Satan is the accuser; Christ is our defender.

Recently, one of my blog readers asked me how I could tell when a thought came from OCD or from God, especially because one of my formerly intrusive thoughts was of a Bible verse that seemed to condemn me.  She wrote, “I keep reading that Bible verses spontaneously popping into one’s head is a prime way God speaks to people.”

What a great question.  One I’m not entirely sure I’m qualified to tackle, although I do know that the more I learn about and understand my OCD, the easier and easier it is for me to spot it.  I can recognize its tell-tale voice from a mile away now.  And while I don’t think that OCD = Satan (at all), they are both my enemies and they are both accusers.

Here is the (in flux) conclusion (is that an oxymoron?) I’ve come to:

I guess the big thing is this: when OCD would bring up that Bible verse, it worked like an intrusive thought and brought deep anxiety to me, but with God … his kindness leads us to repentance, not to shame.  The voice of God showers me with kindness, grace, conviction that leads to change … but I don’t think God’s voice is one of shame and accusation. In fact, scripture even tells us that SATAN is the accuser and CHRIST is the one who defends us.

Remember, Satan used and twisted scripture when Christ was going through his temptations, so we know that it’s part of the devil’s arsenal.

frustration4My friend Erica told me something fascinating she’d once heard: “The Holy Spirit does not motivate with guilt.”  Likewise, my incredibly wise writing professor Judy said, “I know the voice of God because that voice invites me to move closer without shame while the voice of Satan fills me with an electric dread that makes me want to hide.”

As always, I encouraged this blog reader to explore Exposure and Response Prevention therapy.  In the four years since my ERP, the voice of OCD has become so easy to recognize.  I finally know my enemy’s voice.

And better yet, I know my savior’s.


30 thoughts on “Satan is the accuser; Christ is our defender.

  1. this was great for me it really helped me and you can take lots of comfort of knowing that you are not alone from the mental torture which OCD brings and l understand the suffering you are experiencing because many people just do not get it and the devil is always waiting in the background after the OCD cycles are causing considerable suffering and for me not talking to individuals and releasing the tension and the power of the obsessions is horrifying and trying to fight the obsessions like some pastors suggest just makes it worse and being still and reading love scriptures of how god feels about us and l thank you for your website and you should be very proud of yourself and like you said Jesus is with us and he will bring us into victory and god and the leadership of the holy spirit is making a way for us and setting us free from the bondage of the past and in my case Jesus his removing approach and self blame and guilt, shame which is not mine and he is teaching me to be gentle and remember who l am in him and most of all he is above all inflictions and disorders and sometimes he can use the natural many thanks Chris

  2. What a fantastic read! I am currently going through a very bad belt of OCD and Scrupulocity. I am undergoing ERP and CBT, but it’s tough. I am questioning my faith and why I have it and further, have begun saying and thinking extremely horrible things against God. Things you would cringe about. Saying this though, your read really made sense to me. I would often avoid the “voice” even if I felt that it was right or pushing to the moral thing. Crazy! That feeling though was a push and not a kind, gentle invitation as described. Thank you for your blog. God Bless.

      • If you’re starting a scrupe group, sign me up. I know those cringe-worthy thoughts and the torture of trying to determine if they were God or Satan. I know what it is to go to the Bible looking for comfort, but only finding obscure verses that cause more anxiety. But I also know that when good shepherds lead their flocks, they carry the weakest, smallest lambs in their arms 🙂

  3. Hi Jackie – I’m LOVING your blog! What a godsend. I was curious about your thoughts on the distinction between satan’s antics and ocd since you mentioned above that you don’t conflate the two. I’m curious because I’m a Christian too, and my current (and worst ever) ocd episode began with an intrusive pornographic image that flashed into my mind OUT. OF. NOWHERE – in fact, it popped in the moment i started to pray with some friends. The instant that thought flew at me I blamed Satan – whom I believe can send us evil thoughts/fiery darts. But the way I’ve been making sense of the unrelenting hell I’ve now been in for the past 12 weeks has been to conclude that he knew my ocd tendencies and sent me the initial thought to provoke them and now my brain chemistry has taken it from there (creating new pornogrpahic thoughts, ideas, urges, fears, etc). I guess I’m curious to see where you land on this issue. What role do you think satan plays in provoking or exploiting our
    metal illnesses? Could it help or hinder to lay some blame on the devil or should we, in proper form, accept uncertainty on the issue?

    • I’m not an expert enough in either OCD or theology to offer a solid opinion, I don’t think. 🙂 But I do believe that you’re suffering from OCD (whether its buttons are being pushed by Satan or not, I don’t know) and that God wants freedom for you! And exposure and response prevention therapy is THE best (/only) treatment for it! Go to and read up on it and let me know what questions you have, new friend!

      • Jackie, It’s paradoxical that what you take comfort in is the VERY thing that triggers the OCD that I Battle. The Christian faith. I grew up in a baptist church and heard about hell . My experience of Christianity has been one of constant threat of punishment. The lake of fire, for those who are ashamed of Jesus before men which I interpreted as ” witnessing about Jesus” to EVERYONE I come in contact with. And if I didn’t there would be eternal punishment for me. How can I witness about someone that I’m terrified will cast me into the lake of fire? I MUST remind that it is all. OCD regardless of how REAL it Feels.

      • I remember being in bookstores and getting an overwhelming “sense” of needing to tell the people in my aisle about Jesus. My therapist said, “Tell God, ‘I am going to assume this is OCD. Sorry if I’m wrong. Cover it in grace.'” It helped me.

      • Steve, your form of OCD is very common – in fact it was shared by many of the greats of Christian history (Martin Luther, John Bunyan, and Saint Therese of Lisieux). I just finished a great book written by a Christian author and psychologist (who is also my therapist) which looks specifically at the religious-themed OCD suffered by those three Christians. It’s called “Can Christianity Cure Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?” by Dr. Ian Osborn. Christian concerns CAN trigger obsessions, but Christianity, and the promise of God’s mercy offered through the gospel, can provide a unique cure to its torments. It did for those three “saints” and it strengthened their faith in profound ways! Check out the book – its a quick and accessible read.

  4. Thanks Lydia and Jackie. I did some. ERP Last night around the verse
    ” Whoever is ashamed of the Son of Man before men, the Son shall be ashamed of before the Father. I read at least 20 versions of the verse out loud and my anxiety of coûrse rose dramatically. The exposure part is not as difficult as the response prevent component. How do you stop the rumination after exposure? ONE EXPERT referred to this as ” attending to the Obsession.”.


    Another question “Do you all experience Generalized Anxiety and or Social Anxiety along with OCD?
    THANKS. I have lots of questions

    • Response prevention was really hard for me because my compulsions were primarily automatic and mental. When I heard certain sounds and words and phrases, my head would jump to dark places and then immediately to a compulsion to “save” me from that. My therapist recommended that either aloud or in my head I say, “NO. I do NOT need to pray obsessively right now.” He instructed me to interrupt my compulsions to do that.

      I was skeptical that it would work, but it DID.

      And yes, ERP freed up my mind for productive thought … but it took about 10-12 weeks of regular ERP before that started to happen.

      I don’t have social anxiety, but I suffer anxiety over other things … anxiety that is not related to OCD.

  5. Hey! So I’ve had really bad OCD now for the past year. I’ve been too scared to talk to anyone about it, outside of my boyfriend and one other friend, and of course, God. It’s all focused around my faith. And while most of the time I can kinda deal with it, sometimes (especially when I’m stressed) I just can’t. This blog post gave me some much needed clarity, and when I’m having a really bad time, and finding it hard to know what’s going on, I reread it. Thank you. 🙂 x

  6. Pingback: Question & Dancer: What is “Normal” with OCD? | JACKIE LEA SOMMERS

  7. LOVE this post!! When your scrupulosity involved a Biblical/doctrinal issue that you felt you should or wanted to address at some point (non-obsessively), do you have any guidelines you’ve used to help you know when it’s “safe” to start thinking about/researching the topic again, and when you should hold off because you’re still in obsessive mode and are researching for reassurance?

      • That makes sense. I’ve never “officially” done therapy, but have still tried to use the basic principles of not listening to obsessions, refusing to do compulsions, etc. However, recently I’m realizing afresh the power of facing and accepting my fears rather than trying to reason them away. It’s funny, though, that no matter how long I’ve struggled with OCD and have become familiar with its tricks, I still find myself thinking “Well, THIS time it’s outwitted me and I don’t know how to handle it! I still have questions, I’m still confused!” LOL. Thanks for your reply!

  8. Pingback: 5 Months of OCD Questions | JACKIE LEA SOMMERS

  9. Hi Jackie, I just found your site and blogs and I’m SO THANKFUL that you’ve left them up to read. I’ve found so much encouragement from your words and experience. It’s been hard to find anything specific to what I deal with. THANK YOU

  10. Jackie, I can’t tell you how many times I have come to your blog to read and be encouraged. I know, I’m seeking reassurance, but your blog is one of the most helpful resources I’ve found on OCD. I have recently been diagnosed with Religious OCD(Scrupulosity) and Relationship OCD with a couple of lesser OCD areas. I was able to find a therapist here who uses CBT/ERP. My OCD started very early in life and my first obsession that I really remember was the certainty of dying as a small child. I just turned 50. OCD went from that obsession of dying to other things like Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit and a scrupulousness about being truthful that nearly wrecked my life. I was raised in a pretty strict Christian home and was subjected to the usual hell fire and brimstone preaching and many rules of conduct for the Christian life. I suspect that OCD has kept me from marriage and I guess it flared up a few months ago when I started dating a really nice Christian man and now we are engaged. We plan to be married in about a month. Pretty much, most times I’ve ever started a relationship with a man, I start feeling anxious, God is unhappy with me, etc. I’m still plowing through a TON of anxiety about this and hoping therapy will bring healing. Please keep writing on this subject. Thank you!

    • Oh friend, congratulations!!! I’m thrilled for your engagement. OCD, for me, flares when I’m happy. It’s like it just can’t bear for me to be so happy so it finds a way to ruin whatever is making me so happy. So just anticipate that! But don’t let it win! Tell it, “Ha! I knew you’d come calling … not so tricky now, are ya?”

      • I really struggle with being happy. I feel like anything that makes me happy or gives me joy I need to “give up to God,” and if I dont then I am failing the test and dont really love God. It is awful. It has tormented me in dating relationships, marriage, my kids. It is just awful and I am still learning how to apply ERP to this.

      • Jesus wants freedom and abundant life for you. Grace upon grace. I know you know this already. I think your ERP could be a script in which you’re asked to give up X and refuse.

      • The intrusive thought popped in my head “Abraham sacrificied Isaac maybe God wants you to sacrifice one of your children.” This has by far been one of my worst obsessions!!!!!!! So maybe that would be a good ERP script, hard one for sure.

  11. Hi,

    I’ve been struggling for a year now with what I believe to be Relationship OCD and religious OCD. I’m not diagnosed but through compulsive research I’ve come to see my story matches so many others. It started with a thought where I believed God was telling me to break up with my fiancé – to sacrifice that relationship to prove my devotion and faith in God. We are both strong Christians and are not living in any type of sexual sins.

    We get married in May of this year, and I’m terrified I’m disobeying God, even writing this comment is terrifying for the fact that you may say it is God. I’ve gotten to the place where I can’t even enjoy worship or reading my Bible as it’s become a trigger of its own – everything in there seems to condemn me. I’m so depressed and I’ve barely been able to enjoy our relationship and growing in Christ. I know God does not speak through anxiety but some days it seems like He really is – like he wants me to sacrifice all the things I like, like I’m not allowed to enjoy anything, like marriage is not allowed, vacations are not allowed, joy is not allowed, graduate school is not allowed.. it sounds crazy! I’ve felt trapped in this box of anxiety and like any step I make may be outside of Gods will and I’m just TERRIFIED of the idea that I could be out of His will. I can’t hear His voice anymore, above all I want to just enjoy the journey of faith with my lovely fiancé, but I feel like I’m not allowed to. Any advice?

    • You are definitely allowed to, dear sister in Christ. But your OCD will continue to demand “sacrifices” of you until you treat it. Start ERP, or at least start learning about ERP! A good place to start would be a book like Jonathan Greyson’s Freedom from OCD.

    • Serena, I just wanted to reach out and say that as a fellow OCD sufferer, I know how you feel! I hope you have a good support system and/or resources you can use to help you deal with your OCD. This blog is one of the things that has helped me a lot. I’d be happy to suggest other good websites, too, if you’d like. A big thank you to Jackie Lea Sommers for this SUPER informative blog!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s