The Pride and the Shame of Religion

In thinking about the religion of Catholicism, it occurred to me that all religion feeds pride or shame, depending on which side of the teeter-totter a person sits. Some people are prone to shame, and so a religion will bury them in deeper shame by showing them how they fail to keep their religious duties and how they are inherently covered with shame. Other people are more prone to the sin of pride and so use the religion to justify their feelings of superiority.

And this is in keeping with the design of religion. For it must be acknowledged that religions are designed by Satan to use the fallen flesh to destroy people and to trap them in a performance cycle that fuels the sin of pride – “I am better than you because I am more religious than you” – or that crushes with the misery of shame – “I am worthless because my religion tells me I am worthless.”

So there are those who are filled with pride and there are those that are filled with shame, but there is a third group that is probably the majority group, that bounces between shame and pride depending upon their circumstances and on who is around them; for it must be acknowledged that pride is most often puffed up shame. Pride is often a defense mechanism for feelings of shame and inferiority. Pride is very often a disguise, a costume worn by those who feel deeply flawed in their brokenness.

So what is the antidote? How can a broken human being trapped in a religious cage ever break free from shame and pride?

Can you hear the promises and the proclamations of Scripture?

“Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13

“If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36

“It is for freedom that Christ set you free.” Galatians 5:1

“Surely I am Your servant . . . You have loosed my bonds.” Psalm 116:16

Christ is the answer! Christ is the One who removes sin and shame and death. Christ is the Savior. Christ is the liberator. The shackles are broken in Christ!

Confess your sin to the Lord (Psalm 32:5; 1 John 1:9) and acknowledge your iniquity and your guilt and your shame. Cry out to the Lord and ask for His mercy (Luke 18:9-14) and He will abundantly pardon (Isaiah 55:6-7) and remove your sin and guilt and shame. The act of confession demolishes your pride, for you are acknowledging your sin and accepting your condemnation. But crying out to the Lord removes your guilt and your shame, for the Lord will forgive all those who trust in Jesus Christ and who call to Him for His mercy and grace.  It is against the Lord that you have sinned (Psalm 51:4) and so it is from the Lord you must receive forgiveness. It is sin that has brought your shame (Genesis 3:7, 8 – Adam and Eve make fig leaves for themselves to hide the shame of their nakedness and they hide from the Lord to escape His judging gaze), and the only way to remove the shame is to remove the sin. It is sin that has separated you from the Lord (Isaiah 59:1-2) and you can only be reconciled to the Lord if your sin is removed.

And the only way that sin can ever be removed is through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. By faith in the Lord, your sins will be removed from you as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12) and your sins the Lord will remember no more (Jeremiah 31:34).

Religion will give you an endless cycle of works and will lead to shame or pride, but will never set you free; but faith in Christ crushes arrogant pride and replaces it with humility and relieves the burden of shame and replaces it with adoption into God’s family as an heir with Christ. Religion, whether Catholicism or Hinduism or Islam or Judaism or another one, dooms you to shame and pride, but Christ brings you joy and peace and hope.

Therefore, confess and cry out to the Lord and repent of your sin. Come to Christ.

SDG       rmb       1/8/2018

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