Shame? Guilt?


What is shame in a biblical sense? How does shame impact our relationship with God and others? How is shame related to guilt? Join me as I consider the implications of shame. The Hebrew culture of the Old Testament viewed shame as a condition that impacted a person’s physical nature.

Lawrence Goodman explains:

In the Hebrew imagination, shame was a state of physical suffering on a continuum with death. It led to a degradation of the body akin to how a body decomposes after burial.

It was the later Greek and western philosophies that separate the inner and outer natures of humans. Lawrence links emotions with outward signs:

Instead, emotions manifested themselves in physical activity or an outward sign on the body. Feelings weren’t an immaterial experience hidden within one’s inner depths. They displayed themselves publicly and changed your relationships with the people around you.

Shame leads to relational withdraw and death. Can you perceive when a person is feeling shame? When someone withdraws from others and stops reaching out it should move us to consider why. Do we respond with patience, grace, and desire for restoration? Or do we harshly criticize and judge?

The Holy Bible, Berean Standard Bible, BSB
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Used by Permission. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

Highlights mine on texts to assist reader

What is Shame?

Shame is an intense emotion wherein a person feels as though he or she has done something wrong or foolish; and consequently views themselves as being “wrong, unacceptable”. It’s important to understand the feeling of shame in relation to well being! Have you ever been ashamed or shamed by others? How is shame different from guilt?

Guilt involves a specific action. Shame has more to do with our identity. Shame impacts how we view and present ourselves to others. Guilt leads to repentance when acknowledged. Shame leads to hiding/withdrawing from relationship.

Shame leads to self-pity and distance from God and others

Shame that leads to self-righteousness and self-pity leads to destruction. For an example consider the accounts of King Saul vrs King David, and Judas vrs Peter. All sinned, felt guilty, but who came before God seeking grace and restoration? Which ones were restored and continued in living for God? For more about why God favored David over Saul:

Repentance is what matters because it leads to restoration! Repentance involves turning away from self-righteousness and religion to receive grace from Christ and God! Repentance means turns to God instead of away from Him. God’s grace is available, are you seeking Him?

Shame vrs repentance & self-pity vrs trust in God’s grace

Think about this for a moment: are my sins and mistakes greater than God’s grace and desire to restore/redeem me? Judas knew about God’s grace and mercy in Christ, yet turned away and took his own life in shame. King Saul became bitter and violently persecuted an innocent David. Tragically, Saul admits that he is wrong (1 Samuel 24 and then again in chapter 26), yet refuses to change. Saul takes his own life in shame as his reign ends in military defeat.

God’s Desire to Save and Restore

What is God’s desire for you? Consider that He sent His Only Son Jesus to redeem us from our sins and eternal separation/death from Him. Guilt (conviction) works for us when it leads to repentance and restoration. Shame is destructive because it leads us to hide or run away from God/others. God desires people are saved and come to His truth! Consider Paul’s writing to Timothy:

1 Timothy 2:1-6 A Call to Prayer

1First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be offered for everyone— 2for kings and all those in authority—so that we may lead tranquil and quiet lives in all godliness and dignity. 3This is good and pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

5For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6who gave Himself as a ransom for all—the testimony that was given at just the right time.

Paul encourages us to pray and intercede for others–especially those in authority. Recall that he and many millions were under the pagan Roman emperors and government. Then he declares of God’s mighty grace and desire to save. What is the “knowledge of the truth”? What is the truth of the Gospel?

God makes a way to restoration through Jesus! God desires to save and for us to come to know the truth! Remember when Jesus tell us that we will know the truth and the truth will set us free? The truth in this case is a relationship with Him! Are you trusting in God to remove your shame and guilt?

Shame, Mental Health, OCD, Depression, and Anxiety

We are wise to discern reason(s) behind our shame! Shame is an indicator of mental health. It’s important to understand why we are feeling ashamed. If you’re experiencing anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive thoughts, and facing difficulties in life then shame reveals deeper issues. Trusting in God’s grace is vital!

I would advise that you seek professional counseling and appropriate medical treatment to explore and properly deal with the shame you’re experiencing.

Our emotional health impacts our spiritual and physical health. Mark DeJesus has numerous videos on You Tube wherein he discusses shame and restoring your relationship with God. Check out his channel:

He defines and addresses shame in this video:


God seeks to restore us when we go astray! Feeling guilt leads us to cry out for His mercy and grace! Since He faithfully restores us, we then then seek opportunities to restore others. Receiving forgiveness, grace, and mercy leads us to repent and seek Christ as well as live in a manner that honors God. May God’s grace, mercy, compassion, and kindness draw you closer to Him!

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Just a pilgrim walking each day with Jesus and hoping to encourage others along the path.

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