Chapter 4 - The Origins of Doubt
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What kind of rules do you hear? My heart speeds up and my eyebrows lower at remembering some that were given to me. "Doubt is a sin, repent and move on". "You need to will to not doubt", "Read your bible and pray every day". "Confess your doubts and decide to not doubt anymore", and many more. I heard these from family, close friends, and church elders who were responding to my prayer requests I put in the offering. Oh they were given with good intentions but without understanding of the situation. Mentally this increased my feelings of depression, fear, and helplessness. For do you think for one second if these rules would have worked like that I wouldn't have already done it? That if I could will my doubts away that I would ever let myself get into this position in the first place which was causing the most agonizing time of my life? I still tried, oh how I tried, all the time... I prayed, confessed, and rebuked in any position that might work; on my knees, face to the floor, hands together, crying, fasting, sleep deprived, and I used every type of wording I could think of. I would grit my teeth like never before and cry every time someone gave me a quick whip solution.

After time I became instantly frustrated accompanied with bitterness every time I heard a solution phrased as a rule. Why? because as far back as the law of Moses rules only point out our weaknesses but they never offer a solution to solve our short comings. I've heard the law compared to a thermometer, it would let you know you were sick, but it offered no solution for the sickness. For example, "Thou shall not steal". So does the fact there is a rule guarantee that it will not be broken? Has the rule itself guaranteed that since this commandment was given nothing was ever stolen? Of course not. If you've ever stolen anything than this rule is simply pointing out that you failed. Incidentally, this is just one of hundreds of rules laid out in the old testament.

Just as the law has no power in itself to save, weak as it is through the flesh (Rom. 8:3), neither does the law or rules have power in themselves to deliver us from our doubts. For the ability is not within ourselves to save ourselves from our doubts, that is, it's not in our flesh. For as we discussed in previous chapters, doubt is rooted in the frailty of our flesh and is shaped by the effects sin has on our lives both internally and by outside influences, and the flesh is never regenerated.

We are made up of two major parts, our spirit, and our flesh. (John 3:5). When we are first born, we are born of the flesh (John 3:6), when we are born again, we are born of the Spirit. (John 3:3-8). The need to be born again is because our spirits are stillborn from birth; our spirits are dead and our flesh is headed that way. When God, in commanding Adam and Eve to not eat from the tree of knowledge said " the day that you eat from it you will surely die", He meant it, and man did die, not immediately in the flesh, but immediately in the spirit. That day marked the beginning of deaths reign. (Rom. 5:14).

So when we are born again our spirits are made alive and new! This means no more doubting right? Countless Godly men would testify from personal experience that the answer to that question is no. Why? because the flesh is never regenerated, even after the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Paul wrote:

If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. -Rom. 8:10

So on one hand we have our spirits, made alive and new by the fusing together with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:5, Col. 2:13, 1 Cor. 3:16, 6:19), and on the other hand we have our flesh, fused together with sin, and still condemned to death. (Rom. 7:24, Heb. 9:27). And we know by Galatians 5:17 (and from personal experience) that the two are at war with each other.

Because the flesh is never regenerated, even after our spirits are made new the damage done to the flesh remains. Because the damage remains there is a breeding ground for doubts. Generally speaking, doubt originates from our fallen nature, both our flesh and the fallen state sin has brought on mankind. Even so, doubt's origin in a persons life can be traced back to a number of issues in which we've divided into eight categories. A person's doubt can stem from one or more of these different categories.

  • A faulty foundation

  • An inaccurate view of God

  • Sin

  • Trials and tribulation

  • Spiritual warfare

  • Damaged emotions

  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

  • The normal growth process

In the remaining parts of this chapter we will discuss these categories and the effects they have/had on our lives.


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Did you know that the Space Needle in Seattle Washington was two thirds completed when one of the inspectors found numerous large air pockets within it's foundation? This resulted in it being completely torn down so that a proper foundation could first be laid. Sometimes God helps us this way. But you can bet the process of tearing down can seem quite devastating to us. But it's important to first have a proper foundation.

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. "And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. "Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. "The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell--and great was its fall." - Matt. 7:24-27

A faulty foundation is a breeding ground for doubt. For example, if you believe when we become saved we no longer have any trouble with sin, and then you have trouble with sin, you might doubt if you're saved. To this person I would recommend they read the Apostle Paul's trouble he had with sin in Romans 7:14-25. So on a wider scale if your faith is seated on incorrect foundations, or foundations with incorrect facts, the results can be drastic. In the above verse both had houses built, it wasn't until the storms came did they discover the latters faulty foundation.

Many believers in regard to their faith are often faced with the doubt "how do I know this is true". For me this was one of many, as Max Lucado puts it, doubtstorms. You see, Christians come to know Christ through a vast variety of circumstances. And many put their faith in Him without knowing the full implications as to why they believe, and that's okay! For blessed is he who does not see and believe. (John 20:29). But for those who are faced with the doubt "how do I know this is true", we are often not settled with what is labeled "blind faith" anymore. And you know what, God is ok with that. God invited Isaiah saying "come let us reason together". (Isa. 1:18) When John doubted, Jesus sent His disciples to him testifying to all the miracles they witnessed Him do. (Matt. 11:1-5) When Thomas said "Unless I see in His hands the imprints of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe." Jesus had him see with his own eyes, and reach with his own fingers, and put his hand in His side (John 20:25-27).

You see believing in Christ doesn't make it true, it's true therefore we believe it. And because it's true it will hold up to the test of reasoning and science. Science that is based on seeking the truth testifies of God. Contrary to what skeptics say, Christians are never called on to commit intellectual suicide in order to believe in God. This couldn't be farther from the truth. Faith and reason go hand in hand, they are not at war with each other, they are allies. Jackie Hudson writes: "Faith can operate because we have reason to believe; and because we have reason to believe, faith can operate where our reason leaves off." In otherwords, we can trust God for what we can't see because He has made true on what we can see (Rom. 1:20). Jesus pleaded with His disciples this way;

"Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. - John 14:11

Many of us have experienced a closeness to Christ through many different circumstances that was so evident we could feel it. This often happens at conversion. After all, the assembly of heaven rejoiced with praise when you were born of Christ. (Luke 15:7,10) However the temptation with this we face as Christians is to base our faith on these situations. Almost every doubter asks at one time or another, why doesn't God just make it cut and dry. Why doesn't He not just come out with something miraculous that shows a definite clear sign to the right way, surely this would cinch my doubts. The problem is He has, and He does (Rom. 1:20), but faith based on a foundation of miracles doesn't work. A sign from God would have to be something that man cannot do thus proving it's authenticity, this process is summed up in the word miracle. And as we learn from examples, faith based on miracles doesn't last. For a person who's faith rests in miracles needs a constant supply of miracles to keep their faith sustained, which really doesn't sustain it at all. An excellent example of faith based on miracles not working can be found in Exodus. When God led those who He called "My people" out of Egypt. These people witnessed many miracles, first the 10 plagues on Egypt (Exodus chapters 7 - 11). Then on their journey out of Egypt God presented many more miracles; dividing the sea, bread from heaven, pouring water out of rocks, and more (Exo. chapters 11 - 17). God even personally led them in a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night. (Exo. 13:21). Often following the miracles the Israelites would praise God and trust Him for a short time (Exo. 14:31), that is until another problem arose, and despite the fact God took them thus far, and all the miracles they had witnessed, they still doubted and despaired death. And they grumbled against God. (Exo. 14:11, 15:24, 16:2. 17:2). Miracles reaffirm faith, but faith that rests on a foundation of miracles stands to falter.

As we've seen, a faulty foundation gives great opportunity for doubts to arise, but a person who has good reason to believe hangs around spite the pain and turmoil they're enduring from their house crumbling. Want to hear Peters reason? Jesus had just got done preaching some hard to swallow material, and many who were listening to him walked off. When Jesus saw His disciples still hanging around, even though they may have not understood the message yet, Jesus asked them why they too had not left. Heed Peter's response.

So Jesus said to the twelve, "You do not want to go away also, do you?" Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. "We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God." - John 6:67-69

Peter understood that apart from God there is no hope for anyone. The world offers nothing. One thing everyone agrees on is that someday we will die. (Incidentally, I think this further validates scripture for if the disciples like Peter understood this, would they have reason to try and make it up? I think not.)

I am amazed at just how much resources there are outside the bible that testifies and at times shouts of the validity of the bible, and God. However these things cannot take the place of God's Word, they simply point you to it. And because the Word of God is living and active and able to pierce your innermost being, (Heb. 4:12) it can do what outside sources can't.

So in order to deal with this kind of doubt you need to get an accurate understanding of what and why you believe. Do not be afraid to seek the truth, start with the basics of Christianity. Find a close brother who's willing to disciple you, find a fellowship or bible study that is teaching the fundamental principles of Christianity. Even if you consider yourself a longtime Christian, do not be ashamed to join a new believers group. There's also some excellent apologetic resources out there, your local church library would be a great place to start. Pickup a book or two from trusted authors and learn from the wisdom God gave them. Once you realize that your faith is based on true facts and is not just fantasy (subconsciously), you will find yourself more bold in your commitment to God. That in itself could be a reason for the tear down in the first place. God wants all of you. He loves you that much.

You may have found yourself like me, who still had persistent illogical doubts that remain despite good reasoning and facts. I had times where I felt that if Jesus had come to me like Thomas did, I felt I would still doubt and that really troubled me. My doubts had other roots that went beyond a faulty foundation. We will discuss those in articles to come.


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An inaccurate view of God is similar to a faulty foundation, you need the correct facts, you need the truth. In this case, its the truth about God and His relationship to you. Your thoughts on how God perceives you are huge in how they effect your daily walk with Him.

  For as he thinks within himself, so he is. - Prov. 23:7a

  This means if you believe God is angry at you, then you will walk as if that's the case. Or if you feel condemned you will lack confidence in coming before the throne of God. (1 John 3:21).

 At conversion into life with God we may feel accepted, but what about as time goes on, as we learn the "right" and "wrong" things of being a Christian; as we're taught what is pleasing and what is an abomination to God. You see with God, we read verses like Matthew 5:48 that says "Therefore, you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." At first this told me that I needed to try harder, because just as my parents did, God demands perfection. The problem didn't lie in His demand, but rather my shortcomings. This may surprise you, but I've never been perfect, and in light of this verse I constantly felt disapproval and condemnation from God. This was an absurd, inaccurate view of God, for His Word tells me a much different story.

  You see I never lived up to Jesus' demands of perfection as mentioned in the verse I quoted in the above paragraph. So I always carried around feelings on inadequacy, rejection, and condemnation from Jesus. This was a heart breaking state, because no matter how much I tried, I could never live up to what was required of me...or so I thought. You see I had always read that verse above that calls for perfection as one that pointed out that I needed to try harder, but in reality Jesus was pointing out a standard set by God's holiness that was so great that I needed a solution that was found outside myself. I needed someone to do it for me. For them to meet the perfection required by God, and then trade records with me. To live a perfect life, and then trade me it's clean record for my life's record filled with inadequacy. Sound familiar? Jesus knew the demands were to great for me to achieve, for as Paul says in Galatians 2:21, "...if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly."

  "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. - Matt. 5:17

  You see, my view of God was inaccurate. I saw Jesus condemning me for not measuring up, but Jesus took care of all the measuring up I would ever need. (Col. 2:13-14). There is nothing I can add, or take away from what He's done for me, as Jesus put it when giving up His Spirit on the Cross, "It is finished" (John 19:30). Thanks to Jesus Christ, God now looks at me as His beloved (period). God looks at me like I lived the perfect life Jesus lived, He looks at me like I am His son. And so I am! It's no wonder John reiterates this point as well.

  See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. - 1 John 3:1

 This was one example, my example of how I developed my inaccurate view of God. As you can see in the example my inaccurate view was fertile soil for doubts. I doubted my salvation, I doubted God's love for me. I walked around carrying a sentence of condemnation on my head that I projected being from God when in fact it was not. For we know that Christ did not come to condemn. (See John 3:17, [below], also John 12:47).

  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. - John 3:17 (NIV)

  Knowing this, my inaccurate view of God being a taskmaster who was never pleased with me was corrected to understanding that God sees me as His beloved in whom He is well pleased. In this I found rest.

  How does all this relate to doubt? Well if a person has a view or theology of God that is not biblically accurate than when things rise up in life that don't line up with their view of God, doubt is born. Another short example may be a person who thinks that becoming a Christian means life will go smooth. They have an inaccurate view, and have not read the verse that says "In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33)

  There are many different faulty views of God. I've met different people who have a wide variety of theology. Some have put God in a box, limiting Him as not being sovereign; in their mind are things that are impossible for God to do. (counter: Matt. 19:26, Jer. 32:17, Zech. 8:6, Mark 10:27, Luke 1:37, 18:27) Others have viewed God as working only inside their understanding, so when something arises they don't understand they pass judgment that God has failed. (counter: Isa. 55:8-9, Prov. 3:5-6). Some, like me, viewed God as rigid and demanding, even sadistic, like in my above example, they view God as being a taskmaster and their faith is often driven by fear and guilt. (counter: read verses listed in my example above, also Isa. 30:18, Luke 15:11-32) Opposite of viewing God as a taskmaster are those who view God as only being "nice". They see God as being only good, loving, compassionate, they fail to see that God is also Just, and Holy. Their object of faith is a God who is not trustworthy to do the right thing. (counter: Deut. 32:4, John 5:30, Matt. 5:18-20, 1 Peter 1:16-25).

  The common solution here is to know who God is. As we've been doing so far, the best way to correct an inaccurate view of God, is to gain an accurate view of who He is. This process takes time due to several factors, but can be started right away.

  First, your view of God must be on God's reasoning, not yours. Let me explain using a known model. You say to yourself, "This is what I think love is", then your reasoning says God's love is just a bigger, more perfect model of how I love". You've taken your worldly view of love, magnified it, and projected it on God. This model could then say since I don't love thieves than God certainly doesn't love thieves. This view can lead to all sorts of unfounded thoughts and actions. This is why it's important to see what God says about Himself, then you can correct your view by His reasoning. In my case I viewed Jesus as judging me for not living up to His requirements, but what I learned from God's Word is that Jesus does not judge me, (John 3:17,12:47) and that He has satisfied His requirements of me. (Matt. 5:17, Col. 2:13-14, Rom. 8:4) So now instead of viewing myself as rejected, I have the understanding based on God's word that all that is required of me has been met, not by me, but by Jesus, therefore it's secure, and Jesus declares me "Not Guilty". (Rom. 8:1,34).

  Also note it takes time. A person may have many different avenues that influenced and gave him an incorrect view of God, some of which you may have yet to realize, or may still be under the source of those incorrect teachings. It could be your upbringing, culture, friends, books, personal experiences, and even mislead teachers themselves. A friend of mine, in reference to books based on Christianity other than the Bible, advised me to "chew up the meat, but spit out the bones".  In order to overcome these incorrect views they first must be brought to light, then they can be dealt with. Many of these may be brought up as you read the bible and get an accurate view of God. It's good to take note of how God describes Himself in both the Old and New Testaments. One recommended tool is to read your bible and jot down the different characteristics of God starting with the New Testament. 

  Similar to dealing with a faulty foundation as discussed prior it's important to learn and heed correct biblically founded views on who God is. Firstmost, read the bible throughly, and never consider yourself done. Secondly, gather information from trustworthy sources, books, church, bible studies, Christian fellowships, etc... All of which need to line up correctly with the bible. In all this pray for wisdom which God said He gives abundantly and without reproach. (Jam. 1:5). Getting to know God is one of the highest, if not the highest priveleges given to us by what Christ did on the cross. Doing so will not only help correct your erroneous views, but will bring you into a closer relationship with your Creator and Savior, who died on the cross at the hope of having a relationship with you. (Heb. 12:2)

  There can be a combination of reasons that feed a persons doubt. Some like this can be corrected with gaining accurate knowledge of who God is and what He's done. Others can remain persistant and may be rooted elsewhere and not just in faulty information or errant views of God. In cases like mine it may go beyond an inaccurate view of God to also being rooted in damaged emotions. We will discuss that and other origins in pages to come.


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For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. - Galatians 5:17

  Our flesh is opposite of God's Spirit, so much so that they are at war with each other, even within us. If the two are at war and are opposites then we know that there is no harmony between them. Because they share no common grounds it is impossible to serve both. You cannot give ground to both sides and make everyone happy. You either yield to the Spirit which is crucifying the flesh (Gal. 5:24), or you give into the flesh and grieve the Holy Spirit that dwells within you (Eph. 4:30). Do not be confused, your salvation does not depend on what you do (or don't do). Your salvation depends completely on what Christ has done which is why we can rest. However, your choosing to sin can effect your daily walk with God. A friend of mine once compared the Spirit and the flesh like two dogs wrestling with each other. The question was asked, which one wins? He answered, which ever one you feed. Paul challenges us this way,

  If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.  - Galatians 5:25

  Paul here separates being made alive by God's Spirit, and choosing to walk in God's Spirit. He's urging us to walk in the same Spirit that makes us alive together with Christ (Col. 2:13). So by this, we have the understanding that a person can be saved, but that he should also choose to actively walk in the Spirit. Why? That's what we are going to go into.

  First let's talk a little bit about feeding the flesh. Like the analogy above about dogs fighting, if you're feeding sin, then you are not walking in the Spirit. If you are walking in the Spirit then you are not carrying out the desires of the flesh (Gal. 5:16). If you are living in sin than you are not walking in the Spirit, but are yielding to the lustful desires of the flesh. Since we know that doubt lies in our humanness as discussed in previous chapters, than we know that doubt lies in our flesh. So now understand that when you carry out the lustful desires of the flesh you are feeding the same part of you, that is your flesh, that your doubts are rooted in. Not only that but you are missing out on the fruits, and benefits that God's Spirit joyfully wants to bestow on you. Some such as these:

  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. - Galatians 5:16

  The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, - Romans 8:16

  There are many more benefits of walking in the Spirit, some probably which aren't even recorded, but even many like these that are. Some of you may have read these verses and find yourself longing for these benefits. To that I would ask what are you feeding? When I ask this, and as we've covered in prior chapters, doubt is not sin. I am referring to sins such as listed in Galatians 5:19-21, 1 Corinthians 6:9, 6:18, and 2 Corinthians 12:21. Living in sins such as these is giving way to the cesspool where doubts originate from. Not only that, but not walking in the Spirit is robbing you of the fruit such as those listed above, and other benefits like the assurance of salvation mentioned in Romans 8:16. By sinning we are quenching the Holy Spirit.

  Do not quench the Spirit; - 1 Thess. 5:19

  Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. - Eph. 4:30

  Notice the above verse includes both the fact that you can grieve and be sealed by the same Holy Spirit at the same time. How does one grieve the Holy Spirit? In Matt. 28:20 Jesus said He would be with us always, John 14:16 tells us that the Father will send us a Helper, that He may be with us forever. 1 Corinthians 6:17 says the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. What does this mean? God is with you (Isa. 8:10). I wont portray knowing the mind of God except by what He chooses to share with us, but if the Holy Spirit of God is with us ALWAYS, that means He's even with us when we choose to walk down the path of sin. Does that grieve Him? I would think so. (I'm nodding big right now). This reminds me of my childhood dog named Ginger.

  Ginger was the most loving, most cheerful, obedient and loyal dog you can imagine as much of my family will attest to. She even gave hugs. I could go on and on, but one thing I haven't forgotten his her distaste for water in her later years. I took her to the beach one day which required dogs to be leashed. On this hot day I decided to wade out into the water and I brought Ginger with me. Now the entire day she had been pulling at the leash, smelling, looking, and so eager to meet people. This was not the case when we went into the water. Now I've seen her swim when she was younger, so I figured her disliking the water was because she had been away from it so long. Regardless of her reason however, it was clear now she didn't like the water. She was still pulling at the leash, but this time it was backwards, with her rear end farther away than her head, her feet dug into the sand, pulling backwards. And her love for people, for smells, her focus on anything else was out the window. Long story less long, I kept pulling thinking that once she got in it she'd enjoy it. This was not the case. The more I pulled the more she resisted. She was only 50lbs, so I won, and she ended up belly deep in water, shaking, terrified, her tail tucked as far as it could be without touching the water, and she was letting out a consistent yelping type whine that couldn't be comforted by anything short of leaving the water. So we did.

  In this little episode I was able to turn a loving, bouncing, full of spunk and joy dog, into a quivering, crying, shaking, grieved puppy. Ginger didn't have a choice, she was attached to me by a leash. If I was going and she was tethered to me, she was going. Her demeanor went from one full of excitement, to one grieved. Don't get me wrong, she still loved me, even belly deep in that which she hated. The same is of God. His love for you is unwavering. But being a loving God, He hates sin, and what it does to His children. For we reap what we sow.

  Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. - Galatians 6:7-8

  We are forgiven our sins by the blood of Christ, and the penalty due us was put on the back of Jesus Christ on the cross. That does not mean our sins don't still have an effect, if I say hurtful things, does that not still hurt? If we obey sin, we reap from it corruption (John 8:34, Rom. 6:16). So understand by living in sin, you are sowing seeds to the very grounds your doubts are rooted in, your flesh. Do you really want that to continue to produce crops?

  Another result from walking in disobedience occurs in your mind. On one hand you claim to be a believer, and on the other hand your living a life of sin. To those who are weak conscienced (1 Cor. 8:12) this can surface as doubts. And still for some it's easier to doubt God, than it is to face the consequences of sin and deal with it squarely. Left undelt with, it's not uncommon for the guilt a Christian feels to translate into doubts. For some it's less painful to doubt than to deal with guilt. However, doubt and guilt frequently go hand in hand.

  Resolving this type of doubt is relatively easy to explain, but can be harder to carry out. Bring it before God, and repent!

  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. - 1 John 1:9

  Notice how much in that verse that we do. We bring it to Him, and he does the rest! We confess, and it is He who is faithful and righteous to forgive us, and it is He who cleanses us from ALL unrighteousness. It is NEVER to late to start doing what is right, God's forgiveness and power to restore are available the moment you turn to Him. Doubt in this case could be your comrad in bringing to light your sins so that your deeds could be wrought with God (John 3:20-21).

  "Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; - Acts 3:19

  If you find yourself in a struggle with an embedded sin, get help! Utmost of course go to God, but we are also instructed to go to our brothers for help. As it is written:

  Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. - James 5:16

  There are many brothers and sisters in Christ out there that are willing to help. Consult a Christian friend you know to help hold you accountable, seek resources at your local church. Consult a pastor or Christian counselor for guidance.

  Some habitual sins can both cause, and stem from emotional damage. We will go into that in pages to come.


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“A crisis isn't a crisis if you're prepared for it.”

  Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; - 1 Peter 4:12

  Unlike the first three roots we've talked about thus far, these next few reach into areas that are, to some extent, beyond the doubters ability to control.

  Let me start this by emphasizing the importance of heeding 1 Peter 4:12. you WILL be tested. There are many accounts and warnings in the bible explaining the trials and tribulation we will go through. Some that come from the world, (Matt. 18:7, 1 Pet. 1:6) and some from Satan (Matt. 4:1, 2 Cor. 12:7, 1 Pet. 5:8). All of which are filtered by the hands of God for his holy purpose (Deut. 8:2, 8:16, Exo. 20:20, 2 Chr. 32:31, 1 Pet. 1:6, 4:12, Jam. 1:2). Therefore, as Peter said, we should not be surprised when they come (1 Pet. 4:12). Jesus stressed that we should heed His words so that in the day of testing we will stand. (Matt. 7:24-27).

It's easier to not doubt when we are walking in the Spirit fellowshipping with God, seeing Him move in our lives in an intimate way. But what about when we aren't. God has promised to never leave us nor forsake us (Deut. 31:6, Heb. 13:5) and that is never challenged here. However, we do go through times of testing, times of refining. Times that burn out impurities resulting in a more perfect reflection of Jesus Christ in our lives. (Rom. 8:29, 2 Cor. 3:18).

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; - 1 Peter 1:6-7


By this verse we know that trials will come, they will bring you to a point of distress, they are necessary, they have an intentional result. I remember reading various bible verses warning of trials and tribulation in the Christian's life and thought I was ready for anything. I had a very limited scope of what anything was. God brought something that was outside of the scope of things I had prepared for. A battle that takes place in the mind...for this I was not prepared. But I suppose a crisis isn't a crisis if you're prepared for it. Looking back I am very grateful for these times not because I enjoyed times of despair but I cherish the results that came out of those times; an intimate closeness with God like I never had before, a fellowship with Him that I may have not had otherwise, understanding of our Lord and Savior on levels I had never been to.


These times can be tough for sure. God is very dynamic in dealing with each of us on a personal level. He tests us to see where we are and proceeds according to His wisdom. To try and explain how this is done is to assume it's the same for each person or to limit God in how He works with each of us. It's been my experience in my own life as well as an observation in other believers lives that these times of tribulations are not predictable, are not the same for everyone and often come out of left field.

The bible is full of Godly men who felt abandoned, brought low, and even embittered by God. Not that they actually were but it is how they actually felt. Asaph's laments that God forgot to be gracious in Psalm 77:9, David's despair in Psalm 22:15. Job 27:2 where Job felt God had embittered his soul. During their times of hardship all had their doubts, their questions, their frustrations with God.

If you investigate each of the cases above you will find that all worked out for good according to God's purpose. Romans 8:28 is a promise for you as well.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. - Romans 8:28


Good here is not our measurement but is actually good according to God's measurement. Also notice the word all, the sum of events in a believers life not just specific ones. According to His purpose, the greatest good.


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C.S. Lewis stated "The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist." I point this out because though the devil is defeated in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross, we are not to be naive about the fact that he is in the world, just as we are in the world, and he comes "only to steal and kill and destroy;" (John 10:10).

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. - 1 Pet. 5:8

  It's important to realize what Peter is saying here, Satan is after you, and to not realize that, not to be on alert makes you easy prey. The good news is, "greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world" (1 John 4:4), and Satan will never pluck you from Jesus hand (see John 10:28, Rom. 8:38-39). However this is not to say he can't effect your daily walk with Christ. If Satan could have no effect at all, then why the many warnings in God's word? God's word has recorded Satan inflicting disease (Luke 13:10-17, Matt. 17:14-18), entering into people (Luke 8:30, 22:3,) and even influencing peoples very thoughts. (Matt. 16:21-23[below]).

From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, "God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You." But He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's." - Matt. 16:21-23

  Peter wasn't even rebuked here, Satan was. Even though the very thing Jesus was rebuking was delivered by Peter's mouth. Let me ask, do you think Peter knew those thoughts were from Satan? Most certainly he did after the rebuke, but before? I think not. For if Peter had known, he wouldn't of said those things. Also if you read the verses immediately prior to this (Matt. 16:13-20), Jesus just got done commending Peter for confessing Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God. So in one instance Peter understands and confesses Jesus as God, and the Messiah, and in the next instance he rebukes Jesus telling Him that things in which He just prophesied shall never happen, he even adds "God forbid it, Lord!"

  How often do we take thoughts implanted by the enemy and claim them as our own? I had an interesting discovery where I would take my doubts or thoughts I was struggling with and write them on paper. I was amazed at how outlandish and even ridiculous some of those thoughts were once I brought them to light by writing them down. I found this also to be a good tool in "taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ" as instructed in 2 Cor. 10:5 when fighting "every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God". Jesus gave us an excellent example of how to fight the father of lies (John 8:44) when He was attacked by Satan and tempted with doubts. Matt. 4:1-11 record these events, and notice in the first two temptations, Satan started out saying to Jesus "If You are..." Tempting Jesus to doubt who He was and to prove who He was by doing some miraculous thing. Of course these temptations failed miserably against our Lord. Nonetheless the temptation to doubt was evident. This was no new trick. Man's original sin started out with a temptation to doubt from Satan. Genesis 3:1 has Satan talking to Eve saying "Indeed, has God said..."

  What does this mean for the doubter? 2 Corinthians 5:7 tells us that we walk by faith and not by sight, so if Satan who's name is defined in Hebrew as "adversary" wants to attack our daily walk with God, than he would attack our faith in attempting to make us walk by sight. Peter by faith walked on water, but when he switched to walking by sight he sank, (see Matt. 14:29-31). As discussed in previous chapters, doubt and faith can co-exist, but if Satan can get us hung up on the doubts, we will easily quit walking by faith.

  We have two main defenses against these attacks, one is passive, the other is active. Passive is the security we already have in Christ which has God doing the fighting for us and on our behalf (Rom. 8:33-34). This is the fight that we know by God's word is done, and Jesus won. This is where the accuser of the brethren is thrown down by the power of Christ (Rev. 12:10, see also Zech. 3:1). This is where Jesus has fully condemned all of our sin on the cross, thus saving us entirely by His doing. (Col. 2:13-14, Eph. 2:8-9), This is where nobody, including Satan can take us from Christ's hand. (John 10:28, Rom 8:38-39).

  The other aspect is active. Mainly, this is done by trusting God, trusting in His work (some of what is mentioned in the above paragraph), standing strong in the strength of His might (Eph. 6:10). In the armor of God mentioned in Ephesians 6:10-16 it is by taking up the shield of faith we extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Doubt is one of those arrows. So how do we take up the shield of faith? The same way Jesus did in Matt. 4:1-11, by taking God at His Word. This is our resistance, and God has promised that if we resist the devil, he must flee (Jam. 4:7).

  It is easy to credit a problem such as doubt all to Satan. Often well meaning colleagues will do just this when assessing our problem, which leaves us the doubter feeling even more helpless and increases the intensity of our fear as we already secretly worried this was the case. Often this tempts us to take desperate measures that are irrational because we think If only I could get these demons cast out, then my doubts would be gone.

  I wondered if I was demon possessed, when emotions reach a level of intolerability you wonder anything. This is a common fear by those who can't escape their doubts. A mentor of mine stated she had never met a doubter who has been genuinely demon possessed, neither have I. Therefore we should be careful assessing the origins of our doubts. Satan is a foe that God felt worthy of mentioning, and as we've seen above the devil does use doubt as a tactic, but to give him to much credit and not consider multiple sources of our doubts can be counter-productive to our victory over this struggle.


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It's amazing how much our earthly parents can have an effect on our view of God. For example, my parents were always pushing me to do better, if I got a 'B' on my report card, their response is, you could have gotten an 'A'. If I got an 'A' their response was, you could have gotten an 'A+'. If I got an A+ on my report card, their response was, "if only you could do this in all your classes now". I never was a straight A student, but looking back now, I believe, had I gotten all A's, my response from my parents wouldn't of been one of approval but rather one pointing out another area I needed improving on just the same. Growing up I often sought approval from my parents and cases like this I never really felt I satisfied them, that I was ever good enough. My parents meant well, they loved me and I loved them. But because I was never living up to “my potential” I was ever driven to always try harder for I subconsciously felt that only in perfection could I not lack anything more and therefore my parents must approve of me. It may be of no surprise to you that I am still a perfectionist today.

  The problem with cases like this is we tend to project this same attitude on God. At conversion into life with God we may feel accepted but what about as time goes on, as we learn the "right" and "wrong" things of being a Christian; as we're taught what is pleasing and what is an abomination to God. In my case it's the same thing as I had with my parents. Though not directly, they demanded perfection, I was not perfect, therefore approval was never found. You see with God, we read verses like this one I mentioned before, Matthew 5:48 that says "Therefore, you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." At first this told me that I needed to try harder because just as my parents did, God demands perfection and He's direct about it. The problem didn't lie in His demand but rather my shortcomings, which were always evident before me. So like with my parents I constantly felt disapproval and condemnation from God. This was an absurd, inaccurate view of God, for His Word tells me a much different story. Once I learned the truth and corrected my inaccurate view of God things were better? HARDLY. For you see, this damage went well beyond an inaccurate view, lodging itself in various sections of my emotions, damaging them in ways that couldn't be so easily corrected.

  Faith is trust. The faith needed for salvation is 100% a gift from God. (Eph. 2:8, Heb. 12:2). And we know by God's word (John 1:12, 1 Tim. 4:10), and even by His character (Eze. 18:23, 18:32, Isa. 30:18, 53:10, Luke 11:13, 12:32, John 3:17, 2 Pet. 3:9, 1 Tim. 2:4,) that He freely gives this gift to any and all who would receive it. The ability to trust emotionally however is an entirely different aspect. This is learned early in life, a child's parents or others who interact with them regularly during their development years are usually their biggest influence. As the child relates to those around him, he learns through trial and success that it's safe to trust. He discovers the object of his dependency is trustworthy. In most cases this is the child's parents. The child learns how to rest under the wings of their parents and begins to rely on them for their many needs (such as the need for approval). The child experiences what it's like to rest emotionally in the arms of good, loving parents. The child then begins to internalize that emotion. During the growing years of development the child will test and reaffirm his early experience. This then becomes the basis for that child to emotionally trust people and the world around him and eventually becomes his basis for emotionally trusting God. If, during those development years a child emotions are continually hurt in one or more areas, he begins to develop what's known as damaged emotions.

  I remember reading about an experiment done by a man who owned some fish. Every day he would feed his fish the same amount of food at the same time of day. Enough so that the fish began to expect it. When those little bits of flakey food would touch the water the fish would bee-line for the top with their mouths open gobbling up any little spec floating atop the water and dragging it back down while they munched on it. Well after a long time of this routine the man swapped out the food for pencil shavings and continued to feed the fish as he had done on any other day. He dropped the pencil shavings in and up rushed the fish, mouths open, gobbling up the pencil shavings, dragging them back down and munching on them. But after a bit of chewing the fish would spit them out. It seemed at first the fish didn't think much of it, they just immediately returned to the top to grab another piece as they must have just gotten unlucky with the first bite. Needless to say they didn't get any nutritional value. The next day he would drop the pencil shavings in at the same time, the fish would run up, grab them, drag them down and spit them out. Most, but not all returned to the service to scope it out for real food, only to find none. The next day he would drop the pencil shavings in and the fish would slowly work their way to the service, some would bite at the shavings, others simply examine them thus realizing their fake. This process was continued for a few more days until at one point, the fish wouldn't surface at all. Their ability to trust their food was going to be there was destroyed. The next part was quite interesting.

  The man doing the experiment decided to end his cruelty and switched back to regular fish food. Upon feeding time he sprinkled the food atop the tank delighted that he could once again fulfill the needs of his fish. One problem, none of the fish checked it out. The fish had been emotionally trained to not trust that which was sprinkled on the waters surface and even though this time it was the very thing they needed most, being on the brink of starvation. They had not even the slightest will to investigate. Had they not noticed the shifting of the waters from the flakes landing atop? Yes they did. Their senses hadn't changed, but their ability to trust on a natural level the things they perceived had.

  It's no wonder that Satan created a counterfeit of Jesus called Santa for children to believe in at such an early stage in their life. And it doesn't stop with Santa. Other fictional characters we teach our children include the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, Sandman, Jack Frost, etc. What higher need is there than to trust in God, and what more devastating emotion to shatter than the ability to trust in that which is unseen. (Rom. 1:20, 8:24, 2 Cor. 4:18, 5:7, Heb. 11:1,27).

  Have you ever been so excited about something you were afraid to trust that it's real?


My wife showed me this video of a dog who had previously ran into the sliding door, now the dog, even though it wants so badly to come through the doorway and get the treat has great pain associated with going through the doorway. Even though he wants to so bad, he first must wrestle with what his damaged emotions are screaming at him.


If you've felt this way, you are not alone. The saying "to good to be true" was made and relayed by people who felt just like you. There is even a recorded example of the disciples feeling this way.

While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, He said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" - Luke 24:41

  The disciples had walked many years with Jesus, having left everything to follow Him (Matt. 19:27, Mark 10:28). Each left the comfort of his own life for the new found comfort under the wing of Jesus. They had grown accustomed to Jesus taking care of everything. They became as sheep to a shepherd. But that comfort would soon take a devastating emotional hit.

Then Jesus said to them, "You will all fall away because of Me this night, for it is written, 'I WILL STRIKE DOWN THE SHEPHERD, AND THE SHEEP OF THE FLOCK SHALL BE SCATTERED.' - Matthew 26:31

  It's interesting that even though Jesus had informed them all that must transpire, (Matt. 16:21, 17:22, 20:18, Mark 9:31, Luke 17:25, 24:7), they were still devastated when it came to pass. Was is because they didn't trust in what He told them? Possibly. Peter at one point rebuked the Lord when Jesus told Peter all the things He must suffer. (Matt. 16:22). Was it because they had rested their emotional trust on Him taking care of everything? Possibly. The story written in Luke 24:36-49 has Jesus reappearing to the disciples after His death and resurrection. Here He tries to convince them that it was indeed Him. He even shows them His hands and His feet (vs. 39) to prove it. But verse 38 tells us that they were troubled and doubts arose in their hearts. Did they want to believe? Of course. Jesus to be alive was their greatest need, the very thing they had set their hope on. Because of the devastation from Him leaving the first time they feared to believe this time lest they be hurt again if it wasn't true. (Salt in the wound seems to mild of an analogy.) Even though Jesus tried convincing them, there emotional level to believe wouldn't allow it. "While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement..." (Luke 24:41) They were afraid of being hurt. They still could not believe "because of their joy and amazement". Sounds odd doesn't it? The very cause of their doubts was because the object to believe was so good. Why is that? Well one definite possibility was because of the emotional damage incurred last time they felt they had lost this Hope. Mark 16:11 records the disciples even refusing to believe the report from the women who brought testimony from the empty tomb that Jesus had risen. 

  Have you ever felt that way? That someone could present the evidence to you in such a way that it is logically undeniable? That if Jesus Himself appeared before you today by some miraculous appearance like He did with the disciples, showed you His hands and feet where He had been pierced, that you "still could not believe". I remember thinking that if I saw Jesus returning riding the clouds as is written in the Bible and I saw Him with my own eyes descending from heaven, I remember thinking that I would even be able to doubt that, even when seeing it with my own eyes. In my emotional state of damage I remember I had the ability to not only doubt that which is utmost, being God Himself, but I found I had the ability to then began doubting all that was good. I even developed a fear of much that was bad. Funny, I didn't have a hard time believing in the possibility of bad things, but that which I wanted to believe the most was the very thing I felt I couldn't believe.

  With doubt stemming from damaged emotions, the issue isn't whether or not God has given that person saving faith. That became theirs the moment they would receive it. The issue is the believers ability to rely or depend on God on a feeling level. The believers salvation is not at stake but rather their daily walk with God in a sense of safety, security, and assurance. If a child endures an improper upbringing where the child's first trust objects were aloof, indifferent, emotionally cold, abusive, cruel, hostile, untrustworthy, etc... the child will have difficulty not only in emotionally trusting others, but God as well. The child's subconscious mind will be scarred and damaged leaving the child with an inability to trust on a feeling or natural level. Not addressed, this hurt will slowly present itself in the form of doubts in the believers life. When any event such as a crisis occurs that taps into these buried emotions, there is a beastly eruption of these emotions that rise up to overpower faith and reason, and doubt reigns supreme.

  The first step in recovery is understanding this situation for exactly what it is, realizing that you do have a subconscious emotional injury. Knowing what it is, is the first step in disarming it's devastating effects. Take the pressure off yourself by recognizing that your problem is not with God or with your faith, but is rooted in your damaged emotions. Also understand that damaged emotions is a wide spread problem, you are not alone. Depending on the type of damage from person to person the outcome may be different for each. In our case it's a type of damage that has hindered our ability to trust on an emotional level. They're may be other emotional scars. Stories like the one I shared at the beginning of this section regarding my upbringing are just one instance of the circumstances that revolved around the emotional damages I incurred. There were other instances in my early years that I still remember, not all revolving around my parents being the object of trust. This particular story I shared helped me understand why I had a hard time ever feeling approved and accepted. Not only did this create self-esteem issues, but this inability to feel acceptance was projected onto God and all who were around me. I even developed a pattern of habitual lying to portray to those in my life that I was indeed perfect in the standard of measure I assumed they held me too.

  Secondly, focus your attention on finding healing for those damaged emotions. This can be difficult in the face of overwhelming doubts, fear, and anxiety. But don't let those things become the object of your focus. Don't get me wrong. You may still be pummeled by them but focus on finding healing. When Peter focused on Jesus he walked on water. He did what seemed impossible. But when he looked around him at his current circumstances, understanding that what he was doing was impossible, he became scared and he sank. (Mat. 14:21-36). Also know that if you entertain these fears, anxieties, and doubts that God is still faithful. Your salvation is not dependent upon what you do, but entirely on what Jesus did. Therefore, even if you don't feel  it you are secure in Christ. As Christ did with Peter, He does with us.

Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" - Matthew 14:31

Even when you are doubting, whether you feel  it or not, He's gotcha!

  Next involves being good to yourself. You are likely your own worst enemy. Instead of being hard on yourself, treat yourself with understanding and respect and treat your feelings with care. Your feelings are you. Just as it took time to develop these emotional damages it will also take time to heal these emotional damages. Though we search for some spiritual quick fix, hoping God would just heal us and be done, which by the way He can and does on occasion. The fact is He often allows this type of healing to come through that which He has already provided, and all according to His timing. God can use this type of healing for you to bear fruit and be used by Him in ways you truly can't begin to imagine. (John 3:8).

  As Jesus came to you in the first place, which by the way He did knowing full well all that was you, damaged emotions, failures, baggage, and all that is you. As Jesus came to you in the first place, He came fully knowing not only what you had done, but everything you would do after that, yet He still chose to come to you. To save you. God loves you. Though you may be; He is not surprised at this fiery ordeal among you. Since the Lord Jesus has paid your penalty in full, to deliver you from condemnation, surely you shouldn't condemn yourself. Jesus came to you with zero intention to condemn you. He did not plan on making you a vessel of wrath.

"For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. - John 3:17

Aren't we glad that our judgments on ourselves don't hold up in the Court of God? If you, like I have, say in the court of God. "I am guilty!" Jesus replies, "You have no right to make that judgment. I am He who judges, rather He who was raised, and I intercede for you here. Not you." (Rom. 8:34, 14:4, Heb. 7:25, 1 John 3:20-21).

  Fourth. Seek information. Using trusted resources research this sensitive and tender issue. To give you a better understanding of; well, you. Understanding where your emotional scars came from will help you understand where you need healing most. It is important to understand the causes of those emotional damages, but not for the sake of placing blame, but rather to focus on healing. You have to investigate the wound before you know how to treat it. Band-Aids aren't enough.

  Fifth. Seek assistance. Find a respected Christian counselor or Christian psychologist to help you. The wounds you've experienced may be to deep to be handled by a lay person.

  Sixth, Seek support from fellow Christians. The church as a body was intended to work together in healing. (Rom. 12:15, Jam. 5:6, Heb. 13:3). Find Christian brothers and sisters who can support and love you on a personal basis and are willing to pray for you.

  Finally, continue to cultivate your relationship with God. Often having an inaccurate view of God for too long can result in damaged emotions. Just as children can receive damaged emotions from their early stages of growth, so can Christians who carry an inaccurate view of God in their early stages of spiritual growth. (The disciples as listed in this section for example). As we talked about before, understand that you can walk in faith amidst your doubts even your doubts that are rooted in emotional damage.

  Don't give up! God is indeed for you! He is committed to your wholeness and He will sustain you. (Rom. 8:28-31, 14:4, Phil. 1:6).


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Obsessive Compulsion Disorder (OCD)

Do you repeatedly check to make sure doors are locked? Do you wash your hands excessively? Are you overly concerned about germs; do you find that touching doorknobs, shaking hands and the like bother you? Have you battled morbid or immoral thoughts even though those thoughts are completely unwelcomed and horrify you? Do you spend an unusual amount of time keeping things organized so they are “just right"? Do you have a difficult time making decisions unless you are 100% certain and all variables have been thought through?

If you've answered yes to any of these then, to some degree, you likely have what is called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

First let's look at what the world defines as OCD. In my research I have found varying definitions of OCD that not only change depending on the source of who's defining it but many sources have changed their definition of it over the years. The following continuity seems to be present in many of the definitions of OCD today:

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a disorder of the brain and behavior. OCD is considered by some as an anxiety disorder as it often causes anxiety in those affected. OCD involves both obsessions and compulsions that can take a lot of time and get in the way of important things the person values.

You know what I hate right off the bat. That they call it a disorder. That was one of the things I feared I would discover about myself, that I had something mentally wrong such as having a “disorder”. However I have found that mankind loves to put labels on things so they can categorize them and put them in their own neat compartments. While they call it a disorder, I would simply describe it as Obsessive Compulsive Behavior. Yep that sounds better. Sorry I'm being OCB about this.

Honestly though, when you research OCD they are taking a behavior pattern and putting a label on it. When you dig in to their research scientist aren't sure exactly what happens which unfortunately is the current case with many other mental disorders relating to anxiety and depression. They speculate that there is some chemical imbalance but they have no way to measure or test this theory. They've examined brain scans that have given some evidence of areas of the brain that activate which seem to be different than those who aren't showing symptoms of OCD. For all they know that could just be a person's ability to use more of their brain. Even in testing medication to help with anxiety, depression, and other mental disorders they aren't sure exactly how the antianxiety and antidepressant pills work. Their conclusions are based on their observations of positive results seen in those taking the pills that had been diagnosed with a disorder. It was not because they understand the engineering of how it works but because of trial and error. I'm not discrediting the medical side of things, I'm stating we don't have concrete evidence of what's causing OCD, therefore I'm actually suspending judgment until concrete evidence can be provided.


There are many arguments crediting OCD to spiritual causes. Unfortunately this is where the world has their head in the sand. Not factoring in God, the implications of grace, faith, and spiritual things (indeed they are unable [1 Cor. 2:14]) and having no understanding of the existence of “principalities”, “powers”, “rulers of the darkness of this world”, “spiritual wickedness in high places.” (See Eph. 6:12, KJV) they offer us no help regarding a realm which they have no understanding.


There's a spiritual aspect (often called scrupulosity) the world cannot factor in because it does not know Him (John 14:17). The psychological aspect they may recognize. The spiritual aspect escapes them. Therefore let me start with the psychological and then we'll examine the spiritual and their relationship.


The Vicious Cycle of OCD


OCD is often a result of a big heart in an intelligent person who relies on their own understanding.


One of the first things I found when studying OCD is that people who identify or are identified with it are regarded as tender, thoughtful, and intelligent people. Now obviously a big heart and intelligence aren't bad (1 john 4:8, 1 Cor. 1:24). It's the last factor I mentioned above combined with these two that make what the world labels as OCD manifest itself. Because of the big heart a person is often emotionally moved in a big way. Because of intelligence, the same person has an analytical mind and is prone to rely on their own understanding.

Fear and hurt then may be when said person's heart has been hurt by an error or something missed by the brain and all of it's facets. Everyone does this, those with a big heart however are on the extreme end where it's recognizable and therefore labeled OCD. Because they are compelled by a big heart they are equally hurt by any miscalculation of the brain which they were previously relying on. This drives the person to improve their thinking that they rely on (often people with OCD are perfectionist) to prevent such an occurrence in the future.

Therefore, because other than God nobody can have absolute knowledge, and because their reliance on their knowledge, the OCD sufferer gets caught in a loop. Their sensitive heart compels them beyond their contemporaries and therefore their reliance on their brain to make absolute their path is even more driven in that it needs to protect them and therefore rule out all possible negative variables. Because their brain, having been "fooled" in the past (which is inevitable as nobody but God had total knowledge) no longer wants to grant certainly to the sufferer thereby giving the heart an "all ok" or "all clear" to move forward for fear of a variable they missed, can't understand, can't rule out, and therefore can't accomplish absolute, risk-free certainty (which is why those like me with OCD have commitment issues which we'll get into later in this article). The disciples initially struggled with this too which I'll elaborate on later (Luke 24:41).

Because we've forgotten to lock a door in the past we have a hard time assuring ourselves we've locked it this time. Because we can't physically see our hands are clean and free of contaminates we wash them again. Even when we have rational assurance that the door is locked (after all we saw ourselves check it over and over) and even if we could physically see germs and therefore have rational assurance our hands our clean, because we (our hearts) no longer trust our brains fully, we can never get that "all clear" feeling that our heart so desperately wants. Therefore we repeat rituals in a vain attempt to get that all clear feeling to go through. (Keep in mind feelings are a matter of the heart.)

On larger scale items our heart, even more so, looks for "all clear" messages from our mind on things the mind can't fully comprehend (1 Cor. 13:12) and has no authority to send such assurance. Therefore we get hung up on things that seem irrational, even to ourselves, things like "how do I know I won't hurt that person" or as a Christian, "how do I know I'm saved", "how do I know for sure God exists", or "how can I rule out that I haven't committed the unpardonable sin". We look about and see people who have assurance in these things and consider them ignorant "how can they really know". And being tender hearted, we actually don't want to talk with them about this (among other reasons such as fear of them thinking we're crazy, etc.) because we worry we might propel them into the same fiery ordeal.

Because of our heart's need for certainty and the damage done to it in the past, and given the intelligence of the sufferer's mind and its analytical ability (thinking outside the box) we start factoring in outlandish variables (that in some circumstances can be a strength which I'll discuss later regarding obsessive variable thinking). These "outlandish variables" manifest themselves as intrusive thoughts that are usually unwelcomed by the sufferer. However, because of their compulsion to rule out all negative variables their brain retains these thoughts in a futile effort to be done with them. A vicious cycle of trying to fight fire with fire.


OCD operates in our mind much like the HIV (or AIDS virus) operates in the body. When a person gets sick with a normal virus, the virus enters the body and the infection begins to spread. Then after that our body's immune system is alerted and reacts. The immune system sends CD4 cells, also known as T-helper cells to go fight the infection. After some time goes by the infection is overcome by the immune system and we revert back to normal. The HIV infection differs in that, unlike a traditional virus which hits various parts of the body, HIV specifically attacks and infects the T-helper cells that have come to kill it. Other viruses spread from one defenseless cell to another but the HIV virus specifically attacks the very cell that came to kill it. So what does the body do? It sends more. And the more it sends the more food the virus is receiving and able to spread faster. It's like trying to put out a fire by throwing paper on it and then when that doesn't work we try again by throwing more paper on it.


Feels like OCD doesn't it?


It's interesting because the HIV/AIDS virus doesn't actually kill a person. It simply keeps the immune system occupied and subdued so that the host is more susceptible to other threats that wouldn't otherwise be a big deal. A person with AIDS can be done in even by a common cold because there's nothing left to fight it. In the same way a person with OCD suffers from a depletion in mental and emotional resources to deal with things in life that otherwise wouldn't be as big of a deal. Just like what the HIV/AIDS virus does to the immune system, the more an OCD sufferer focuses on the object of obsession the more the powerful the obsessing becomes. The more resources you spend searching for the "all clear" feeling, the more "all clears" the disorder will infect and the end result is more fronts to battle then what was there to begin with.


The All-Clear "Drug" OCD Sufferers Desperately Pursue


A study I learned awhile ago showed how a person addicted to heroin would receive a high from the initial injection. This "high" simply means their feelings were elevated above what would be considered normal. Once the drug wears off they would become "low" feeling worse then what would be normal. With no action it would take some time for their feelings to level out and for their body to recalibrate. The alternative to waiting for recalibration was to inject themselves with heroin which not only brought them out of the low, but once again put them above normal feeling high once again. This was a quick fix to treat the low feelings thus starting the addiction. The problem is, the high isn't as high and each time the user would come off of heroin the low became even lower. Then it's not long until the person has to keep using just to try and feel "normal" to once again feel like life is bearable. Thereafter it's not long until the dose they are injecting isn't enough anymore to lift them up to "normal". So what do they do? They inject more to compensate. Then when that isn't as effective, they inject more still and with no course correction they eventually overdose in a desperate attempt to simply feel normal once again.


Since originally posting this article I have been contacted quite a few times and even met some sufferers in person and consistently the primary reason an OCD sufferer reaches out to me is because they want their fears doused, their anxieties dealt with, and their minds settled. To return to the life that's "normal", the life they had prior to when this OCD "infection" started. They contact me in search of a fix. Initially, with a history studying theology I was eager to provide them that fix, to help them douse their concerns and fears as is my heart's desire to do. The problem is I was going about it the wrong way. Quickly I saw a pattern where a person who's question were previously answered and anxieties settled were once again on my virtual (and real) door step looking for the same thing. Like an addict they wanted me to say the right words, do the right thing, anything that would put their mind at ease. After recognizing this pattern I realized I wasn't helping as much as I'd like to be but rather I became their drug dealer. Every time they needed an "all clear" fix they came to me and if what I said or did caused their brain to actually triggered an "all clear" it was like injecting them with heroin. While it would address the immediate pain, like any narcotic it would eventually wear off and they would come back, next time needing a larger dose to maintain that "all clear" feeling. The likeness to drugs is uncanny. Even if people returned with the same fears and anxieties, the same answers no longer had an impact. So often I would have to up my game in terms of diving deeper and reiterating biblical theology in multiple ways before they felt settled, until one day the "all clear" feeling would no longer come yet they would show up desperate for a solution that any amount of good solid reasoning and walking through scripture together wouldn't ease. So they go search elsewhere, they up their game, and essentially overdose in an attempt to once again return to what's feeling "normal". When I first was "infected" with OCD I wasn't much of a book reader. Within months however I had blazed through dozens and dozens of books, went to all the churches, submitted prayer requests for anyone offering, visited by elders, anointed with oil, phone calls with pastors. That wasn't all. I heard exercise helped with anxiety so I would randomly take off sprinting from my job site until I was exhausted and the moment I regained strength I would do it again (yes I was that desperate for a fix).


So what do we do?


What advice would you give a drug addict? Because of well documented studies on drug addiction we know from science as well as experience the best thing for a drug addict is to...stop taking drugs. The same is true for someone suffering with OCD. (Oh how I despised the advice from people to "get over it"). But hear me out. Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is a process designed by man to help reprogram the brain. If you've been in therapy or done online research you're likely aware of CBT already. One thing I would like to note is that CBT, though it's a worldly tool it's process is backed by scripture. Romans 12:2 states " transformed by the renewing of your mind..." CBT essentially is to some degree agreeing with what God put in scripture thousands of years ago. The process of CBT is used to treat a variety of mental disorders. Specific to OCD it's a reprogramming that involves the sufferer abstaining from the rituals that their obsessions desire them to do. If your OCD causes you to repeatedly check doors then someone walking you through CBT would have you abstain from doing that no matter how much anxiety it causes you. Just like we would tell the addict to stop taking drugs no matter how bad the withdrawals are, a therapist guiding through CBT may tell you to abstain from your rituals no matter how bad the anxiety gets.


How does that work?


Renewing of the Mind - Difficult Reprogramming and Why It's Crucial


Note: Let me pause here and say I'm not a psychiatrist nor am I a therapist. I'm simply a person who studies who suffers/suffered from the same thing and has had victory. There may be variations or other accompanying factors that I may not have experience in so I would encourage you not to rely on me or what I've written here but I would encourage you to seek out those whom may be of more help then I. My qualifications would be summed up in 2 Corinthians 1:4 whereas I'm offering to share with you what has brought comfort to me.


In my studies I have learned how the Limbic part of the brain which is the emotional core of the brain works in correlation with the prefrontal cortex which is the reasoning and decision making part of the brain. Feelings originate in the limbic part of the brain; some have argued that the Limbic part of the brain is often the part being spoken of in the bible when it references the "heart" or the "flesh" or "old self". The Limbic part of the brain is also what is activated by stimulation from drugs, sex, and other things. It is also the center for emotions such as anxiety and fear. These two parts of the brain can operate together and independently. If developed properly the Limbic system can be a powerful ally (Prov. 22:6). However if developed improperly it can be a frustrating adversary. Not one that can't be overcome however. This, I'm convinced, is what's being spoken of when Paul wrote "be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Rom. 12:2). Essentially Paul is saying the transformation of the person is preceded by the renewing of the mind. Modern day scientist will confirm this is exactly what happens (I'd encourage you to watch the Conquer Series [ ] which dives into this deeply though it's a study more for addicts). A child raised up improperly builds what's called synaptic pathways in their Limbic systems. The more a person thinks along these lines the stronger and more reinforced those synaptic pathways get developed, good or bad. It's like making a path in the woods. If you walk it once you can hardly tell anyone has gone through there. If however you walk the same path many times, that path becomes a trail. And if someone needs to get through the woods in the same direction, they default to taking the trail which then becomes more trodden and resembles more of a road. Once it becomes a road many more are gathered to it instead of taking an off-beat path, even if it's somewhat out of the way, and thus it becomes a highway.


Let me give you a couple real life examples I hope make sense and maybe you can relate to. My wife and I recently became foster parents and took in a 6 year old girl about four months ago. By God's orchestration it has been a blessing--she has been a blessing! Though we have only had her for about four months, she has changed A LOT in such a short amount of time! Not outwardly as if she's grown, (though she has me measure how tall she is almost every other day just in case). Rather, she has changed inwardly in her way of thinking. Before I throw my daughter under the bus for the sake of this example know she has always been a wonderful kid, but one that originally came with such a different attitude then what she has now, even in such a short time. Her way of thinking, her programming, her interaction with the world, with us, was void of normal social interaction (to be expected given what she's endured thus far), furthermore her interactions, beit with that soft gentle cute face she'd give, more largely consisted of manipulative behavior accompanied by tantrums, pouting, and an overall disrespectful attitude.


What's amazing is in four months she's bloomed! Praise God! Her grades are now on par with the rest of the class and even exceeding in some areas. She interacts more and more every day and has even started shaking hands at church! That's not the most amazing part, the most amazing part is the bad attitude, the manipulations, the pouting, and the tantrums that used to be quite frequent are practically gone! That is... until visitation happens. It took a few times before I noticed the pattern, as there was next to no visitations at first. Then, recently visitations have picked up momentum (something we've encouraged and have had time to spend with and even take bio family out to dinner, go trick or treating together, and even to a concert with them, our little one, and my wife). With the increase in visitations it didn't take to long before you saw the pattern. Behavior one way with us, and then automatically changed right back to the old way after just a short time being plugged back into bio family and that atmosphere. Even a phone call with her family has caused her to revert to her old way of thinking.


Since she's been with us she's learning new programming, new synaptic pathways, but her bio-family is a trigger that causes her to travel down her old synaptic pathways and then even her interactions with the world are done so through her old way of thinking. Then after a couple days she will start operating back in the system established at our house and things will start going good again. What's interesting is when she recalibrates back into our household system she often picks up where she left off. However, when something pulls her back into her old way of thinking (after all, that's how she learned to deal with her environment she was taken from) it can get ugly fast.


The longer we have her and the more she practices thinking within our system the more I see the new system overriding the old system. What I see is the more she practices or is trained by us (Prov. 22:6) the more established in that way of thinking she gets. The old way of thinking is still there but the new way of thinking is becoming more and more prominent! Even now I've seen her take her new way of thinking and even interact with her bio-family according to it and not the old way, thus showing them respect and courteousness too, though that's still a work-in-progress. The amount of change in such a short time is phenomenal. You might be thinking how nice it would be to have a young mind with such plasticity, which in part I agree, however in the Conquer Series study I mentioned above it showed evidence that even those most advanced in years could still create new synaptic pathways.


Some more quick examples. Have you ever driven to the same place every day such as work, the gym, grocery store, etc. And in doing so taken the same turns, the same roads, etc. Then, even on a day you're not working or planning to go that way you inadvertently head that direction and maybe even take a turn or two that you didn't intend to? I have a habit of going to the fridge when I enter the kitchen.. even when I'm not hungry, even when I went in the kitchen to talk to my wife. However I go to the fridge enough with intention that my brain has well traveled synaptic pathways along those lines that when I'm not intentional I often auto-pilot to the fridge.. (I blame my wife for all the deliciousness the fridge beholds!). Now that I'm dieting, I go to the fridge less (no pop to grab, no left over cheesecake from the night before). Though once in a while I still auto-pilot to it without thinking but seldom. A couple years ago we bought a house, yet for awhile I was auto-piloting in my car after work to the old house we lived in for 15 years prior purchasing our new house. This too has stopped now that I've been in the new house for a couple years. Reprogramming can happen! Once in awhile I still drive by the old place when I'm in the area to see if the current tenants left the ivy bush remain that a late friend gave me. Interestingly, once I turn up the street, I still feel very familiar with some of it. Right after we moved, when I visited the old place, I felt I could weave in and out of the cars parked along side the road with my eyes shut being well familiar with where all the neighbors park. But I'm less familiar with it now and therefore don't have such confidence. So it is with our reprogramming of the mind and it can be done! (Rom. 12:2). (Don't even get me started on how many times I try using an old password after I've changed it, or try and use a password I set elsewhere..)


Essentially CBT is the exercise of building new paths. When you start you are trekking through the woods without a path to follow so reprogramming the OCD sufferer is like trying to get someone to drive their car through undeveloped woods when there's a highway near by. CBT builds in your mind new synaptic pathways that after time become trails, then roads, and can even become highways. Then the idea is that after time the old highways become overgrown and now the new highway or new well traveled synaptic pathway becomes your new way of thinking. However, you have to be diligent and deliberate to drive your car through the woods repeatedly and avoid the highway. In terms of dealing with OCD you start with the physical, things like abstaining from rituals such as what you might do when making sure doors are locked or your hands are germ free. I can tell you, this isn't easy. It sounds great in theory but in practice, it's torture! At least at first. Until the new way of thinking becomes a trail, then a road, etc. It isn't easy and just like it takes time for a trail to be traveled a few times before becoming road, so does the renewing of your mind in this way. I've even came across certain studies dealing with OCD which use immersion therapy where they force a person into events that trigger their OCD but don't let them act on it. For a fellow Christian struggling with religious OCD known as scrupulosity they had them write down their worst fears and to do this every day and then do nothing. Basically with the unseen it's finding a way to provoke the trigger but not act upon it. My confusion is I always thought I needed to not have the thoughts. I didn't realize the transformation came by action. It's encouraging to know the damaged Limbic system can be reprogrammed by the actions made in the prefrontal cortex.


OCD, Scrupulosity, and Well Traveled Bad Synaptic Pathways


How did those bad synaptic pathways get there?


We'll cover this a bit, sometimes it's a traumatic event, sometimes it's an upbringing, sometimes it's something self inflicted. A big hearted intelligent individual may be more prone to OCD given the temptation to rely on their own understanding. Figuring out where they came from is good, but more importantly is a focus on how to set course the right direction. In terms of spiritual reprogramming it's important we don't rely on our own understanding. Intelligence is fine and being sensitive is good, it's relying on our own understanding that has us hung up. Proverbs 3:5 tells us not to rely on our own understanding. It's ok for our brain to be analytical, that's its God given ability. But when a person's brain follows their heart they get in trouble. We are to be reprogrammed by the renewing of our mind resting on God, God's word, and not our own understanding. Billy Graham said the order is this, fact (God's words), faith (happens in our mind), feeling (happens in the heart or Limbic system). Billy said it's always that order, anytime you rearrange those you will be in trouble. In otherwords, our faith rests on the truth of God, and our feelings rest on our faith in God. If our faith rests on our feelings... we're in trouble. If we wait for our feelings to align with truth... they may never.


The difference between bravery and courage is that bravery is not being affected at a heart level by adverse circumstances. Courage is choosing to press on toward what the prefrontal cortex knows it should do despite being affected HEAVILY by adverse circumstances. Bravery says "I do not feel anxious", courage says "I will press on though I am anxious". God often calls us to be courageous (Josh 1:9, Deut. 31:6, 1 Chron. 28:20, Isa. 41:10, 13, 1 Cor. 16:13, Phil. 1:14).


If we are to renew our mind the right way we should be deliberate to rely on the wisdom of God who has total knowledge, wisdom, might, counsel and understanding (Job 12:13) rather than our infinite minds that do not. A person who relies on their own understanding has deceived themselves as described in 1 Cor. 3:18 (below).


18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool [discarding his worldly pretensions and acknowledging his lack of wisdom], so that he may become [truly] wise. - 1 Corinthians 3:18 AMP


May I pause here for a second. I thank God you are suffering so that you are here and reading this with me. Not that I want you to suffer, I too know this anguish, but rather what the suffering produces. I don't want you or I to be lacking in any good thing and God does not either! (James 1:2-4) If we must suffer to no longer be deceived and obtain the Godly outcome, than I consider it joy to be suffering. If we are to be truly wise as the above verse states than we who rely on our own understanding need to suffer this way so that we can recognize it's futility and it can be exposed for what it truly is, foolishness! This way we may finally, possibly for the first time, come to the acknowledgement that we lack wisdom and discard our worldly pretensions and faulty wiring. If God granted us peace according to our wisdom, our pretensions, while we were still walking in them relying on our own understanding it would have been counter productive, feeding into that self deception. There are distinct ways, abrupt ways, that God, in His faithfulness exposed men who were relying on their own understanding. Job who God held in high regard (Job 1:8) after hearing Job cry out for reassurance, for certainty, for vindication, God came to him in a very abrupt and sobering way. In chapters 38-42 God exposes the futility of Job relying on his own understanding. God opens in chapter 38 with:


“Who is this that darkens counsel
By words without knowledge?
“Now gird up your loins like a man,
And I will ask you, and you instruct Me!
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding, - Job 38:1-4


If you continue reading the remaining book of Job you will see a very sobering response from God to Job who was relying on his own understanding (read the entire book and you will see you and Job share similar thoughts and anguishes). Keep in mind Job's high regard in God's eyes was genuine (Job 1:8) but there was a correction that Job needed (and he learned [Job 42:3], much like you and I need. This was a blessing to Job, it was a blessing to the disciples (2 Cor. 1:9) and it's a blessing to you.


Most people remember that proverbs 3:5 tells us to not rely on our own understanding but reread that in Proverbs, to my astonishment at this revelation, I believe many people (including myself) do not realize the importance of the first part that says "trust the Lord with all of your heart..." (Not in your brain, nor in your finite wisdom, nor in your pretension, not in your Limbic system/feelings, but the Lord!). That's the ticket! Your big heart needs to say to your brain, "Sorry, though you are considered smart amongst those in the world, your understanding is lacking and limited and not to be trusted, therefore I will lean on it no longer, I trust God now!" Only after you do that can you cease striving (Psa. 46:10) and be freed to truly "cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you" (1 Pet. 5:7). Only after you trust in the Lord with your heart and no longer rely on the understanding of your brain can you listen and enjoy what His Spirit has been testifying to you this whole time:


16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, - Romans 8:16


Thank God He is faithful.


The bible actually speaks on some things the world labels as OCD that occurs in the minds of all Christians. In Romans 7:7b-8a Paul writes:

...I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind...” - Romans 7:7b-8a

Paul who joyously concurred with the law (Rom. 7:22) of which was the commandment “You shall not covet” had sin in him which took the opportunity through that commandment to produce coveting of every kind. Similarly those with OCD who wish to not think terrible thoughts, because of the magnitude of those terrible thoughts and their desire to avoid them, cannot help but think of them.

I have found that given the right desire and enough motivation anyone can have obsessive thoughts, such that compel them to act on them. These things can be sparked by traumatic events which brings unwanted strong negative emotions compelling the recipient to act accordingly. For example, many having gone through the Great Depression became hoarders thereafter. The trauma of not having caused them to be compelled to not give up anything once they did have. My wife's grandmother had cupboards full of butter tubs and meat wrapping papers. During the Great Depression these things were of value, for example, presents would be gift wrapped reusing the same paper the butcher used to package their meat in. However, in recent times, even though she had available actual wrapping paper in her house, she was still compelled to save those things having gone through an era without.

Traumatic events unfortunately can be found in the history of pretty much everyone you meet. Examining the track record of those in my life I have found traits in almost all of them that resemble that of OCD in response to those traumatic events. A parents constant checking on their children to see if they are breathing after their friend's child died of SIDS. Another's need to repeatedly make sure doors and windows are locked after having been the victim of a break-in. Excessive washing of the hands after repeatedly getting ill. The girlfriend constantly making up excuses to call her boyfriend to check up on him after boyfriends have cheated. The man who won't turn the heater up enough to get warm for fear of a house fire.

We don't like being hurt. Whether it's emotionally in a relationship, physically with illnesses, psychologically as with the one who had their house broken into. When we hurt enough we become obsessed about avoiding those hurts and therefore are compelled to take precautions to prevent recurrence. My question then is when do these actions become a disorder? Some online resources recognized these traits in everyone but classified it as a disorder when “these thoughts and behaviors cause tremendous distress, take up a lot of time, and interfere with your daily life and relationships”. In this case they are recognizing everyone has obsessive compulsive behavior but at a certain degree of intensification it becomes a disorder. Perhaps it's more accurate to say everyone to some degree has OCD in them and at higher levels it begins to more negatively impact the person's daily life. Let's examine this with a different perspective.


The Other Side of Our Strengths


Sensitive people respond in much larger ways than those who are insensitive. Passionate people respond in much larger ways than those who are not passionate. The insensitive person hates the idea of someone breaking in and stealing their stuff. The sensitive person can't bear the idea of having to deal with such a violation; the loss of stuff is secondary to that violation. One locks their doors if they remember, the other, because the thought of it is unbearable, repeatedly makes sure their doors are locked. Likewise, the unpassionate person tries to accomplish a task, the passionate person isn't satisfied until the task is done just right. The person who is more sensitive or more passionate invokes an equally greater response to their concerns. The more tender the area the more protective of that area we are.

Is it bad to be sensitive, absolutely not, is it bad to be passionate, nope. Children are sensitive and often passionate and Jesus tells us we are to be like them (Matt. 18:3). He also warns about the opposite, of becoming dull of heart (Isaiah 6:10, Matt. 13:15, Acts 28:27, Romans 2:5). What I am getting at is, since we don't know the full implications and origins of OCD, it's possible that those diagnosed with what the world calls a disorder may actually be blessed with what God see's as a gift, though at times we exorcise it in error? Don't get me wrong, OCD behavior itself may be working against us, but some character traits that have led to negative obsessive compulsive behavior may actually reflect positive, good traits such as sensitivity, zeal, and diligence. A sensitive heart and an analytical mind is good but combined with a reliance on one's own understanding is bad.


For example, I work in the tech industry. I am self taught and good at what I do. Me and my wife started our own business from the ground up in 2009 and it's been quite successful. I don't mean that to be haughty or boastful, in all variables it has been by God's provision and in recognition of James 1:17 all good gifts come from God. But I am what I would call an obsessive variable thinker (OVT, deductive reasoning on steroids); both a strength and potential weakness. I would define an obsessive variable thinker as someone who constantly considers all the variables of every situation at every moment. It's a strength in the tech industry because, unlike many of my contemporaries, my brain encompasses more variables than that commonplace to others and in terms of troubleshooting what's wrong with a computer, network, security system, programming, etc. I can usually catch things that others missed and it's hardly the other way around. Please note, I am not saying this to boast but rather to provide a connection for those who see similar traits in themselves. This "variable thinking" extends well beyond the tech world however and has proven itself as a strength in many areas of my life. In my five years working in law enforcement I excelled in playing detective. I would consider possibilities that many others wouldn't including some of our dear veterans, and in a world where the bad guys are thinking as hard as they can to not get caught, I would often out think those bad guys and play a part in their capture (which I found rewarding). To mention a few other traits where "variable thinking" has proven a strength I'm rarely ever caught off guard and hardly ever surprised (though I love surprises, 1 Cor. 2:9 excites me greatly!). As a 9th grader my teacher each day would post brain teasers or trick questions on the board and I was usually the first to figure them out. Sometimes I would figure them out but keep silent as it made me feel like a jerk. I even remember once keeping silent and my teacher saying to me "haha I finally stumped you" which of course kicked my ego in where I replied, be it a bit smug, with the answer. I'm also the one in the family that people claim can always find the "perfect gift" for others, even those I hardly know. In like fashion I am able to know a lot about a person, who they are, what they are thinking, what they are planning, etc. by very little information through this variable thinking or the power of deduction, thus removing variables and narrowing down the possibilities in each of these cases until I have only those that are most probable or definite left. Because of this, those that are close to me have even shouted "get out of my head" as I know what they are going to say even in circumstances where it seems like I shouldn't. A talent that is continually being refined as I age. This talent combined with the gifts of exhortation and discernment has given me the ability to not only know what's going on in a person's life with little information but has gifted me with the ability to speak life into that person, the ability to both hold accountable (often by the variables it's easy to identify when someone's not being forthright) and make eternal investments into that person; gifts I cherish and am happy to exercise!


Now for the weakness... you know what my wife can do that I hadn't been able to do. She can will to not think of something. Why? Because she doesn't rely on her own understanding (Prov. 3:5-6). I do. Not only am I an OVT (which often is a strength) I'm also one who tends to rely on my own understanding. Being self-reliant I couldn't will to not think of something even though I wanted too (oh how at times I wanted to, in tears I wanted to). Not only could I not do that, I couldn't even relate to her what that's like as I've been an self-reliant OVT as far back as I can remember. On the contrary, if something is big enough to warrant me trying to will to not think about it than I am compelled to think about it even more (Rom. 7:7-8). This in itself is not the weakness, I don't mind thinking about anything at this stage. The weakness is this; what happens to an obsessive variable thinker who relies on their own understanding when he has variables that are difficult to consider that he cannot eliminate? He gets caught in a loop. The weakness enters when an OVT relies on their own understanding. It's no wonder Christian OVT's like myself struggle with weighty matters such as doubting if we are actually saved or if we're one of the "chosen" or question if God is real and actually loves us. Wondering if we committed the unpardonable sin or, if it were somehow possible, out sinned the grace of God. As we've discussed earlier and in previous chapters, we do not have total knowledge and until we see God face to face it will remain this way (1 Cor. 13:12). Because we do not have total knowledge there are some variables that we find difficult to make since of and because of our desire for certainty according to our knowledge (instead of God's Word) before moving on (as is normal for an OVT) we get hung up on them. We have no way to extinguish every possible troublesome variable and because we rely on our own understanding we are unable to move on until we do. One may say we are stuck between a rock and a hard place but considering the variables that often feels like an understatement. A hard place at least offers possibilities and if you, like me, are an OVT you feel seemingly stuck between a rock and a rock. The more important the matter the more we cannot dismiss it until we are certain and have ruled out all variables. When it comes to matters with God there can be no more important matter that excels well beyond our understanding (Rom. 11:33, 1 Cor. 13:12) and so to you and I it's no surprise that it is these things we are hung up on the most. Do you have a hard time making big purchases? Perhaps a car, house, land, etc.? I ask this because these are purchases where it can be difficult to know all the variables and if you're like me, you don't want to make such a commitment until you do (you may have guessed by now I have commitment issues). I mean, when you're purchasing a used car can you really be certain it's in full working order and not on the verge of failure? A normal person may check the Carfax and be satisfied but if you're a self-reliant OVT like myself, that's not enough. You want to take all the hoses off and look inside them for cracks and to smell the remnant of fluid running through them to make sure it smells like it should. Then when you realize you can't rule out all the possible bad variables (after all, you don't know how the previous owner drove it or maintained it and therefore you can't with excessive certainty know it's a safe buy) and you're unable to give your heart the "all clear" you take the safe route and not buy the car at all. (I started buying new cars only and as I would declare "this way I know all wear and tear on it was only from me"). Along this same lines I hate it when people ask me my favorite anything. Don't they know their whimsical question is asking me to consider all possible variables and then develop an all inclusive measuring system that I can then, through exhaustive efforts, eliminate each option one by one until I can commit an accurate answer I'm willing to definitely stand behind?


Security is another tough one. The world is a wicked place and the variables of this world that could mean us harm are unending. Variables we can't control. People who mean us harm, circumstances that could mean us harm (fire, earthquake, car accident), health problems fall in this category. Having worked in law enforcement and then handling alarms and security systems in the I.T. realm I meet people like me. For whatever reason (a violation of security perhaps) has made OVT's like myself who rely on their own understanding get caught in a loop, forever trying to secure themselves (and those they care for) by ruling out bad possible variables and never actually being able to do that (though we don't cease trying do we?). If we're that bad about worldly security it's no wonder we struggle with eternal security. For eternal security is more important and even less in our control (Matt. 19:25-26). While to some degree (though little) we have control over our worldly security (drive a safer car, etc.) our eternal security we have even less control over and no obvious, visible, verifiable way to confirm we have it thereby in our flesh extinguishing all the variables, or in this case, the fiery darts of the evil one (Eph. 6:16). God is actually in control of our eternal security (Matt. 19:25-26, Rom. 9:15) and for some reason we can't get Him to answer our inquiries for Him to give us the "all clears" we are looking for (as if He he were somehow obligated too). God having to answer to us should seem ridiculous to us but we still try don't we? You know what answer I've gotten back. It's the only one I've ever gotten back but because it doesn't allow me to rule out bad variables by my own understanding I don't always accept it, nevertheless it's always true. That answer is this. “My grace is sufficient for you...” (2 Cor. 12:9). I have read this but I've also felt it pressed on my heart and I thank God for that. If God had answered and given me my "all clear" fix I so desperately sought He essentially may have become my drug dealer. Thank God His wisdom transcends mine! It doesn't solve my walking by sight problem (when we should be walking by faith, 2 Cor. 5:7) but it does let me know that God is bigger than my walking by sight problem and His grace even covers that (1 John 3:20, Matt. 14:31). From our point of view we look down at the ravine we've fallen into and we feel isolated, abandoned, and alone. From God's point of view that same ravine is simply a groove, a wrinkle in the palm of His hand. He's got you. His grace is sufficient! By sight, like Peter (Matt. 14:30), from our point of view we are frightened, but God by His point of view, as with Peter (Matt. 14:31) knows He's got you and no created thing (including yourself) will ever snatch you from His hand (Rom. 8:39, John 10:29, 2 Tim. 2:13). And He will bring you home (Phil. 1:6). I thank God that in His grace He would grant you and I to suffer when we rely on our own understanding as that's an unhealthy place to be. Similarly I thank God for the truth of the law that points out our shortcomings so we won't seek to be justified by it no longer but by God's grace where actual justification is found. If you're reading this than it's likely you share in these struggles. If you share in my struggles than you likely welcome the idea that God would grant you such a struggle that would usher you to no longer rely on your own understanding but to truly come to rely on Him that gives "the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension" (Phil. 4:7).


Side note 1: The enemy and OVT. (See also Ch: 4, Spiritual Warfare)

Like any good war strategy, you attack anywhere there's a weakness in the opposition. Consider Satan's attack on both Adam and Even and on Jesus Himself. He started off with Adam and Eve in Gen. 3:1 by saying "indeed, has God said..." and again in Matt. 4:3 to Jesus he started in like fashion when he said "If You are the Son of God...". This apparently was an attack he knew to work well in times past as he tried again in Matt. 4:6. In both cases the devil tempted them to reconsider variables and thereby luring them into walk by sight and not by faith. Eve decided to walk by sight "When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes..." (Gen 3:6). Jesus however did not stumble nor even for a second brought into focus what Satan was trying to get Him to look at. If this is the opening attack in each of these scenarios then we shouldn't be surprised that it be used on us too (1 Pet. 4:12, Eph. 6:16).


Side note 2: Damaged emotions and OVT. (See also Ch: 4, Damaged Emotions)

Considering self-reliant OVT what happens when our foundations are shaken or even crumble. It's no wonder the enemy attacks fundamental emotional development in children by producing counterfeit's to Jesus such as Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny and at older ages false religions and false doctrine. If these rudimentary trust emotions can be damaged it will produce uncertainty throughout the individual's life. At older ages, perhaps because of an inaccurate view of God we trusted Him for something we felt He should do or have done and He didn't. We then begin questioning the foundation of all our beliefs. As an OVT we then add the variable of "how can I be sure" to the list of others and we begin to question and doubt everything we may have once been certain of. I've found myself doubting things that the majority of others accept without question, obvious things that were even ridiculous to me yet I would still doubt them. In terms of my relationship with God it got to the point that I felt if Jesus appeared right in front of me through many miracles only He could do I would still doubt Him. The apostles actually struggled with this too. In Luke 24:36-41 Shortly after his crucifixion Jesus appeared to the Apostles which having witnessed Him being crucified in and of itself is amazing, but He proceeded to show them the piercing in His hands and His feet but they still wouldn't believe? Why? Because they were afraid too. Keep in mind they believed Jesus would remain with them on earth (Matt. 16:22, John 6:15) so their inaccurate view and what they trusted God to do (keep in mind it was them in error) was crushed when Jesus was crucified. Now He's back! And that excites them but they are reserved, afraid to believe. Likely because of fear of being crushed again. Notice verse 40 and 41a which states "And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement..." (emphasis mine). If you read on, you will see, God's faithfulness to them was unwavering at this. Likewise His faithfulness is unwavering to you (2 Tim. 2:13).


OCD and the Secluded Stronghold of Doubt


OVT like I described above becomes OCD when you act on behalf of your OVT's in a way that negatively affects your daily life. It is at this point the world defines it as a disorder. Regardless of the proper labeling of OCD or finding out it's actual origin the truth of the matter is, some of us have OVT/OCD and it's causing us grief. In regards to Christians struggling with doubts, below are some additional questions to help you determine if your doubts stem from OVT/OCD.

  1. Are your doubts obsessive? In other words, are they difficult to stop even when you have reasonable answers to your questions?

  2. Do you doubt your salvation?

  3. Have you been, or are you overly concerned about having committed the "unpardonable sin"?

  4. Are you wanting to believe with all your heart, yet unable to stop doubting the very thing you desire so much to believe?

  5. Have you considered, or are you afraid you might be demon-possessed?

  6. Do your doubts center on unanswerable questions? Questions that cannot be absolutely proven by you? I.E. Why does God allow suffering, Why did God create man if He knew he would sin? etc...

  7. Do you have overwhelming amounts of fear, anxiety, and guilt?

  8. Do you feel helpless? Like you've tried everything to stop your doubts and found nothing has worked?

If you answered yes to some or all of these questions then there is a good chance your doubts are OCD related. That does not mean there aren't other issues involved, often OCD can go hand-in-hand with damaged emotions. As we discussed, traumatic events are often the catalyst sparking OCD and I'm sure attacks from the enemy aim to keep those fires going. If you do or think any of these things please know that you are not alone.

One source showed 3% of the U.S. Population was diagnosed with OCD. 3% is actually a lot. That would equal millions of U.S. Citizens. On the flip side however, 3% in our church does not seem so big as it's only 3 people for every 100 members. Because of this a Christian struggling with OCD feels isolated since being a Christian already separates them from the world and among the remaining Christians in their life only 3% may be able to relate to what they are going through.


OCD is Damage in the Old Self, Your New Self is Untouched!

One thing we know is that OCD does not reside in a persons spirit but it resides in their flesh. The damage is done to the Limbic system which as I've stated is often referred to as the heart or flesh in scripture. Paul himself writes this:

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. - 2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV).


Our spirits are sound (2 Cor. 5:17, Col. 2:10), it's our flesh that is raging, not necessarily flesh in that there is a chemical imbalance though it may be but flesh as seen from a spiritual point of view. Flesh where sin resides (Rom. 7:17-18). Flesh where we do not have all knowledge (1 Cor. 13:12). Flesh where we walk by sight (2 Cor. 5:7, Matt. 14:30). Flesh where a thorn can be given (2 Cor. 12:7).


I can't help but wonder if Paul may have had OCD. Paul's discourse regarding a thorn in the flesh shared many similarities to how Christians with OCD describe what they have or are going through. Let's take a new look at 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.


Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. - 2 Corinthians 12:7-10


A thorn in the flesh which the writer elaborates as a “messenger of Satan to torment me” (v. 7). We do not have any additional information on specifics so I will not claim for certain that Paul's condition was OCD. I will say though that many Christians who've been haunted by doubts and fears stemming from OCD would agree that it feels like they are being tormented by messages from Satan. Paul too spoke of being in weakness, fear, and much trembling (1 Cor. 2:3). From these verses we do know that the thorn was in his flesh and we know that Satan played a part in fueling the torment that came via his messenger. We know that this made Paul weak. It, however, did not make Christ in Him weak, on the contrary, when Paul was weak then he was (actually) strong (v. 10). Also notice it served a Godly purpose, in this case it was to keep Paul from exalting himself because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations given him (v. 7).


Many notable Christians through time have struggled with battles resembling OCD. These same individuals however went on to be strong in Christ. In reading up on each individual I saw a common pattern of them struggling with debilitating thoughts until they were brought to a point of futility, defeated and for the first time experience what Paul wrote about in 2 Cor. 1:8-9 in not trusting ourselves; they were brought to a realization that resulted in them no longer relying on their own understanding but transferred the responsibility for the "all clear" messages to come from God. While OCD for them was agonizing, that battle also played a pivotal role in them recognizing it's futility and in their heart finally releasing that responsibility and transferring their hearts trust which previously relied on their finite understanding over to God who is infinite and good. I pray your battle (and mine) won't let up until God accomplishes His desire for you as He promised (Rom. 8:28, Phil. 1:6), even if it takes what He put His disciples through (2 Cor. 1:8-9).

Philip Melanchthon (1497-1560), wrote that often when contemplating the wrath of God he would repeatedly mingle with his prayers and went on to claim. “That these terrors he experienced either for the first time, or in the most acute manner, during the year in which he was deprived of a favourite friend, who lost his life by some accident of which I am ignorant.”

John Bunyan (1628-1688), famous for his book 'Pilgrim's Progress' is also to believed to have suffered with OCD. In his autobiographical book 'Grace abounding to the chief of sinners' published in 1666 he wrote the following:

For about the space of a month after, a very great storm came down upon me, which handled me twenty times worse than all I had met with before; it came stealing upon me, now by one piece, then by another; first, all my comfort was taken from me, then darkness seized upon me, after which whole floods of blasphemies, both against God, Christ, and the Scriptures, were poured upon my spirit, to my great confusion and astonishment. These blasphemous thoughts were such as also stirred up questions in me, against the very being of God, and of His only beloved Son; as whether there were, in truth, a God, or Christ, or no? And whether the Holy Scriptures were not rather a fable, and cunning story, than the holy and pure Word of God?

In Bunyan's time it wasn't called OCD but his mental struggles were spot on to what OCD is known as now. These agonizing mental battles were very intense and went on for years. The things that he learned as a result of this experience gave him a wonderful understanding of the grace of God and in turn was used by God to mold him into a preacher shepherding people to Christ.

Charles Spurgeon in his book 'All of Grace' wrote:

I have heard another say, "I am tormented with horrible thoughts. Wherever I go, blasphemies steal in upon me. Frequently at my work a dreadful suggestion forces itself upon me, and even on my bed I am startled from my sleep by whispers of the evil one. I cannot get away from this horrible temptation." Friend, I know what you mean, for I have myself been hunted by this wolf. A man might as well hope to fight a swarm of flies with a sword as to master his own thoughts when they are set on by the devil. A poor tempted soul, assailed by satanic suggestions, is like a traveler I have read of, about whose head and ears and whole body there came a swarm of angry bees. He could not keep them off nor escape from them. They stung him everywhere and threatened to be the death of him. I do not wonder you feel that you are without strength to stop these hideous and abominable thoughts which Satan pours into your soul; but yet I would remind you of the Scripture before us - "When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly."

It is quite difficult for anyone not having gone through this to understand the agony of this experience. Doubting the goodness of people and even your parents is one thing. But the believer is having all they hold deer attacked by themselves. It's an inner turmoil that is raging heavier than any external battle, and yet they have hardly anything to show for it (outwardly) as OCD episodes are always a battle that takes place in the mind only. OCD sufferers would never purposely carry out any of the terrible thoughts that occur during an OCD episode.

As someone's words extended their heart to me, I also extend my heart to you. I've prayed for you even before you read this. I know all to well that no measure of legalism or "thinking right" will work. Intellectually deciding to be done with it and move on is as ineffective as it is impossible. These self made religious efforts are useless against our flesh. As Colossians 2:23 states:

These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence. - Colossians 2:23

God has every hair on your head numbered (Matt. 10:30). Your bout with OCD has not escaped His notice (Matt. 10:29). On the contrary, He knows exactly what He is doing. In reading through accounts of notable Christians with OCD I found that through their OCD many of them were also credited with having a strong grasp on scripture and God's grace which was later used as necessary tools in their ministries.

When I was young, quite young, it's actually one of my earliest vivid memories. It's not hard to remember though as the emotional turmoil surrounding this internal battle was the first time I had ever felt such distress. My brother who is quite intelligent had a way of manipulating things to his benefit. (Unfortunately this was a trait that I would learn well later). One instance of these manipulations resulted in me being the victim. I didn't know it at first, but I figured it out later. I felt so wronged. Funny thing is I don't remember what he did; I'm sure it was trivial. But to a child in their single digits it was an outrage landing me as the victim. What I do remember clearly is what transpired after that. Not with my brother as some outward battle, but what happened inward as a battle in the mind. I became obsessive not with the idea of revenge, but in not being a victim ever again. In that effort to not once again be schemed by my brother I began to think about all the schemes my brother has done as to learn his tactics and then calculate all the future schemes that I could possibly foresee.

This is where OCD kicked in. The thoughts of all the horrible things my brother could be capable of became blown way out of proportion. I had repeated thoughts beyond him doing things like scheming me out of the last of the Oreo's or tricking me into thinking the doctor was going to torture me when I went in for appointments. My thoughts now were bombarded with the idea that he was not only going to manipulate the family under his control, parents included, but if he wasn't stopped he would eventually take over the world. Putting it in writing right now is making me chuckle, but I was not chuckling then. I remember being full of anxiety like I had never felt and running to my mom in her bedroom jumping on her waterbed trying my absolute best to convince her of what I had just figured brothers conquest for world domination.

My mother is a very loving mother. She tried to convince me that I was in error but no amount of reasoning or rational thinking could douse the thoughts of all the horrible things I pictured him planning. Fortunately I also had ADD at the time and my focus was redirected to something else a short time after taking my mind off of my brother's plan to conquer the world. Once my mind became preoccupied with something else the obsessive thoughts were disarmed. It wasn't that I forgot, after all it was traumatizing enough that I still remember it. But once I moved on and didn't give my obsessive thoughts the attention they demanded, they stopped.

I've now learned that same basic principle applies in disarming the obsessive thoughts. Obsessive thoughts lose their power if you don't obsess about them. In my case with my brother I simply became preoccupied with something else and those obsessive thoughts were put out by me not fueling them. Today the same principle applies in renewing the mind, in reprogramming the Limbic system. Rather than trying to fight fire with fire, I...don't bother to do anything. I recognize it's not a real fire; that it's not a real threat, that it's not me but rather my flesh and I give it no regard. It's not that they don't stop coming, but by recognizing that it's an obsessive thought not from me but from my flesh they lose their power. Then forces my mind to build new synaptic pathways and my mind literally and physically reprograms (with modern scientific advancements synaptic pathways can not only be observed but even people in their later years have been observed building new synaptic pathways. I guess we're only stuck in our ways as long as we choose to keep taking the same familiar synaptic highway.

Your OCD is not you it's your OCD. You do not need to disarm it, that's already been done by Christ. (Col. 2:15, Rom. 7:24-25) You simply need to recognize it for what it is, that is is not part of us, that it's not our actual character (2 Cor. 5:17, Rom. 7:20) but rather it's a screaming, dying part of our flesh demanding our attention but with no authority to back those demands up.

knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; - Romans 6:6

The demands come but having no authority we can ignore them. I am speaking in regard to the attacks taking place on the battlefield of our mind. With OCD we are deceived that we are in some sort of tug-of-war in this battle, gaining and losing ground as the battle goes. What you fail to realize is this is a battle that takes place in the flesh, this battle has already been won and you have been removed from that battleground altogether. God knows this, when He made provisions for us it included separating us from our flesh (Rom. 7:24, 2 Cor. 5:17). We, in relying on our own understanding may fail to see this.


When we rely on our own understanding it may hinder or even disable our daily walk with God, it may even rob us of seeing our victory in Jesus. It does NOT however alter the fact that we do indeed have victory in Jesus. We belong to Christ. Therefore, since this is true, let us also be captive not to our own understanding but let's be deliberate to be courageous after God, taking Him at His Word because He cares for you! (1 Pet. 5:7)


Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your body
And refreshment to your bones.
 - Proverbs 3:5-8


A wonderful additional resource in dealing with OCD and Scrupulosity that I found to be spot on in my studies are these coping statements linked below. I don't know much about the organization/ministry but I wholeheartedly reaffirm these coping statements:


Join our mailing list! Regularly I send out emails encouraging fellow sufferers. If you'd like to be on that list drop me a line!


If this resonated with you here are some other related articles that you may find applicable:


Did the Apostle Paul Struggle With OCD?

As Long as Your Quest Is for Certainty, You'll Never Arrive There

Stop Looking Inwardly to Determine if You're Saved

God isn't Looking to Disqualify You Based on a Technicality

You Can Teach the Brain but You Train the Heart

Even If Your Heart Condemns You


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You know what happens to a tree during a drought when it goes through periods of not being watered? It's roots grow deeper extending in search for water. It's an interesting growth process. Just like a man digging a well continues to dig deeper until hitting water, so does a tree. On the surface the tree may appear to be stunted, bearing less or no fruit, and hardly gaining any mass, but that is because it's attention is drawn below the ground where it's growing more than ever before.

This is a normal growth process. If the trees had all the nutrients they needed on the surface, it's roots would need not dig and remain shallow. The first decent windstorm would send it toppling. By extending it's roots the tree becomes more firmly planted. The tree's unseen growth will further it's seen growth.

This process can entail any of the previous mentioned origins of doubt. They are all part of the growth process. What's important to understand is, God can be using this process to further your growth, regardless of the avenue He chooses. Peter in fear denied being with Jesus (Luke 22:54-62), and later it was Peter who publicly held accountable those very same people who crucified Christ (Acts 2:23).

I have mentioned Hebrews 12:2 that God is the author of our faith as stated, but notice also He is the perfecter of our faith. Let me show you it in the Amplified version:

Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God. - Hebrews 12:2 (Amplified)

This growth process takes time. While our salvation is instant the moment we said Yes to Jesus, our maturity is being worked on.

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. - Phillipians 1:6

God can see your true needs better than anyone including yourself. And He can work according to His will for your good as He sees fit (Rom. 8:28). Do not let me lessen any solution already discussed, as 2 Corinthians 1:4 teaches, comfort we're given from another is really comfort supplied by God through that person. I just want to point out that God is God and is not limited or restricted in how He works in your life in any way.

One verse that a fellow child in Christ shared with me that resounded in every area of my struggle was this. "Be still, and know that I am God..." - Psalm 46:10 (NKJV). But take note that whether you are still or not, whether you strive or rest, He is still God and there is nothing you can do to change that. The very same God who is for you (Rom. 8:31), and who desires to give you the kingdom (Luke 12:32).

"Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. - John 15:2

Undergoing the actual process of being pruned is not pleasant at all. Like a tree, your dead parts are being cut away from your parts that are alive (cf Col. 2:13). However, the end result of this pruning is far too valuable to the Pruner to not follow through with it.

God is our Pruner, and it is God who causes the growth (1 Cor. 3:7). Therefore there is no specific solution to this type of doubt. While all the earlier solutions can be applied to each's specific type of doubt; to attempt to narrow this one down is to attempt to put limits on God. One promise we can count on of our Pruner however:

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. - Rom. 8:28

This doesn't mean that all things will be pleasant, I think Paul would spit his soda out if someone were to say that. (cf 2 Cor. 12:7-8). But it does mean that God can use ALL things to our good according to His purpose.


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