Your Thoughts Can Deceive You

Question from a Site Viewer

I can’t stop these thoughts!

I’m 15 years old, Catholic, and so confused. My family goes to church, Bible studies and choir. We read the Bible daily. We dress modestly so as not to cause others to sin. We are very religious. I am bubbly, helpful and approachable. I love people.

I knew about God and Jesus, but I didn’t know anything about the Holy Spirit. I decided to research the Holy Spirit. In my studies, I read the following:

Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

Matthew 12:31,32 (ESV)

That made me anxious. I thought, “Can I lose my salvation?” But I didn’t know what blasphemy was, and then that very night when we were praying the rosary as a family, I got intrusive thoughts that said the “f-word” to the Holy Spirit.

I cried that night. I thought I lost my salvation. I didn’t want to think that terrible, evil thought. I thought I blasphemed the Holy Spirit.

It doesn’t end there. All because of that one thought . . .

I’ve always had obsessive-compulsive tendencies. I used to think, for example, if I didn’t light a certain candle first, I was condemned, or if I stepped on a line on the pavement, I was condemned. I had thoughts that told me to do certain things. If I didn’t do them, I felt guilty.

The second day, the same evil thoughts came again. As much as I wanted to shake them off, they wouldn’t go away. I still didn’t know what blasphemy was. That night I told my parents about it.

My dad said, “It’s a mere thought. Get rid of it; you’ve done nothing wrong.”

Because of my stubbornness, I didn’t believe him. I still thought I was condemned. Anxiety overtook me. I could not stop the downhill spiral.

I began to research blasphemy and became more anxious. The thoughts got worse. I was told I had religious OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder).

I was in complete depression. I was a good girl. Blasphemy? I would rather die. I became more vulnerable. I was so weak that I couldn’t let my parents out of my sight; I clung on them because I was afraid.

For about 6-7 months I repeatedly confessed for these evil intrusive thoughts. I started doubting my salvation. I felt worthless and dirty. I thought that God would never want a filthy stupid teenage girl who had committed the worst sin. And I began believing those thoughts. I felt that God never cared about me.

Finally, in desperation, I said the following words:

“I blaspheme the devil.” I repeated it until I accidentally said, “I blaspheme the Holy . . .” I won’t write the last word, just in case God accidentally thinks that I did it purposely.

I was in pure torment. I told my father. He said, “You should be laughing at yourself. It was just an accident. Relax.”

It kept happening. My grandam died, so we prayed the Rosary for her pardon. I was praying and planned to say, “God, forgive this woman because your power is so great.” But instead of the word “great” I said “evil.” It was a complete accident.

My depression hit an all-time high. I repented the same thing every week for seven months and fasted every Wednesday and Friday. I felt guilty and condemned for almost everything I said or did.

It’s been seven months since the first thoughts. I’m trying to fight them but it seems impossible.

I read the Bible daily and pray throughout each day. I thank God for everything. I ask the Holy Spirit to come upon me and help me but I’m afraid He doesn’t love me because of what happened.

I still get the following thoughts: “Who cares if you didn’t mean it? You said it either way. You are condemned. Go and enjoy your life while you still have it because you don’t have heaven anymore.”

I feel hopeless and weak. I’m starting to believe that I meant the evil words.

Did I commit this sin? Why is this happening to me? I’m in a pool of deep confusion. I’m scared of everything and I feel like giving up.

Tim’s Answer

As hard as it may be for you to understand this now, what you have described is relatively common among people who want to follow Christ. There is a desire to follow and a reality that we fall short. When we fall short, we feel guilty and condemned. We feel as if there is no hope for us. Our thoughts condemn us. This becomes even more pronounced when we think we may have committed an unpardonable sin. Our minds tell us that there is no hope for us. We think that we may as well live however we want because heaven is shut to us. Of course, this is exactly what Satan would want us to think.

The answer to this mind trap is a clear understanding of truth. Knowledge and understanding lead us to truth and away from error. It is for this reason that the Apostle Paul, in many of his epistles, spends a great deal of time on theology before he addresses how we are to live. For instance, in the book of Romans, Paul spends 11 chapters telling us about theological truth before beginning with his exhortations in chapter 12. In Ephesians, Paul spends the first three chapters telling us theological truth before turning in chapter 4 to talk about the way we are to live. He spends 2 chapters in Colossians addressing core theology before spending the last 2 chapters on how we are to live. Paul knew that truth frees us from our own deceptions.

Here is the truth. We are all sinners. We all stand condemned before God. None of us have any hope of salvation on our own. There is none righteous. And even if we were righteous, our righteousness could never compare to His righteousness. As Paul states in Philippians 3:8-9, he does not want to be found having his own righteousness. Nor do we. There is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin (Ecclesisastes 7:19; see also 1 Kings 8:46; Romans 3:23; James 3:2). We are a fallen creation, prone to sin, prone to wander away from our God, prone to deny Him even as Peter did at Christ’s trial. We are no better than Peter. Our thoughts will betray us. Our speech will betray us. Our actions will betray us. We cannot cover the fact that we are sinners.

Further, even when we do not sin, our thoughts will tempt us to sin. James tells us that our temptations come from within us (James 1:14). None of us can deceive ourselves very long if we pay attention to our thoughts. Our thoughts will tell us to lie, cheat, steal, blaspheme, hurt others, hurt our God, and all sorts of evil matters. We are often surprised when these thoughts come into our minds, but we should not be. The Scriptures are full of the evil that men do, and every evil deed begins with a thought. As David says, we are born into iniquity (Psalm 51:5). Paul states that we all have sinned (Romans 5:12). There is residing in our bodies and minds a source of evil that exists in each one of us. Paul refers to this source as the “old man” (Ephesians 4:22; Colossians 3:9). This we know both from Scripture and from our own experiences.

Fortunately, there also is within us remnants of the image of God. James tells us that even in fallen humanity that image remains (James 3:9). Part of that image, I believe, is the ability to make choices of what we do with our thoughts. The call of God to all of us is to repent and trust in Jesus. This was the message of Paul, the Apostle (Acts 20:21). The call for us to choose is derived from the pages of the Hebrew Scriptures (Deuteronomy 30:19-20; Joshua 24:15). God has placed before us life and death.

How do we deal with our sin and those evil thoughts that come into our minds? The answer is Jesus. God, fully understanding our helplessness and our bondage to sin, sent His Son Jesus to be our Savior. He came to save us from our sins (Matthew 1:21; John 1:29). If we could live perfect lives, we would not need a Savior. Precisely because we are sinners, we need Him. The answer to every sinful thought is Jesus. The answer to every sinful act is Jesus. We live in peace and confidence, not because we are good but because He is good and He is our life (Colossians 3:3-4). This was Paul’s confidence (2 Corinthians 3:5; Galatians 2:20; Philippians 3:3). This is what it means to trust Him.

I do not trust in my ability to keep from sinning. I do not trust in my ability to control my thoughts. I do not trust in my ability to live a good life. I trust solely in Jesus. I place all of my trust in Him. He invites us to trust Him this way. This is the gospel, the good news, that Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). On that day, when we meet Him, we do not want to say that we were good people. We want to say that He is our righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21).

If we know these things, then we have the theological basis to handle sinful thoughts that invade our lives, as well as sinful actions that we will do. We understand that temptations will come. When they come, we can either focus on them or we can turn our mind away and choose to focus on Christ. The more we think about the bad thoughts, the more they will control us. Conversely, the less we think about them, the less control they will have over us. We are taught by God to choose to think about good thoughts and not give place to these evil thoughts. In Philippians 4:8, we are taught to focus our minds on things that are good. In Colossians 1:1-3, we are told to focus our minds on things above. In Hebrews 12:2, we are told to focus our eyes on Jesus.

There is a freedom when we understand these matters. The recognition of sin in our lives then becomes not a condemning thing, but rather a reason for great thankfulness to our God who forgives our sins. Our hearts swell in gratitude for the forgiveness of sins. At my house, during the Lenten Season and throughout the Easter Season I have a large cross that stands out in front of my house with a light on it. At night, it is the only thing one can see from the house. It always causes me to be filled with gratitude. I tell people that there on the cross my sin met His righteousness, and His righteousness triumphed. I am free! Of all the things I am thankful for, one of the greatest of them is the forgiveness of sins.

Accordingly, I urge you not to dwell on your sins that you may or may not have created. Further, do not trouble yourselves over the evil temptations that invade your thoughts. Rather, take up the armor of God to combat those thoughts (Ephesians 6:10-20). Focus on truth, theological truth. Always carry at the top of your mind your relationship to His righteousness. Come to understand that when we are in Him, there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1). Prepare your focus on spreading the good news of Jesus (the gospel of peace) to others. This is our mission in this world. We are ambassadors for Christ to show to others the blessings of the heavenly kingdom. Focus on this mission. And keep trusting Jesus. Trusting in Jesus and not ourselves will enable you to resist all of Satan’s evil attacks. Understand your position in Christ. You are saved through Him. You live through Him. Read His word devotionally. Let it speak to you. Meditate on it. May it be your food and your delight. Finally, pray always. This is the armor that allows us to live a life pleasing to our God.

The Christian life begins and ends with trusting Jesus. Only as we trust Jesus can we live a life that is pleasing to Him. Our walk will reflect our trust. If we struggle to live rightly without reliance on His Holy Spirit, we will end up in the list of Galatians 5:19-21. But if we live dependently, trusting and praying and seeking to stay close with His Spirit, then we will end up in the list of Galatians 5:22-23. As Paul urges in Galatians 3:1-5, we should not live by works, but by faith. Our works should flow from our faith; they should not be the object of our faith. Always, our faith must be in Him.

You speak about the blasphemy of the Spirit. We have elsewhere on our site addressed this question. It is one of the most common questions we receive. Our simple answer is that the passage on the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit does not nullify the rest of Scripture. Scripture is clear that for those who come to Jesus He will forgive their sins and cleanse them from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). He forgives even blasphemers (1 Timothy 1:13-16). What Paul did in rejecting the work of Jesus was precisely what the Pharisees were doing when Jesus spoke the words about blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Yet, Paul was forgiven. As we have stated in other places, the blasphemy of the Spirit must be related to a final rejection of the Spirit’s work in and through Jesus Christ and the resultant death of the individual. If it is anything else, then it would contradict the rest of Scripture where God calls all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30) and wants all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). In these passages, He makes no exception. Nor does He make exception in John 3:16, or in many other passages where He extends His offer of salvation to mankind. Accordingly, as long as people are alive, I do not believe they have committed the unpardonable sin. But, if they die without ever acknowledging the work of the Spirit in the life of Jesus Christ, then they have no hope and there will be no forgiveness. I believe any other interpretation runs into direct conflict with many other passages of Scripture.

I trust this will help guide you back to these basic concepts of Christian life. May our Lord Jesus and His Spirit guide you into the truth of the Father and His great mercy for those who hope in His mercy. He is the only way to freedom from worries about sin.

A fellow seeker,

knowing vs doing


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2 thoughts on “Your Thoughts Can Deceive You”

  1. Even focusing on school was hard but music can cover up the background. Being busy helps.
    She also deals with those intrusive thoughts incorrectly. Don’t fight those thoughts. I once heard that fighting intrusive thoughts is like wrestling a grenade. Instead resist, So how resist? Ignore them or calmly deconstructing them, ask yourself if it is a good thought or bad, why am I having these thought. Then reject it. Just a simple “I don’t want to have this thought anymore.” Talk therapy, music, socializing, getting busy, and most importantly praying and reading the Bible.

  2. I usually like to pray to God that he decreases intrusive thoughts as I read the Bible, and that he establishes peace in me, as well for understanding and so forth. Crying helps, it can get very overwhelming to over think. Hugs help. Making sure to not feed your mind things that will increase intrusive thoughts. Ex. if I struggle with lustful intrusive thoughts and I know weather girl adds to those intrusive thoughts then I should probably not keep the news on and chose to put one of those 8 hour Christian music loop videos. Having a pet helps as well. Remember to diligently seek God and to not forget about your responsabilities such as school. Hope this helps, God Bless, praying for you.

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