Inability to control thoughts.

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wretchedworm

Puritan Board Freshman
Hi,

This is something that I've never mentioned before to anybody but I'd just like to find out something.

I know as Christians, we become conscious of sin in a new way ever since being born again. Sin becomes so much vile and we often struggle fighting it through the progressive sanctification of our christian life.

But what I would like to know is,
Is it that much of a battle, so much as to an extent, to have uncontrollable sinful thoughts, almost as if there's another personality in your head?
I'd be more specific.

eg.
-split second flashes of sinful acts in your head for no reason. (split second, because you cut them off once they come. but why they come (given the circumstances) is still pretty much for no reason.
-hearing another voice (and u dunno if its really you or another voice) that blasphemes God for a split second even though u try to fight it and u feel totally wretched after that because u don't want to. (not as often)

Is this a sign of serious spiritual warfare? (That is I presume most christians don't experience that.)

Please help. Thanks

[Edited on 27-8-2006 by wretchedworm]
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
It is spiritual warfare; however, we do indulge it from time to time and make ourselves available to the wiles of the devils.

Jesus' response to the devil:

Matthew 4:3-4 3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. 4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

Our recourse is the same:

Matthew 26:41 41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

James 4:7 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Philippians 4:8 8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

[Edited on 8-27-2006 by Scott Bushey]
 

Croghanite

Puritan Board Sophomore
Originally posted by wretchedworm
so I take it most christians do not experience this?

[Edited on 27-8-2006 by wretchedworm]
I know many who expierience this including myself (split second flashes of sinful acts in your head for no reason). I have also heard Ministers preach on this subject so it must be common enough. Dont think your alone in this.
 

Swampguy

Puritan Board Freshman
It only happens to humans. My worst time is going to sleep. It seems like my mind turns against me. What I do is try to review the things that I have read that day from my studies and devotions. Don't let it worry you it happens to all of us. Just don't dwell on these thoughts.
 

fivepointcalvinist

Puritan Board Sophomore
good post; i often have these 'spontaneous' visions or thoughts of doing very evil things but have never had the guts to ask anyone else, for fear of exposing myself for the wretched sinner i am. it seems as though the 'battle' becomes more intense when i begin to pray. im thankful God is wise and forgiving...
 

Peter

Puritan Board Junior
I don't think a I split second thought that you immediately cut off is sin. Its a temptation. What you do with it determines whether it is sin. If you turn it over in your mind it is sinful lust and blasphemy but if you make no provision for it then you have nothing to be guilty of. Also as Scott suggested, I don't even think such thoughts are necessarily of the sinful flesh. If they arise seemingly out of no where they're probably the result of Satanic activity.
 

Pilgrim

Puritan Board Doctor
Originally posted by Peter
I don't think a I split second thought that you immediately cut off is sin. Its a temptation. What you do with it determines whether it is sin. If you turn it over in your mind it is sinful lust and blasphemy but if you make no provision for it then you have nothing to be guilty of. Also as Scott suggested, I don't even think such thoughts are necessarily of the sinful flesh. If they arise seemingly out of no where they're probably the result of Satanic activity.
:ditto:
 

Laura

Puritan Board Junior
Great question, ah, worm. I don't think you are abnormal; in fact I think the thought life is the main battleground for every Christian, and things like this are evidence of it. I would highly recommend a treatise called "The Vanity of Thoughts" by Thomas Goodwin. Here are just a couple relevant excerpts that should help you; but if at all possible, read the whole thing!

The conclusion is: it is not what thoughts are in your hearts, or what passes through them, but it is what lodging you give to them that makes the difference, that proves your repentance. Many good thoughts and motions may pass as strangers through a bad man´s heart. And, likewise, multitudes of vain thoughts may make a thoroughfare of a believer´s heart, disturbing him in good duties, knocking on his heart to interrupt him. These may break in upon the heart of a good man, but they will not be allowed to stay there, they will not be fostered or harbored there.

. . . For nothing defiles a man but what comes from within (Matt 15), that is, that which the heart has conceived within it"”as thoughts of uncleanness"”in which, although Satan himself be the father of them, the heart is the mother and womb. These therefore the heart loves, as a mother loves her natural children. It is by that we may distinguish them from the others from outside, when the heart is soft toward them, when there is an inward love for them, so that the heart kisses the child"”then they are truly our thoughts. When the heart broods on those eggs, then they are surely our thoughts, even if they come from the outside. . . .

This much must be added, that even those thoughts in which the soul is passive, when Satan casts in evil thoughts which we in no way own, in which he rapes the heart (for if there is no consent to them within us, then it is no more than rape, as it is in the Law)"”even those thoughts are often punishments meted out to us because of our neglect toward our thoughts, because we have allowed them to wander (as Dinah did, for when she went out to view the daughters of the land she was taken and raped against her will, but it was a punishment for her curiosity). Or they may be punishments for the neglect of good motions of the Spirit (for if we resist and grieve the Spirit, He may deal with us as we deal with our children, He may allow us to be scared by bugbears, or be grieved by Satan, so that we may learn what it is to neglect Him and to harbor vanity).
[Edited on 8-27-2006 by Laura]
 

bond-servant

Puritan Board Sophomore
I agree. I think we all have these, but we should not entertain them. It can be either spiritual warfare or simply our wretched flesh nature. Either way, you are doing the right thing by not dwelling on them!
 

turmeric

Megerator
John Bunyan was tormented by this kind of thing for years. He talks about it in Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners which is his autobiography.
 

jaybird0827

PuritanBoard Honor Roll
Originally posted by LAYMAN JOE
Originally posted by wretchedworm
so I take it most christians do not experience this?

[Edited on 27-8-2006 by wretchedworm]
I know many who expierience this including myself (split second flashes of sinful acts in your head for no reason). I have also heard Ministers preach on this subject so it must be common enough. Dont think your alone in this.
I think most Christians experience this. I'm still fighting a battle that intensified nearly 20 years ago. Thankfully the battle is the Lord's; at times I honestly don't know between the fiery darts of the evil one and the corruption that we continue to bear in this life even after conversion.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Jer 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
Everyone has this problem. After many years of scripture meditation and prayer the thing attacks less and less. But it doesn't ever seem to fully go away. Luther use to say something about us not being able to stop the birds from flying over our heads but that we could keep them from building nests in our hair.

(2Co 10:3) For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:

(2Co 10:4) (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

(2Co 10:5) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
Jos 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
(Psa 1:1) Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

(Psa 1:2) But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

(Psa 1:3) And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
As Bunyan's inscription on the inside of his bible use to say.... This book will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from this book.

Renewing the mind is an all important life long pursuit.
 

wretchedworm

Puritan Board Freshman
Thank you so much for all the replies.
It's comforting to know that I'm not alone in the fight.
Sometimes it just drives me to my knees but I'll just have to remember the battle is the Lord's. :)

In Him,
Wretchedworm
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Evil thoughts, even flashes, arise from a man's own heart, and are an evidence that all the imaginations of man's heart are only evil continually; these still continue to plague the regenerate until the day that the Lord is pleased to deliver him from the body of his death.

Concerning remedies, we can all profit from William Perkins' biblical advice in a Treatise of Man's Imaginations.

Of the guarding of our hearts.

The second rule for the reformation of our thoughts is given by Solomon (Prov. 4:23), keep, or counterguard thy heart above all watch and ward, that is, guard and keep thy heart more than any thing that is watched or guarded, whether city, house, treasure or such like; and the reason adjoined showeth the necessities of the rule, for out of it come the issues of life.

In the right guarding of the heart, three duties must be performed: first we must covenant with our outward senses, resolving fully with our selves by God's grace, that none of them shall be the instruments, the beginning or occasion of any sin in heart, or life. This covenant Job made with his eyes, not to look upon a maid, to lust after her (Job. 31:1). And David (Ps. 119:37) prayed the Lord to direct and keep his eyes from beholding vanity. Now look how these holy men dealt with their eyes, so must we proportionably deal for all the outward senses of our body; binding them all, after their example, from being the means of provocation to any sin. This duty is most necessary, for the outward senses be the doors and windows of the soul, and unless good care be had thereto, the devil will enter in by them and fill the soul with all corruption.

Secondly, we must observe our evil thoughts, and at their first arising, stop and restrain them, not suffering them to take any place in our hearts: this is a special means to preserve and guard the heart; for from the thoughts proceed all bad desires, corrupt affections, evil words and actions. The mind must first conceive before the will can desire, or the affections be delighted, or the members of the body practise any thing; so that whatsoever is of a loose life, and bad behaviour, it cometh from the profaneness of his heart in evil thoughts. Neither can it be hoped that any man should reform his life that will not guard his heart, and keep his mind from wicked imaginations. The devil cannot work his will upon man's affections, or prevail over man's will but by thoughts; and therefore it is necessary, that the first motions of evil in the mind be restrained at the beginning.

Thirdly, we must with all care cherish and maintain every good motion of God's Spirit that is caused in us by the ministry of the word, or by the advice of God's children; for these are the sparks and flames of grace, which Paul meaneth when he saith (1 Thess. 5:19), quench not the Spirit.
 

Larry Hughes

Puritan Board Sophomore
Wretchedworm,

Let me offer you some help, some Gospel help, because I know what you are talking about.

First, we all have them in varying degrees and according to our experiences and individual peculiarities.

Second, and this is crucial, you must understand the real definition of "œsin" per fallen man and it is NOT, I repeat, NOT just immorality. This is crucial. Sin is truly "œbeing curved in upon your self" good or bad, thought, word and deed. As Augustine said if you understand this condition, THEN you can begin to understand that sin can "œtake on quite a NICE gloss". The opposite of sin is as Christ said utter love toward God and altruistic love toward my neighbor "“ that is to say utterly curved outward and away from self "“ especially toward gain toward self.

Here in lies the true bondage of the will "“ so fallen EVERY attempt we make to "œjustify or sanctify" ourselves becomes sin (curved inward upon one´s self), even if and especially if it has "œholy" addendum to it. E.g. You cannot stop thinking about yourself by trying to stop thinking about yourself, and any attempt you make at it, even if it saves the whole world, is in sum total to "œsave yourself" and thus worse sin, yet "œvery clean looking".

So what if you stop thinking ill thoughts by some "œinward" power of will. All you´ve done is to make yourself a devil of high piety, and you will certainly condemn others for not attaining this "œhigh" religious attainment and at length at least in your mind you will persecute them.

The more and more "œlaws" you are given to "œattempt to stop this inward struggle" will avail you absolutely nothing - for even if you cease, you are still curved inward upon yourself (i.e. sin). It takes great self energy and self focus to so "œcure" such inward things of the self, and the more you do this you will be more tightly curved inward. In essences worse a sinner than before, but "œcleaner" in product.

The cure is this, Christ has died for even your inner thoughts. His love is so great for you that it covers those for the rest of your life. License to sin? Hardly, only the Pharisee would disdain the Gospel so and ask that question in order to subvert the Gospel, the despairing sufferer of the Pharisee´s heavy burden sees it as life rather than foolishness.

The only way to true godly love is to not command it. Love cannot be commanded else it is false. This is why the Law can only "˜point to´ love and never give the power. For love that is done by constraint, fear of punishment or hope of reward, is no love at all, but again the inner curving of sin. Only a love from outside of us, Christ crucified, gives us the power. It says, "œI took care of that for you 2000+ years ago for you and there´s nothing left for you to do." Only THAT kind of love can give you the power to go on and actually love.

One cannot even command "œstop focusing upon yourself" for that forces one to actually focus on one´s self. Only a continual refreshed fixing upon the Cross of Christ can "œpull us out of ourselves". Thus, Paul said "œthe Gospel is the power".

The LAST place you need to be LOOKING, the WORST advice you can be given is to look inward or toward religious attainments. When you struggle inwardly say to yourself and Satan, "œI am baptized and though I am a great sinner STILL, I have God´s sure promise of eternal life, forgiveness of sins and cleansing from all my sin." Then go on with your day. As we are more and more certain of God´s grace for us, we are more and more able to love in the true sense of love which is the sum of the Law. This IS having the Law written upon the heart. NOT in commands with threats of punishment or hope of reward or selfish attainments of "œsanctification" which are in the end utterly selfish and worse sin, but to NATURALLY love without "œtrying to love". But this can ONLY be had if we are fixed upon Christ crucified FOR US. And this can only be had if shepherds placard Christ crucified constantly to you for you.

Yours truly,

Larry
 

panta dokimazete

Panting Donkey Machete
The difference between temptation and sin is dwelling.

Glad someone posted on this - I also appreciate the fact that I am not alone - mine seem to be cyclical. Go for weeks without them, then an onslaught for several days.

-JD
 

Peter

Puritan Board Junior
Not all evil flashes darted on the soul are of the sinful heart. Christ himself experienced this Matt 4 and he was holy, harmless and undefiled.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Our Lord's temptations were presented to him externally, and not one evil thought or desire ever flashed, not even momentarily, before His holy soul. Man is responsible for every thought and desire: ""out of the heart proceed evil thoughts," Matt. 15:19.
 

Augusta

Puritan Board Doctor
Originally posted by Larry Hughes
Wretchedworm,

Let me offer you some help, some Gospel help, because I know what you are talking about.

First, we all have them in varying degrees and according to our experiences and individual peculiarities.

Second, and this is crucial, you must understand the real definition of "œsin" per fallen man and it is NOT, I repeat, NOT just immorality. This is crucial. Sin is truly "œbeing curved in upon your self" good or bad, thought, word and deed. As Augustine said if you understand this condition, THEN you can begin to understand that sin can "œtake on quite a NICE gloss". The opposite of sin is as Christ said utter love toward God and altruistic love toward my neighbor "“ that is to say utterly curved outward and away from self "“ especially toward gain toward self.

Here in lies the true bondage of the will "“ so fallen EVERY attempt we make to "œjustify or sanctify" ourselves becomes sin (curved inward upon one´s self), even if and especially if it has "œholy" addendum to it. E.g. You cannot stop thinking about yourself by trying to stop thinking about yourself, and any attempt you make at it, even if it saves the whole world, is in sum total to "œsave yourself" and thus worse sin, yet "œvery clean looking".

So what if you stop thinking ill thoughts by some "œinward" power of will. All you´ve done is to make yourself a devil of high piety, and you will certainly condemn others for not attaining this "œhigh" religious attainment and at length at least in your mind you will persecute them.

The more and more "œlaws" you are given to "œattempt to stop this inward struggle" will avail you absolutely nothing - for even if you cease, you are still curved inward upon yourself (i.e. sin). It takes great self energy and self focus to so "œcure" such inward things of the self, and the more you do this you will be more tightly curved inward. In essences worse a sinner than before, but "œcleaner" in product.

The cure is this, Christ has died for even your inner thoughts. His love is so great for you that it covers those for the rest of your life. License to sin? Hardly, only the Pharisee would disdain the Gospel so and ask that question in order to subvert the Gospel, the despairing sufferer of the Pharisee´s heavy burden sees it as life rather than foolishness.

The only way to true godly love is to not command it. Love cannot be commanded else it is false. This is why the Law can only "˜point to´ love and never give the power. For love that is done by constraint, fear of punishment or hope of reward, is no love at all, but again the inner curving of sin. Only a love from outside of us, Christ crucified, gives us the power. It says, "œI took care of that for you 2000+ years ago for you and there´s nothing left for you to do." Only THAT kind of love can give you the power to go on and actually love.

One cannot even command "œstop focusing upon yourself" for that forces one to actually focus on one´s self. Only a continual refreshed fixing upon the Cross of Christ can "œpull us out of ourselves". Thus, Paul said "œthe Gospel is the power".

The LAST place you need to be LOOKING, the WORST advice you can be given is to look inward or toward religious attainments. When you struggle inwardly say to yourself and Satan, "œI am baptized and though I am a great sinner STILL, I have God´s sure promise of eternal life, forgiveness of sins and cleansing from all my sin." Then go on with your day. As we are more and more certain of God´s grace for us, we are more and more able to love in the true sense of love which is the sum of the Law. This IS having the Law written upon the heart. NOT in commands with threats of punishment or hope of reward or selfish attainments of "œsanctification" which are in the end utterly selfish and worse sin, but to NATURALLY love without "œtrying to love". But this can ONLY be had if we are fixed upon Christ crucified FOR US. And this can only be had if shepherds placard Christ crucified constantly to you for you.

Yours truly,

Larry
That is awesome Larry. You speak my language or something. I have to copy this down. The Lord has blessed you with insight and the way of explaining it. God bless you. :)
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Larry,

I agree so much with the general tenor of your post that it pains me to disagree with a particular part of it. But it is not sin to do something out of hope of reward or for fear of punishment. Moses had respect to the recompence of reward, and Jesus tells us to fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Moreover, Christ commands our love, and requires obedience to His commandments as a proper expression of love to Him. "Fight the good fight." "Run with patience the race that is set before you." This requires striving on the part of believers. Blessings, brother!
 

Pilgrim

Puritan Board Doctor
Originally posted by armourbearer
Larry,

I agree so much with the general tenor of your post that it pains me to disagree with a particular part of it. But it is not sin to do something out of hope of reward or for fear of punishment. Moses had respect to the recompence of reward, and Jesus tells us to fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Moreover, Christ commands our love, and requires obedience to His commandments as a proper expression of love to Him. "Fight the good fight." "Run with patience the race that is set before you." This requires striving on the part of believers. Blessings, brother!
:ditto: Repentance and faith are commanded. God commands all men everywhere to repent Acts 17:30.
 

regener8ed

Puritan Board Freshman
I constantly hear thoughts that tell me "God hates you!" "You are damned." These are usually mixed with vile blasphemous cursing. "You are a blankety blanked loser..." etc.

I have noticed that these types of thoughts are more prevalent when I feel humiliated in some way. This makes me feel even worse because I hate that when I feel personally embarrased the first thing that comes to my mind is blasphemy against my Lord and Savior. What a self-centered wretch I am.

Many times I even find myself saying these things out loud to myself. It is awful and I feel very guilty when I find myself thinking or uttering such filth. Sometimes I find myself wondering whether or not a truly regenerate man could ever utter such horrible blasphemy. I constantly repent, and I know that Jesus is faithful to forgive us our sins. My prayer is that He will replace these blasphemous thoughts with thoughts of praise and adoration.



[Edited on 8-29-2006 by regener8ed]
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
This extract from Wilhelmus a Brakel's The Christian's Reasonable Service, Vol. IV, pp. 242-246, though lengthy may be helpful:

Satan´s Interjection of Sinful Thoughts

There are also other strifes of which he alone is the author, having as his sole objective to torment God´s children. God´s children are not partakers in these sins, except when they permit themselves to be incapacitated to serve God in faith, hope, and love. Only their negative frame is their sin. They should be stronger and thus not permit themselves to be troubled in a sinful manner by his turmoil. However, the interjections themselves are not your sin, but the devil´s. Nevertheless (take note of this) he will continually seek to convince you that it is your own sin. If you indeed begin to believe this, his interjections will have their effect upon you and bring you in a grievous condition. If, however, you recognize the devil´s words as being his language, you will then be able to resist them that much more readily and be less troubled.

These assaults occur in so many different ways and relative to so many different matters, that it is impossible to recite them all. I also do not desire to present them all and would rather be entirely silent on the matter. In order that his wickedness may be exposed, however, and God´s children be armed against the insinuation, "œYou are the culprit and it proceeds from your own heart," I shall present some matters in a general sense.

(1) Some interjections appear to be entirely infantile and ludicrous; however, they are of a far-reaching nature and generally have painful consequences. For example, he can suggest, "œSay this, or say that." He may go a bit further and add, "œIf you don´t say this, and if you don´t deal with this, you are damned; if you do it, all is well." This goes a step further, if, in a compelling manner, he demands that you acquiesce in this or that, and thereupon seeks to unsettle you, insinuating that you were the one who acquiesced. Thus, that which appears to be so infantile culminated in much agitation.

(2) Sometimes he quickly interjects a passage of Scripture which is difficult to understand, and he will force that upon us either to charge God foolishly or to disown our spiritual state, stirring us up to respond to this. Once a person begins to defend the truth, God, and his spiritual state, the devil will get an increasing hold of him, for he is a devious deceiver. Therefore, one must not respond "“ no matter how it may go "“ but allow it to pass by.

(3) Sometimes he will direct a person´s attention to eternal election; that the one person is called and converted instead of another person, thus resulting in the damnation of so many people. He will do this in order to accuse God. Once one begins to reflect upon this and desires to defend God, he is caught in the snare. Therefore, resist this and do not respond, for you will thereby become all the more agitated. The Lord´s will is holy.

(4) Sometimes he makes use of a bodily or spiritual cross to accuse God concerning his dealings by interjecting all manner of things which weigh the soul down incomparably more than the cross. However, be on guard against such interjections and ignore them. Adhere to the fact that God is sovereign. He does whatever pleases Him, and will not give an account to man of His doings.

(5) Sometimes he knows how to lead someone, whom he has been sifting for some time, round about in such a manner, that the person when desiring to come before the Lord or when beginning to pray, appears to be focused on an object other than God. Due to obscure thoughts and the devil´s mysterious operation upon the imagination, it will then appear as if he were praying to that object rather than to God. This is a great impediment to prayer.

(6) Sometimes he acts as a prophet and interjects: "œSuch and such will befall you; you will turn out thus, and you will yet come to the commission of such deeds." He does not only interject this, but he will forcefully impose upon the person that it will certainly come to pass in such a manner. He will repeat this over and over again so that there comes no end to his prophesying. Sometimes he will previously begin to show such things in a dream and would wish this dream to be perceived as being of divine origin in order that he may make it more emphatic. Subsequent to this he will again make use of this dream and will impress the imagery of these matters in such a manner that it causes much agitation. And thus the afflicts the body and the soul by generating fear for future matters which he has foretold.

(7) Sometimes he comes with fiery darts and evil thoughts about God, doing so with such vehemence and persistence, that the soul has no rest day or night. The poor soul is then mortally wounded, and can neither endure nor resist those thoughts. They return with increasing force, and it appears as if those images are his own thoughts "“ which aggravates his misery.

In these and similar assaults the devil operates under cover. His entire effort and device is to suggest that it is not he who interjects such thoughts, but that they proceed from the heart of the assaulted person himself. He will suggest that such sins cannot coexist with grace, and that therefore the person will be eternally damned. And when would there come an end to these assaults if the Lord at His time did not intervene and rebuke Satan?

How Interjections of Satan May Be Distinguished from a Person´s Own Thoughts

Question: Do not these thoughts originate with the person himself? It seems to me that all this proceeds from my own heart. If I only knew that they were the sins of the devil and his interjections, I would already be half delivered. Can we know that this is so "“ and if yes, whereby can we know this?

Answer: First, all sinful frames of unbelief, despondency, fretfulness, and despair are a person´s own sins, even though they at times are caused by the assaults of Satan. The initiative did not come from the person, but from the devil. You have given him too much room to operate, and you have become excessively troubled by it. You should not have paid so much attention to it.

Secondly, let us assume that all the things described came forth out of your own heart. Then what? Is it unforgivable? No; Christ stands ready to receive all those who are heavy laden with sin "“ also the chief of sinners and blasphemers (1 Tim. 1:13).

Evasive Argument: I have committed the sin against the Holy Ghost, and that is unforgivable.

Answer: This is not the sin against the Holy Ghost, for there is no remorse over that sin. Instead, it grieves you, you are oppressed by it, and you pray.

Thirdly, you should know that these and similar experiences are the lot, by far, of the majority of God´s children. Should it therefore surprise you that it also befalls you?

Evasive Argument: My disposition is entirely different, however. I have not found it in the things mentioned, and I have never heard nor read of a similar disposition.

Answer: Perhaps you know but little of what others have experienced, and thus you cannot say, "œOthers do not experience this." If you therefore calmly examine the cases described above, I believe that you will find your case there. I did not want to deal with them more distinctly and comprehensively than that. He who experiences these things will be able to detect his own case from these implicit presentations.

Fourthly, that the interjections mentioned are not yours, but rather the sins of the devil, can be ascertained when:

(1) They occur suddenly, unexpectedly, and as lightning "“ even when one is involved in the performance of a good and holy work. For all that proceeds from our own heart gradually takes shape by way of reasoning, and generally is triggered by a given occasion.

(2) They are forcefully imposed upon us against our will, and in a manner whereby we cannot avoid it. The soul rejects it and wishes neither to think upon it nor to approve of it in the least. Nevertheless these thoughts return time and again. It is thus evident that we are merely suffering as someone who is being beaten, and that these arrows are being fired from without. Therefore, use your mind and judge accordingly.

(3) They are accompanied with terror so that the soul immediately loses its composure, becomes very agitated, and becomes incapable of reasoning rationally. The very opposite is the case when sins proceed from a person´s own heart.

(4) The interjections are unnatural and are thus repulsive to our nature. If this is your experience, you may and must be assured that they are not your sins, but rather the devil´s. Therefore, you ought not to be that troubled by them, but resist the devil with contempt.

Question: There are some with whom the thought may yet occur: "œThere are times when I can truly feel that they are not of an external source, but are my own thoughts."

Answer: A person is frequently ignorant of the manner in which his soul functions, and he is therefore unable to distinguish what proceeds from the representation or interjection of Satan, or from himself. Since, however, we are of the opinion that we do understand this, we are of the opinion that they proceed from the soul herself. When another person utters dreadful things, you will also understand what he is saying. It troubles you, and yet you know that they are not your sins, but rather those of the one who is speaking. Such is also true here.

Secondly, you must also know that when the devil has been driven away from you, you will yet maintain a fearful disposition for some time as a result of what had previously been interjected. These things have also not been erased from your memory as yet; however, it is nothing more than a memory. However, this fearful disposition and the memory of it is not the sin. Indeed, this fearful disposition even proves your love for God, for you wish neither to hear nor think any foolish things about Him.
 

Laura

Puritan Board Junior
Andrew, thank you! That was well worth the length. :) This especially stuck out to me:

Some interjections appear to be entirely infantile and ludicrous; however, they are of a far-reaching nature and generally have painful consequences. For example, he can suggest, "œSay this, or say that." He may go a bit further and add, "œIf you don´t say this, and if you don´t deal with this, you are damned; if you do it, all is well." This goes a step further, if, in a compelling manner, he demands that you acquiesce in this or that, and thereupon seeks to unsettle you, insinuating that you were the one who acquiesced. Thus, that which appears to be so infantile culminated in much agitation.
Probably the scariest time in my life was when I gave an attack like this far too much thought, and it got so out of my control that though I knew it was utterly ridiculous and could point out the several reasons why I should leave it alone, it kept coming back, and coming back, and coming back until I was too terrified to let myself fall asleep, lest I wake up in hell! I am so thankful that older and wiser believers have taken the pains to record their experiences in this and understand them rightly.
 

BaptistCanuk

Puritan Board Sophomore
Originally posted by regener8ed
I constantly hear thoughts that tell me "God hates you!" "You are damned." These are usually mixed with vile blasphemous cursing. "You are a blankety blanked loser..." etc.

I have noticed that these types of thoughts are more prevalent when I feel humiliated in some way. This makes me feel even worse because I hate that when I feel personally embarrased the first thing that comes to my mind is blasphemy against my Lord and Savior. What a self-centered wretch I am.

Many times I even find myself saying these things out loud to myself. It is awful and I feel very guilty when I find myself thinking or uttering such filth. Sometimes I find myself wondering whether or not a truly regenerate man could ever utter such horrible blasphemy. I constantly repent, and I know that Jesus is faithful to forgive us our sins. My prayer is that He will replace these blasphemous thoughts with thoughts of praise and adoration.



[Edited on 8-29-2006 by regener8ed]
Jon, you aren't alone. :handshake:

I struggle with this as well and it's as if it's not even me saying these things to myself. It really does feel like it is the devil and all those who said the things they've said about me in the past. It is a horrible situation to be in and it makes me want to :banghead:
 

BaptistCanuk

Puritan Board Sophomore
Thanks for posting that excerpt Andrew. It was very informative and I've seen evidence of those things myself.

If I shared some of the spiritual warfare "happenings" from my past, I have a feeling Christians would say I'm nuts. Well, just the ones who really don't believe there is a devil.
 

Larry Hughes

Puritan Board Sophomore
Rev. Matthew,

I appreciate your thoughts, critique and kind words as always.

I think the point is that love cannot be commanded and "œbe" love if then obeyed out of fear of punishment or hope of reward. True love that the law is summed up as and points to is that which arises without a command "to love" and is completely altruistic. I use the term "œaltruistic" but if there is a better term for utterly outward serving without any inward or personal gain, then I´m all for it. The "command" depends upon how one "hears it". Remember the Law is always requiring of the heart and not necessarily the outward deed like human law does. Human law could care less whether we love the "œspeed limit or not", whether we do it to avoid a ticket (punishment) or gain the "œreward" of not getting a ticket, it is only concerned with the outward action being obeyed. Human law, thus, cares less if one fumes about it and rages within about it or does it for personal gain. Not so with the Law of God which is in summary love toward God and neighbor.

I'll try but might blow it, here goes:

The Law commands love but this command can give no power whatsoever to be fulfilled by the flesh, flesh = all that is fallen about man, rather it only "œpoints". Why? Because the old Adam is fallen and cannot help himself at all because his condition is fallen. That´s why it is crucial to see sin as a condition and not so much as "œacts". The acts, good or bad, are more the effect of the condition of the heart. A man may kill a man outwardly and reveal to the eyes of men his inward being. But a man may not kill a man outwardly and his sin is unrevealed to the eyes of men as to his real inward being. So, if we out right sin (theft, murder, adultery - thought, word and deed) or if we avoid all of these in deeds or even words and even to some degree thoughts in order to either justify ourselves before God or for "œsanctification" (I use "œ" to indicate it as really false sanctification) both are absolutely worthless and complete sin. The man who attempts to "œjustify" himself by "œdoing and being good" is obviously sinning because his "œlove" is utter selfishness and all that he does, he does for himself. Similarly in some views of sanctification. Because ANY attempt I make to save or sanctify myself by "œdoing good" is in the end analysis utterly sinful because of the inward turning. This is one part of why the "œLaw" of God, and specifically the Law of God, though holy and good in and of itself, causes the "œside affect" of arousing the sin nature, that is the inward turning by rank sin or false saintliness. And it is especially the Law of God so named that causes this revelation of the sin nature. In causing more inward curving, either direct gross sin or "œclean" holiness (false righteousness), it increases sin as Paul says. This increase reveals it more and more. Thus, Paul could say I would not have really known what coveting really is unless the Law said, "œdo not covet". In fact this false sanctification led the "œlaw abiding Jews" to crucify along with the immoral Romans the Son of God. Because who really wants to be against God? It was their pursuit of "œrighteousness" that led to them crucifying their Saviour (and us as well). Not even atheist want to be against God per se if you examine them long enough, what they and all mankind is up to is self justification and sanctification in many forms of religious doings and irreligious doings. But what is constant in both the false saint and open sinner is this "œinward curving". And the false saint is worse for he will rise to the level of murder, the very thing he despises in the open sinner, either in his heart or actual doing as history testifies unto, and label it righteousness. At least the open murderer knows better he is doing it for himself. No man CAN love if it is commanded under a scheme of fear of punishment or hope of reward. Those "œwhips" will turn him inward more than ever and even if he acts in motions of outward doing unto a loving act to his neighbor, his heart is only doing it for himself. Which brings us back to true love and what the Law is really pointing to that man can NEVER DO, not unto justification and not unto sanctification.

Only the Gospel can provide the beginning relief whereby man can say, "œIN Christ alone I am a Son of God and this can never be lost, SO now having all the treasures I will ever have in Christ and hoping (certainly expecting them), I can NOW give my gifts to my neighbor." As Luther said, "œGod does not need your good works but your neighbor does." And here is the big point; even though I don´t do ANY of my works well or good or perfect in thought, word or deed they are still love because NOW they arise naturally from a heart that is set free to love, sense God does not need my works and Christ has done all for me, even when I so imperfectly love, I can love. Because if you set out to love someone with "œperfection mind", guess what, your back to selfishness. What you do is just serve your neighbor, trusting so in Christ, so assured, look to the neighbors need without any "œfine print" in your mind as to "œjustification" or "œsanctification". All of us have experienced and done our selves those false "œholiness" acts under the guise of "œgrowing in Christ" to someone, yet in reality we were looking utterly unto ourselves. And even if you do have the "œfine print", you just go on and do it, because you and I cannot love purely as we so desire. You give up on that and trust Christ alone. ONLY the Gospel sets a man free to actually make a real effort at love, the Law with fear of punishment or hope of reward attached to it ONLY sets and inflames the flesh, and ESPECIALLY the religious flesh. E.g. If the speed limit is purely in one´s view a man´s law that is one thing, but if I attach that God´s demands it as obedience, then it takes on a whole new dimension for the religious flesh.

The Law for the Christian has fear of punishment and hope of reward removed by the Gospel, then it becomes "œcontent", this is what a Christian looks like, BUT and this crucial, without the thundering of the Law. Then and only then is the heart set free. Or as the Word says, "œWe love BECAUSE He first loved us." Not "œWe love IN ORDER that He would love us." The former is the way the law is written on the heart, the latter is the stone and dead letter. To have the Law on the heart is to have it so naturally arise that there is no indifference to it and ESPECIALLY no command needed for it. In this life we may only taste this, but in the life to come it will be perfect without resistance. In the next life you will not hear the Law commanding love, you will do it utterly naturally which IS in the end the true love to which the Law now points. We see this in sin but ironically are blind to it in love. We need no Law or command to sin. We need no Law that says by thought, word or deed to kill, gossip, slander, commit adultery, promiscuity, theft, slough and etc"¦ These the flesh, fallen flesh, does NATURALLY. These, even as you quoted correctly, NATURALLY arise from the fallen heart of man. No command is needed. In that sense, the naturalness of the fallen heart to do these things like the heart beating itself sans command, shows forth a "œlove" for them. We so love to do them that we do them without a command to do them. But you see, this love set on twisted objects should be the way true love toward God and neighbor acts, without command to do it. God should not have to say to His Sons "œThou shalt"¦" We should do them naturally if we had not fallen. Christ did not need "œthou shalt"¦" He so pleased His Father because He utterly loved His Father even unto death on a Cross. So, if one is doing them because of "œcommand", one hears it so and then "œacts", then know for sure it is false. Human level: I do not need a command to change my babies diaper, they need it changed for their own good and well being. I don´t need a damn command in order to be more "œsanctified" or "œholy" to do this. They need me and I do it. This is the kind of godly love the Law IS in reality.

E.g. You may hear the Law thunder, "œLove your neighbor as yourself". You may hear "œcommand" with fear of punishment or hope of reward. But then you will only sin more than before serving yourself either as to justification or pseudo holiness, and you will be fine looking to the eyes of men on the outside and receive accolade and praise from men. Churches will love you and clean neighbors will love to have you next door. Ghandi would make a fine neighbor and a fine tither and a very devout church goer. But if one hears "œLove your neighbor as yourself" with the certainty, assurance and boldness of the naked Gospel for one already, then one can really begin loving one´s neighbor. Even if and especially if some selfishness is mingled with it. In a sense our remaining and mixed sin help us to stay humble and dependant upon the cross. For the Gospel says, "œChrist has done it ALL, you literally have nothing left to do." See THAT totally frees you to work love, true love and the "œcommand disappears".

Love cannot be commanded and attained. It can be commanded to show that it cannot be attained, the Law to the flesh. But it cannot be commanded and then fulfilled. This is why Christ alone could fulfill the Law. He was not fallen and no selfish need was in Him, He needed not GAIN anything by the Law for He already had all. In fact His utter giving of Himself was the real Law, love, in action and truth. You see He gave without any gain to Himself in any way, in fact it was sacrifice and condescension for Him to do. Christ needed no "œcommand" in order to obey the command for the law or love of God perfectly flows from a heart more pure and holy than we can dream of. This is the holiness of God that the sinner cannot look upon and live, and not the pagan idea of "œholiness" that some think of. They think of purity and holiness in a pagan way, like a tyrant god who is legally flawless, our minds so fallen make an idol of God and picture His holiness in a legal way. But in fact it is His utter love and lovliness and kindness that is His Holiness of the highest. It is THIS that the sinful flesh cannot STAND or live to see. The hell of hell will be mostly in that men will realize they spurned the Highest Whose love is so giving and utterly selfless, this is why they will gnaw their own tongues. It is utterly frightening to ponder!

As the reformers were very clear; a man cannot in any sense of the word become "œgood" by doing good deeds. To pursue either justification or sanctification THIS way is to pursue the devil´s religion. Good deeds come from the tree that is ALREADY good, by imputed righteousness and grace. That was Christ´s point about good fruit not coming from thorns and vice versa. He was not saying by way of command you "œmust do good" to "œbe good". He was saying, "œYou must utterly and passively trust in Me alone for you or all is lost period."

Blessings,

Ldh
 
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