“Shame is the leverage of hell. It’s the cruelest kind of condemnation because it begins inside your own heart. All your life shame has stalked you. Shame is fear wearing a righteous mask. It would have no power over you if you weren’t afraid. Hope crushes shame because hope crushes fear.”

What’s the difference between shame and conviction? Paul J. Pastor says shame and conviction are polar opposites, one is positive and one is negative.

“Shame is such an interesting thing. Whatever thing in your life brings shame, whether it’s something you’ve done or something you’ve left undone, it’s simply not of God.”

Why does it sometimes seem like shame is from God?

“Sometimes there’s this false sense of counterfeit righteousness that comes with it, almost this pharisaical sense that, well, I wouldn’t be feeling this way if I did what was right.”

Paul says that shame is the antithesis of conviction that is brought about by God.

“Conviction that comes by the Spirit helps teach us. It helps restore us. It helps discipline us, but it always leads us outside of ourselves. Conviction always points us to something bigger than ourselves, to something that is beyond us and something that is life giving.”

However, shame is exactly the opposite.

“It curves back in on itself through fear so that a person who is experiencing it is constantly looking inward, inward, inward, instead of outward or upward.”

Even though we might feel like our movement inward could be restorative, it’s not.

“It really is a trail that goes in circles and you can never get out of that cycle without being delivered from it by God’s voice which simply says, don’t fear, look to me, I’ve taken care of this in Jesus, I will lead you to something new.”

Find that hard to believe? Paul says you’re in good company.

“It’s hard to believe because we feel like we know ourselves better than God does, but that’s simply not true. While we focus on our iniquity that brings us shame, God doesn’t look at us through that lens. He looks at us through the lens of His Son.”


Paul J. Pastor is a full time writer and book editor. He also served as associate editor for Christianity Today’s publications. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at Multnomah University in Portland, teaching classes on the Holy Spirit and biblical interpretation. Paul lives in Oregon’s majestic Columbia River Gorge with his wife and three children.

Key Scripture: Hebrews 3:15

Featured Songs: Jesus, We Love You – Bethel Music; Amazed – Lincoln Brewster; Restless – Audrey Assad

Leaving the life of shame

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