It is a pitiful and tragic thing to be obsessed. Those who are obsessed are in a very abnormal condition. Let us consider a few examples of obsession.
Some Christians are obsessed in their speaking. On the one hand, they say something yet believe that they have never said it. On the other hand, they may not say something yet believe that they have said it. Others may not have said something, yet they think that others have said something, and they are convinced that such a thing has been said. Such Christians are not only lying; they are obsessed. Lying is speaking something false while being conscious of it. Being obsessed is speaking something false without being conscious of it. Lying is speaking something false and then realizing that it is wrong. Being obsessed is speaking something false and then thinking that one is right. Some Christians are so obsessed that they take lies for truths, wrongs for right, and falsehoods for facts.
At the beginning, these Christians lie to deceive others. But in the end, they deceive themselves. When one lies, he first deceives one brother, five brothers, and then ten brothers. All the brothers suffer. Yet in the end he pays a great price because this darkness leads him into obsession. He becomes habitual in his lying, and he lies to such an extent that he becomes convinced that he is speaking the truth. He becomes obsessed. In the beginning, lying deceives others. But in the end, it brings one into obsession. For a person to tell another that such and such a thing happened and how real it was, when nothing actually happened, is to lie. But a while later, the same person may go and tell another the same thing, and two people can be deceived. He may then go and tell two more the same thing in detail, and two more people are deceived. When he first lied, he might have felt a little uneasiness, and he might have realized that a Christian should not do such a thing. But as time goes on, he begins to lose his feeling, and he becomes more and more convinced in himself, believing that what he says is true. This is obsession. Being obsessed is fabricating something to deceive others to the extent that eventually one believes it himself.
Some Christians are obsessed with the matter of giving testimonies. A brother once heard many testimonies from others about answers to prayers, God’s blessings to works, and God’s deliverance in troubles. These testimonies stirred up a kind of fantasy within him, and he began to think that his prayers also were answered. He believed that God’s blessings were in his works and that he had experienced God’s deliverance in troubles. Actually, none of these were facts; they were all his imaginations. But whenever he had the opportunity, he would rise up to give his testimonies, and he described them with such detail that they appeared to be very real. In his mouth something ordinary would become an extraordinary event, and something not so wonderful would become something quite wonderful. After he testified this way again and again, he began to believe what he said. At a certain point, he could no longer tell what part was genuine and what part was fabricated. When a man falls so deeply into self-deception, he begins to believe in himself that everything is true. This is obsession.
Some Christians are obsessed with sickness. They do not have any illness, but they think that they are sick with this and that kind of disease. Many such illnesses come from self-love. They are not really sick, and their sicknesses are not recognized by medical doctors. But they love and protect themselves too much. If they have a slight discomfort, they say that they are sick of this or that. When their heart beats a little faster, they say that they have heart disease. When they cough a little, they say that they have tuberculosis of the lungs. If a doctor truthfully tells them that they are not sick, they say that the doctor is not a good doctor. If the doctor agrees with them and says that they are sick, they say that the doctor is good. They say that they are sick, when in fact they are healthy. This is self-love to the point of obsession. In the beginning, they say that they are sick in order to gain the sympathy of their relatives, friends, and family members. But in the end, they truly believe that they are sick. Their heart has created the sickness out of nothing. This is obsession. Being obsessed is deceiving oneself with something fabricated to the extent that one does not realize that he has been deceived by himself.
Some Christians are obsessed with fear. They fear in their heart, but there is no actual cause for fear. They might have been apprehensive at the beginning about certain things. But in the end, they become genuinely afraid of these things. Even if you give them all kinds of reasons to not be afraid, they still cannot believe you. If anyone tells them that they need not fear, they fear all the more. This is being obsessed.
Some Christians are obsessed with speculations. Because of the lack of light, they often take speculation as fact. First they speculate that certain people would do certain things, go to certain places, and say certain words. Later, they believe that the person has indeed done these things, been to those places, and said those words. They can become so obsessed that they consider that something is there when it is actually not there. It may clearly be a case of wrongly blaming a person, but they believe that they have the facts. This is obsession. It is obsession to think that a person is a certain way when he really is not, or to believe that a certain person has done certain things when he really has not. Being obsessed is taking speculations as reality.
There is another kind of obsession. Some Christians are very seeking and are very desirous of going on in a proper way before the Lord. Yet they do not have any light. Something may not be wrong, yet they think that they have done wrong, and they constantly worry about it to the extent that they say the Lord will no longer forgive them and the blood will no longer cleanse them. In God’s eyes, they have not sinned. Yet they are very certain that they have sinned. They think that they have done an irreparable wrong and committed an unforgivable sin. They are full of sorrow, and they weep. Thinking that one confession is not enough, they confess ten times or even a hundred times. Even while they are confessing continuously, they feel that their sin is still present. What is this? This is obsession. One can be obsessed with more than just bad things. It is even possible to be obsessed with the sense of sin. If a seeking Christian does not have the light, he will condemn what he has not committed. This is obsession. Being obsessed is believing that something is real when in fact it is not.
Isaiah 5:20 says, “Woe to those who call good evil,/And evil good;/Who make darkness light,/And light darkness;/ Who make bitterness sweetness,/And sweetness bitterness!” A man can be so obsessed that he calls good evil, and evil good; makes darkness light, and light darkness; makes bitterness sweetness, and sweetness bitterness. He can be obviously wrong and yet be still very confident that he is right. This is very pitiful. The worst thing that can happen to a Christian is to have sinned and be ignorant of it. To have sinned is a matter of defilement, but to be ignorant of sin is a matter of darkness. Defilement is dangerous enough, but if it is complemented with darkness, the danger is even greater. If a Christian lives in darkness, it will not be easy for him to go on, because he does not see.
There are many different symptoms of obsession. It is possible for a Christian to be obsessed with his own thoughts, others’ thoughts, his own words, others’ words, his own spiritual condition, his own sins, or anything he has. Obsession is also a very common thing, and it can happen to any Christian. Of course, some are obsessed to a smaller degree, others are obsessed to a greater degree, while some are obsessed to a very serious degree. Therefore, we must pay attention to this matter.
(The Holy Spirit and Reality, Chapter 2, by Watchman Nee)