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Finding Freedom From Shame and Self-Hatred

“You’re not good enough. No one could really ever love you, not even God. How could He love you, when you constantly fail Him? You shouldn’t even try anymore.”

Dear rose, do thoughts of self-hatred bombard you? Do you wonder if God could really love you, with all your brokenness? Shame whispers and doubt sings its siren song.

Will you ever break out of the cycle of self-hatred?

If you are trapped in condemnation, there is hope. If you are lost in the forest of your darkest thoughts, there is a path of freedom. You don’t have to constantly fight your own mind. 

There are two kinds of self-hatred. One is hating the person God made you to be: hating unchangeable aspects, like how your body is built, or disliking your personality. This article will focus on another kind of self-hatred: that of a soul caught in sin and shame.

The Fall To Sin

Shame is such an integral part of our humanity—when we do wrong, we feel guilty and ashamed of our actions. We forget that it wasn’t always this way. Adam and Eve in the garden were naked, and they were not ashamed. Can you imagine not feeling shame, even though you are naked?

“And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” Genesis 2:25

Before sin entered the world, there was no shame. We had no reason to be ashamed, but after Adam and Eve knowingly and willingly chose to disobey God’s only command, shame entered the world.

“Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” (Genesis 3:7-11)

Shame is a direct result of sin. Romans 3:9-10 says, “For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin.” And later in verse 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

We have all fallen. And this is why we are ashamed: because although we know the right way, we do not walk on it. We disobey God, and each time, our conscience gnaws at our souls. 

The Call To Freedom 

Yet there is hope. Throughout the times of the Hebrew people, God promised a Messiah. And when Jesus came, He was completely righteous, not just in His actions, but in His heart.

When He died, He became the Passover lamb who atoned for our sins. 1 Peter 2:24 says, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” Peter is actually quoting the prophet Isaiah here, who spoke over 700 years ago, telling of someone who was “despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.” (Isaiah 53:3)

Jesus “was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5

Friends, we no longer have to live in shame! We are called to accept the forgiveness God freely extends to anyone. Romans 10:9-11 says, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, ‘Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.’”

Have you accepted His forgiveness? God no longer counts your sin against you. You are free and redeemed. You will not be put to shame!

What Does This Mean For Self-Hatred?

If you struggle with self-hate because of a continual battle with sin, remember these things:

  1. We are forgiven. Ephesians 1:7 says, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.”
  2. We are not condemned! Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
  3. We have an advocate. We can come boldly before the throne and ask for help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
    And in 1 John 2:1 we read: “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
  4. We have grace and the Holy Spirit. If we are saved, we no longer have to live in sin. We fight against it, not in our own strength, but by His.
    “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Romans 8:13

Living in Freedom

Only in Christ can we truly find freedom from our sin, and only in Christ can we let go of our self-hatred. When Satan traps our minds along a path of self-loathing thoughts, he distracts us from God and the freedom we can find in His grace. 

So how do we live in freedom? When Satan whispers in your ear, trying to condemn you, don’t listen to him! For in Christ we are forgiven. (Col 1:14)  God doesn’t hold our sin against us, and neither should we.

Satan uses our own minds against us. Every time you have a thought, you are using a mental pathway. Each time you repeat the thought, you travel again down the same mental pathway, strengthening it. If you have lived in shame, trapped by thoughts of self-hatred, these pathways will be strong. You will have to build new pathways, focusing on both the forgiveness God has extended to you and the grace He gives to fight sin.

Don’t let Satan make you believe you cannot overcome your sin. It’s true: by ourselves, it’s not possible to overcome sin. Only through the Lord can we overcome the power of sin. So don’t try to overcome it on your own! Pray, and ask the Lord for strength to fight. No matter what the sin is, God is more powerful. He doesn’t hold it against you, and He wants you to live in freedom.

Live in God’s Love

The only real path to freedom is in God’s love. Dear rose, live in His love! Remember, the same God who wants to help you in your battle against sin is the God who died for you!

In Christ, you are free. You no longer have to live in self-hatred and condemnation. Live in that freedom!

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1

Bethany Rose

Bethany’s name means “bright city on a hill.” This is her mission in life, to illuminate the beautiful things and shine God’s light where there was darkness. Bethany leads The Wilting Rose Project, a ministry of encouragement for young women who feel their struggles make them worthless. She writes fairytales heavily inspired by her love of the forest, where she spends many of her mornings soaking in the uniquely Minnesotan beauty. Her blog includes more personal documentation of her journey the last few years with Lyme disease and Toxic Mold illness and the journey of healing she is now on.

Editor’s Note:
Many people who have not yet trusted in Jesus as their personal Savior have doubts about whether Scripture is really trustworthy. Or, perhaps you believe the Old Testament but are uncertain Jesus is really the promised Messiah. Below are some helpful links answering common questions. We want you to know that, yes, the Bible is trustworthy and Jesus is indeed the promised Messiah.

Can We Trust The Bible? Is Genesis Historically Trustworthy?
Genesis: Real, Reliable, Historical (Institute of Creation Research)
Facts Versus Feelings, Bible Manuscripts and Evidence of God’s Truth (slides from a presentation given by Russ McGlenn, my old science teacher who works with Mixtec Spanish-Americans.)

Is Jesus really the promised Messiah? Was He really the Son of God?
Jesus Did Not Fulfill the Messianic Prophecies Found in the Old Testament (an article from Jewish Voice which I found fascinating. If you are a Jewish person, I would love to hear your thoughts.)
44 Prophecies Jesus Fulfilled (I found this by a simple Google search, but I know there are far more than forty-four fulfilled prophecies.)

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