Does Satan or his demons have access to our minds? Can Satan or the demons know our thoughts?
We know that God is omnipotent (all-powerful) and omnipresent (present everywhere); but He is also omniscient, which means God is all-knowing. God has never learned anything at any time because He knows all there is to know. This includes the future, which hasn’t even arrived yet. The author of Hebrews writes, “No creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13). In other words, God can know what we’re thinking and even see our intents, thoughts, and motives that are hidden from others. Nothing at all is ever hidden from God. Satan is a created being; therefore, He cannot be all-knowing and omnipresent, or present everywhere at the same time. Satan is much like we are; he can only be at one place at a time. When people say that Satan’s attacking them and they’re in different places on the earth and these attacks come at the same time, it is probably not Satan but likely his demons who are responsible for the spiritual attacks. Besides, I think Satan is more concerned with influencing world leaders or attacking those who have the most powerful and effective ministries than he is a single Christian like you or me. He wouldn’t waste his time on someone like me because he’s probably going after bigger fish to fry.
Martin Luther once said that the devil is God’s devil, meaning he can do no more than God sovereignly allows. Satan has certain freedoms, but God has a leash on him, much like God limited what Satan could to do Job. Satan once came to God and asked Him, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face” (Job 1:9-11), to which God replied, “’Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.’ So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord” (Job 1:12). God’s command to Satan was “do not stretch out your hand” against Job, meaning you can afflict Job, but you cannot take his life. This shows that Satan can do no more than what God allows.
Is Satan a Mind Reader?
There is no evidence in the Bible that Satan can read our thoughts, but he can have access to our minds. He can influence our thoughts and can influence us to do things we know are wrong; and for those who are not saved, Satan can even possess a person (as can demons). For example, Judas was plotting to betray Jesus; and on the night of His betrayal, it says, “Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve” (Luke 22:3). During the Passover meal prior to Jesus’ betrayal, it was “during supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him” (John 13:2). So “then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, ‘What you are going to do, do quickly’” (John 13:27). Did Satan read Judas’ mind? He didn’t have to because he had seen how Judas wanted to betray Jesus. Satan can see what we are doing and hear what we are saying, so he doesn’t need to read our minds; but he does have easy access to those who haven’t been saved. The Apostle Paul wrote, “You were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” (Ephesians 2:1-3). This shows that the unsaved are “following the course of this world” under the influence of “the prince of the power of the air,” who is clearly Satan. But that doesn’t mean he can take over the minds of Christians and possess them. The lost are under his influence; and even though believers can be influenced by Satan or his demons, this doesn’t mean we’re helpless victims, as we can take up the armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-18).
God Knows Our Thoughts
The Bible is clear that only God can know what we’re thinking because He knows everything. Satan does not. He might know the Bible better than we do, and this may cause him grief because he knows his fate is sealed, as the Apostle John wrote that “the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:11). But Satan does not know all there is to know since only God is omniscient (all-knowing). The Holy Spirit has access to our minds but so do demons. However, that doesn’t give them control over us like it did before we were saved (Ephesians 2:1-3). When Ananias and Sapphira tried to trick the disciples into thinking they had given all the money sold from some land to the church, they had actually kept some back for themselves. So, “Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land’” (Acts 5:3). Satan had access to Ananias’ and Sapphira’s minds but couldn’t possess them.
Satan and his demons may have access to our minds, but the Apostle John reminds us of Who is really in charge, as he wrote, “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4); and he who is in the world is obviously Satan. He has no more power over you, me, or the world than God allows.