Self-conscious emotions are a special category of emotions in which a person has internalized a social audience and is then affected, influenced by them. What “they” might think or what one imagines “they” do think, interrupts living, steals joy, pushes one to the corners of life, causes stress, and often results in physical, psychological, and spiritual dysfunction.
What are these kinds of emotions? They are embarrassment, pride, guilt, and shame.
I was talking with someone over breakfast this morning and I realized that the devil is not just in the details. The devil has lodged himself, wedged himself in these self-conscious emotions. That is where he does his business.
The devil is a liar, a deceiver, a destroyer, an accuser. He wants to wipe out the human race, which was created in the image of God, and if he cannot actually wipe it out, he will try to afflict it, spoil and ruin it. He tries to make Christ’s sacrifice futile and throw mud in the face of our Father.
Which came first, the devil or the self-conscious emotions? Get what I mean. Which comes first in one’s experience? Is it that we feel shame, that we feel defective, broken, deficient, inadequate, flawed, imperfect, malfunctioning, out of order, or unsound first and then the devil stirs up that self-talk in us, or does he plant seeds of shame and whisper about it in our ears? He tempts us to act on our own and run ahead of God, and then when things fall apart, he tells us that we blew it because we are just inherently messed up.
But Jesus died to take away our reproach. God does not regard us to be broken. To Him we are cherished and in the process of renovation. As of yet, it does not appear what we shall be, but the outcome is certain. So, the process here in this world should not be characterized by what the devil says but by what Jesus has done and what God has said.