OCD is Damage in the Old Self, Your New Self is Untouched!
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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 out...my 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:




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