Understanding toxic shame is not the primary objective of this book. Although it may bring enormous relief, merely ridding our lives of collateral damage caused by toxic shame does not automatically lead to a godly outcome. We must be even more intentional to fill the vacated spaces in our soul where toxic shame once dwelled, with the truths, nature, and character of Jesus Christ and His spirit. In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus speaks very clearly of the necessity that we allow God to redefine these inner voids and vacuums before the enemy is able to steal them back:
“When an evil spirit leaves a person, it goes into the desert, seeking rest but finding none. Then it says, ‘I will return to the person I came from.’ So, it returns and finds its former home empty, swept, and in order. Then the spirit finds seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they all enter the person and live there. And so that person is worse off than before” (Matthew 12:43-45 NLT).
Whether you are familiar with contemplating the spiritual world or not, the message of this passage is still relevant for every one of us. Our soul will never be empty. It will contain the beliefs and truths that we choose to build our lives upon – either Truths imparted by God’s word and Spirit, or truths internalized through our childhood past and our adult lives.
The Worst Pandemic in History
Shame has been a reality of the human condition – both productively and toxically – for as long as mankind has inhabited this planet. No person has ever escaped the influence of shame, with the exception of Jesus himself. The souls of people from every generation, nationality, ethnicity, race, and gender have been shaped the impact of shame on their mind, their will, and their emotions.
So, does that mean we have our ancestors to blame for our personal issues? Is the toxic shame in my life the result of my parents’ having failed me in some way? No, not exactly. The Bible’s response to these questions is found within the narrative of the Ten Commandments.
“I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands” (Deuteronomy 5:9-10 NLT).
Simplistically, sin is every human being’s affinity for self rather than submission to God. It might seem that this passage is telling us that all of the sins of our parents and grandparents and great-grandparents land in our lap. So, are we really responsible for their sins? Will we one day stand before God and be held accountable for the things our ancestors did?”
No. You and I are not responsible or accountable for our ancestors’ sins, especially as it relates to our eternal salvation. But… we are absolutely responsible for what we do with the sin we’ve inherited from our forefathers.
Sin is an offense against God – birthed in the heart and revealed in our thoughts, words, decisions, and actions.
“Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (James 1:15 NIV).
We have all missed the mark of sinless perfection. And the Bible says there is a consequence for this:
“For the wages (results of wrongdoing) of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23 NIV).
Generational Shame: The Result of Inherited Sin
There is only one solution for our sin problem – faith alone in Jesus Christ alone! For every person who has placed their faith in Jesus Christ, the eternal, spiritual consequence of their sin was paid in full at the cross. Nevertheless, there remains the inescapable effect of human sin on this earth – brokenness of the soul of every man, woman, and child. Some tragically shattered; others only slightly damaged. But all are broken.
This is the legacy of generational shame: the trickle-down effects of disobedience to God. Adam and Eve immediately experienced shame when they sinned by disobeying God. The Bible describes them hiding behind some trees in the garden (see Genesis 3:8), wallowing in shame from the sin that was spawned in their deceived hearts.
This began a pattern every one of us knows all too well, albeit countless generations since the Garden: A perpetual look where shame is both the “front door” into our sin and the “back door” byproduct of our sin. A vicious, self-sustaining cycle of sin and shame.
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