Intrusive thoughts are spontaneous, unwanted, and often horrible thoughts that intrude upon many Christians' minds. It may surprise you that having these thoughts is extremely common among believers. Of course, no one wants to admit it, but violent, inappropriate or sexual thoughts, and even blasphemous thoughts can pop into our heads at any time. They may leave us feeling guilty or shameful or even to the point of questioning if God could forgive us of such thoughts. Let me give you some good news...
God knew that thought would fly through your mind before you did (Psalm 10:4). And He certainly knows the motives of your heart relating to those kinds of thoughts. He knows if you want to think those thoughts or if you reject intrusive thoughts as soon as you have them. God knows the difference between one who sins willfully and one who desires to live in a way that pleases Him but has had an errant thought (1 Chronicles 28:9; Hebrews 4:12).
Just because someone HAS one of these thoughts, that doesn't necessarily mean they have sinned. But those who willingly dwell upon violent, sexual, and blasphemous thoughts are indeed turning against God. Either way, if we are repentant, God is always willing to forgive those thoughts no matter what (Isaiah 55:7).
Our minds are weak and subject to the world around us (Psalm 94:11). So it's extremely important for us, as believers, to protect our minds and hearts from things that could tuck away into the corners of our subconscious and come out later as unwanted thoughts or fantasies. Surround yourself and what your mind entertains with things that are lovely, pure, holy, and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8).
Instead of dwelling upon thoughts unfitting for a follower of Christ, begin talking to God about what's on your mind throughout the day (Psalm 139:23-24). He can help you sort out those thoughts—even the bad ones. Memorize Scripture to protect yourself when intrusive thoughts come (Psalm 94:19). Doing this will fill your mind with things above and not earthly desires (Colossians 3:2).
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” —2 Corinthians 10:3-5
Intrusive thoughts are sometimes enemy attacks in spiritual warfare. To help get rid of harmful thoughts, we need to learn how to fight them. We do this by putting on our spiritual armor every day (Ephesians 6:10-18). When we pray, we can ask God to remove those thoughts, expose the lies, and protect us from further attacks. Studying and memorizing Scripture gives us weapons to use against the enemy—just like Jesus did when He was tempted in the desert (Matthew 4:1-11). Taking our thoughts captive means examining intrusive thoughts ourselves and rejecting them completely rather than indulging them.
We can overcome intrusive thoughts by immersing ourselves with godly thoughts, actions, situations, media, and people. When we keep our eyes focused on Jesus' righteousness instead of sinful desires, God will infiltrate our thoughts and hearts with who He is—everything good, lovely, and pure (Hebrews 12:2).
If you're struggling with intrusive thoughts, please know that you aren't alone, and God knows if you sincerely do not want to have these thoughts intruding upon your mind. If it was just a fleeting thought, you're okay. God knows your heart. Confess it to Him if you feel lingering guilt, and He will grant you forgiveness (1 John 1:9). Ask God to examine your heart and help you expel anything that may be causing these thoughts (Psalm 139:24).
If you find that your intrusive thoughts return again and again even though you have done everything in your power to protect yourself, it may be possible that the problem is an actual physical brain or chemical issue. Talk to your family doctor or a psychologist to be evaluated for obsessive compulsive disorder, depression, attention deficit disorder, or another mental health disorder. In the same way God has provided pastors and teachers for our spiritual health, He has given us doctors and counselors to help with our physical health. If your intrusive thoughts have become debilitating to your life, please remember that “the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:24) may require the humility to ask for help.
The enemy is on the hunt for believers and wants to cripple God's children to make them fearful (1 Peter 5:8). That fear will, in turn, cause their faith to lose effectiveness, getting them stuck where they are, or even doubt their salvation. But God wants so much more for His sons and daughters. Reject those intrusive thoughts and embrace Jesus' forgiveness and life. Move on without guilt or shame, knowing you're still covered in His mercy, love, and unending grace.
Intrusive thoughts are spontaneous, unwanted, sexual, violent, horrible, or even blasphemous thoughts that pop into many Christians' thoughts. They may leave a feeling of guilt, shame, or doubt regarding salvation or God's forgiveness. But God knows all our thoughts, and they don't surprise Him one bit (Psalm 139:2). God knows the difference between one who sins willfully and one who desires to please Him yet has had a fleeting, errant thought (1 Chronicles 28:9; Hebrews 4:12). Either way, God will forgive intrusive thoughts no matter what (Isaiah 55:7).
Stephanie is a 21-year old with a passion to see believers grow and become passionate in their relationship with the Lord. She is a lover of sweat tea, sunshine, and the freedom that comes from Christ. In her free time, she can be found singing, playing guitar, writing or jamming out to Hawk Nelson, Phil Wickham, and worship music. Her dreams are to become a worship leader and a published author, while living a life full of fun and joy that comes from the Lord.