, he scorned the shame. Every fiber of righteousness, every part of heaven in the flesh loathed, hated, scorned, and despised the shame that robs people from intimacy with God and the joy of heaven. From the beginning of time, God scorned and the shame in the Garden of Eden. He hated the shame of David's adultery and Peter's denial and Judas' betrayal.
And in this very same way, God scorns the shame that crushes your soul and kills your joy. He despises the shame you feel from your lies, or your hidden eating habits, or your secret sexual sin. He loathes the shame you feel from financial failure, from your decreased deepest secrets or your darkest hurts. He scorns the shame of how you feel when you look at the wrong thing, think the wrong thought, say the wrong thing. He hates the shame that you endure because of what you said, what you did, or you didn't do. He despises, he despises the shame of your self doubt and your self hatred. He scorns the shame of what you felt like back then and how you don't like yourself now.
And for me, he scorns the shame I feel when I can't fix the problems or when I always believe I will never be enough. And the son of God, God in the flesh, stripped down naked on an instrument of torture called the cross, as the creation, those he came to love, mocked him, cursed him, spit on him. Jesus looked at the shame and he said, I despise you. You're nothing to me. My Father sent me to seek and save the lost. My God sent me to give my life as a ransom for many. And that's why shame, you have no power compared to the joy set before me. You are nothing. Shame, Jesus looked on, said, "you can't distract me. You can't discourage me. You can't defeat me, and you are almost finished".
And Jesus looked up to heaven, and he said, "Father into your hands I commit my spirit". And the Lamb of God gave his life for the forgiveness of our sins. And when he breathed his last, the earth shook and went dark. Day one, people waited, and day two, they lost hope. And day three, they said, I guess he wasn't who he said he was. But one day when a couple ladies went out to look and just check on the grave. The stone was rolled away, and the tomb was empty, and Christ was not there. And because of his death and his resurrection we can be made new. We can be forgiven and we can be healed of shame. But the only way to heal from shame is to move the focus from who you are to who Christ is. Are you ready? Are you ready to do that?
What I want you to do is I want you to do that. I want you to move the focus from who you are and what you did, to who Jesus is and what he did. And here's how it will play out in your life. I want you to just to get practical and you can even type in the chat however, this is true for you if you'd like, but in a moment you can just, you could fill in the blank in your own heart. I'm not what? I'm not blank, because of Christ I am and fill in the blank. What might it look like for you? It might be this. It might be, I'm not horrible. Because of Christ I am forgiven. Or for you, you might declare I'm not sick. Because of Christ, I am healed. For you it might be this. I'm not broken. I am whole in Christ. For you, you might say, I am not unwanted. Because of Christ, what am I? I am loved. I am accepted. I am forgiven. I am new. I am chosen. I am set apart. I am called by God because of Christ. That's what he's done. Mine is this. I am not enough. I will never be enough. But Christ in me is more than enough because of who he is, and because of what he's done. The shame doesn't hold me anymore.
Remember the Israelites 430 years of shame. 430 years of shame, 430 years. They were out of slavery. But the shame of slavery wasn't out of them. And in Joshua 5:9, scripture says this. "The Lord said to Joshua, 'Today'", somebody say today, type it in the chat, today. He said, "Today, I have rolled away". Uh-oh, uh-oh, can somebody say that? I have what? I have rolled away. Type it in the chat. We're not going to leave you out. He said, "Today, I have rolled away the shame of your slavery in Egypt". There is no more shame because of the resurrection of Jesus. No more shame. Somebody may have told you, shame on you, shame on you. The devil man, whispered shame on you. God says, shame off you. No more shame.
As of today, he is rolling away the shame. And for me, I can't fix everything, but I can preach Christ crucified and risen from the dead. And I came to tell somebody because of who Jesus is, and because of what he's done, you are worthy of love. The cross was for you. The empty tomb was for you. Jesus looked and saw through time, and he saw you, today, knowing that if he endured the shame for the joy set before him, you could be free. That gave him joy. For the joy for your freedom, for your salvation, for your forgiveness, for your wholeness, for your reconciliation, he endured the shame of the cross, scorning it so he could tell you you're not what you did, and you're not what you do.
And you're not what someone did to you. And you are not who others say you are. You're not even who you think you are. You are who Christ, the risen Son of God says you are. And I declare to you today that he says, if you are in him, you are free. You are forgiven. You are changed. You are healed. You are redeemed. You are blessed. You are complete. You are chosen. You are accepted. No more shame. No more shame. Shame off you. Shame off you. Because today we celebrate that God rolled away the stone. And today, he also rolls away the shame, because whoever the son sets free is free indeed.
So Father, we give you glory for a love that we could never earn and never deserve, for the death of Jesus, and for his resurrection, that heals us, sets us free, and today by faith rolls away the shame.
At all of our churches today, and those of you watching online, those of you who might say, "Craig, I'm a little bit or a lot like you, and I do see the shame-based thinking weighing me down, holding me back, grieving my soul, stealing my joy, and I want that to be rolled away. I want God to roll it away. I want God to heal me. God heal me today". He'll meet today. Today, in the presence of God heal me of that shame. If that's you today, would you just lift up your hands? Just lift up your hands. You can type it in the chat, if you're watching online, God heal me from my shame. Just type that in the chat. And we just pray.
God, we thank you. God, we thank you that if today's the beginning of the process, or if in this moment you move in our hearts in a way that only you can do. We ask God, heal us from the shame. God set us free, roll it away in the same way that our spiritual enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy, God, we thank you that you come to bring life and life more abundantly. God on this Easter weekend, when we celebrate the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of your son, Jesus, God in the same way you rolled away the stone, roll away the shame, help us find healing. We are not broken, God. Because of Jesus we are whole, and we are not sick. Because of Jesus we are healed. Because of Jesus we are not lost. Because of Jesus we are found, and God, we are not ashamed. Because of Jesus we're bold in our faith, sharing your love as you have loved us. God heal us from our shame.
As you keep praying today at all of our churches, I'm certain there are many of you that you feel so much like I did. I told you just about kind of three of the shaming moments in my life. And I always felt I'm just, I'm too dirty for God. I'm too bad for God. And I had no idea that the depths of my sin just exposed the breadth of God's love. There was nothing I could do to stop him from loving me. And there was nothing I could do that would cause him to love me anymore. He just loves, it's what he is. It's not just what he does. God is love. Want I want you to know and believe and feel is that he loves you. He really does. He loves you so much that he showed you on earth in the person of Jesus.
That was God, that was God in the flesh. Jesus, Jesus, who never sinned, perfect in every way. He became sin on the cross for us. He was the Lamb of God slain for our forgiveness. He became sin, even though he never sinned so he could die as the innocent sacrifice. And you know what, how did he do it? It was for the joy set before him. Let me tell you what that is. For some of you that that's this moment. The freedom you're about to experience. That was the joy that Jesus felt when he scorned the shame that hurt you. And he died and he rose again so your shame could be rolled away and your sins could be forgiven. And you could experience his heavenly love here on earth at this moment.
Wherever you're watching from today those who say, I want that forgiveness. I want that grace. I recognize that I've sent and I need a Savior. When you call on his name, Jesus hears your prayer. Listen, he forgives your sins as if you've never sinned before, gone, forgiven, separated as far as the East is from the West, you become new. The old is gone and the new is here. Wherever you're watching those who say yes, I need his grace. I want his mercy today. I turn away from my past. I give my life to Jesus. That's your prayer.
Lift your hands high right now all over the place and say yes. All over the place, we have people today coming to faith in Christ. We celebrate with you. Those of you online, just type it in the chat. I'm giving my life to Jesus. Just type that in right now. I'm giving my life to Jesus. And today as heaven rejoices with us would you pray with those around you? Pray out loud, just pray:
Heavenly father, forgive me for all my sins. Save me. Change me, make me brand new. God, fill me with your Spirit so I could know you, so I could walk in your love and I could show your heart. Thank you for new life. Thank you for healing me. Thank you for forgiving me. Thank you for freeing me from shame. I give my life to you in Jesus' name, I pray.