When does worry become anxiety? And when does anxiety become fear? And when does fear become disenabling? When one has scrupulosity. Never heard of it? Theologians have. Psychologists have. Scrupulosity (root word scruples) takes over when an individual has excess, sometimes obsessive-compulsive concerns, often spiritual worries that become overwhelming. At that point the condition can become pathological and dysfunctional. The word comes from the Latin scrupulum, a “sharp stone,” thus an acute pain in the soul. It can be typified by those who are constantly fearful of losing their salvation or entertain, usually against their will, blasphemous thoughts. Ignatius of Loyola and Martin Luther are two historic religious figures said to suffer from this malady. In deliverance ministry I’ve dealt with this condition many times, but bring it up now because someone recently reached out to me seeking help for this obsession. Their cry for help prompted this blog.
The phenomenon of scrupulosity has been studied carefully from both a religious and psychological perspective. But can it have a demonic root? When does insecurity about one’s salvation become more than the cry of a sincere conscience wanting not to offend God? When are thoughts of cursing God or aberrant sexual desires more than the “flesh” recoiling against the life of the Spirit? Fear is ultimately the cause of such irrational anguish and sometimes that is a demon of Fear fomenting the condition. To anyone suffering from obsessive-compulsive thoughts or impulses that are contrary to their beliefs, remember that to be tempted is not to sin. To have a thought is not to act upon it.
There is even a danger that scrupulosity can lead to an ungrounded fear that one has demons or has committed the unpardonable sin. To such I say, suspecting that you have demons isn’t the same as having them. And if you think you’ve gone beyond God’s grace, then why are you still concerned that you have? Instances of the unpardonable sin are very rare and most pastors never actually meet someone who has gone that far. Combat scrupulosity by the truth, especially as spoken by a friend, spouse, or counselor. Listen to what they say about spiritual assurances, not what voices in your head or subjective pangs of conscience might be telling you. If you are still deeply concerned, schedule a Personal Spiritual Encounter with me to find out for sure if it’s demons or just your mind. If you can’t get to me, get to a mature spiritual counselor who can give you objective reflections on your condition.
An encouraging word: VINDICATION COMES FROM GOD
In Psalm 17:2 David cried out, “Let my vindication come from you.” He knew that he’d been loyal to King Saul, even though the monarch wanted to kill him. An entire kingdom sought David’s life, yet he had done nothing wrong. When he found Saul in a cave and might have murdered him, he didn’t. David knew that his only vindication could come from the Lord. We’ve all been tempted to strike back when we feel wronged for having done no wrong. It’s best to do what David did and turn it over to the Lord. Let the true test of your veracity come from God.
Bob Larson has trained healing and deliverance teams all over the world to set the captives free and Do What Jesus Did (Luke 4:18). You can partner with Bob and support this vision to demonstrate God’s power in action by calling 303-980-1511 or clicking here to donate online.