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The Gospel Frees You From the Shame of Sexual Sin

Posted June 12, 2024
Guilt

A few years ago, a troll took to the comment section of my Instagram posts and began attacking me. I brushed the heartless words off as lies—until she claimed the Bible called me a prostitute for my past sexual sin. Her words opened up a pocket of pain in my heart I had sewn up and shame came bellowing out.

What do we do when our sin is thrown in our face—whether by the world, Satan, or our own flesh—as disqualification from God’s kingdom? To whom or where do we run when shame seeks to grip us in a tight fist?

The Shackles of Shame

When we sin, we are guilty before God. Shame’s purpose is to bow us low. The solution to shame is drawing near to Jesus—the only one who has the power to forgive and promises to do so when we come to him (1 Jn. 1:9). David said, “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.” (Ps. 34:4–5). When we look to Christ, who has forgiven all our sins—past, present, and future—we are reminded of the gospel and freed from the shackles of shame.

Yet, there are appropriate consequences for sin. Our sin affects our relationships, our spiritual life, even sometimes our work or our ministry. But if we are in Christ, it doesn’t affect our status as children of God. It can, however, impact our communion with him, and this is why we are told not to “grieve the Holy Spirit.” (Eph. 4:30). When we sin, we take the Spirit of God with us into that sin (1 Cor. 6:15).

Sin is destructive, yet we can be forgiven when we run to God in repentance. Paul still admonishes us to, “flee sexual immorality” (1 Cor. 6:18a). He asks in another letter, “Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? (Rom. 6:1–2). We died to sin when Jesus conquered it. We have a new identity in Christ. He has called us to “lay aside every sin which clings so closely.” (Heb. 12:1).

Tempted to Hide

While it may be easier to pretend we never struggle and we may feel more comfortable for our sin to remain hidden, secrecy breeds isolation, and isolation is prime ground for sin to take root. James wrote, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (James 5:16a).

David repented to God over his adultery and murder in the sight of the prophet Nathan saying, “I have sinned against the Lord.” (2 Sam. 12:13a). He still bore the consequences of his sin, but was forgiven by God (vs. 13b–14).

It’s healing to confess our sins to each other. This doesn’t mean we have to tell everyone about our sexual sin, but sharing with a trusted mentor or friend is vital, especially if we are struggling.

It’s tempting to hide the sin in our past, too, forgetting that God could use us to come alongside someone else. We mustn’t let shame keep us from lifting other saints up; our transparency may be a stepping stone for them to grasp onto hope.

Washed By the Blood

When we sin or are reminded of sin from our past, we might be tempted to believe lies about our identity. Our flesh wars against the Spirit in us, tempting us to believe we’re tainted and therefore excluded from being a child of God.

In 1 Corinthians 6:9–10, Paul lists unfit behaviors in the kingdom of God, including sexual sin. Then he says, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (v. 11, emphasis mine). These are past identities that we must toss off our backs. We are no longer enslaved to them, but are slaves of Christ:

“For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.” —Rom. 6:20–22

We have been washed by the blood of Jesus. First John 1:7 declares, “the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” On the cross, Jesus took every ounce of our sin and imputed (transferred) his righteousness to us. This is why we join together and sing,

“There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins;
And sinners, plunged beneath that flood,
Lose all their guilty stains!”

Some of us were like a modern-day Gomer (Hosea’s wife), a prostitute who kept running away from the care of her husband and into the arms of her sin (Hos. 2:7; 3:1–3), but we’ve been washed. Some have watched porn or partaken in homosexual behaviors, but we’ve been washed. If you are in Christ, you are born again, purchased by the blood of the Lamb, and made new (John 3:7; 1 Pet. 1:19; 2 Cor. 5:17). By the power of the Spirit, you were dead and now you’re alive (Rom. 6:11). You’ve been given a new nature (Rom. 6:1–4). You are hidden in Christ (Col. 3:3)!

Furthermore, the Father placed every ounce of shame caused by our sin on his Son. Peter writes, “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” (1 Pet. 2:24). We no longer have to bear the weight of even the most heinous sin we’ve repented of, because the Savior bore all of our sins in his body on the tree.

A Hiding Place for the Shamed

When you’re tempted to hide your sin, remember in whom you’re hidden. When shame beckons you to wallow in your unworthiness, remember in whom your worth is found. Remember and run. Run to your refuge, God himself; Draw near to his throne of grace where mercy waits for you (Heb. 4:16). Confess your sin, but don’t keep looking at it; freedom from shame comes by fixing our eyes on Christ.

Your life is hidden in Christ. Because of this, you can boldly embrace the truth about both your old and new life saying, “Yes, I was filthy, but God made me pure. I deserve to be shamed, but God took my sin and shame upon himself and I bear it no more.” Because, we are Christians and “such were some of us.” But we were washed. And friends, that makes all the difference.

So, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Heb. 10:22).


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Brittany Allen

Brittany Allen lives in Ohio with her husband and two boys. She's a writer, aspiring poet, and the author of a forthcoming book on miscarriage. The goal of her writing is encourage others to treasure Christ above all other things. You can find more of her work on her website at brittleeallen.com or subscribe to her newsletter.