Should that surprise us? Shame was revealed at the precise moment that sin was ushered into this world in the perfect Garden of Eden with our first parents, Adam and Eve. However, the first mention of shame in the Bible is in Genesis 2:25 prior to the Fall.
The final verse given following the account of all God had created that was good simply states, “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”
A place with no shame…what would that be like? We can’t even fathom such a place apart from the Bible’s description of heaven. Our Enemy was present and involved with the first practice of sin and shame, and he continues to offer his identical deceitful tactics to tempt us with sinful desires to invoke consequential shame. Upon sinning against God by disobeying His one command given to them in the Garden, the book of Genesis describes Adam and Eve’s response:
"But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” (3:9-10) Hiding…that’s what shame immediately leads us to do. We hide because we are keenly aware of how another would view us in light of our shame. With shame come feelings of humiliation, embarrassment, guilt, failure, fear, and ultimately condemnation. For Adam and Eve, it was a hidden private sin with no one around to see. Yet wearing sin and shame as their garments, they were brought face to face with the Living God, who knows and sees all things hidden. Adam and Eve had no record of a past with all hope for the future, until sin tainted their future. The consequences were devastating for the first couple. God banished them from the sacred Garden, driving them out from the only good place they knew, but not without God displaying His grace by covering them through His own means. (Gen. 3:21, 23-24)
Fast forward in Scripture to John 8:1-11. Jesus is teaching in the sacred temple courts to a crowd who has gathered around Him. When suddenly, the religious leaders interrupt Him to bring before Him a woman caught in adultery. A hidden private sin made public by another with the motive of trying to accuse Jesus while using an accusation of the woman’s sin as bait. A woman wearing sin and shame as her garment is brought face to face with the Living God, who knows and sees all things hidden, including the hearts of both the religious one and the shamed one. All she had was a tainted past with no hope for the future. Her outward sin had been revealed, but Jesus sought to reveal the hidden sin in the hearts of those standing around her bringing condemnation.
Jesus plainly says to the crowd, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” (v. 7) The book of John then describes the response of the crowd, including the religious leaders, “…those who heard began to go away one at a time…until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.” (v. 9) Jesus asks the woman a question that sounds vaguely familiar to a question God asked in the Garden, then offers her words of grace.
“Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (v. 10-11) Sin and shame brought out of hiding…two parties involved…both encountered Jesus…both sent away by the perfect Savior. For those who chose to condemn another, Jesus made them aware of their own sinful hearts. For the one being condemned by another, Jesus made her aware of His compassionate grace and forgiveness through repentance in leaving her life of sin.
Whether Adam and Eve, the religious leaders, the woman caught in sin, or you and me – we are all sinners in need of a Perfect Savior. Jesus is the only true garment who can cover our sin and shame as we stand face to face with the Living God. God the Father provided the means of His Son. Jesus Christ is the sacrifice, shedding His blood on a shameful cross to clothe those who trust in Him for salvation and redemption. Jesus did not come into this sinful world to condemn and shame you. Through His love and sacrifice, He came to lead you to repentance through conviction by His Holy Spirit and offer His gifts of forgiveness and salvation. The Enemy wants to shame and enslave you bringing condemnation, but Jesus wants to save and free you in order that one day you will know and experience a place that has no more shame – His perfect, eternal heaven.
For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. (John 3:17)
So let go of your shame. Don’t be held captive by it any longer. Come into the presence of the Living God and allow Him to free your heart to embrace the grace, forgiveness, and salvation Jesus has for you through His work on the cross. In the words of the Apostle Paul:
“Anyone who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.” (Rom. 10:11) Tamar Miller