I’m preaching through a series of messages on spiritual warfare and this week’s message is about exposing Satan’s schemes. The Enemy’s schemes are easier to recognize, deal with, and sometimes avoid if we are familiar with them. One of Satan’s greatest weapons is shame. He uses the idea of shame to alienate unbelievers from the truth of the gospel and he uses shame to keep believers from proclaiming the Gospel.
Those who have not yet surrendered their lives to Christ hate the idea of shame, so Satan is able to blind them with it. That is why they don’t see their need for a savior. If they can’t see how sinful they are, then they can’t see why they need Jesus. Satan also often convinces unbelievers that Christians are trying to shame them. They see the gospel message as one of condemnation and judgment instead of seeing it for what it is…the only true message of freedom and hope. If the Enemy can convince them that all Christians are hypocrites trying to judge them, then he succeeds at keeping them from hearing the truth. Don’t get mad at those who reject Jesus. They are simply blinded by the Enemy. Keep sharing. Persistance, love, and endurance result in victory. That is why Satan uses shame against believers.
I know Satan wields shame against believers by telling them they are not forgiven, not worthy, and not loveable, but last week I saw another method to his attack that I had never recognized before. A friend of mine sent me a video called, “Letter from Hell.” It was created and shared with the best intentions and it was designed to motivate believers to share their faith, but I spotted the Enemy’s subtle deception as I watched.
The video relates the story of a believer who is driving in a car with a lost friend. They get into an accident and the lost kid dies and goes to hell. He sends his saved friend a letter from hell and the video depicts the content of that letter. “Why didn’t you tell me?!” the condemned friend asks over-and-over. “All the time we were together and you never told me about Jesus! Why didn’t you tell me about Jesus so I didn’t have to come to this place?!” The video concludes with the condemned boy screaming in agony and rage as he is thrown into the lake of fire and ends with his whisper, “Wish you were here!”
It was enough to make me share Jesus with the chair I was sitting on, but then I got to thinking about the nature of my Enemy.
Shame is never from God. Granted, conviction may feel like shame, but it isn’t the same thing. Conviction leads us to repentance, which leads us to forgiveness, which leads us to freedom, which leads us to joy. Shame leads us to fear, anxiety, depression, and guilt. The Enemy tried to use this video to shame Christians into rash action and a warped view of God’s sovereignty.
A Christian who feels shame about not sharing Jesus with everything that breathes begins to force evangelical encounters and stops waiting for the Holy Spirit’s guidance. He or she begins sharing Jesus out of guilt and fear, rather than love. Evangelism becomes a work of the flesh, rather than an outpouring of God’s Spirit. When shame motivates our evangelism we start to look and sound like attack dogs or salespeople working on commission. We scare the hell into people. They think following Jesus means having to be like us and we look like a bunch of rabid dogs spouting Jesus and scripture at them.
Also, a Christian who feels shame about not sharing Jesus with every person they meet begins to misunderstand God’s sovereignty. If I miss a chance, then God sends me another time or sends somebody else. There won’t be one person in hell who would have given their life to Christ under any circumstances…even if they had heard the gospel a million times. Nobody slips through God’s hands. That is how God’s love works. He doesn’t force anybody into a relationship with Jesus, we have to want it. A person’s salvation doesn’t depend on a Christians’s ability to share Jesus. A person’s salvation depends on the work of the Holy Spirit. Everybody who would call on Jesus for salvation will call on Jesus for salvation!
Let’s live our Christian lives in the contemplation of God’s grace, rather than in the shadow of the Enemy’s shame. Then we’ll walk in the Spirit, live in joy, and share Jesus when the Holy Spirit is opening doors.