John Bunyan’s Battle with Blasphemous Thoughts,
Feeling Unforgivable, Reprobate and Demon Possessed

Condensed extracts in modern English from John Bunyan’s book, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners

holy spirit blasphemy

John Bunyan (1628-1688) was an English preacher who is now renowned as the author of the profoundly influential Christian book The Pilgrim’s Progress. The book has been translated into more than a hundred different languages and has sold more copies in more languages than any Christian book besides the Bible and more than any book of any description originally written in English.

In his famous book, Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan writes of “one of the wicked ones” sneaking up behind Christian and whispering “many grievous blasphemies to him.”

Bunyan clearly had a deep understanding of how this works because he wrote that while this was happening Christian lost the ability to distinguish between the wicked one’s words and his own thoughts. Christian was confused and alarmed because he loved God and yet was unable neither to prevent these whispers from entering his mind, nor to know where they came from.

This is just a tiny part of Pilgrim’s Progress. Christian simply learned not to fear such things and kept progressing. Actual text.

I share the following from Bunyan’s writings not because he necessarily dealt with his spiritual turmoil the best way (for help with that see Simple, Effective Treatment: Self-Help that Works). Clearly his attempts were ineffective because his turmoil continued over this time. The significance of his experience, however, is that many readers will be able to identify with it and will be greatly encouraged to realize that such a great man of God suffered as they have.

* * *

    Sin and corruption would as naturally bubble out of my heart as water would bubble out of a fountain. I thought that everyone had a better heart than I had. I would have exchanged hearts with anybody. I thought no one but the devil himself could equal me for inward wickedness and pollution of mind. I concluded that this condition that I was in could not stand with a state of grace. Thought I, “Surely I am forsaken of God. Surely I am given up to the devil and a reprobate mind.”

    A very great storm came down upon me, which handled me twenty times worse than all I had met with before. It came stealing upon me, now by one piece and then by another. First, all my comfort was taken from me; then darkness seized me; after which whole floods of blasphemies, both against God, Christ, and the Scriptures, were poured upon my spirit, to my great confusion and astonishment.

    They did so overweigh my heart both with their number, continuance and fiery force that I felt as if there were nothing else but these from morning to night within me, and as though indeed there could be room for nothing else. I also concluded that God had, in wrath to my soul, given me up to them, to be carried away with them as with a mighty whirlwind. Only by the distaste they gave to my spirit did I feel there was something in me that refused to embrace them.

    While I was in this torment, I often found in my mind a sudden urge to curse and swear, or to speak some grievous thing against God, Christ His Son, or of the Scriptures. Now I thought, surely I am possessed of the devil. At other times, I thought I would lose my mind; for instead of praising and magnifying the Lord with others, if I but heard Him spoken of, presently some most horrible blasphemous thought or other would bolt out of my heart against Him. So whether I did think that God was, or again did think there was no such thing as God, no love, peace or gracious disposition could I feel within me. These things did sink me into very deep despair, for I concluded that such things could not possibly be found among those who loved God.

    In these days, when I heard others talk of what the sin against the Holy Spirit was, then the tempter would so provoke me to desire to sin that particular sin that it was as if I could not, must not, neither would be quiet until I had committed it. Now no sin would serve but that one. If it were to be committed by the speaking of such a word, then it was if my mouth would have spoken that word, whether I would or not. In so strong a measure was this temptation upon me that often I have been ready to clap my hands under my chin to hold my mouth from opening. To that end also I have had thoughts at other times to leap with my head downward into some muck hole or other to keep my mouth from speaking.

    Yes, gladly I would have been in the condition of a dog or horse, for I knew they had no soul to perish under the everlasting weight of hell or sin was mine as likely to do. Even though I saw this, felt this and was broken to pieces with it, yet added to my sorrow was the knowledge that I could not find that with all my soul I desired deliverance. I was dejected to think that this would be my lot. I would therefore much bewail my hard fortune, but I could not get out of or get rid of these things.

    I could attend to none of the ordinances of God but with sore and great affliction; then I was most distressed with blasphemies. If I had been hearing the word of God, then uncleanness, blasphemies, and despair would hold me a captive there. If I was reading then sometimes I had sudden thoughts to question all I read.

    I would be daunted with such conceits as thinking that God mocked my prayers, saying in the audience of holy angels, “This poor simple wretch hankers after Me, as if I had nothing to do with my mercy but to bestow it on such as he. Alas, poor soul, how are you deceived. It is not for such as you to have favor with the Highest.”

    Neither my dislike of the thoughts nor any desire and endeavor to resist them did in the least shake or abate the continuation or force and strength of them. It did always, in almost whatever I thought, intermix itself in such a way that I could neither eat my food, bend down, chop wood, nor look around, but still the temptation to sell Christ would come. “Sell Christ for this, or sell Christ for that; sell Him, sell Him, sell Him.” Sometimes it would run through my thoughts perhaps a hundred times altogether. Against this for whole hours I have been forced to stand as continually leaning and forcing my spirit against it, unless unfortunately before I was aware, some wicked thought might arise in my heart that might consent to. Sometimes the tempter would make me believe I had consented to it. Then I would be as if tortured upon a rack for whole days at a time.

    This temptation did bring me such fear that I would at some time consent to it and be overcome by it, that by the very force of my mind in laboring to resist this wickedness, my very body would be put in action or motion, by way of pushing or thrusting with my hands or elbow, still answering as fast as the destroyer said, “Sell Him,” “I will not, I will not, I will not. No, not for thousands and thousands and thousands of worlds.” Thus I reckoned, for fear that I would in the middle of these assaults set too low a value on Him, even when I scarcely knew where I was or how to be calm again. At these seasons he would not let me eat my food in quiet; but, when I was sitting at the dinner table, I had to go away to pray.

    One morning as I lay in my bed, I was, as at other times, most fiercely assaulted with this temptation to sell and part with Christ, the wicked suggestion still running in my mind, “Sell Him, sell Him, sell Him, sell Him,” as fast as a man could speak. Against this I also in my mind, as at other times, I answered, “No, no, not for thousands, thousands, thousands,” at least twenty times together. At last, after much striving, even until I was almost out of breath, I felt this thought pass through my heart, “Let Him go if He will.” I thought also that I felt my heart freely consent to this. Oh, the diligence of Satan! Oh, the desperateness of man’s heart! Now was the battle won, and down I fell, as a bird that is shot from the top of a tree, into great guilt and fearful despair. Now I was as one bound; I felt myself shut up into the judgment to come. Nothing for the next two years would abide with me but damnation and an expectation of damnation.

    I did ever so know now what it was to be weary of my life and yet afraid to die. Oh, how gladly I would have been anybody but myself, anything but a man, and in any condition but my own. There was nothing that did cross my mind more frequently than that it was impossible for me to be forgiven my transgression and be saved from the wrath to come.

    Please remember that the above was written by the man who broke through all this torment to bless multiplied millions of Christians. Has your spiritual condition seemed as hopeless? Then you, too, are capable of spiritual greatness. For help in how to better deal with spiritual turmoil than Bunyan did at that stage of his spiritual journey, see Simple, Effective Treatment: Self-Help that Works.

    To keep seeking reassurance from people will end up being futile for you and for them. Instead, keep putting into practice the vast amount of support provided in these webpages.

    More Testimonies:
    George Whitefield: Uncontrollable Blasphemous Thoughts

    * * *

    Not to be sold. © Copyright, 2007, Grantley Morris. Not to be copied in whole or in part without citing this entire paragraph. Many more compassionate, inspiring, sometimes hilarious writings by Grantley Morris available free at the following internet site Freely you have received, freely give.

Vital Help

[Much More!] [Daily Quotes] [My Shame]