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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9 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
  • Cathy  January 2, 2020 at 2:02 pm

    This article is very helpful. I would like to add the following.
    Don’t worry about failing to label or attribute or let the battle in your mind run on or focus. The goal is to ignore all of these things, not to create another compulsion. If you have a bad thought and don’t recognize it as such that’s okay, because then you are ignoring it. Satan wants to tangle us up in our own imperfections. Satan is the accuser. We have imperfections, that’s true. We have a sinful nature that will remain within us until we die or Christ returns. But God in Christ has delivered us from all spiritual consequences of imperfection and the sinful nature. God has given us a new birth in Christ and we have a new nature that wants to follow Him. During our lives on earth those natures are in conflict. Paul writes about the Christian’s difficulties with the sinful nature. Because his words are in the Bible we know that he wrote by inspiration of the Holy Spirit and that God is speaking to us through him.
    The passage is in Romans 7:4-8:21. There is much to understand and meditate upon here, but the most salient portion is Romans 7:15- 8:2. I believe that “think” can be included along with “do” and I believe that the sinful nature expresses itself in the thoughts which come into our minds. Here is the passage:
    I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not what to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
    So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
    So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. (end quote)
    Satan wants to tangle us up in our thoughts and focus us on ourselves. But God is Savior, Forgiver, Deliverer, not us. We cannot keep or save ourselves for a moment by anything we think or do. God wants us to put our trust and confidence in Him, not in ourselves or anything that comes from us. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14 :27. Amen, Lord Jesus. So let it be among us all.

    Reply
  • Nicole  February 1, 2020 at 11:48 am

    I’ve been suffering with fear I’ll commit the unforgivable sin this past month. Before this, I always I had a fear I wasn’t saved but then I thought to myself *the only unforgivable sin is Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit* God has forgiven me. Now after this revelation to myself, the fear of committing started to race in my mind day and night. I’ve been losing sleep because my mind won’t stop at night.

    I think last night I did commit it. I was trying to sleep with all the thoughts racing and at one moment I agreed with one nasty thought and said *I don’t care, I hate the Holy Spirit*

    I had anger in my heart. I worry that God won’t accept me now.

    I repented but I don’t think I have a godly sorrow. I’m mostly repenting for the fear of not wanting to go to hell, not for the right reasons that I wronged God. I didn’t want to hurt God but I blew it in that moment. People say Christians won’t ever commit this but I did. Does that mean I wasn’t saved in the first place?

    Please pray that God saves a miserable person like me. I want my heart to be restored and I hope that God will change all the wrongs in me. OCD is a demonic disease.

    Reply
    • George  February 4, 2020 at 10:40 am

      Hey Nicole, many people including myself have gone through such a similar experience, so you are not alone, the bible even says this in 1 Corinthians 10:13. For me it is a seasonal thing, at times I’ll be at peace with God and assured and then my OCD will completely consume my life with fear and doubt. I myself have had troubles with the unforgivable sin passages and bad thoughts such as these even in my sleep and sometimes when I wake up I am plagued with bad OCD thoughts about God. I usually try to suppress these thoughts by doing compulsive behaviour such as mumbling or shaking my head, but I’ve realised these only make it worse and it actually does. What I have tried at times is to simply ignore these thoughts. Now I know this may seem terrifying and hard as it feels as if you are allowing these thoughts and the devil will whisper lies into your head accusing you of actually wanting these things in your head, but that’s what the devil is, an accuser and the father of lies. But sometimes ignoring them is the best solution and of course when I do this, these thoughts suddenly come as though making me feel as if I’ve agreed to these thoughts even though I really don’t and rebuke them constantly. James 4:7 says (Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you). The more you pay attention to these thoughts, the more they will frighten you. The intrusive thoughts caused by my OCD have come to me even at times when I’m angry or even confident and they seem to pop out of nowhere. It got to points when I would be worried about getting angry and frustrated because cuss words towards God would enter my head randomly. However I constantly remind myself that these are not of my heart nor of my sound mind. My last season of terrible OCD, I was suffering from porn addiction and these bad thoughts would even come during my moments of sin and weakness which made me feel condemned and without hope anymore. I wept and prayed that God would be merciful and considerate as I had a perception that God was extremely tough and too mean, but this is far from the truth. During this time a random new video helping christians with OCD popped up on my Youtube feed explaining how to deal with all this, and I cried with amazement that God answered and also spoke through people during this time even overhearing people on the train speak about things that were very on point to my situation and I didn’t know these people at all and there were many more things. It’s too much to go into but the point is that God is very compassionate and understanding.

      Now you have said you have repented but you don’t think that you have a Godly sorrow and repenting for the fear of not wanting to go to hell, well I can honestly say I’ve been through this yet once again and can totally sympathise with you. Ultimately what is the reason that you are scared of going to hell, it is because you believe you have sinned against God and this belief about sin and how he feels about it shows that you are repenting with a Godly sorrow. It shows your fear of God and respect his authority and I know it feels as if you are doing it for the wrong reasons, but yet once again you must be strong and believe. As for your concern about whether you were saved in the first place, the fact that this troubles you is evidence that you are fine. Think about how far you’ve come. someone who wasn’t truly saved wouldn’t even care and even go back to their old ways.

      Study the context of the pharisees that committed this sin. They were unbelievers not believers, they wanted to kill Jesus, they were proud and they had clear proof multiple times and were extremely well versed in the scriptures yet they chose to outright deny out of the sake of denying. They spoke these words aloud, these weren’t just random and frustrating thoughts, this was a wilful and loud denial in front of a crowd of people starting to believe in Jesus as the messiah . They would even follow Jesus at times just to reject his teachings and prevent people from following him.

      On a last note, some things that help me is remembering all the good things God has done for me, especially having me return to him and being born-again which I am so grateful for as I know have purpose in my life thanks to him. Read the 77th psalm as it is about remembering God and all that he has done in the past and his faithfulness. There are even verses that address our very concerns such as whether God would be merciful anymore. It’s a very good psalm that is very familiar to many people’s circumstance.

      Of course my favourite verse that has helped me is 1 John 3:20 which states “If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.” God is very understanding and sympathetic to your pain, you are still human with a flesh body as with us all and these thoughts are actually kind of common.

      Hebrews 4:12 says “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart”. You must realise that God can distinguish from a genuine intention to be against him and your struggle to be righteous and pure before him. God isn’t foolish, he knows you very well and understands every detail of your suffering even when it is too hard to explain to others or shameful. He knows your perspective , other peoples perspective and so on.

      Finally, sorry for being a bit too long but please understand you are very loved and accepted by the Lord, regardless if you feel it or not. Put on the full armour of God and shield yourself from the darts of the devil and his lies (Ephesians 6:16). That’s why it is called the “shield of faith” because you must have faith and trust that when Jesus says he who believes in me is no longer condemned (John 3:18), this is not just a random statement but a promise, that you best believe that God will keep regardless of how you feel and it will make the devil’s lies seem laughable.

      I will pray for you and hope you have received some insight and will finally be strong. All the best with love.

      Reply
  • Damy  February 5, 2020 at 4:54 am

    I m suffering right Now for ocd..I ve had ocd since I was a little child but for me it wasn t a problem..But then one day it happened that I was writing a song for God and I opened my Bible and I read the passage of the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit and I thought something bad and false about Jesus and started having a real torment in my mind…then a lot of bad thoughts started to fill my mind and I became depressed..I m still bad I always cry and pray for forgiveness..
    My hope is in God to have mercy on me..
    Something I can suggest to you all is that even if you re feeling guilty don t believe your own mind but always ask God what is His thought..because of we Think there is no hope we Will be more depressed..just talk to God …Think about His Mercy and goodness and ask Him to take care of you..He doesn t abandon us in our pain because He loves us more than our father and mother…in these bad periods we can pray a lot but also help other people in need and serve the Lord..this Will bring more peace and happiness.
    I pray for you all ..I m 24 and I m Italian..I m really sorry to read that there are people that have been suffering for a very long time for ocd.May God bless everyone and may He restore you.

    Reply
  • Nicole  February 8, 2020 at 2:38 pm

    Thank you Goerge.
    I hope one day to see you in heaven so I can thank you again.

    Reply

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