Many people think that faith means being sure that something is true. For example, when Jesus says “whoever believes in me will live,” they think saving faith means being certain I believe that sentence is true. This is an incorrect assumption. According to Martin Luther,

In this matter of faith, often he who claims to believe does not at all believe; and on the other hand, he who doesn’t think he believes, but is in despair, has the greatest faith. This verse, “Whoever believes,” does not compel us to determine who has faith or not. For the verse does not say, “Whoever knows that he believes, but it says, “Whoever believes.” Who has it, has it.

Faith is not dependent on being certain about anything. Getting stuck on certainty is a trick of the enemy. What God wants is our trust. He wants our heart, not our head. As Luther puts it, “Faith is a sure trust and firm acceptance in the heart.” Faith in God does not depend on obtaining certainty. It depends on trusting! “Faith is a vital, deliberate trust in God’s grace.” It is a “daring confidence in God’s grace.” To trust in God is a gift of the spirit, but also a deliberate choice.

When struck by tormenting fears, we want to choose to trust in God. We want to have faith. This does not mean having certainty about anything. Are my hands clean enough? Did I hit someone with my car? Am I secretly a pervert? It doesn’t matter what the concern. It doesn’t even matter if you are not certain God is present. Give Him responsibility for the obsessional fear and leave it with him. Faith is a risk. But God not let us down. “I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you.’”  

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9 Response Comments

  • Brandi   at

    Dr. Osborn,

    Thank you for remaining faithful and publishing these monthly posts. This website has been a blessing and comforted me on many occasions. It has given me some relief because I know I’m not alone. I see that other people are going through this struggle and I thought I was alone in this fight. Thank you for speaking out….and continuing to do so.

    • Jeremy Kipper   at

      Thank you Dr. Osborn. The Lord has comforted me and given me grace through your posts. It is a ministry.

      May God bless you and may he grant us all who struggle with Scrupulosity and all forms of OCD peace.

  • Tara turner   at

    Thank you for this post. I struggle so much with needing absolute certainty. I must be absolute certain of my faith, my spouses, my children. And any little thing will trigger these fears. I am having the hardest time releasing my salvation, my husbands, and my children’s to the Lord.

    • Kendra   at

      I struggle with salvation doubts as well and also have many triggers like hearing others’ testimonies especially if they are dramatic,. It is very difficult, I’m trying to resist asking to be saved which is the compulsive part. I’m praying for you and for your strength to not give in

  • Dianne   at

    I am trying now to find someone to talk to about this OCD.. it is ruining my life.. I am so scared I can’t get past this…my anxiety and depression has gotten so bad…I was on zoloft but made me feel worse…I am using xanax now off and on but doesn’t help much…what would be a good medicince to use for OCD? I feel like God is so far away that he can’t hear my cries…I know that the thoughts I think about is so stupid but my mind just isn’t working right…thanks for any help@

    • Alajah Miller   at

      Dianne God is promised he would never leave you nor forsake you and that your in his hand and no one can snatch you out. This is a weapon formed against you but the bible says it cannot prosper.

  • Dianne   at

    I am really struggling with OCD. the depression and anxiety is awful…xanax is not helping much…I tried zoloft for a while but made me feel like a zombie….what would be another medicine to try.. I am of them all.. Where is God is all this.. I once walked so close to Him and now can’t find Him…trying to find someone I can talk to..but I llive in a small town…thanks..

    • Kendra   at

      There are other anti depressants that may work if Zoloft doesn’t. Like Prozac, and others. Talk to your primary care or psychiatrist about trying another anti depressant
      I’m praying you find peace and know that God has not forgotten you

    • Steve   at

      A few months ago my psychiatrist put me on Fluvoxamine and Clomipramine. I believe they are helping at least somewhat. They’re better than anything else I’ve tried. They’re both specifically for OCD. You said you live in a small town, but is there any possibility of you driving to a nearby city in order to get hooked up with a good psychiatrist? I believe Dr. O still does phone/Skype counseling (talk therapy). Don’t give up! I still struggle, but it’s not as horribly bad as it used to be. You can get there too! Prayers and blessings to you.