Shame and the Gospel (Mark Sermon 41)
February 12, 2023 | Andy Davis
Sanctification, Indwelling Sin
When we sin, we should feel a burning sense of shame that keeps us from sinning again, at the same time, we should never feel ashamed of the Gospel.
- SERMON TRANSCRIPT -
This morning as we look one last time to the end of this chapter, Mark 8, and we're zeroing in on this one verse, Mark 8:38, and as we do, we're looking at one of the most powerful forces that shapes human experience, and that is the issue of shame. Shame. In Nathaniel Hawthorne's 19th century novel, The Scarlet Letter, that terrible symbol of sin, the scarlet letter A, representative of adultery was commanded by the magistrates to be stitched onto the dress of Hester Prynne, the young woman who was discovered to have born a child by adultery. The sentence was combined with the command that Hester should stand on a raised platform holding her infant daughter and displaying the scarlet letter for all to see.
Clearly the goal was her public shaming in front of the entire population as a warning to all. She was required to wear this public emblem of her personal shame for the rest of her life. The author, Nathaniel Hawthorne, I think had an agenda concerning New England puritanism. He did tap into a very powerful force, and that is a fear of public shame.
In our culture, public shaming takes a very different approach. It still powerfully exists, because anyone who doesn't fit into the popular narrative of morality in our day and our age will be shamed, publicly shamed, at least in the digital universe, forever. Made to stand up and bear public ridicule on some social media platform.
But the moral code behind it has dramatically changed. Christians will become more and more ostracized if we don't agree with the world's views on all the most controversial societal issues, whether it's sexuality or gender, feminism, race relations, politics, climate change, sexual harassment, child abuse, undocumented aliens, or what have you. Shame is one of the most powerful forces shaping human personality, and that's the topic of today's sermon.
It starts with a shame that Jesus mentions that we should never feel, ministered by a world that ought to be ashamed and isn't. Look at Jesus' words, one of the most convicting passages in the Gospel of Mark, indeed, really in all of scripture, Mark 8:38, "If anyone is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His Father's glory with the holy angels."
Years ago, I memorized that scripture by itself, so that I would not ever be ashamed of the gospel, in a workplace setting or in my neighborhood. Because I feel the temptation to be ashamed of Christ and His words, I feel it acutely. Jesus is severely warning His disciples against any feelings of shame about Him and about the gospel. They are going to be His messengers to a wicked and hostile world, and the world will hate them for it, because it hated Jesus first. But Jesus warns them that no true disciple of His should ever feel ashamed of Him or of His words in such a wicked world.
So for me, as I look at this, I wanted to expand and look more generally at the topic of shame to try to understand it, because I think it needs a lot of biblical instruction. There's a lot of confusion about it. So with Jesus's statement as a starting point, and really is the center point, I want to expand and learn what the Bible teaches about shame in a number of ways. It's going to expand into five points.
First, the world ought to be ashamed and isn't. Secondly, Christians ought to be ashamed and are. Third, Jesus is not ashamed of Christians. Fourth, Christians ought never to be ashamed of Jesus. And fifth, Christians in heaven will feel no shame at all. Let's walk through these.
The context here, Jesus is training His apostles for their future ministry of the Word to the ends of the earth. He elicits from them the world's faulty, inadequate assessment of Him. Who do people say that I am? And they give their answers. Some say this, some say that. Then He asks them the most important question any of us will ever face, "What about you? Who do you say that I am?" Peter speaks as their spokesman and ours, saying with his full testimony, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Then Jesus declares His future death, which is the core of His saving mission, that He will be rejected, despised, mocked, beaten, condemned, publicly shamed and killed, and then His future glory completely vindicated by His glorious resurrection. Peter cannot comprehend this, cannot accept it, and rebukes Him privately for saying this. So Jesus turns and rebukes Peter publicly in front of everyone as a spokesman for Satan. Then He strongly charges His disciples with the cost of following Him. You must deny yourself, you must take up your cross. You must follow Jesus.
He exposes the core affections of a saved heart. If you love your life, you'll lose it, but if you lose your life, you'll save it eternally. Then He reveals a proper evaluation we should have of our souls relative to the world. The soul is worth infinitely more than anything there is in the material world. With one last verse in this section, He gives a warning against currying the world's favor by aligning ourselves with its value system concerning Christ, so we can avoid the shaming mechanism it's going to heap on us. "For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man, also, be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels."
I. The World Ought To Be Ashamed . . .and Isn’t
Let's start with the first point. The world ought to be ashamed and isn't. Look at Jesus' evaluation of the world in a very potent statement, "This adulterous and sinful generation," He calls it. This world is deeply immersed in sin. Jesus calls it adulterous. The image is one of the deep, intimate love every single person should have for God. It's likened to the intimate love between a wife and her husband. God likened Israel to His bride in many places. For example, Isaiah 62:5, "As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you." But Israel has gone after idols. She was spiritually adulterous, both Ezekiel and Josiah liken Israel's lust for idols to a wayward and promiscuous wife running after other lovers, committing adultery. All sin therefore is ultimately spiritual adultery. We are an adulterous and sinful generation. The entire world is adulterous in the same way.
"Israel has gone after idols. She was spiritually adulterous, both Ezekiel and Josiah liken Israel's lust for idols to a wayward and promiscuous wife running after other lovers, committing adultery. All sin therefore is ultimately spiritual adultery."
Jesus highlights the great wickedness of this world, a world that ought to be ashamed of itself, but it isn't. It isn't. So what is shame? Let's take a minute and define it. Shame is a painful emotion caused by a consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety. It's a painful emotion caused by a consciousness of guilt or a shortcoming or impropriety. Shame always involves an audience, an onlooking audience, a sense of public censure, a stripping of honor before an onlooking crowd of disapproving people. There's disgraced, dishonor, reproach, the crowd being shocked, pouring out disapproval. Fundamental to shame is the sense of the respect and affection that we desire in the eyes of others, especially God. That God Himself and that other people would see us well, honor us, think well of us, speak well of us. To have the exact opposite, to be despised, to be publicly stripped of all honor is among the greatest fears of the human heart.
God Almighty, definitely in many places, includes shame in judging sin. There are many verses I could use to prove this, but when speaking of Israel's forsaking of the true God to fall idols, he says in Jeremiah 2:11-13, "My people have exchanged their glory for worthless idols. Be appalled at this O heavens, and shutter with great horror," declares the Lord. "My people have committed two sins. They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water."
When He says, "Be appalled at this, O heavens," He's calling on the heavens to witness His people in their shame in what they've done. To look on Israel's sin with horror and to shutter. Isaiah does the same thing, "Hear, O heavens! Listen, O earth!"
The first mention of shame in the Bible appears very early, and it's mentioned negatively. “The man and his wife were both naked and they felt no shame.” They wouldn't have known what the word was at that moment, but it's ominous, because Moses, writing centuries later, knew exactly what it was to feel shame, and the first experience of shame came in the very next chapter. Tragically, Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit and they felt shame. First, horizontally toward each other and then vertically toward God. The eyes of both of them were open and they realized they were naked, so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. The word shame isn't mentioned there, but it's clearly implied, especially since it was just mentioned a few verses before that. Then all the more when God comes and calls to the man, "Where are you?" and he answered, "I heard you in the garden. I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid." But tragically, the disease of sin, specifically, attacks the sense of shame, and after a while, sinners feel no shame whatever for their sins. The world corrupts shame. As sin progressed in the world, people became more and more hardened concerning their sins. Genesis 6 says that before the flood, the thoughts of men's hearts were only evil, all the time, continually.
The general principle in redemptive history has been the greater the evil in the hearts of the people, the more they throw off shame entirely and actually boast in the evil things they do. Jeremiah 6:15, "Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all. They do not even know how to blush." Or again, at the end of Romans 1, when there's a terrible catalog of sins, twenty-one sins listed, Paul says this, "They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity." Then verse 32, "Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things, but,” listen, “they also approve of those who practice them."
The word “approve” means “to have pleasure in”. They actually delight in things that they ought to be ashamed of. Paul talks about this in Philippians 3:19, speaking of lost people, "Their destiny is destruction, their God is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame." Paul means that these depraved people actually glory in what should be making them feel feelings of shame. People then boast with great glee over sexual promiscuity or getting away with the perfect crime or fits of rage as demonstrations of power, that kind of thing.
This defective shame is part of what the Bible calls a “seared conscience". 1 Timothy 4:2, Paul mentions, "Hypocritical liars whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron." A seared conscience means they have no feeling in their conscience. To some degree they are like lepers. Leprosy is a nerve disease which manifests in a lot of ways, but one of them is that you lose the sensation of pain. You could walk the entire day with a rock in your shoe that's just gouging your flesh, and you never feel it. The end of the day you take off your shoe and your shoe is filled with blood, your own blood, but you never felt anything. I think that's what it means to have a hard heart, a seared conscience, you don't feel anything, but actually they're still aware of the existence of a sense of guilt and shame as a reality. They're aware of that. Thus, they often try to make righteous people feel ashamed of not joining with them in their own sinful actions. They want everyone to join their party with them. 1 Peter 4:3-4 says to Christian people, "You've spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do, living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing, and detestable idolatry. They think it's strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation and they heap abuse on you.” “Why aren't you joining in what we're doing here?” They heap abuse on anyone who won't join in their sins. Our culture will become even violent toward people who don't agree with them, who don't, for example, in Pride month celebrate homosexuality. They don't get on board with LGBTQ, et cetera. If you don't get on board, they'll heap shame on you. Or on other topics, make you try to join their crusades on those topics, and if you don't join with them in the same way, they will heap abuse on you. They'll try to make you feel ashamed.
The world fundamentally wants us to dance to their tune. Jesus talked about this in reference to John the Baptist not dancing to anybody's tune. Matthew 11:17, "To what can I compare this generation? They're like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others, 'We played the flute for you and you didn't dance; we sang a dirge. And you didn't mourn.'" In other words, "We're calling the tune, you need to dance to our tune." Concerning the LGBT, et cetera, Paul actually calls it in Romans 1, "Shameful lusts."
That phrase is not going to go anywhere, it's not going to disappear, and yet the whole thing has been turned around now, where it's shameful to oppose. It's shameful to tell the truth. In love, to say, "This like all the other sins are sins that Jesus, the great physician can heal you from." Now the whole thing's turned around. Isaiah said in Isaiah 5:20, "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter." Who call things that are shameful good and try to put shame on people who are doing actual good in God's eyes. Turn the whole thing around. So fundamentally, the world rejects the healthy shame they should feel for their sins. Without it they cannot repent and be saved.
"The world rejects the healthy shame they should feel for their sins. Without it, they cannot repent and be saved."
II. Christians Ought To Be Ashamed . . . and Are
Secondly, Christians ought to be ashamed and are. In order to be saved, sinners must repent of their sins. Genuine repentance is essential to salvation. Jesus said in Luke 5, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I've not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." But what is repentance? The puritan pastor Thomas Watson in his masterpiece, The Doctrine of Repentance, defined repentance as, "Repentance is a grace of God's spirit whereby a sinner is inwardly humbled and visibly reformed. He then breaks out that inward humbling in six ingredients of true repentance. First, sight of sin. You see it as God does. Secondly, sorrow for sin. You have a genuine grief or sorrow over your sin. Third, confession of sin. Vertically, you agree with God that that is sin, that you are a sinner, and that specific thing is sin. Fourth, shame for sin. A sense, a burning sense of how repulsive that sin is in the sight of a holy God. Fifth, hatred of sin. A moral revulsion over the sin. And then that results in sixth, a turning from sin, a genuine transformation of life."
That's what repentance actually is, and shame for sin is in the middle of it. The Holy Spirit comes in His marvelous powerful work, and He works repentance in us. Thanks be to God, if you're a Christian, the Holy Spirit has done this deep work of convicting in you. John 16:8, "When the spirit comes, He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment." Therefore, part of that is the Holy Spirit works in us a healthy shame for our sins, a reasonable healthy shame for the sins we've committed. Ezekiel 16:63, "'Then, when I make atonement for you for all you have done, then you will remember and be ashamed and never again open your mouth, because of your humiliation,' declares the sovereign Lord." That's powerful, and that's in the spiritual adultery chapter of Ezekiel 16.
But we see it all over the place in the New Testament. If you know what to look for, you can see it. The parable of the prodigal son. Remember, he's out there having squandered his father's money, slopping pigs, comes to himself, comes back, and he says this to his father, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” Or again, in Luke 18:13, in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, "The tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.'" What do you think he's feeling there? Jesus said, "I tell you that man went home justified." Or again, in Luke 7:37-38, "When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisees house, she brought an alabaster jar perfume. And as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and poured perfume on them." I don't think we can fully capture all the feelings she's feeling at that moment, but deep repentance for her sinful life is part of it.
Justification by faith in Christ frees us from ultimate shame. Hallelujah! It sets us free. Now, I'm going to develop more on this in a moment, but shame is essential to our salvation, and I want to borrow a phrase from John Newton's Amazing Grace, “'twas grace that taught my heart to fear and grace my fears relieved.” Same thing with shame, “'twas grace that made us feel healthy shame for our sins, and it's by grace our shame is relieved.”
Even after we have been forgiven for all of our sins, past, present, and future, I don't know if you've noticed, but your career in sin isn't over yet, unless somebody of you wants to claim that it has. But you know it hasn't. We're all wrestling with sin. Romans 7, "The very thing we hate, we do and the good things we want to do, we don't do, and so we commit new sins." We're not done with healthy shame yet. Sanctification involves an ongoing work of repentance and therefore an ongoing work of healthy shame. This is pretty controversial. Many Christians think that we should never feel ashamed. Jesus has taken away all my shame. I get all that, but I don't think that's carefully nuanced enough. I don't think it's even biblical. They fail to deal properly to the fact that we're not done being saved and that there's this ongoing work of necessary repentance. We're not done repenting. And therefore, according to Watson, we're not done with shame.
In justification, all of our sins have been forgiven, past, present and future, and we're positionally perfect in Christ. That is true. But in sanctification we have this ongoing battle with sin. And when a Christian sins, what is the healthy response we should have toward that new sin, other than shame? Paul openly uses shame for past sins in the sanctification verse, in Romans 6:21, to me that just proves that shame is a healthy part of the ongoing Christian life. He says, "What benefit or what fruit did you reap at that time from those things you are now ashamed of?" Now ashamed, you're a Christian, and it's healthy to be ashamed of those things you used to do. Those things result in death.
What do you think Peter felt that terrible night that Jesus was arrested, and Jesus predicted his denial, three times denial, "Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times." Peter swore he wouldn't, "Even if all fall away in account of you, I never will." But as he was being led into the courtyard, a slave girl at the door said, "You're not one of his disciples, are you?" "No, I'm not," off and running. And then he is warming his hands with God's enemies, Jesus' enemies, "I don't know him." "You don't know... You're not one of..." "No, I don't know him." By the end of that evening, he was literally calling down curses on himself if he knew Jesus. Then the rooster crowed for the second time.
Then in Luke's Gospel, Jesus was going from one place to another in his trial, and he had the opportunity to look right at Peter, just at that moment, and Peter went outside and wept bitterly. What do you think he was feeling? If you don't like the word shame, then come up with a new word. But that's what he was feeling. Shame therefore is like physical pain. We will not feel it in heaven, I'll get to that in a few moments, but we need it now, so that we don't keep touching the hot stove, so that we stop sinning. Christians ought to feel shame and do.
III. Jesus Is Not Ashamed of Christians
Thirdly, Jesus is not ashamed of Christians. Now this should blow you away. Jesus Christ openly associated with sinners. He was a friend of tax collectors and sinners. He had no problem sitting with them, eating meals with them. He had no fear of guilt by association, none. He was a friend of sinners. And we need a friend, don't we? Jesus, we're told in Hebrews 2:11, is not ashamed to be called our brother. He's not ashamed to call us brothers. It's incredible given who we are and who He is, but that just mirrors God Himself. It says in Hebrews 11:16 that God is not ashamed to be called their God for He's prepared a city for them.
God doesn't mind having his name associated with us. He's not ashamed of us. Why is that? Because Jesus, by His atoning work, by His blood, has removed all of our sin, has atoned for all of our sins. Jesus is willing, based on the blood He shed on our behalf, to stand next to a sinner who has repented and believed. Like the father of the prodigal son, who's still wearing nasty pig clothes, he gives him a hug, puts his arm around, he owns him. He puts a ring on his finger as an heir and a robe on around him. He's willing to stand in front of all the angels and say, "He is one of mine. I know her. I vouch for him. I vouch for her.” Romans 8:33-34, "Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?” It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns Christ Jesus who died-more than that, was raised to life-and at the right hand of God interceding for us?" Owning us, He is saying, "She belongs to me. He belongs to me," advocating for us. He's not ashamed of us. He's not ashamed, because atonement removes all of our sin, all of the shame for sin.
"Atonement removes all of our sin, all of the shame for sin."
Romans 10:11, as the scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame." So by his atonement, the death penalty for our sins has been paid. By the miracle of imputation, His righteousness is credited to us. His righteousness is given to us, picture it like a beautiful robe to cover our shameful nakedness. That's the open language used in Revelation 3:18, Jesus says to the church at Laodecia, "I counsel you to buy from me white clothes to wear, so that you can cover your shameful nakedness." The white robe to wear is the imputed righteousness of Christ. It's faith in Christ, and it's pictured like a white robe.
The ultimate shame in the universe, there is no greater shame than this, before the angels, before all the redeemed to be condemned to hell, to be condemned to hell. "If anyone is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His Father's glory with his holy angels." What is He coming in His Father's glory with his holy angels to do? He's coming to judge the earth. He's the judge of all the earth.
Another passage openly talks about that moment, Matthew 25:31-32, "When the Son of Man comes in His Father's glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on His throne in heavenly glory. And all the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate the people one from the other as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He'll put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left." Therefore the ultimate shame is to hear those dreadful words spoken that I spoke last week, "Depart from me, you who are cursed into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and as angels.” That's the shame we Christians will never feel. Anyone who trusts in Him will never ultimately, eternally be put to shame. If we repent of our sins now and trust in Christ now, we will never know that ultimate shame.
IV. Christians Ought Not Be Ashamed of Jesus
Fourth, Christians ought never to be ashamed of Jesus. Now, this is obviously the home base of this scripture, but I've sought to show the context of why this would even happen. Why would we be tempted to feel ashamed of Christ and of His words? It's because the world seeks to make Christians ashamed of Christ and of the gospel. The world in its sin attacks people who point out their sins. No one did that more perfectly than Jesus. Jesus said to his, at that point, unbelieving brothers in John 7:7, "The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil." Did you hear that? The reason the world hated Jesus is because He told the truth about their sin and they didn't want to hear it. "The reason the world hates me is I testify that what it does is evil." And again, John 3:20, "Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed."
Therefore, in His death the world heaped abuse on Jesus, they heaped shame on Him. Mark 15:17 and following, "They put a purple robe on Him, they twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on Him. And they began to call out to Him, 'Hail king of the Jews!' Again and again they struck Him on the head with a staff and spit on Him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to Him. And when they had mocked Him, they took off the purple robe and put His own clothes on Him. Then they led Him out to crucify Him."
Jesus told His followers to expect the same treatment if they follow Him in proclaiming the need that sinners have to repent and believe. John 15:18, "If the world hates you, keep in mind it hated me first." The world will try to make all Christians feel ashamed of Christ and His words though they are the ones who ought to be ashamed of their sins, so that they can be saved. But Jesus says, "If anyone is truly, at your core, ashamed of me and of my words, you're not a Christian, and I will disown you on that day." He will be ashamed of you at Judgment Day, that's what He's saying. This verse is fundamentally a warning to all of us. The shame Jesus is referring to here is the total rejection of Christ and his incarnation. If anyone does that, Jesus is going to reject them on Judgment Day, saying, "I never knew you, away from me, you evildoers." People have to come out from the world and join with Jesus by faith, as He is crucified. We have to make our stand with the crucified and bloody savior and not be ashamed of Him.
The cross itself was designed to maximize every form of torture, including public shame. Isn't it amazing that Hebrews tells us that Jesus said, the shame they heaped on Him, He considered a small price to pay to save us, a small price to pay to save you and me. Hebrews 12:2, "Let us fix our eyes in Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of God.” What does that mean? He thought little of it, the shame. It's a small price to pay. Marvel at that, because shame is one of the most powerful feelings there is. For Him, it's small, "I know they're going to shame me. I know they're going to keep abuse on me. I know they're going to mock me, and they're going to spit on me, and they're going to strip me out in front of all the people. It's a small price to pay to win you," to win His bride.
But then the author to Hebrews urges us Christians to stand with Jesus, under the cross bearing the shame He bore. In the next chapter of Hebrews 13:12-14, "When the sacrifices were made, the carcasses of the sacrifices were taken outside the camp and burned, refuse." The author then says, "Jesus also suffered outside the city gate," as though He's garbage, “to make the people holy by His own blood." Listen to this, "Let us then go to him outside the camp, bearing the reproach he bore. For here we do not have an enduring city, but we're looking for the city that is to come."
So what does he mean? Go outside like your garbage, stand next to Jesus, own Him like He's willing to own you, and stand under that reproach, and bear the reproach He bore. That's what the author of Hebrews is urging us to do. Be willing to join him, to stand under the bloody cross, to preach the bloody cross, to not be ashamed of it in any way. That is our mission in the world to testify to Christ and to his words. We are sent as witnesses to a lost and dying world. Jesus said, "We should expect to be hated and shamed.” Paul was constantly. The shaming mechanism was dumped on Paul again and again. Think about Paul and Silas in Philippi. They were stripped publicly and beaten publicly and then thrown in the inner dungeon and their feet were put in the stocks as though they were maximum criminals, complete public shaming. In our generation, unbelievers will try to shame us as well.
In America at this present time, it just means being mocked on social media, or on the news programs, or the brunt of standup comedian jokes or late night talk jokes, things like that. It's going to get worse though I think. I don't think it's going to get better. I think it's going to get worse. In more oppressive cultures and at different times in history, Christians have been more openly shamed. In the Chinese Cultural Revolution, 1966, Chinese Christians were made wear dense caps and had insulting signs put around their necks. They were paraded through the streets with gongs, and the crowds were expected to hurl insults and mud and stones on them to shame them. Now in our setting, the bolder and more faithful we are on witnessing, the more likely we're going to kick into that shaming mechanism the world's going to try to do. If we stay quiet, if we "stay in our lane", so to speak, and don't make waves, we're not likely to experience a lot of shame. But if we share the gospel, we will. And we know it, that's what's holding us back.
What you need to realize is what we're talking about here, Christ is the most glorious thing there has ever been on planet earth, and His words are equally glorious. How could we be ashamed of Christ and of his words? How could we? Let's turn that whole thing around. Let's openly proclaim the glories and excellences of Christ. That's the best kind of evangelism you can ever do. Talk great about Jesus in front of lost people. So we can say, as Paul said in Romans 1:16, "I'm not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile."
V. Christians in Heaven Will Feel No Shame
Fifth, Christian in heaven will feel no shame. Dear friends, you Christians, brothers and sisters, this whole thing's temporary, praise God. You will feel zero shame in heaven. I believe you'll remember everything, for how could you thank God for your salvation, if you didn't remember from what you were saved? You won't feel any shame, just like you won't feel any pain. There'll be no more death, mourning, crying, or pain of any type, including emotional pain. You'll be set free [Revelation 21:4]. No shame whatsoever, so beautiful.
The Book of Revelation again and again portrays the redeemed in heaven as wearing white robes. There's five different white robes verses in Revelation. For example, Revelation 7:9, it says, "There was a multitude greater than anyone could count from every tribe, language, people, and nation, and they were wearing white robes and saying, 'Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne.'" That's the covering of our sins with Jesus' imputed perfect righteousness.
You know what's so beautiful, there won't be any scarlet letters on our white robes. You're not going to present as former blasphemer, former adulterer, former anything, just radiant beauty. You're going to shine like the sun. The backstory is necessary just to tell history, but you'll be able to say, "It is no longer I who do it, but sin that lived in me back then that did it, but I am done. I'm different. I'm a new creation. So tell the story, I have no fear in the matter.” It's beautiful. We'll be set free.
Lessons, first and foremost, all I can do is plead with you. If you have not yet trusted in Christ, come to him. Believe in him. You don't want that ultimate shame of being condemned on judgment day, so trust in Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Now to Christians I would say, let the shame of past and present sins fire you up toward personal holiness. What fruit or what benefit did you reap at that time from those things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death. Think about those shameful things and the shame you should feel for those in and of themselves, apart from the atoning work of Christ, and don't do those sins anymore. That's the point. Nothing good comes from sin. That's what Paul's saying there, “be holy."
Secondly, be bold in sharing Christ in this hate-filled wicked world. Your eyes are open. You know what's going to happen. They're going to try to shame you. Don't be surprised when they do. Boldly share Christ, expect them to try to publicly shame you. Be willing to stand with Christ outside the camp and bear the disgrace He bore. Be warned here, take the warning, do not be ashamed of Christ or of His words. We constantly face that fleshly, cowardly, tendency that we have. We tend to hide... Think about what happened to Peter. Peter got this warning, he heard it, and then he was later ashamed of Jesus. But he's a genuine Christian and so God reclaimed him, got him back, all right. The problem was he was masquerading as an believer. He was masquerading as somebody who didn't know Jesus. He was masquerading as someone who hated Christ. It wasn't his true nature. Thank God He can rescue us from those kind of false masquerades. Let's not, this week, masquerade as though we don't know Jesus, and keep quiet when we could say something of His glories, something of His greatness.
Ask the Lord, just go to Him in prayer, be honest with Him, say, "Lord, I know you know me, but I want to tell you I am a gospel coward. I would say a lot more about Jesus than I do, but I'm just afraid of what's going to happen. I'm afraid of people's reactions. Would you cure me?" Just be honest. Isn't it the truth? Just be honest and say, "Lord, be the physician of my soul. Help me to be bolder than I've ever been before. Help me to not be afraid what people will say. Help me to be willing to speak the truth for their salvation and for your glory. Help me to be willing to speak of your glorious Jesus. You're not shameful, you're glorious. You're pure and powerful and radiant and wise and good and loving. I want to tell people about you. I want to declare the excellences of Him who called me out of darkness into His marvelous light."
Gospel witness as worship is the best way to go. It drives out fear for me. It's like I'm not afraid what they're thinking. I'm just going to say some awesome things about Jesus in front of lost of people, whether they want to hear it or not. I'm going to fish for them and at some point somebody's going to like, "Tell me more. I want to hear more about Jesus." Like, "I bet you do. I can't wait to tell you more. Hey, let's get together and study the Gospel of Mark and let's spend three weeks on two verses in Mark, something like that." It's incredible the things that we can learn. So just ask the Lord to move in you. As the scripture is written, "Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord."
Close with me in prayer. Father, we thank you for the powerful warning that we've had from Jesus here to not be ashamed of you, of your words. We thank you for a day that we'll be free from all pain, any manner of pain. We thank you that you protected us from the ultimate shame of being condemned on judgment day. In the meantime, Lord, because we continue to sin, we know that we need shame to warn us. We need to feel a burn when we confess our sins to you. But we know that you love us, you're tender with us, that even that feeling of shame is temporary. If we just genuinely repent, you'll work in us. Lord, thank you. Thank you for the beauty of the gospel. Thank you for the beauty of the words of scripture, and for all we can learn from it. In Jesus' name, Amen.