Evil Thoughts from the Devil? Why do I have them?

Scrupulosity Video Post

Jaimie Eckert

Published on Jun 16, 2020; Updated on Aug 3, 2021

Do you ever get unwanted, evil thoughts from the devil?

Don’t worry! You’re in company with many other Christians — you just might not realize it.

John, for example, was a pastor who preached to thousands of listeners every week. He wrote a bestselling book. His personal life was spotless and characterized by a deep devotion to Christ. On the outside, it seemed like John was successful in his spiritual life.

But what others didn’t know was that John was plagued by thoughts urging him to blaspheme Christ or to pray to Satan.

He would argue back intensely against these thoughts. He would literally spend hours at a time beating his arms in the air and saying, “I will not, I will not, I will not!” 

Eventually, John, who is a real person, did find relief — but not through arguing. In this article, we’ll take a look at when Christians experience demonic thoughts or urges to engage with the devil.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rlRCv2goJt8

What Kinds of Evil Thoughts from the Devil Are We Talking About?

John, the preacher with urges to pray to Satan, is actually none other than John Bunyan, author of the famous Pilgrim’s Progress.

He had a number of chronic, bad spiritual thoughts. He wrote an account of his experience in the book Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners. It is through his own autobiographical account that later psychologists were able to diagnose John Bunyan with religious OCD, also known as scrupulosity.

> Check Out the Redemptive Guide to Blasphemous Thoughts Right Here! <

What we find is that John Bunyan was not unusual. Many people with scrupulosity get unwanted, horrible anti-religious thoughts.

Often these thoughts are about blaspheming God or committing some form of sacrilege, but fairly often these unwanted thoughts will be about the devil. 

Some people get this thought that they should worship Satan or pray to him, others will feel an urge to sell their soul to the devil, or might question if they already sold themselves to Satan unintentionally.

And some people who recognize that these intrusive thoughts are not normal wonder if they are demonically possessed. 

I recently shared an article about religious intrusive thoughts, and I would encourage you to check that out so that you understand what we’re talking about when we refer to intrusive thoughts.

Chronic fears about the devil can be a sign of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

These chronic fears about the devil are a sign of obsessive compulsive disorder, and in this article I want to talk more directly about intrusive thoughts of a demonic nature.

Where Do These Evil Thoughts Really Come From?

Let me give you a crucial psychological insight.

Every thought and behavior that you have falls into one of two categories: ego-syntonic or ego-dystonic.

An ego-syntonic thought is something that aligns with the values of your ego, your true self. They are consistent with your self-image of who you really are.

An ego-dystonic thought, on the other hand, conflicts with your self-image and is viewed as something foreign or alien to the self.

Every thought you think is either ego-syntonic or ego-dystonic.

Ego-syntonic thoughts and behavior are viewed as good and wanted (whether or not it really is good, you think it’s good). Ego-dystonic thoughts and behavior, on the other hand, are viewed as unwanted.

Let me give an example.

A woman with severe paranoia disorder locks all her doors and windows and even locks her refrigerator out of fear that someone will steal her food. If confronted about her behavior, she will tell you that it is a good thing to protect herself. Her paranoid beliefs are ego-syntonic — she sees them as appropriate.

In the same way, an anorexic person might be at a dangerous BMI or even on the verge of dying but feel like it is completely appropriate for him to purge his last meal. He is unable to see anything wrong with his condition, so we would call his thoughts ego-syntonic.

A person with OCD, on the other hand, has intrusive thoughts that are perceived as abnormal, disgusting, unwanted, and alien.

They seem to come from outside of him.

They seem to be out of his control.

But he recognizes that they are very inappropriate, so we would call these thoughts ego-dystonic. 

Evil Thoughts from the Devil and Ego-Dystonic Thoughts

As long as a thought is in conflict with your ideal sense of self, it is ego-dystonic, and we would rightly say that it is not from the real you.

But if you have a demonic thought that is not from YOU, where is it from? There are only two options. It is either from a demon, or it is from your OCD.

Evil Thoughts from the Devil Are Simply Called “Temptations.” But There’s Another Option…

Now, this is great news, because if Satan is telling me to worship Satan, that is called a temptation. And the Bible says we will experience tribulation in this world and we will go through many trials. 

“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial that is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you” (1 Peter 4:12). 

We know that the devil “walks about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Evil thoughts from the devil would definitely fit into the schemes that he has been throwing at humankind for thousands of years. If the devil is tempting you, rejoice that you may be counted worthy to suffer like Christ!

Evil Thoughts from the Devil May Be No More Than Sinister Temptations

But there’s another option to consider.

Maybe it’s not demonic harassment, maybe it really is your OCD.

Maybe you have a mental health condition that has hijacked your faith experience and is manifesting itself in these bad thoughts.

Whether these thoughts come as a temptation or as a manifestation of OCD, either way you are safe.

Try to breathe in that thought for a moment — you are safe. Because fundamentally, OCD is not an issue with thoughts, it’s a matter of feeling unsafe, of feeling like things are uncertain and unresolved.

But you ARE safe, even though your feelings tell you otherwise.

What If I Really Did Originate the Evil Thought?

But let’s dig to the bottom of these evil thoughts about the devil: what if you feel like you really DID want that evil thought?

What if, for at least a moment, that thought seemed to be ego-syntonic?

What if it seems like you DID choose it?

Sometimes, people with religious OCD do get to this point where you’ll finally cave in to the obsessive thought and curse God or agree to whatever evil thought has been torturing you. But then, in a few days, you’ll be back to God, sincerely begging for forgiveness.

Honestly, it’s like people who confess to crimes they never committed just so that the interrogator stops torturing them.

Why does this happen? The OCD cycle of intrusive thoughts is so intense and exhausting that it can push us into mental and emotional overdrive and cause us to act in uncharacteristic ways that are unlike our normal selves. Here’s the cycle:

You begin with a triggering thought. You know what your exact trigger is. Perhaps it is the urge to curse God or pray to Satan.

When you experience that trigger, your anxiety immediately spikes.

Religious OCD Cycle: Trigger Stage

You then enter a period of rumination.

You turn circles around yourself, trying to figure out if that nasty thought was genuinely from you or not. As you ruminate, your anxiety goes even further up.

Religious OCD Cycle: Rumination Stage

But the evil thought doesn’t go away. So you begin resisting it.

You push back, hoping against hope that you can pray the right prayer or find the right verse that will completely neutralize the terrifying thought.

Your anxiety goes even further up…

Exhaustion begins to set in…

You aren’t sure how much more you can take…

Religious OCD Cycle: Resistance Stage

Finally, you reach a point of utter exasperation. You’ve hit the OCD explosion point. Every last reserve of mental and emotional energy is gone.

You let go and agree to the thought, awful as it may be.

Religious OCD Cycle: Explosion Stage

At that moment, your mind and emotions enter a state of free fall.

The intrusive thought is gone.

It is in this stage of the OCD cycle that you may experience a loss of emotions, numbness, depersonalization, or derealization.

You have completely emptied your emotional tank in the struggle to analyze and resist that intrusive thought.

Religious OCD Cycle: Mental Silence Stage

Eventually, you reach a feeling of semi-normalcy again, with one exception.

You miss God.

You miss the sweet communion and close relationship you know is there in the “real you.”

So you return, wishing desperately to reconcile with God.

You ask for forgiveness and feel the sweet embrace of reconciliation…until it starts all over again with your next intrusive thought about the devil.

Religious OCD Cycle: Reconciliation Stage

If experience this cycle, it is OCD. A truly devil-worshipping person will not have this cycle.

What Should I Do to Stop These Evil Thoughts from the Devil?

If you’re a Christian having evil or demonic thoughts, what should you do?

Well, you should do something very counterintuitive. You should resist the urge to argue back against the thoughts.

Imagine there are ten angry little chihuahuas yapping at your heels, and you’re scared to death of getting bitten. Do you start kicking at them, or do you stand still?

Well, I hope you don’t start kicking at them, because chances are they’ll start attacking!

It’s the same with intrusive thoughts.

The more you fight against them, the worse they become.

If you have evil thoughts from the devil, resist the urge to argue back against them.

The more you try to search the internet for positive verses to neutralize the thought or engage in spiritual disciplines that make you erase it, the clingier it will be.

The way to respond to these thoughts is actually very counterintuitive, you have to prevent yourself from responding in any way.

That’s why it’s usually the best course of action to get professional help. Religious OCD does respond well to therapy, especially if you pair it with spiritual mentorship at the same time. However, these kinds of methods where you learn not to respond can feel very counterintuitive, so it’s usually best to get a pro to help you over the tough parts.

I would encourage you to look at one popular article on this website in which I discuss three powerful spiritual methods for dealing with scrupulosity. It also includes free worksheets that can help you. (Find it here!)

Conclusion

If you have awful, scary thoughts about the devil, you’re in company with spiritual giants like the great John Bunyan. You’ll be happy to know that he was eventually able to cure his scrupulosity and went on to live a live of devoted service to Jesus. Like Bunyan, I believe you’ll do the same. 

Wherever you are in your journey with scrupulosity — whether you’re just finding out about it, whether you’ve been doing some internet searches, or whether you’re in formal therapy — take the next step.

It does get better, but not by accident.

What’s your most helpful go-to method for dealing with demonic intrusive thoughts? Let us know in the comments below.

Best wishes on the journey,

jaimie eckert signature

  • I was just Wondering what an Evil thought was because a Very Good Person who is a Christian and Helps anybody and everybody. And who has never smoked or drank, who's in his late 60s and is Halthy and Works still and goes to Church told someone close to Me that sometimes He has Evil Thoughts. I was Wondering what an Evil Thought was. He also seems to Help a lot of People who are Prostitutes and have Problems with Drugs. He doesn't see to Judge People like I don't either and I am also a Christian. I just didn't know what an Evil Thought was and I can't afford to Help People the way he does and I am not Healthy like he is by far and I am Gullible to a lot.

  • I have been dealing with Terrible thoughts but I have also been dealing with these like random commands and if o don't do them I get so scared and sad like for say close your eyes when you walk or don't look up or down so I try to pray to get it away and it stays.I thought this might be normal but if I dont think it or if I do resist I get terrible fears.

  • Does anyone here struggle with blasphemous thoughts after they were born again and now feel spiritually dead and don’t have fellowship with Christ and don’t hear God’s voice when they read scripture anymore? That is my biggest struggle is that I never had had this issue with OCD related to blasphemy and frequent wicked thoughts until after my conversion and after I didn’t feel the Spirit and didn’t feel regenerated anymore. Like the new heart that was created by the Spirit is gone and now it feels like I just am left with a carnal and worldly mind and the gospel seems like a distant memory with no more affections for Christ and love for His word and no more internal strength to be holy and righteous and die to self. I used to just want to die to self and love Christ and others but now I am absorbed with self and have no fruits of the Spirit which makes me feel and believe I blasphemed and lost the Spirit. Anyone else have this experience or do most people struggling with this have fellowship with Christ and love and obey Him and just have sinful thoughts but you still feel spiritually alive and just are scared and believe Christ is displeased with you?

    • Yes! After going through blasphemous thoughts, I never was really ever able to believe that God loves me anymore. I feel like I’m pouring out my heart to God, wanting to love and serve him but he’s already left me. Eventhough I feel this way, God has plainly shown me that he has forgiven me but it’s hard to accept it. How can I forgive myself for these thoughts? I became really broken during this period and sometimes I doubt that I can be fixed but I know in my heart it is possible. Listen dude, Do Not let Go of God, that feeling of hopelessness is a lie from the Devil. It is just a way to get you back into the world. One thing I stand on, I don’t care how I feel, I don’t care how it hurts. If the enemy wants to to defeat me, he will have to kill me. I will never Give Up, I will not Surrender! Even when I say to God, “I give up,” and I start to cry. I go back to God and say ” Who told you I giving up? I was just tired.” I will not give up, my enemies will not triumph over me. The God, My God- The Mighty Man of War will deliver me! I will pursue, overtake and overturn! By Force by Fire!

  • I was born again and filled with the Holy Spirit in 2018 and my OCD kicked into overdrive 2 years later when I discovered my wife had had 2 affairs over 5 years. My biggest fears of rejection and divorce set and I never learned to take my thoughts captive and ruminated until I couldn’t take the pain and suffering anymore after unsuccessfully trying to reconcile with my wife over a year and gave up. I was ruminating on all sorts of sinful thoughts that I was entertaining and never confessed and repented. I eventually no longer felt the Spirit or fellowship with Christ and began to doubt my salvation and started having blasphemous thoughts I never had. I turned from God because I thought I was abandoned and rejected. I try to draw near in prayer and the word but I live in despair and unbelief and have no fellowship with Christ and don’t hear His voice anymore or have spiritual understanding when I read the word like I once did. I effectively don’t live in obedience and faith because of that experience and no longer having active faith because I fear I lost the Holy Spirit and it is just a horrible cycle. I want to trust in Christ and follow Him and believe in Him but my mind and heart condemn me that rejected Christ and am doomed. I don’t know what to do. When I was filled with the Spirit all I had to do was meditate on a passage and pray and ask for forgiveness and experience spiritual cleansing and fruits of the Spirit and hope in Christ. Now I feel spiritually dead inside and without hope. My whole life has been shattered and am not able to take care of normal daily responsibilities which just confirms in my mind that I have committed blasphemy. I take OCD medication but it doesn’t change my beliefs and ability to live a normal life.

    • It's not too late! You are not doomed and there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. He has not left you. Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you. Your heart is understandably broken, and He is near to the broken hearted and binds their wounds. He can turn a heart of stone into a heart of flesh, one that is sensitive to Him. You are not too far gone and your heartache is more than understandable. I am sorry for what happened to you. Please don't give up on your relationship with God because He will never give up on you. You still have the faith of a child in your soul, bring them back and cling to God the way you cling to your next breath. Praying for your healing and reconciliation in Jesus' name, amen.

  • This was the most helpful thing ever. This is exactly how it goes. I don’t want these thoughts. I fight them so hard. I don’t want to “pray” to the devil. I know it’s wrong. But then it feels like it’s almost like a nervous tic or something and I fight it and fight it and then in my brown I ultimately do it even though I don’t want to just do that the compulsion stops. And then the more I fight it the harder it gets. I hope God knows I don’t want ro. It’s just my OCD. I’m not a devil worshipper. This article made it make sense. Thank you

  • Hello Jamie,
    I am interested in getting coaching from you and wanted to know if you accept insurance to pay for the service or is it out of pocket?

      • That's okay! I think I will do private coaching with you sometime this year soon as I can afford it. I wanted to ask if you have heard of anyone like me. I have issues with crosses(desire to flip it off) and religious pictures like The Last Supper and religious statues. Instead of having nice loving thoughts about them, I get extremely harmful aggressive thoughts of blasphemy like destroying them or my mind gets stuck on words calling things evil when they are not.For example, I hate him not because I hate him I dont think but because I think it sounds good in my mind and I'm implying them to the religious items or God. Then later, I try to analyze them and yell at myself and crying to God that I don't mean them and to forgive me. But of course my mind wants to start again and repeats the cycle. ( Another example today, had sacrilege thoughts to eat communion then tell him I hate him at the same time) It's like my mind wants to be hurtful towards him and take pleasure from it. I don't know if this is scrupulosity or what or I'm just a bad person ;(

        • These kinds of thoughts feel so alarming, right? But the fact that you hate having these thoughts and really wish you could get rid of them is evidence that there’s something else going on other than the simplistic interpretation “I’m a bad person.” OCD would like you to believe that you’re a bad person, but this is just how ego-dystonic thoughts work. And yes, I’ve corresponded with and coached many individuals with the same or similar obsessions. You’re not alone!

          • You have talked to others that had horrible aggressive thoughts about the Last Supper and the cross? (Like calling it disgusting, thoughts of anger, spitting at him, basically a horrible rage that comes inside of me that makes me feel like a demon) Thoughts about hurting communion like liting it on fire?

  • what helped me whilst battling with scrupulous ocd is instead of trying to refrain from thinking of the scrupulous thought try not to think of something pleasant

  • Thank you so much for publishing this and making me feel seen for the first time in these thoughts. It is so appreciated and god bless.

    • me too. I've been going through all of this for 7 years now. and the pilgrims progress is my fav movie btw. I watch it alot. funny how he went through this as well.

  • Hello I have OCD and also been diagnosed with high functioning autism you see I like to watch fantasy movies with magic and and the characters who do it but I'm not trying to do it in real life it's similar to how people say Harry Potter is satanic and I don't know whether it is or not I'm just trying to enjoy a movie sometimes when I'm enjoying a movie I have an intrusive thought that I'm not honoring God and that I'm going to go to hell if I don't repent please help me I am also a new growing Christian

    • Hi Alex,
      You are bringing up one of the most hotly contested topics within twenty-first century Christian lifestyle debates. 🙂 I would say this is not so much a “scrupulosity” thing as it is a discussion that the broader Christian family has been having for the last few decades. There are Christians who believe it is okay to watch/read magic/fantasy/witchcraft type entertainment. Their argument is that Christians are able to tell the difference between fact and fantasy, and there is no real harm to a person as long as they are not doing it in their own life. Other Christians will argue back that we ought not to put ourselves on Satan’s ground by watching/reading these things, because it benumbs the conscience to the evil of witchcraft and occultism, and “by beholding we are changed.”

      I would encourage you to do a bit of study on this topic (not obsessive-compulsive study! Look into it when you are feeling calm and not anxious). This is probably not a scrupulosity concern, as I know many non-OCD Christians who have grappled with this topic for themselves. We must remember that Scripture defines truth for us, not modern-day culture around us, and not the anxieties of our own hearts. After studying, sometimes we will say, “I’m alright. My anxiety is just making me feel false guilt.” Other times, we will say, “according to the Bible, almost everyone around me in my American culture seems to be wrong.” Like in ancient Sodom and Gomorra, when “the whole city” came together to sexually assault Lot’s angelic visitors, there are times when yes, the majority of people are dead wrong. The majority has a tendency to be wrong, so it can be helpful to factor that into our study of current issues in Christian lifestyles.

      Jaimie

    • i think maybe the Lord is calling you away from Harry Potter. The Bible says that some people get convicted about certain things and some do not — i think, for you, Harry Potter is convicting, like it is for me. Not obeying your convictions is a sin. But, I am not a pro, just felt led to share that with you. 🙂

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