An obsession that often strikes Christians is the thought of committing, or of having committed, the “unpardonable sin.” Like other obsessions, when it hits it is accompanied by acute fear and frequently doubt or guilt. Like other obsessions, the afflicted individual feels that, at all costs, the concern must be addressed immediately. It is countered, perhaps, with counterthoughts conjured up to erase the bad ones. Or, maybe prayers are recited compulsively for forgiveness. Perhaps the individual simply uses all mental powers available in an attempt to force the thought from mind.

Martin Luther, speaking directly to OCDers struggling with scrupulosity, comments on this situation and suggests a more helpful strategy:  “I am saying this for the comfort of those who are perpetually troubled by thoughts of blasphemies and are in great anxiety…The more horrible and foul the blasphemy, the more agreeable it is to God, if the heart knows that it does not will this, because the heart did not produce it or choose it. It is a sign that a man did not will it from his heart and that he is really innocent of it, if he is truly afraid and terrified that he has done such a thing. For the clearest sign of a good heart is the fear of doing evil. Therefore the remedy for these thoughts is not to be worried about them.”

To “not worry about them”…what interesting advice for people who have unpardonable blasphemies on their minds! Yet Luther knew a great deal about blasphemous obsessions (he had himself suffered from them), and here he shows great insight. These terrible thoughts are actually nothing to worry about, because God knows our hearts; and he knows that obsessions do not come from us, but rather from the enemy (OCD–or if you prefer, Satan working through OCD). Luther even says the blasphemous thoughts are “agreeable” to God. Is he kidding? No, because they provide an opportunity for a person to show great faith by leaving the fighting of them to God. And it is faith that God values more than anything else we can give to him.

So, if we are to follow Luther’s advice, what should we do about “unpardonable sin” obsessions when they strike? Here are three steps to take (the “LAF” method).

  1. LABEL the thought as an obsession. The importance cannot be overemphasized. If it looks or feels anything like an obsession, make the call.
  2. ATTRIBUTE the thought to the enemy (OCD), yet know that God, who has ultimate power over all that happens in the universe, is allowing the enemy to bring the tormenting thought into your mind in order educate you. What God wants is for you to leave the situation to him, and by that means to learn to trust in him. Don’t try to escape the thought by reassuring yourself over and over that you haven’t committed the sin, or praying for forgiveness compulsively, or fighting off the thoughts in any way. Don’t try to reason with them, or cancel them out with good thoughts. Let them be there. Stay on the battlefield, yet give the fighting to God. The correct attitude is, “I don’t care that the ugly thought came, and I don’t care if it stays there all day and bothers me. It’s all up to God,” and I put my trust in him.
  3. Then, while letting the battle in your mind run on, gently turn your FOCUS to the present task at hand–your work, your recreation, whatever it is at that moment that you ought to be doing.

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4 Response Comments

  • Nick  September 30, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    Thank you so much. This is incredibly comforting, inspiring and takes me into the heart of faith.

    Reply
  • Jules  November 21, 2018 at 1:35 pm

    For me its getting a little out of control.. I haven’t been diagnosed but I have this specific repetitive thoughts about the unpardonable sin. I don’t know what to do. I’m really depressed. It takes over me and I react badly. I need help.

    Reply
    • David  May 17, 2019 at 11:06 am

      I possibly have suffered more than any other with this issue.
      I am currently 51. I have suffered terrible since the age of 14. I was suffering from extreme anxiety, guilt and depression. Was out of control. Praying all the time. But felt so scared, guilty like I must have done something terrible wrong. One day while reading the Bible, I read the passage dealing with blasphemy. It scarred me. From then on that is all I could think of. I would pray. I would ask people about what is blasphemy. Till one day while in school, terrible scary words of blasphemy scared me so badly. I thought I heard screams of demons. I jumped up out of my seat started to leave the class. Everybody was looking at me. The teacher asked what was going on . I said, I got to go. I went down to the principal office crying. The principal was a good Christian. He asked what was wrong. I said fears of words of blasphemy. My mother came and picked me up. My Dad who was and still is a Pastor tried to talk to me. But I was a mess. From then on I have had terrible bouts with this problem. Bouts so terrible that last for years.
      My life is so much different than it could have been if I had not suffered from this. I have probably had about every type of emotion possible. Not sleeping good. Loss of jobs. Finally about 10 years ago was placed on Disability. The last 2 years have been so rough on me. Due to the problem I have lost my home, lost my wife, and children. I am alone, depressed praying and talking to God all of the time asking Him to forgive me. I am very, very sorry for my thoughts. This last episode has been going on for about 2 years. This is what bothers me so much, this time my re- evaluation for Disability was coming up. I began to worry if I would be reapproved,. I thought I would use my fears of blasphemy to them so that I would be reapproved. I stuck to my plan. But I have felt the most guilt for this. I pray all of the time asking for forgiveness, that I did not mean those bad thoughts. I was just trying to use them to be reapproved. May God have mercy on me. May God have mercy on me. Ya’ll please pray for me. My wife has since kicked me out, and has turned the children against me. I just go in circles in my mind with all of this stuff. I keep asking the Lord to bring me out of this torment,. for He has brought me out of the deepest despairs in the past. I pray He will again. I hope I did not go to far this time. I have prayed in the past, please Lord don’t let blaspheme you. Prevent it from me being possible. I want His deliverance once again. He says He is our Diliverer. I need Him so much to comfort me and give me peace in my life.

      Reply
      • David  May 17, 2019 at 4:26 pm

        Here is some very important thought s or question s.
        Is Jesus able to really save a person, once they truly seek Him ask Him to save them?

        What if they, being human, sin after they truly honestly, earnestly asked Him to save them, because we know we cannot save ourselves and we are going to sin. What sins? We do not know what sins we are going to commit in the future. But I sure want Him to save me from those sins, no matter what they be also. For I am asking to truly be saved.
        Save them from what? Themselves, their sins.
        Does that mean just past sins , or does that mean all of our sins, past present and future sins?
        If He is unable to save a person from all of their sins, past present and future sins, then how can we be saved? Or why even ask? We can never be good enough of our own.
        When I was a child, I honestly, truly asked Jesus to save me.
        Why would He ever turn His back on someone who really did/ does call upon Him to save them? Could it be, well we are not good enough any more?
        Could it be because we are human and make too many mistakes, or the wrong mistake? That He would give up on us.
        Or, well they got off track. They are not in the will of God.
        Then why would a person even ask Jesus to save them, if He was not able, or changs His mind later on for whatever reason.
        I’m truly sorry for my sins. I want Jesus to forgive me of all of my sins. I call upon Him. Is Jesus, the love of Jesus greater than my sins? Vise versa that question would be, Is my sin greater than Jesus? Which is greater?
        I believe that Jesus is greater than anything even my sins, no matter how bad or great of sins they may be.
        May Jesus the love of Jesus shine forth in our lives, although we may feel our sins are to great for Jesus to be able to forgive us, or that we are unworthy of His love and forgive ness and feel like He has given up on us. May He be greater than our poor faith.
        I don’t understand why I have suffered so? But I hope and pray that Jesus love for me be greater than all of the most awful thoughts I’ve ever had or will have.
        One last thing I want to share. In the year 2000. I honestly had a vision. In that vision, I saw the King of all kings coming to earth with all of His glory. I heard the most glorious singing and music, I’ve ever heard. I think the greatest thing that stood out to me, was this “Jesus had/has all power. He was/is all powerful.”
        What does that mean? WelI think about different scripture verses where Jesus said that you may know that He has power to forgive sins, rise up and walk.
        Which is greater? Measly old me’s sins, or Jesus? That I may know that He has power to forgive my sins, may He say to me and whoever else who has or will suffer what I have suffered from Rise up and be healed. May I be raised up and heal ed, my life and everything about me. In the name of the Son of God.
        Amen.

        Reply

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