For years now I’ve been answering questions each week that people email me in relation to what I’m teaching or what they are learning about the things of God. Some I can answer quickly, others I spend more time on. I call this D-MAIL for discipleship mail. The blog now becomes a perfect place for me to let many others in on what we are talking about so we can grow together in our understanding of God and Scripture.
QUESTION: Pastor Steve, this past weekend, in teaching on “territorial spirits” you said Satan, unlike God, is not omnipresent and therefore, since he can’t be everywhere at once, he must be somewhere at once. This raises another question in my mind relating to the difference between God and Satan. I was always taught that in addition to omnipresent, God is also “all knowing”, meaning he also knows all things, including my thoughts. Although I can’t recall being ever taught this I am assuming I am correct in stating that Satan does not have that ability (to know my thoughts). I don’t recall any scripture that would lead me to believe he has that ability. Is that your understanding?
MY RESPONSE: No way is Satan or any demonic spirit omniscient (all-knowing.) For example, the specific plans for the day/hour of the return of Jesus are known only to the Father. In Acts, the demonic spirit that beat up the sons of Sceva asked “who are you, Paul we know, but who are you?”
But, Satan does operate in, and have some limited access to, our thought world. He wearies our minds – Daniel 9:25 – he “oppresses the saints” – the words there are he “wearies us mentally.” We know he has some capacity to drop thoughts into our consciousness – we are told to “take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ.” The general consensus on that verse is that some thoughts are ours; some thoughts are from God; some are straight out of the pit of hell. The thoughts not from Christ must be made to submit to him.
The evil one works in the area of lies – he’s the Father of Lies – and fathers produce seed. Lies start as seed thoughts as they work in us. So, somehow he gets inside our heads, I believe through our soulish realm. I often work with people to help them identify the ultimate origins of their thoughts. I’ve seen spirits of perversion totally dominate a grown man’s mind such that he’s glassy-eyed and gone to what’s happening around him – and this even when he’s here at church not in front of a computer. It’s like he’s in a daze, the demons have a total grip on his mind such that it ceases to function. Our counselors and deliverance people may have more accurate info on this area in terms of the way demons produce mental illnesses, depression, OCD, multiple personalities, etc. I’m not saying all these are always demonic but they absolutely can be.
In any case, God limits all the activity of Satan and I believe this includes his access to our thinking. Perhaps it’s like a computer log-in thing where he has access to some areas and realms of human thought but not full-access. I’ve heard some good teaching on speaking in tongues basically saying it’s a powerful language to communicate to God because it can’t be intercepted from below (tongues of men and tongues of angels). I’ve heard people say even when they pray to God about something, it’s like the devil is listening in because they get attacked even more but that stops when they pray in tongues.
Your question – can he know our thoughts? Perhaps it’s also a bit like how I can know my wife’s thoughts – through familiarity. Satan is a stalker (prowling around like a lion) and I’ve found him to know far more about me perhaps merely through careful and meticulous observance. We have spy planes watching enemy ground movements in Iraq and Iran. Surely Satan’s hordes are watching us quite closely.
Concluding thought – actually, my most intriguing thought on this… My view is the thoughts from below that enter our heads are SPOKEN by Satan and/or his minions in frequencies we can’t perceive audibly. Brain waves are frequencies and thoughts are frequencies. The Bible says God’s thoughts are higher than ours – perhaps even literally in terms of frequencies. Again, this is all a bit conjecture on my part. But, I get this as I’ve delved into how it is God speaks to us – the still small voice. The Bible says Jesus knew or could perceive the thoughts of his disciples (Lk 9:47). Perhaps my “frequency” theory is at play there too. In any case, I believe God limits the Devil’s access here to some degree but if thoughts are frequencies, perhaps some of them are audible to the adversary and he chimes in at the opportune times and feeds the dialog/thought processes with more of his deception and lies.
In teaching spiritual warfare here we talk about voices. We teach people to first ask God to send angels to render mute any lying voices so we can hear more clearly the voice of God. We could very well start doing the same thing with regard to asking God to send angels to render deaf any eavesdropping spirits there to collect intelligence to be strategically used against us.
Comments are welcome especially from those in deliverance ministry and Christian counseling.