My Battle To

    Stop Intrusive Thoughts

    Stop intrusive thoughts help

    Why I praise God For

    Intrusive Thoughts

    A Christian Testimony

      Anyone wanting to stop intrusive thoughts must understand that like ants at a picnic, unwanted, offensive thoughts invade everyoneís minds and annoy us all. To stop intrusive thoughts completely is beyond human power, but our reaction determines how much they dominate our lives.

      When walking over an ant nest, most of us pay little attention and move on. A different approach, however, could seriously worsen things. If an ant bites as you are walking over a nest and you stop where you are to fight the ant, stomping your foot to try to jolt it off, other ants will swarm and start attacking you. What would have been a minor annoyance turns into a frenzied attack. The more you panic and try to stomp on every ant, the more bites youíll receive. Something minor escalates into something serious and you may wonder why you are so viciously attacked while others walk through the same area with hardly a bite.

      So it is with intrusive thoughts. Most of us dismiss disgusting, unwanted thoughts and mental images as just an annoying fact of life, and move on. Some of us, however, panic and stop in our tracks to try to fight them off, but this very act intensifies the attack.

      To change the analogy, intrusive thoughts are like an itch that remains minor if you ignore it but becomes increasingly serious the more you scratch it. Just as it is not easy to ignore an itch and act as if it were not happening, so it is not easy for us to remain calm and unconcerned when attacked by ugly intrusive thoughts, but it is the only way to stop them getting worse.

      I am so proud to call Angela my sister in Christ because she clings by faith to the forgiving power of Christ and refuses to give in to false feelings of shame, no matter how strong and oppressive those feelings are. It takes immense, Christ-honoring faith to resist all the fear, false guilt and screaming doubts as Angela does.

      Weíll start with the first e-mail Angela sent me and Iíll comment from time to time.

      Grantley Morris
      Founder of

      Holy Spirit blasphemy testimony

      The Testimony

      I couldnít stop myself from crying tears of relief while reading your encouraging webpage. I felt like a huge weight had been lifted, knowing that itís not my fault for thinking such bad things. Youíve really touched my heart.

      Iíve just turned 20, and I remember the first time I had these thoughts. I was about 12 or 13. After a family friend told me about the unforgivable sin, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, my mind kept making me think such sentences as, ďThe Holy Spirit is from the Devil,Ē ďJesus is of the Devil,Ē and so on. Horrified, I thought for sure that I had just signed my spiritual death certificate, condemning myself to hell. I cried almost uncontrollably. I finally confessed to my dad what I was thinking and he assured me that it was something called intrusive thoughts. Above anything in the world, my biggest fear is being unforgiven by God. I now realize that it is precisely because this is my greatest fear that I found myself repeatedly thinking the worst possible thoughts.

      After my dad told me it wasnít my fault, the thoughts went away for several years.

      Comment by Grantley: This link between Angelaís relief and the fading of the thoughts is highly significant. Angela believed her father so much that her anxiety over the thoughts disappeared. As explained in Scrupulosity: Religious Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, intrusive thoughts feed off anxiety. The more you fear them, the more they will keep invading your mind. Having no fear or anxiety to feed off, the unwanted thoughts died down, like a fire starved of oxygen.

      Over time, however, it is common for doubts to creep back so that we begin once again to worry that such thoughts might be a terrifyingly serious offense against God. When this fear begins to resurface, rather than just dismiss the thoughts as harmless annoyances, we will frantically try to fight them again. As we panic, the unwanted thoughts will begin to swarm and attack, as surely as stomping on an ant nest. We enter an ever-worsening vicious circle in which anxiety causes the thoughts, which in turn increase our anxiety. So Iím not the slightest surprised that Angela continues:

      Since a couple years ago intrusive thoughts have started to come back but in a different way. Iíve tried to get closer to Jesus, but when I did, I started thinking really icky things that Iíve been too ashamed to admit to anyone before. After reading your webpage, however, I know that itís more common than I thought. Iím by no means the only devoted Christian who thinks unclean things about my Lord and Savior. I still detest the thoughts, of course, but now I know thereís hope.

      Youíve really taken a big weight off my shoulders. I hope that now I can become closer to God without my intrusive thoughts.

      Comment by Grantley: If Angela no longer fears the thoughts, they will indeed fade away. Nevertheless, the goal must never be the avoidance of blasphemous thoughts. The harder we try to avoid them, the worse they will get. The goal must always and only be to by faith draw near to God. We do this by clinging to the fact that through the power of Christís sacrifice we are accepted by God, no matter what thoughts invade our minds and no matter how much our conscience accuses us.

      People write to me hoping God will stop their intrusive thoughts. Thatís like hoping God will stop us from ever being tempted, despite the fact that Jesus himself suffered severe temptation. What glory is there in being able to survive when not under attack? Our chance for glory comes when we cling to Christ by faith despite being under such strong attack that everything within us screams that Christ has fled from us in horror.

      No one is forgiven because intrusive thoughts no longer occur, nor because of the smallness of his or her sin, but solely because of the greatness of the forgiving power of Christ trading places with us on the cross.

      Angela continues:

      I take delight knowing that Iím throwing a major wrench in Satanís plan. Hereís why: I kind of consider my intrusive thoughts a blessing because if I never had them, I never would have looked it up online, and I probably wouldnít have found Net-Burst.Net and I donít think I would have as good an understanding of how loving and forgiving God is.

      It was with a tear stained smile of thankfulness that I jumped at the chance to e-mail Grantley, author of this website. The website has really changed my life, and now Iím closer to God, with more understanding of his love and forgiveness, and Iím getting to know Jesus more than I have ever before.

      So instead of making me doubt the power of Christís sacrifice, and doubt the love and forgiveness of God, those intrusive thoughts have only driven me closer to God! Having realized that there is so much more hope than I thought there was, Iím much less afraid. I used to feel that I had to live my life perfectly or Iíd fall under the judgment of God. Naturally, I want to do what is right, but I now understand that Godís acceptance of me depends not on my futile attempts to be perfect but solely on me trusting the perfection of Christís sacrifice for me.

      Iíve realized that the most valuable thing we can possibly attain is totally free to anyone who accepts it: Jesusí sacrifice.

      I told my dad about how Satanís plan backfired and caused me to be closer to God. He agreed and said to watch out, though, because now that Iíve pushed that in Satanís face, heís going to try a different attack. Satan might, for example, try a fleshly temptation.

      Comment by Grantley: Angelaís dad is right that the devil is a sore loser and is sure to counter-attack. My experience with people, however, strongly suggests that when the enemy has had a little success with upsetting someone through a particular tactic, he doesnít change tactics quickly. In other words, I expect Angela to be repeatedly tested in the realm of intrusive thoughts before the devil reluctantly gives up, and even then he will try sneak attacks from time to time.

      The intrusive thoughts that kept coming to Angela involved the use of foul, sexually explicit swear words aimed at defiling Jesus. It is not just words, however, but mental images of degrading Jesus physically and sexually in the most atrocious matter. All of this is totally out of character for Angela.

      Uncontrollable thoughts reveal how anxious a person is not to think such things. They indicate not how bad a person is, but that how good the person is, in that they show that the person is unusually desperate not to think such things.

      To better understand what drives devoted Christians to think filthy, obscene things about their Lord, letís consider a common, non-religious example of people who suffer from intrusive thoughts. It is more common than most people realize for loving mothers with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) to be unable to stop thinking of mutilating and killing their babies with a knife. They are not just upsetting thoughts; these mothers are terrified that they will actually act out those thoughts on the babies they love. Experts insist that such people would never in reality endanger anyone. The uncontrollable nature of these unwanted thoughts, however, often fools these people into mistakenly thinking that they would sink so low as to harm, or even kill, their children. These horrific thoughts keep plaguing them precisely because the thoughts cause these mothers immense distress. And they cause such distress precisely because the thoughts are totally out of character and the last thing they would ever want to do.

      Likewise, Christians with a tendency towards Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can suffer hideous thoughts about Christ, precisely because it is completely out of character and the last thing they would ever want to do. Like sweet, non-violent mothers who needlessly fear Ė and even come to believe Ė that they have transmuted into virtual monsters, anyone relentlessly subjected to barrages of intrusive thoughts is likely to become so confused as to conclude that such thinking really is part of his/her true character.

      In the previous webpage in this series, we saw that 1 Corinthians 10:13 implies that our first line of defense when undergoing spiritual attack is the knowledge that many other Christians have suffered similar attacks. This knowledge is such a source of strength that the enemy of our souls usually tries his hardest to fool each of us into thinking that no Christian has done such wicked things as we have. It is to help counteract this lie that Angela has selflessly specified the exact nature of the appalling thoughts and images that have plagued her.

      As explained elsewhere in this series, this should be unnecessary, because the Bible insists that Jesus died for the sins of the world Ė for every sin ever committed on the entire planet. So unless you are in another part of the galaxy using alien technology to hack into earthís computers, Jesus died for the forgiveness of every sin you have ever committed. Forgiveness is yours, provided you donít die before believing Jesus for that forgiveness. Only if you donít believe Jesus for forgiveness, is a sin unforgivable.

      So why do I bother writing all these pages when all that is needed is simple faith in the Bible? Unfortunately, people who suffer intrusive thoughts keep demanding ridiculous amounts of proof. To understand this, letís remember that intrusive thoughts are a manifestation of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and look at another manifestation of this illness.

      Many people with OCD keep repeatedly checking the same door to ensure that it is locked. Once should suffice, but not for these people. They are continually and irrationally filled with doubt about whether the door is locked. So you can expect someone with religious OCD to be repeatedly filled with doubt. Like checking a door once, whenever one doubt is removed from such a person, another doubt will come.

      Out of compassion for those plagued with this insatiable need for proof, I am writing this webpage and the nearly fifty others in this series. Nevertheless, a million words will not end the doubts of anyone suffering from the medical condition known as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. This affliction has been called the doubting disease. It causes the mind to keep playing tricks such that no matter how overwhelming the evidence, doubts will continue to surface. The only real answer is for anyone with OCD to accept the continual presence of doubt and guilt feelings as an unavoidable fact of life. Sadly, such people must get used to living with these disturbing feelings and stubbornly refuse to believe their feelings, including feeling that no one is as depraved as them.

      Of course, just like contemplating what our loving Lord suffered at the hands of his Roman torturers, it pains not just Angela but all of us to read a description of her thoughts. As Christís suffering glorifies his love for us, however, so an account of her thoughts highlights his love and grace, since Angela Ė like anyone who regrets such thoughts and trusts Christís cleansing power Ė is accepted and pure in the eyes of the Holy One. As the cross reveals, the Pure One would endure anything, including the most depraved slander and obscenities, in order to be our best friend. Because God sees Angelaís heart and knows she wants to honor him, her unwanted thoughts have displeased her far more than him. He is thrilled by Angelaís refusal to let intrusive thoughts hamper her relationship with him.

      Even humans can vow to be faithful ďin sickness and in health.Ē Jesus would never distance himself from us just because we became physically ill. Likewise he will remain steadfastly with us through any mental illness. Uncontrollable blasphemous thoughts are a manifestation of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which is a form of mental illness. Just as some physical illnesses can affect us without causing us to be bedridden, so this form of mental illness is not so severe as to incapacitate us, but it is an illness, nonetheless.

      Writes Angela:

      It is going to be really hard to explicitly detail my thoughts. Iíve never told anyone what my exact thoughts were. I didnít think I could do it but with the Lordís help I have set aside my pride and opened up my heart. Iím doing it for Jesus and my fellow Christians so that, like me, they can be inspired to get closer to God.

      I canít remember all of my gross thoughts, but having offered a heartfelt prayer for strength to do this, Iíll state what I do remember. It will be graphic, but here goes:

      A couple of years ago, the anti-Holy Spirit sentences came back. I wasnít as terrified as when I was younger because I remembered what my dad said years before, but they still scared me a lot and I needed to be reassured again that it wasnít my fault. They went away for a little awhile, but then the really bad thoughts started coming.

      Comment by Grantley: Intrusive thoughts relentlessly target the very thing their victim least wants and most fears. So if a thought loses its power to terrorize a person, the mind Ė ably supported by the devil Ė of anyone susceptible to this mental condition will keep searching for a new thought that will alarm the person. So once the thoughts lost their power to terrify Angela it comes as no surprise that the intrusive thoughts took another form.

      Horrid sentences would come to me, often associated with foul, sexually explicit language. I tried so hard to not think such things, but they just grew worse; forcing me to visualize images of Jesus engaging in indecent acts with myself or other people.

      I felt extremely sick and filled with shame over these thoughts.

      Comment by Grantley: Angela boldly revealed to me all her thoughts and the language used and was willing for them to be published if they would help you. Iíve tried to tone them down a little, while still hoping to convey how extreme the thoughts are.

      Angela has repeated thoughts of bodily defiling and humiliating (sexually and otherwise) the holy Son of God in ways far more disgusting and depraved than even hinted at by the Bibleís description of what Jesus suffered at the hands of the Romans. And the thoughts come with the most vulgar, sexually explicit language to describe these despicable acts. Moreover, it went far beyond words: for countless times she would vividly visualize personally doing it to her Lord.

      Sentences would form in her mind, often commencing, ďI want to . . .Ē followed by vulgar language about doing detestable, degrading things to the King of kings, or of wanting him to do it to her.

      In reality, she did not want such things, but it would be easy for all victims of such a relentless attack on oneís mind to mistakenly conclude that they must really want such things, since it is within their own minds that such gross expressions keep repeating over and over and over, accompanied by appropriately vile images.

      Angela continues:

      I also had a few angry-sounding, foul-mouthed outbursts against God or Jesus. It made it hard to read the Bible or engage in any other Christian activities, because I was afraid the vile thoughts would start again.

      Comment by Grantley: What if Angela had not only had obscenely blasphemous thoughts and had genuinely wanted to act out those thoughts but had deliberately declared them to thousands of people in the hope of corrupting them and slandering the King of kings? The purifying power of Christís sacrifice is such that Angela would be utterly cleansed through a simple faith-union with Christ. Moreover, there is no reason why she could not then be powerfully used of God for the most earth-shaking and holy ministry.

      I have done a little to conceal Angelaís identity and tone down what she has been willing to publish, but she concludes:

      I am not afraid to let people know who I am. To hide my identity would be to say that I am ashamed, and itís Satan who should be ashamed! He is the one who has exploited my obsessive compulsive tendencies. I now know that I have nothing to be ashamed about.

      My intrusive thoughts have subsided a lot. I pray that many people suffering from intrusive thoughts are helped by knowing what my exact thoughts were and so realizing that they arenít alone in suffering such attacks.

      Trials are a blessing and a chance to deepen our faith. There is always a reason to praise God.

      Holy Spirit blasphemy testimony

      Someone Elseís Experience

      Years later, I received an e-mail from Brenda in response to the above. She has kindly given me permission to share it with you. Her experience highlights other aspects of this affliction.

      Recently I came across Angelaís testimony. A lot of what she went through is similar to what Iíve experienced.

      A little over six months ago I came off a drug, Ambien, which is a sleeping pill. I had been on it for three years every night, but I heard it can have a lot of bad effects, especially on women. I experienced withdrawals, and started having severe panic and anxiety attacks. (I also went through some physical problems as well). From then I started having horrible blasphemous thoughts. I am a Christian and my heartís desire is to serve the Lord and to do his will in my live and to be an example to my children, family and others.

      Comment by Grantley: The timing is no coincidence. Over time, Brendaís body had adjusted to the sleeping pill to the point of being so dependent upon it that stopping it threw her body chemistry out of whack. (It is always best to seek medical advice before stopping any medication. Often one is advised to stop only gradually. She should probably have started the cut-back by taking half a pill for a while.) This imbalance caused the anxiety attacks and Brendaís intrusive thoughts were anxiety-driven. It is a medical issue, not a spiritual one. It has taken a spiritual form only because spiritual things are so important to Brenda.

      Like Angela, these are horrible, sexual thoughts about the Godhead. They have tormented me.

      Comment by Grantley: This is only because Brenda let the thoughts be a source of torment. Had she regarded them as simply a product of withdrawing from sleeping pills and of having no spiritual consequence, life would have been much easier for her. Like trying to fight a swarm of bees with a sword, trying to fight the thoughts will achieve nothing except stir them into an even greater frenzy.

      I pray, read the Bible, listen to tapes of messages to and from work, quote scriptures, and at times it will be better but doesnít last they come back worse and they are so vile and disgusting they make me sick! I know this is not me. I would never think such thoughts and they are opposite of whatís in my heart!

      It makes you feel lost even though in your heart you know that you are saved, but because youíre a Christian you canít imagine how one can think such horrible thoughts about the Holy God and Savior you love so much.

      Comment by Grantley: Brendaís bewilderment over how a Christian can think such things is because she does not understand anxiety and how the mind works. For example, it often takes the form of new mothers being hounded by thoughts of harming their newborn. The reason is twofold:

        1. Depression and anxiety are closely linked, and it is well known that new mothers often suffer postnatal depression.

        2. Because harming their baby is the last thing these dear mothers want, their very fear of the thought worsens the situation. They try hard not to think such things, which means they will inevitably think of them because they are focusing on those very thoughts.

      Only a few family members know what Iíve been going through. They have prayed for me numerous times and my husband as well, but I donít think they know the depth of how disturbing this is to me.

      Comment by Grantley: I agree that others donít understand how upsetting it is to Brenda. This is because she worries about it far more than is necessary and this very concern inflames the situation.

      I want to be set free to live in Godís peace and joy.

      Comment by Grantley: In Find Peace in the Storm I have proved by an extensive biblical examination that peace and joy are not spiritual drugs. Like the other fruit of the Spirit, they are virtues, and necessitate much persistence and stubborn faith Ė grimly holding on when everything within wants to panic and give up.

      If Brendaís anxiety levels were to lessen (and her best chance of that is through medication), her unwanted thoughts would lessen but, to be honest, I hope the trial continues because this is Brendaís opportunity to grow spiritually Ė an opportunity that few people have on this level. I believe God loves her too much not to allow this to continue so that she can become truly strong in her faith that God is love, compassionate and cleanses us from all sin. We think we believe these things but it is only during such a trial that we truly get the chance to exercise strong faith in these glorious truths. When all the props of feelings and signs are stripped away and we are left to cling on to Christ by raw faith alone, we are amazed to discover how weak we really are, but just as someone running a marathon feels weak towards the end of the race Ė even though the mere fact that he is still plodding on shows he is actually super-strong Ė so it is when we are forced to hold on by sheer faith. We will feel pathetically weak even though the fact that we are still holding on to Christ shows that we are strong. Like any exercise, with spiritual exercise it is a case of no pain, no gain.

      I try to ignore them but that doesnít seem to work very well, when something horrible comes in my mind I immediately try to push it out of my head and think on something good and holy, such as quote a scripture. There are times itís so bad I just break down and cry uncontrollably because I donít want these horrible thoughts in my head. I pray and it gets better until the next time it comes back and starts all over again. I want to be delivered and set free I feel like all I do is pray for myself for God to deliver me.

      Comment by Grantley: Like so many of us, Brenda is praying for the wrong thing. Instead, she should praise God for his love and understanding and for the fact that because of Jesus he is on her side and totally believes in her. She should thank God for this opportunity to grow in faith and to learn to rest in him.

      I appreciate any encouragement and thoughts you can share.

      Comment by Grantley: Thatís what this entire website is all about. It is most important that Brenda read Scrupulosity: Worried about Salvation, Blasphemous Thoughts & Severe Guilt Feelings and then keep following for very many pages the main link towards the bottom of each page. All of us who suffer like Brenda have a strong mental bias to approach this problem in a way that will keep making it worse. We are strongly biased to miss what the pages are clearly saying. This makes it vital that we keep prayerfully studying these pages until we eventually get it. It would be helpful if Brendaís friends, loved ones, counsellors, etc also read these pages because then they will be better equipped to understand what she is suffering from and how to support her.

      More Help Needed
      People keep e-mailing me, desperate for a quick fix so that they can get the relief they crave without having to read all these webpages. They are wasting their time and mine, however, because in all my years of anguished prayer and fervent seeking, I have failed to find an alternative to having to keep reading all these webpages. Take a rest now, if required, but you will need to read more.

      Next Testimony:
      Tempted, Condemned, Put Down: The Hidden Reason for Our Doubts

      Not to be sold. © Copyright, 2008, 2014 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.

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