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November 26, 2023 28 mins

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Many people suffer from crippling guilt and shame. What is the difference between the two and is there a way out of it?

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:06):
Thank you, thank you.

Speaker 2 (00:12):
Good morning.
Matthew Perry starred in thehit show Friends from 1994 to
In 2022, he wrote a memoirFriends Lovers and the Big,
terrible Thing.
He was open about hisaddictions and the toll it took
on his life and relationships.

Heather Haverleski from the NewYork Times, in November 2023,
wrote a review of the book.
She said shame is a dominanttheme in Mr Perry's memoir and
in his life.
He seems to adore his closefriends and those around him in
the hope that they might somedayforgive him for what he put

them through because of hisaddictions.
Yet the one person Mr Perrycannot forgive is himself.
His life seemed to have becomea manifestation of his shame, a
guilty burden that he couldn'tlive up to.
And then she writes these wordsshame has the power to poison
all the supposed benefits ofsuccess.

It turns money intoself-destruction, fame into a
lifelong curse and love intofear of being left behind once
you're recognized as the awful,lazy, selfish person you presume
yourself to be.
This morning, in a sermonentitled the Seamless Tunic, I

want to look at the issue ofguilt and shame.
This is going to be a verydifficult sermon to listen to,
but I think it'll be aliberating sermon because,
unless we put our finger on whatthe problem exactly is, we may
not be able to find relief.
I'm going to actually peel backlayers of our facade and come

right down to the core of who weare.
Our text for this morning isJohn, chapter 19 and verses 23
and 24.
If you have your Bibles, pleaseturn to John chapter 19.
If you have a phone, you'rewelcome to turn to John chapter
19 and you can keep your Bibleopen to this passage and we will
look at it.
John chapter 19, 23 to 24.

Let me tell you the context ofthe story.
The crucifixion was just over.
The Roman authorities, at thebehest of the Jewish leaders,
allowed for Jesus to die bycrucifixion, and so the Roman
soldiers took Jesus outside thecity gates and they crucified
Four soldiers crucified him andonce they crucified him, they

were dividing up the spoils.
Let's read verses 23 and 24.
When the soldiers had crucifiedJesus, they took his garments
and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier.
Also his tunic.
But the tunic was seamless,woven in one piece from top to
So they said to one another letus not tear it, but cast lots

for it to see whose it shall be.
This was to fulfill theScripture, which says they
divided my garments among themand for my clothing they cast
I've divided the sermon intothree parts.
In the first part, we will lookat the question what is shame.
In the second part, we willlook at three different kinds of

shame and in the third part, wewill look at a remedy for shame
First, let's look at thequestion what is shame?
Shame is an uncomfortablefeeling of humiliation caused by
an awareness of wrongdoing,hurt, ego or guilt.
Now, if I divide the world intothree broad categories based on

this, the Middle Eastern regionwould be a fear and honor based
The Middle Eastern region, theWestern culture, would be a
guilt based culture, loosely.

And the Eastern cultures,loosely, would be a shame based
So you may ask me well, what isthe difference between guilt
and shame?
Guilt says I did something wrong, shame says I am something

Guilt is about doing, shame isabout being, and there's a great
example that Paul gives inRomans, chapter 7, that chapter
where Paul expresses hiscomplete inability to do what is
right and his constantproclivity to continue to do

that which is wrong.
He says this in Romans, chapter7 and verse 19,.
For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want.
This is what I keep on doing,and this is an example of guilt.
He's talking about doing andnot doing.
It is about doing, and fiveverses later, in verse 24, he

says wretched man that I am, whowill deliver me from this body
of death?
You see, that is shame.
He goes from saying I am notdoing what I'm supposed to do
and I do what I'm not supposedto do to saying I am a wretched
He goes from doing to being.
It's as if guilt is a firststep after sin and then, soon

after that, shame follows.
In the second part of the sermonI want to look at kinds of
There may be many differentkinds of shame, but these were
the only three that I could comeup with.
I want to talk about threedifferent kinds of shame and the
responses that we can have tothese three different kinds of
The first one is what I willcall the shame of identity.

The shame of identity Shame inwho you are.
So you may have shame becauseof your family, background.
Shame because of yourpersonality.
Shame because of your looks.
Shame because of, maybe, acongenital disease.
You had shame because of agenetic condition that you have,

things that you have absolutelyno control over.
The shame of identity.
If you have teenagers, it maybe tempting to think that they
have no shame at all, but it'snot completely true.
Teenagers may be ashamed oftheir parents, ashamed of their

economic status, ashamed oftheir background, ashamed of
their heritage, and that is theshame of identity.
On the Christian side, beingashamed of Jesus is a shame of
Being ashamed of being aChristian is a shame of identity

Paul says in Romans, chapter 1,verse 16, for I am not ashamed
of the gospel, for it is a powerof God for salvation to
everyone who believes.
He's talking about the shame ofidentity.
What is the response that we canhave to the shame of identity?
Well, there's nothing you cando.

If I have a certain personalityor a genetic condition, the
best I can do is work with it.
I cannot change my identity inthat sense because I am born
with it.
There's no point in havingshame.
The best we can do is work withit.
The second kind of shame I'llcall it the shame of activity

Shame in what you have done.
So this also includes the shameof inactivity, where you're
supposed to do something and youdidn't do it and therefore you
have shame.
So it's shame of activity orinactivity.
Now, shame is a natural outflowof sin.
In Ezra, chapter 9, verse 6,ezra says I am ashamed and

blushed to lift my face to you,my God, for our iniquities have
risen higher than our heads andour guilt has mounted up to the
You see, in this one versethere are all three components.
He talks about his iniquity,which is sin, and he talks about
guilt that comes out of doingsin, and then he talks about

shame that comes out of thatguilt.
In fact, shame was one of themain responses that Adam and Eve
had when they sinned in theGarden of Eden.
In the Bible, shame.
This kind of shame is normallycaused by a public exposure of
But, as we know, we can allhave personal shame from things

that we have done long ago andwe can all look back at certain
things that we have done, manyof which are secret and if they
came to light it would result ina significant public
And even if nobody else knowsabout it, we still carry that
guilt and that shame.

What is the response that wecan have to the shame of
activity Sin is connected toshame and sorrow so that we can
turn away from sin, so that wecan repent and confess and turn
closer to God.
In Jeremiah, chapter 6, verse15, god says Were they ashamed

when they committed abomination?
No, they were not at allashamed.
They did not know how to blush.
Therefore, they shall fallamong those who fall.
God wants us to use the shameof activity to say no to sin, to
confess, to repent and to turnto God.

In his 1989 book Crime, shameand Reintegration, australian
criminologist John Bradwate putsforward a theoretical model for
dealing with crime at theindividual and the community
He uses sociological theoriesof crime to explain why some
societies have higher levels ofcrime and why certain people are

more likely to commit crime andhow communities can deal with
And the thesis of his argumentis that higher crime is seen in
communities where crime is notshamed.
And he says that if criminalsare made to feel ashamed of
their crimes and they will beable to recover and otherwise

they will continue theircriminal activities without
So the proper response to theshame of activity is to turn
away from sin because of thatshame and turn toward God.
Third, I'll call it the shame ofpassivity Shame in what was
done to you.
You didn't do it.

Something was done to you.
You were a passive recipient ofthe sin of the deed.
In the late 1970s, annika Lucaswas just a six-year-old when she
was sold into a Belgianaristocratic ring where boys and
girls suffered horrific abuses.

She endured this for five yearsand, through a series of events
, she finally managed to escapeand come to New York City.
And in 2014, she started anorganization to help those
children who were similarlystuck into these kinds of rings
and who were vilified andfalsely accused and incarcerated

And she said of her time ofabuse as a child.
And she writes I was a shy girlwith few friends at school and
at home no one cared for me.
I received more attention inthe network.
It felt good to be viewed asthe most perfectly beautiful
object by powerful people withhigh standards in taste.

This was the only positive inmy life and I clung to it as my
only raft to keep me fromdrowning in a sea of shame and
You see, ladies and gentlemen,she had the shame of passivity.
She didn't do anything, but shewas suffering in shame because

sin was done to her.
Sin always causes shame.
If it's something that you did,there is shame.
If something that is done toyou, you still feel shame.
So what is the response that wecan have to the shame of
Well, you didn't do it, youcannot change it and it's not

your fault.
In the 1997 drama Good WillHunting.
Will Hunting is a janitor atMIT, played by Matt Damon, with
genius level intellect, but hewas an orphan who came from a
very troubled and very abusivebackground.
As a result, he struggles withemotional issues and

relationship and psychologicalissues.
Dr Sean McGuire, played byRobin Williams, is a therapist
and professor who takes on thechallenge of helping Will
confront the interaction betweenthe two of them.

Speaker 1 (14:10):
It's not your fault.
Look at me, son.
It's not your fault.
I know it's not your fault.
I know it's not your fault.

I know it's not your fault.
Alright, it's not your fault.
It's not your fault.
It's not your fault.
It's not you.
It's not your fault.
It's not your fault.

Oh my God.

Speaker 2 (15:28):
There may be people here who are listening to me,
who have suffered abuse and arerecipients of sin.
I'm going to tell you thismorning it's not your fault, but
that by itself is not enough totake away the shame.

So we come to the third part ofthis sermon, the remedy for
What is the remedy for shame?
Heather Haveri-Leskey, from theNew York Times, in concluding
the story of Matthew Perry,writes these words what is the
cure for all his shame?
Mercifully, mr Perry seems tofigure it out eventually to

forgive yourself.
I wish it were that simple andI wish it were easy to forgive
oneself, and I wish forgivingoneself would take care of all
three aspects of shame.
But this morning I want to tellyou that Jesus wants to set you
free from your guilt and yourshame, and he does it in three

He took on the shame ofidentity when he chose to become
a human being.
In Philippians, chapter 2,verses 5 through 8, it says
Christ Jesus who, though he wasin the form of God, did not
count equality with God a thingto be grasped, but emptied

himself by taking the form of aservant, being born in the
likeness of men and being foundin human form.
He humbled himself by becomingobedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Jesus took on the shame ofidentity when he chose to become
a human being and he identifiedhimself as a human being.

A four-year-old girl in HotSprings, arkansas, lived with
her mother, jennifer Denin, andher mother's friend, clarence
Reed, but the two of them didnot treat this little girl well
when officers found her.
This little girl had lots ofevidence of physical abuse and

improper behavior done againsther.
But that was not the onlystartling thing.
When a social worker asked herwhat is your name, this little
four-year-old girl answeredidiot.
You see, ladies and gentlemen,the only word she heard
addressed to her.

She thought that was her name.
We may carry around all kinds ofnames, maybe names people have
told you over time.
You may carry around a namethat you heard 30 years ago and

you can't get rid of it.
We may give ourselves certainnames and we think those names
apply to us.
But in 2 Corinthians, chapter 5, verse 17, paul says Therefore,
if anyone is in Christ, he is anew creation.

The old has passed away, behold, the new has come.
And in John, chapter 1, verse12,.
But to all who did receive him.
Who believed in his name, hegave the right to become
children of God.
Your name is not whatever youhave called yourself or whatever
somebody else has called you.
Your name is child of God.

If God is the greatest beingthat exists, then being a child
of God is the greatest privilegethat one can have.
Jesus took on the shame ofidentity.
He makes us a new creation, hechanges our name and he changes
our identity.
Secondly, jesus took on theshame of activity on our behalf.

Even though he was without sin,he was counted as a sinner and
he felt the shame of sin.
In 2 Corinthians, chapter 5,verse 21, paul says For our sake
, god made him to be sin, whoknew no sin, so that in him we
might become the righteousnessof God.

Jesus had no sin, but he tookour sin.
And when he took our sin, hetook on the shame of activity
even though he did no sin.
James Richardson did not want toreturn to his hometown of
Arcadia, florida, andunderstandably so.

He needed a long time to healbecause, you see, in 1967, he
was convicted of poisoning hisseven children and he spent 21
years locked up, but it wasfacilitated by the prosecution
and the authorities.

Several years after he was putin prison, a woman who was the
babysitter of his seven childrenconfessed to the crime.
She had laced their food withpesticide.
And so after 21 years, jamesRichardson was finally released.
But he had suffered.
He had paid for crimes that hedid not commit and he suffered

the shame of activity when hedid not commit a crime.
Like James Richardson, jesustook on the shame of activity
for sins he did not commit andtherefore he can free us from
the shame of activity.
Thirdly, jesus took on theshame of passivity when he was

abused and did not respond to it.
Jesus took on the shame ofpassivity when he was abused and
did not respond to it.
Let's come back to the originalverse that we read at the
beginning In John, chapter 19and verse 23,.
We read this when the soldiershad crucified Jesus, they took

his garments and divided theminto four parts, one part for
each soldier, also his tunic,but the tunic was seamless,
woven in one piece from top tobottom.
There were four soldiers thatcrucified him.
These were Roman soldiers andthey didn't care that they were

crucifying the creator of theuniverse.
For them it was just anotherprisoner, and so after they
crucified him, they had fourarticles of clothing.
There was Jesus' headgear,there was his outer cloak, there
was his girdle or the belt, andhis shoes.
These four things were kind ofequal in value.

So the four soldiers dividedthese four things amongst
But then there was a fiftharticle of clothing, which was
the seamless tunic.
How would they divide that up?
According to Jewish custom,according to the Talmudic tax
rate, yomah, on the day ofatonement especially, the high

priest, was supposed to wearthis dress that was not sewn but
woven when he came to perform asacrifice.
So here was Jesus as the highpriest performing the sacrifice,
dressed like a Jewish priest.
But there was one problem,wasn't there?

Jesus was not wearing theundergarment.
Crucifixion was undoubtedly themost shameful way to die in the

first century.
In Hebrews, chapter 12, verse 2, it reads Looking to Jesus, the
founder and perfecter of ourfaith, who, for the joy that was
set before him, endured thecross, despising the shame.
To own a leader who wascrucified was to own the shame

of the crucifixion, and so theJews could not fathom a Messiah
who was crucified.
In 1 Corinthians up to 1, verse23, paul says but we preach
Christ crucified, a stumblingblock to the Jews.
Archaeologists have uncoveredan engraving from the ancient

Roman era and in this engravingthere is a man who was crucified
, but that man has the head of adonkey, and a little beyond him
is another man bowing down inworship.
And then at the bottom it saysAlex Aminos worships God.
This was obviously one slavemaking fun of another slave

because who was a Christian?
Because at that timecrucifixion was the most
shameful way to die.
Ladies and gentlemen, jesus tookon the shame of identity.
He took on the shame ofactivity.
He took on the shame ofpassivity so that he can set us

all free.
He took our shame and theseamless tunic shows that he
took our shame to the fullestextent.
I'm going to ask for a responseto this sermon.
If there's anyone here who hassuffered shame or is suffering

shame and wants to be set free,you can stand up and we will
pray together.
If you have suffered from theshame of identity, you can stand
up, we will pray together.
If you've suffered from theshame of activity, you can stand

up and we'll pray together.
If you've suffered from theshame of passivity things you
did not do but somethinghappened to you you can also
stand up and we will praytogether.
Also, if there's anyone who'snever invited Jesus into your
life, you can also stand up andwe will pray together.

If there's anyone here who'snever invited Jesus into your
life, you can pray this prayerafter me.
It's not a magical prayer, butif it's a prayer that you mean,
that comes from the bottom ofyour heart, god will answer it

and fulfill the promise.
You can pray something likethis I am a sinner and I cannot
save myself, and I have theshame of activity.

My identity is as a sinner and Ihave the shame of identity.
Thank you for your death.
Thank you for your shamefuldeath, by which you took my sin
and my shame.
I ask you to come into my lifeand make me complete.

Thank you for your resurrectionthat gives me hope for eternal
Heavenly Father, I pray for therest of us that are standing up.
We've suffered all kinds ofshame.
I pray for those of us who havesuffered the shame of activity.

Help us to use that shame toturn away from sin, to confess
and repent and turn toward God.
I pray for those of us whosuffer the shame of identity.
Thank you that you took onyourself the identity of a human

Thank you that you took shameupon yourself to set me free.
I pray for those who suffer theshame of passivity.
There's nothing that they didwrong.
There's nothing that we didwrong, but we suffer in shame
I pray, lord, that in the nameof Jesus, you would set us free.

Thank you for the shame thatyou have taken so that we can be
I pray that each personstanding up would be set free
from the shame that they carryaround.
I pray that they would live inthe freedom that you want us to
live in.
In Jesus' name, I pray amen.
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