Can Satan Read Your Mind? Can He Inject Thoughts Into Your Mind?
To over estimate Satan’s power is just as debilitating as to underestimate his power. In the first place, the Scripture is quite clear that Satan is not omniscient. God was able to conceal from the devil his eternal purposes in Christ Jesus until after the fact of the resurrection (Ep. 3:9-11; cf. 1 Co. 2:6-8). There is no hint in the Bible that Satan has the power to read minds at will, though various Christians throughout church history have thought so. Several leaders during the church’s first millennium, such as Augustine, Athanasius, Origen, Peter Lombard, Bede and Thomas Aquinas, even believed that demons could induce evil thoughts directly into human minds. It may well be that humans should be careful how they verbalize their thoughts, for Satan can surely understand words, as is clear from Adam’s and Eve’s very first encounter with him. It may also be true that, as an observer of the human race for many thousands of years, Satan has a vast range of experience from which to generalize about human thought processes. Doubtless, he is a shrewd guesser. Finally, if people open themselves to Satan, he even is able to speak through their vocal instruments, as he did through the demoniacs in the gospels. It is difficult to determine whether such control is voluntarily relinquished to the evil one or forced upon them because they live under the power of the “god of this world.” Judas Iscariot, at least, seems to fit the case of voluntary cooperation with the evil one (Jn. 13:27). Simon Peter, on the other hand, seems to have been temporarily deceived into becoming a sounding board for the devil’s schemes (Mt. 16:21-23). Christians, as in the case of Ananias, may allow “Satan to fill their hearts” (Ac. 5:3). Simon the Sorcerer, who made at least an ostensible affirmation of faith, still evidenced that he was not free from the power of evil (Ac. 8:13, 18-23). Christians can allow their minds to be “led away” by Satan schemes (2 Co. 11:3). Perhaps Satan’s most deceptive ploy is to suggest something to Christians and trick them into thinking it was their own idea.
However, Satan is not God, nor does he possess the omnipotence and omniscience of God. There is no clear biblical evidence that he can control the Christian mind without that person opening the way for such an exchange. He may present to them ideas which he wishes them to think about, but apart from their yielding their minds to him, there does not seem to be any reason to believe that he can overpower their thought life at will. For Christians, Paul says that their minds can be renewed (Ro. 12:2), and every thought can be brought into obedience to Christ (2 Co. 10:4-5). For non-Christians, Paul says that their minds have been blinded by Satan (2 Co. 4:4). Though this state may not be the same as full mind control, it surely implies a significant influence.
In any case, the old cliche, “The devil made me do it,” more often than not may be simply a flimsy excuse. James said that people are tempted when they are dragged away and enticed by their own evil desires (Ja. 1:14). As in the case of Eve in the garden, Satan suggests but humans exercise their wills to act upon his suggestion. His greatest ally is the weakness of the flesh. This is why Christians are urged to “live in the Spirit.”
Pastor Dan LewisMarch 1, 2013