Shame: A Toxic World of Self-Deception

Jonathan Daugherty

Shame is the underlying belief that you are defective as a person. It is different from guilt. Guilt is actually good because it alerts us to inappropriate behaviors and can be a useful emotion to point us back to truth. But shame is destructive because it doesn’t act as an alarm for wrong behavior. Instead, it chooses to attack your personhood through the deception that screams into your soul, “You are a mistake.” It slides right by the behavior and lunges at your inner being.

This toxic self-deception can create great confusion, frustration, and even despair to the point of seeking relief through addictive patterns.

The entire premise of shame-based thinking is founded on lies. You are NOT a mistake. God took great care and precision in fashioning you after Himself (Gen. 1:26,27; Psa. 139:13-16). But shame wants to cause you to believe that at the core of your being your design is defective. If that were true, then God Himself is defective. Shame lies about who you really are.

But belief is a funny thing, isn’t it? Does the object of your belief need to actually be true to keep you from acting as if it were? No! A good example would be people who believe in Santa Claus. The fact that Santa doesn’t exist in reality (sorry) has no bearing on how people who believe he exists will act. The belief is what ultimately drives the behavior, not the object.

So, if shame has convinced you that you are defective at the core, a mere cosmic mistake, guess where your actions will follow? They will lead you down a path of self-hatred and woundedness because the belief says you should behave in self-destructive ways.

So, where do we form our beliefs? From our thoughts. Do you see the breadcrumb trail we are on now? Starting with your self-damaging behaviors, you wind a trail back to the underlying beliefs of shame, and then you must come to their place of origin: your thoughts. Thoughts are those ideas that we allow to remain in our minds until they become patterns of thinking. Imagine thoughts being to you what cud is to a cow. You bite off an idea you read in the paper, or in a passage of Scripture, a conversation you had with a friend, or from a sermon you just heard. You chew on it for a while and down it goes into your mind library. Over time you bring it back up to chew on it a little more and send it back down, this time even deeper than before. Do this long enough and you form a belief, whether the original idea was true or not.

Shame is toxic because it moves us to embrace false beliefs that affect how we view everything else in life. If you latch on to the belief that you are a mistake and defective at your core, every decision you make in life from that point forward will be tainted in some way by this false belief. This is why it is so important to combat the lies of shame with the truth of God’s Word.

We are told that God’s Word is alive and active, sharper than a double-edged sword (Heb. 4:12). Now that’s the kind of weapon we need to extract this cancer of shame! As you wield the Sword of the Spirit in all the areas where shame has deceived you, new patterns of thought based on truth will form new beliefs. Your new beliefs will move you toward actions consistent with your true identity and carry you farther and farther from your old, shame-based lifestyle. But in the same way it took time for you to create a belief system built on shame’s lies, it will take time to reverse such a system and develop truth-based beliefs.

The following are some good starting points for building a new belief system based on truth.
Think of these verses as ‘Truth Cud.’

‘ 2 Cor. 5:17 ‘ Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

‘ Galatians 2:20 ‘ I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

‘ 2 Peter 1:3 ‘ His [God’s] divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

Start chewing on truth today. As you bring truths such as these listed above back to your mind over time, you will not only develop a new system of belief, but you will also destroy the stronghold of shame in your life. And when shame is destroyed, purity and joy will thrive!

Need additional help in the battle for purity? See Every Man’s Battle.

Growing Deeper with Your Accountability Partner

Bob Parkins

If you have ever watched a documentary on wild animals, you probably know the two primary defenses these animals employ to protect themselves from predators. The animals that form herds or communities are constantly protected by their numbers. When attacked by prey, these animals flee danger together. It is those that don’t remain with the herd that are usually killed, typically the young, old, or weak.

1 Peter 5:8 describes our enemy [the devil] as a ‘roaring lion, who walks around, seeking someone to devour.’ This passage is not just an effective word-picture of the realities of daily temptation, but an important warning to flee and stick together.

Sticking together is absolutely an essential part of addiction recovery. James 5:16 tells us that in order to be healed, we need to be transparent with one another through confession. God created us to be in community and relationship with not just him, but one another.

Notice in Genesis 2, after God created Man, he created Woman because ‘it is not good that man be alone.’ God did not design us to be completely isolated from other people. Even though Adam was in intimate communion with God, he still was not complete until God gave him a partner.

Those who struggle with addictive behaviors especially tend to have difficulty forming and maintaining accountable relationships. They resist accountability because it is contrary to the way they have become comfortable living; they live as rugged individualists, or Lone Rangers. Most addicts don’t want to be held accountable. They don’t want anyone to look over their shoulder and want to be the boss of their own recovery program.

But those who do not remain accountable to others in their recovery simply don’t recover. This is not, however, just an issue of control; addicts are also hiding. Allowing another person access to look over your shoulder can leave one feeling somewhat naked or exposed. After hiding behind their masks for so long they have convinced themselves that no one will truly accept them the way they are – they are afraid of intimacy.

Accountability relationships should be supportive and encouraging relationships, although many do not fully utilize the support available to them. It is not uncommon for men to tell me they relapsed, and while they thought of calling their accountability partner for support, they didn’t. Sometimes they were afraid they would bother him, felt ashamed, or simply didn’t want to stop.

I once asked a group of men how they feel when they receive a call for support from their accountability partner. They told me they actually feel important when they are asked for help. It not only helps the person calling, but strengthens the partner as well. They feel valued, and more tightly bonded together as ‘brothers in arms.’ The Bible describes this as ‘iron sharpening iron'(Prov. 27:17).

For those who have difficulty calling their accountability partner when they are feeling tempted, I encourage you to call sooner. There comes a point when you already have decided to act out, and if a call for support is going to be made, it is essential to call way before reaching this point. One of the best ways to train yourself to call your accountability partner for help is to practice. Call your accountability partner when you have a victory. It is much easier to reach out when you feel victorious, rather than shamed. When you call before you are in trouble, it strengthens your confidence, relationship, and may help you prevail over or avoid temptation altogether. You are putting your fears to the test when you call your accountability partner and challenging those old beliefs that you will not be accepted as imperfect. How do you feel when your accountability partner calls you for help? If you feel at all valued, encouraged, strengthened, bonded or closer to him, chances are this is how he feels getting a call from you.

Together with your accountability partner, you are much more likely to succeed in your recovery (Ecc. 4:9-10; Prov. 17:17). For animals in the wild, fleeing danger together is a matter of life or death, and so it is also with us.

Need help finding an accountability partner? See Every Man’s Battle.
For Drug and Alcohol help, see New Life’s Recovery Place.

Celebrating God’s Attributes: His Strength

Dwayne Collins

“Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!”

We may all be familiar with this line. It is from the Superman series and is a description of the attributes of the famous caped hero and mild-mannered reporter for the Daily Planet, Clark Kent. It almost sounds like Superman is God. But borrowing from a line by the late Senator Lloyd Bensten during the 1988 Vice-Presidential debate, I know God, and Superman is no God.

His Strength Defined

God is omnipotent or all-powerful. This is one of His attributes. According to the dictionary, it means that God is almighty, having unlimited authority or influence, and unlimited power.

It is hard to imagine All-powerful. Even Superman’s strength was limited, especially if he was exposed to kryptonite. In our finite minds, it is hard to imagine an entity that has no limitations whatsoever. The task of comprehending God’s unlimited power is further hindered with the task of realizing that His power always was and always will be. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8).

But it is God who created everything, and it is God that holds it together. He created everything and He maintains everything (Colossians 1).

His Strength Manifested

We see God’s strength manifested in many ways. First we see it in the creation (Genesis 1). And we see that the only power that we, the created, have is the power granted by God (John 19). 

We also see God’s strength manifested in the plagues He placed on Egypt when Moses was asking Pharaoh to free the Israelites (Exodus 5).  It is manifested in the parting of the Red Sea and the manna from heaven (Exodus 14, 16). We see His power manifested in the story of Joseph (Genesis 37), and when Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den (Daniel 6). There are numerous illustrations in the Bible where God’s power is manifested.

We can see God’s power manifested in everyday life. God’s strength has been manifested in the improvements of society and the whole human race through of the introduction of schools, hospitals and charities. We have seen it in the improvement in the status of women and the abolishment of slavery. Proverbs 14:31 says, He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.

But by far the greatest manifestation of God’s power is in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He not only conquered death, but also assured us of eternal life. Regarding his Son,’who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 1:3-).

His Strength Purposed

God’s power and strength are not without purpose. All of His attributes work in harmony with each other and without His power His other attributes would be limited or voided. His power was purposed to select the Children of Israel as His chosen people (Exodus 19). His power also purposed that all who believed would be His chosen people. John 3:16 reads, ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’ We are all called to be His chosen people (Romans 9).

His Strength Celebrated

The fact that we as believers tend to forget all too often is that as His children, we share in His unlimited power. Through His power, we are able to do anything. Matthew 19:26 says, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” As His children, even though we experience sufferings, we need not fear the suffering. Daniel 3:17 reads, If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it. If we face danger, we need not fear the danger. We are kept by His mighty power. (1 Peter 1).

God is all-powerful. By His power we are created. By His power we are cared for. By His power we are assured of eternal life with Him. Because of the Power of God, it is time to celebrate. Exodus 9:16 says, But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.

Let us all take time to join in celebrating His attribute: His Strength, His Power.

“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” (Revelation. 4:11).