Recently a little book Josh recommended to me brought together a number of truths I’d collected over the years. “The 3-D Gospel” by Jason Georges explains the three terrible results of the fall and the three wonderful ways God has provided restoration for each in the death and resurrection of Christ.
When Adam choose to trust Satan and himself, he ate of the forbidden fruit and Immediately he became guilty. He and his wife also became ashamed, and tried to cover their shame with leaves. And they became afraid, hiding from God when He came to talk with them.
While different cultures tend to emphasize just one of these results over the others (Western “guilt culture”, Eastern “shame culture” and animistic tribal “fear culture,”) we all suffer the twisting effects of each part of this trinity of guilt, shame and fear.
In our Western culture, the gospel is presented mainly as dealing with our guilt (think of the Romans Road presentation—and this is certainly correct). However, little or nothing is taught about how the gospel also provides a solution for our shame and our fear.
Many (if not all) of us have a sense of shame, maybe from past experiences where we were abused verbally, emotionally or physically. We also have failed to measure up to biblical and church culture standards. And we all have done foolish and destructive things we know are wrong. Shame is there, but often not acknowledged. Undealt with, it is a weight and blight on our souls, keeping us from loving ourselves so we can love our neighbors well.
Fear also is a big factor for us, as the world seems to be falling apart, as Christianity is more and more marginalized, denigrated and portrayed as evil. We wonder where this all is going, and are filled with fear. Look at how many believers are consumed with worry, experience anxiety attacks and need medical help to cope.
God knows all about this and has provided a solution to each one. When the Holy Spirit does His work of conviction, He addresses each of our areas of need: guilt, shame and fear. As it says in John 16:9-11. “When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong…
–“about sin, because people do not believe in me” [there is guilt];
–“about righteousness, because I am going to the Father” [there is shame as we stand humiliated before the righteous One, who exposes the emptiness of our futile, selfish attempts to make ourselves look good];
–“and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.” [There is fear as we, too, stand judged and worthy of condemnation.]
However, for those who respond to the Spirit’s work, Ephesians 1:18-19 tells us what God has given to free us from each one of these: Paul writes, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know:
–“the hope to which he has called you” [forgiveness in place of guilt],
–“the riches of his glorious inheritance in his saints,” [honor in place of shame]
–“and his incomparably great power for us who believe” [power in place of fear].
All of this I vaguely comprehended, but now they have come into full 3D focus and it makes a difference. I have wholeheartedly looked at my hidden shame from my failures and sins, as well as from others’ opinions of me, and am embracing the honor Jesus has given me by taking my shame on Himself in His suffering before and on the cross.
I have also confronted my fears more directly, embracing the fact that “God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7 KJV). This is making a difference in my life, and in the lives of those I am sharing this with.
So I encourage you, too, to embrace the full trinity of the gospel, internalizing the fact that Jesus died to save us from our sin, our shame and our fear. “My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge” (Ps. 62:7).
As Corrie Ten Boom said, “If we look around us, we will be distressed; if we look within us, we will be depressed; if we look to Jesus we will find rest.”